“Cordoba” to Muslims is a symbol of victory over Christianity?

This is article 16 of 111 of “The Islamic Paradigm“.

Socio-cons got all bent out of shape when the proposed name for the “Manhattan Mosque” was revealed: The Cordoba House. Some immediately made a connection between “Cordoba” and the “victory” of 9/11; arguing that Muslims see Cordoba as a symbol of victory over Christianity.

 What was Cordoba?

10th century Cordoba (Arabic: Qurtuba) was arguably the most advanced city in the world, and a major cultural, political, financial, and economic metropolis of Islam; think of it as the New York or the London of the Islamic Civilization.

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An extant wall from the 12th-century Cordoba Synagogue

With a population of half a million, 10th century Cordoba had tar-paved and gas-lit streets (the first in Europe); it had public hospitals, universities, medical schools, restaurants, massage parlors, advanced industries; and the world’s largest library, housing up to a million volumes.

 A Golden Age

Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in what is closest – by 10th century standards – to a multi-cultural, peaceful, and tolerant society. In fact, some historians called this period of Jewish history a “Golden Age of Jewish Philosophy”.

Contemporary accounts report full literacy. Famous Cordovans included Islamic jurists & scholars Ibn Hazm and Al-Qurtubi, Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and Jewish rabbi and philosopher Musa Maimoun Al-Qurtubi (Moses Maimonides).

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Ibn Rushd depicted in a painting by 14th century artist Andrea di Firenze

(The last two figures – Averroes and Maimonides – were an immensely important influence on the development of Western philosophy; Averroes was studied by Thomas Aquinas and Descartes, while Maimonides influenced Spinoza and Newton.)

 The Fall of Cordoba

In the 13th century Cordoba was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castille, during the Spanish Reconquista. Most Muslims and Jews fled the city; those who stayed were soon subjected to the Inquisition and forced to either convert to Christianity or emigrate.

Cordoba fell from prominence quickly and sharply; its light didn’t slowly fade, but was rather abruptly extinguished. By the 18th century it was reduced to a little town of less than 20,000. Population and economy only recovered in the 20th century.

 What Cordoba means to Muslims

Since its fall, Cordoba has been to Muslims a symbol of magnificent glory and irrecoverable loss. The mention of Cordoba brings to the Muslim deep feelings of both great pride and heart-rending sorrow. It’s certainly not a symbol of victory, and no Muslim looks back at the memory of Cordoba with joy or triumph.

Contemporary Muslims who bring up the memory of Cordoba typically do so either to emphasize the need for a new Islamic scientific and industrial renaissance, or to emphasize the need for a multi-cultural and tolerant society.

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A symbol of loss and hope

 

Update: The Cordoba House has since been renamed to Park51. You can read more about it here.

 

Islam wasn’t “hijacked” by terrorists. The terrorists are practicing real Islam.

This is article 5 of 109 of “The Islamic Paradigm“.

True to format, I’m not really countering the argument but rather using it as a jumping board into a topic. What follows is super-summarized and skips over many fine details, examples, and references; I hope to explore these in the ensuing discussions.

(Note: In this article as in the entire project, I am writing of Sunni, or mainstream Islam. This may not correspond to Shia Islam; a topic I will expand upon in later articles.)

 

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 All Muslims are guilty?

Many Islamophobes start by pointing to an atrocity committed by a Muslim individual, group, or state, in the present or at some past era of history, and then arguing that this incident characterizes all Muslims, wherever they are, whenever they have lived.

Islam is not monolithic. It stresses a unity of core beliefs but allows – even demands – a wide range of opinions, approaches, and schools of thought. This is essential for the growth and maturation of Islamic jurisprudence, and its applicability across cultures and historical eras.

 Islam’s religious order is non-authoritarian

The Islamic religious system has no equivalent of “Church” or “Pope” – no religious institution with doctrinal or legal authority, no ordained priesthood or religious hierarchy, and no doctrinally sanctioned “official truth.”

In the absence of such central religious authority, several interpretations and schools of thoughts exist side by side. Islamic tradition teaches that alternative interpretations are to be tolerated, even respected, as long as they proceed from the same sources in a principled way.

 Islam: One or many?

What this allows for is the development of various “regional” Islamic legislations. This is seen as a welcome feature, one that allows Islam to be practiced and implemented in a way more suitable to the intricacies and realities of various societies.

This diversity should not be mistaken for “many Islam’s”; rather, what you see is one Islam with many manifestations. You would hardly expect Islam to be practiced in Afghanistan the same way it is practiced in Canada, for example.

So where do terrorist groups stand?

Islam’s history occasionally saw groups employ gratuitous “loop holing” in order to justify their pre-determined (typically political) positions. To counter them, Islamic scholars have traditionally employed arguments based upon scripture and reason.

As we will see in later posts, state control has led to a stunting of the religious establishment in status and stature, making it mostly incapable of filling its historical role of “answering” aberrant groups, and leading to an atmosphere if ignorance in which violent ideologies thrive.

 Why don’t Muslims stand up to the terrorists?

This is a common criticism; Muslim scholars are indeed unwilling to proclaim terrorists to be outside the folds of Islam. This has led some Western observers to conclude that Muslim society is somehow “enabling” the terrorists by continuing to call them “Muslims”.

For example, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in a sermon following the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, condemned 9-11 but refused to declare Bin Laden an apostate. For this, he was accused of “providing a religious cover for terrorism”.

The Islamic tradition of standing up to such sects involves public debate, not excommunication. Excommunication is a lengthy and exhaustive process that can only proceed with clear evidence that the accused has abandoned the most central tenets of Islam.

In the 7th century, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin and Islam’s fourth Caliph, was in the midst of a bitter and violent struggle with the Kharijites, a violent and dogmatic Islamic sect with anarchist tendencies.

When asked if they were infidels, he said: “No, they are our brothers in faith, but they transgressed against us”; indicating that he fought them not for their beliefs but for their initiation of violence.

Summary

“So, are the terrorists practicing real Islam? Answer the question already!” I hope the format isn’t confusing; as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am not responding to the “opening argument” (often the title) but rather using it as a “jumping off point” to explore an aspect of the Islamic Paradigm.

But to sum up this article, there are many Islamic schools of thought. Despite disagreements and debates among themselves, all of them are “real”, in so far as they agree upon core tenets and principles and obtain their legislation from the same sources: the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Terrorist groups represent an aberrant anomaly, politically motivated but religiously justified through gratuitous “loop holing”. Within the spectrum of Islamic viewpoints, they are considered at the fringe, yet within Islam and not outside it.

The 100 (and something)

Here’s the “index”. Feel free to critique it, or suggest a different order of posting. Many (if not most) are already written; I just need to review them and post them.

I’ll proceed by posting an abstract every few days, allowing each to get its share of discussion, review, and rebuttal. Everything you see his is also simultaneously posted on RPF and on Facebook.

On with the list:

  1. What’s a Muslim doing on a Republican site? Republicans are conservatives, and conservatives are evil.
  2. Still, a Muslim on a “Tea Party” site? That’s like a Black person at KKK rally or a Jew at a Nazi rally.
  3. So if Islamophobia bothers you so much, why do you even hang out there? Muslims best stay away from anything Republican; just vote Democrat as always and all will be good.
  4. Why are social conservatives so afraid of Islam? I say it’s totally justified.
  5. Islam wasn’t “hijacked” by terror groups; these groups are practicing “real” Islam.
  6. Sharia law is brutal; it prescribes beating, maiming, stoning, and death.
  7. While Christianity teaches us to love the poor, Sharia treats poor people as if they were criminal and promotes maiming them and cutting their hands off.
  8. “Fatwa” has become synonymous with irrational violence.
  9. The doctrinal integrity of Islam is in fact a fatal disadvantage; it makes Islam rigid and makes it impossible for it to reform or to evolve with the times.
  10. Where do you get off calling Islam “the religion of peace”?
  11. Islam is a cult, incompatible with the Judeo-Christian conception of religion. It should not protected under our “freedom of religion” tradition.
  12. If you want to see Islam in action, just look at Islamic countries. They are backward in every possible way.
  13. Muslim countries are backward because its people are backward. The only hope for them is to liberalize and Westernize and abandon this horror called Islam.
  14. The “Islamic Golden Age” is pure propaganda; Muslims were always backward.
  15. Muslims never invented anything, they just stole ancient Greek, Indian, and Chinese knowledge and regurgitated it to the West.
  16. “Cordoba” to Muslims is a symbol of victory over Christianity.
  17. Muslims build “victory mosques” on the sites where they defeat infidels; they did this in Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Cordoba, and now want to do it in Manhattan.
  18. Islamic history is surprisingly monolithic with very little changing from their start till now. They have never known a form of government other than an absolutist theocracy.
  19. All Muslim countries are theocracies at one level or another; that’s why they are backward.
  20. Even the “best” Muslim countries are a thin veneer of flash hiding deep barbarism; like lipstick on a pig.
  21. Muslims are lazy and unproductive; in fact productivity rankings put them at the bottom of the world’s nations. That’s why they never had and probably never will have an industrial revolution or work ethic.
  22. The “wealth” of some Muslim countries is based on oil dollars and not on anything they’re getting right. It’s an economy that rose from the desert sands and will go back into the desert sands the moment the oil runs out.
  23. A sect called the “Wahhabis” are responsible for 9-11
  24. Saudi Arabia was responsible for 9-11 because they fund the Wahhabi sect which uses the funds and guns to attack the West
  25. Muslims are smelly and dirty, and their countries are arid dustbowls; even their language is ugly and guttural. If it wasn’t for oil, these guys will be herding camels and living in tents.
  26. Arabs are camel-herding nomads from their beginning; they continue to be primarily nomadic as seen today in Arabia, the Negev, the Sahara, or Darfur.
  27. Islam’s god is a false god and its prophet is an insult to prophets. Mohamed deflowered 9 year olds and butchered entire villages.
  28. Their position on Jesus is an insult to Christianity; their values are in stark contrast to Judeo-Christian ethics.
  29. Islam is a lie form the pit of hell and its prophet was in league with the Devil
  30. While Christianity presents a beautiful purpose for human existence, Islam is purposeless and nihilistic. It knows the good and wishes to destroy it for the sake of its destruction.
  31. The Islamic civilization is a relic of the past; the new millennium will only see the Western civilization, the Chinese civilization, and possibly the Indian.
  32. Muslims by nature are carnal and unspiritual; that’s why they don’t understand Redemption.
  33. Islam stole most of its scripture, theology, metaphysics, eschatology, and exegesis from Judaism and Christianity.
  34. It’s completely acceptable to burn the Qur’an. Muslims hate the Bible and if they had the chance would burn it too.
  35. What do Islamists want anyway? Even those who renounce violence remain fundamentalist, extremist, and radical.
  36. For the past 100 years, Islamic movements have brought nothing but death, destruction, intolerance, and instability.
  37. Islamist movements are synonymous with terrorism; whether it’s Hamas, Alqaeda, Taliban, or Hezbollah, they are all the same in their goals and methods.
  38. Islamic movements are grossly intolerant of anyone who opposes them or disagrees with them, whether Muslim or non-Muslim
  39. Islamic movements are probably more prolific in killing Muslims than they are in killing non-Muslims
  40. Islamic terrorist are fighting us because they see us as infidels. Do you honestly believe that giving in to their demands will stop them? They’ll fight us until we convert to their religion. That’s why we have to fight them on their turf before they end up on our shores.
  41. Jihad means terror and Islam teaches that terrorists who practice jihad are fulfilling their religious duty and will be greatly rewarded by their “god”.
  42. The War on Terror is a totally unique situation with no precedent on which the United States and its allies can fall back.
  43. The War on Terror is a no-holds-barred struggle for liberty, in which we must do anything to win. Stop complaining about torture and whatnot. These people are scum and they deserve it.
  44. Islamist terrorists are cowardly, evidenced by their hiding out in caves and targeting civilians. Face to face, man to man, they are no match to a regular Western army.
  45. Islamist movements are largely responsible for the fall of the secular nationalistic Arab ideologies that could have modernized and liberalized the Arab world.
  46. Muslims have an irrational hatred for the West.
  47. Why are Muslims making such a fuss all the time? Their reaction to the Danish cartoons shows them to be such a touchy lot.
  48. Muslim immigration is threatening the demographics of Europe. We must make sure this doesn’t happen to us.
  49. Muslims and other third-world nations should stop complaining about colonialism. European colonialism civilized the entire globe, about time you admit it.
  50. Muslims want to impose Sharia law upon the United States.
  51. Muslims want to create a global Islamic state.
  52. Muslims want to conquer and take over the world.
  53. Islam spread through violent conquest while Christianity mostly spread peacefully.
  54. Islam has a brutal history. They don’t treat non-Muslims good.
  55. Islam not only condones but promotes slavery, and the slave trade was purely a Muslim invention.
  56. Islam teaches that women are subhuman and discriminates against them legally and socially.
  57. Islam teaches that all non-Muslims are infidels, and hence sub-human; today’s terrorist groups even extend the definition of “infidel” to Muslims who disagree with them.
  58. The worst thing about Muslims is that they take their religion seriously, unlike Christians and Jews. That pretty much defines fanaticism in my book.
  59. Islamists (especially Alqaeda) are hell-bent on destroying America, and killing as many civilians as possible.
  60. Muslims have no qualms about killing civilians; they have never had a tradition of “just war”. All their wars have been “total wars”.
  61. The only way to defeat terrorist movement such as Alqaeda and Hamas is to be more effective at killing large numbers of them.
  62. How can I even trust you? I’ve seen that video that proves that you’re a liar.
  63. Why are many Islamic centers and personalities implicated in supporting and funding terrorism? Just shows we can’t trust them.
  64. Islam is very contradictory; one Muslim group quotes verses of peace and loving one’s neighbor while another quotes verses of death to all infidels. How can we trust them?
  65. The issue of “abrogation” shows that Islam is full of contradictions and shows that Muslims are dishonest about showing the Islam’s true face.
  66. The Qur’an is a dangerous book calling for violence and barbarism.
  67. A religious Muslim cannot be friends with a non-Muslim; Islam instructs him to hate all non-Muslims and to consider them as enemies.
  68. Non-Muslims living in a Muslim country are called “dhimmis”, a demeaning and dehumanizing term; they are discriminated against in every possible way.
  69. Sharia is fundamentally anti-liberal.
  70. Sharia is authoritarian and big-government.
  71. Thinking, “liberal” Muslims are already rejecting Sharia
  72. Islam is collecitivist.
  73. There is no place for personal liberty in Islam, since every small sin is met with a severe capital punishment.
  74. Islam is a fascist religion.
  75. Islam is a totalitarian religion.
  76. The Sharia form of government is an absolutist dictatorship.
  77. Muslims never had and probably never will have a written constitution or a limited government.
  78. Islam is fatalistic and claims a monopoly over “the truth”, making it diametrically opposed to progress and modernity.
  79. Islamic philosophy is an oxymoron; there can be no speculative thought in the presence of “doctrinally dictated truth”.
  80. Muslim countries ban missionary activity by Christians because they know that if they allow it, people will leave Islam en masse.
  81. The tribal nature of most Muslim societies makes them more compatible with medieval feudalism than with modern states.
  82. There is no hope for a libertarian or even a liberal-leaning movement to take hold in any Muslim country.
  83. The greatest sign of retardation of the Muslim world is that there has been no rumblings of a popular revolution against the tyrannies that rule them; they uncritically accept their lot under these dictators.
  84. So what if Muslims invented algebra? Good for them, we don’t owe them anything. The renaissance and enlightenment were purely European phenomena.
  85. Islam is such a foreign culture to the West.
  86. What use is all of this? As an America-firster I do not care about Islam and don’t think there’s anything to learn or gain here. This is a non-issue not worth thinking or talking about.
  87. “Islamic multiculturalism” is a myth; Islam only recognizes Arab culture and attempts to impose it on all. There is no place for any other culture or race, and Arab Muslims look down on non-Arabs.
  88. Islam’s anti-Semitism is at the very root of the Arab-Israeli problem.
  89. Screw all of this, let’s just bring our troops home and cut off foreign aid. The Middle East can burn in hell for all I care.
  90. Israel is culturally superior to its neighbors; it is an oasis of democracy in a desert of tyranny.
  91. Palestinians are idiots. They throw rocks at tanks and shoot AK47’s in funerals, go figure! Do they really think improvised rockets and home made explosives will defeat the world-class Israeli army?
  92. We have to interfere in the Middle East because we’re the only thing stopping those idiots from killing each other; the moment we pull out they’ll be at each other’s necks again.
  93. The only workable solution in the Middle East is a two-state solution.
  94. American intervention in the Middle East is good because it forces these countries to “do the right thing”; if it wasn’t for the American stick over their heads, they would never reform.
  95. Muslims have been hating us long before we were even aware of them; their values are diametrically opposed to the founding principles of America. We did not initiate ill-feeling or aggression towards them, we are merely reacting to them.
  96. Sunnis and Shias have been fighting each other for 2000 years; we better not step in or even try to understand what’s going on.
  97. Sunni or Shia, doesn’t matter one way or the other. It’s all irrational BS.
  98. For all their bravado, Muslims keep losing wars spectacularly; I can’t remember the last time they actually won something. Yet, pathetic as they are, they keep claiming victory!
  99. You will rarely find as much hubris and hypocrisy as in the Muslim world; where else do you see tyrannical demagogues like Gaddafi, Saddam, or Ahmedinajad go off about how it’s Islam that is “truly civilized” and the West that is “barbaric”?
  100. I don’t care one way or another. All religions are nonsense.
  101. We don’t need an Islamic paradigm or a Christian paradigm or a Hindu paradigm. Religions cause war. The world would be far better off without them.
  102. Pakistan is a glaring example of what Muslims are, and is proof that democracy cannot work in the Muslim world.
  103. Proof that Muslims are irrational: We attack some villages in Yemen, and a Nigerian Muslim comes at us!
  104. The post-911 “Islamist wave” that took the Middle East has largely died out; Muslim nations are more open to secularism and liberalism now than before.
  105. “Islamic libertarianism” is an oxymoron; there can be no meeting point between a secular ideology and any religion. The parallels you’re trying to draw with Western thought are deeply inappropriate.
  106. Muslims in the West are not integrating, and instead are being radicalized; hence the fear of “home grown” terror and the need for close surveillance and monitoring.
  107. Islam’s strict moral code is unrealistic and unnatural, that’s why no one can keep to it. Just see how Muslims indulge in vice the moment they’re away from home.
  108. What of the 72 virgins? Islam’s concept of paradise is childish and laughable!
  109. Muslim societies are socially reserved, or rather socially backward, especially on gender and sexual issues.
  110. I don’t care. Religion is strictly personal and should have no place in the public or even social sphere.
  111. Islamic feminism is a welcome development in the Islamic world; if Western women can burn their bras, Muslim women should burn their burqas!
  112. “Islamic education” is synonymous with brainwashing, just as “madrassa” is synonymous with “terror school”.
  113. Islam did not get rid of superstition, instead it strengthened such beliefs; Muhammad dabbled in magic and claimed supernatural powers.
  114. Muslims, just like Christian fundamentalists, are Creationists, and opposed to scientific progress .
  115. Muslim media are unprofessional and sensationalist. Some, like Aljazeera, are probably directly in league with the terrorists.
  116. There’s no such thing as Islamic art. Islam prohibits all forms of art including music, painting, acting, and just about anything that’s fun or creative.
  117. Muslims hate dogs and pigs, and their method of cattle slaughter is an example of barbaric animal cruelty.
  118. Muslims are intolerant of any other ideology; even those who are “liberal” or “libertarian” will drop all charades once they’re in power, and show their true faces.