Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Thoughts on Islam

These are spawned by the comments on this post over at Althouse. She's still on the old blogger, so it's slow going and hard to post comments. But whatever, I still like the site.

So, I posted a comment over there saying that I thought it would be ok for Muslims to use the old mosque in Cordoba to pray if they want to...I'm assuming that some moderates are making this request, and someone rightly called me on the assumption. PatCA, if you're reading this, I assume that there are moderates making the request because most Muslims in the world don't want to kill everyone who disagrees with them, which makes them moderates. This not wanting to kill everyone strain of Islam is very prevalent (in many parts of the world) in Spain. So, while there may be some radicals making the same request, there are probably more moderates, just because of the way numbers and percentages work. I have no proof of this, so I could easily be wrong. However, I'm probably not. Thanks for getting my tag-name right. I know it's just a copy-paste thing, but others in the comments over there were not so perceptive.

Others say that since the building is owned by the Catholic Church, they have the right to not allow others to use the property. Very true. I'm not disputing that. However, I do think that since the Church wants to open dialog with the Muslims, there is no reason they can't take a first step like allowing some Muslims to use the mosque on Friday, when it's probably usually closed, given the Spanish tourist schedules (which are strange, I know). If they decide not to, that is within their right, however, it's also within my rights to disagree with that decision, and I do.

The building is HUGE! and most of it is still in the same form as it was when the Christians moved in. The place where the building was built used to be a place where Roman's made sacrifices to their gods. In fact, the rocks they used to build that site were lying around the area when the Muslims went to build their stuff, so they used a lot of it. I think that's cool. The ground underneath the building changed hands many times before the existing structure was raised while the Muslims controlled Spain and called it Al-Andalus. It got expanded many times, and now is big enough to have over 1000 columns, spaced 'bout ten feet apart (note the bad grammar to go along with the most likely bad estimation), which should give you some idea of about how big it is.

Actually, you should add about 150 columns and space for them in the middle, because when the Christians legitimately reconquered the territory that the mosque stood on, they took out those columns and built a Church Cathedral type "nave" in the middle. We should thank ourselves for this, because it probably added to the structural integrity of the whole building. However, there is much, much mosque space located around the Cathedral space in the middle. It's beautiful to look at, walk around in, and pray in, but it's not used much during the Saturday/Sunday service, to my knowledge. (I'm a protestant, and since I can't really take mass with catholics, I didn't go to services at Catholic Churches while I was in Spain.).

My point is, there is plenty of space for everyone. The Christian religion wants to be known as the one of tolerance, and I think they could make an exception to their (good) rules about allowing other faiths to hold services in their cathedrals in this instance. If they wanted to nit-pick, only the area in the middle is really a Catholic Church, and the area around it just happens to work well for Muslims services - Something to think about.

To the people who brought up the Haggia Sophia - I lament this loss, as you do. When the Muslims took over this chapel, they changed many of the decorations and ruined lots of the mosaics. Then they used it as a mosque for a long time. This is too bad. However, it is no longer used explicitly as a mosque, and is instead a museum, where all faiths are welcome. This is good, and I really, really want to go there.

I think it would be nice if the Muslims learned from our example and opened up their holy sites to visitors where that would be appropriate and desirable for all involved. For example, there is no need to open up mecca - the pagans that revered that site don't really exist anymore, so it's pretty exclusively the Muslims territory. The dome of the rock is built on the territory of the Ancient Temple, and while it would be nice if Jews could visit, you can't really say that it is the old Temple, as is the case in Cordoba. That's a much thornier issue, and not really parallel to this one.

However, in general, the commenter's over there are rather disturbing. I mean, they're legitimate opinions, I guess, just not ones I would subscribe to. Most of the commenters that I read (I read most, but not all, of the nearly 100ish comments) seemed to think that there was no hope for a peaceful co-existence with Islam. Now, I'm second to none in my belief that we have to be extremely careful of radical Islam, and that it's possible that co-existence with them is impossible. However, they are far from a majority. There are many sects that could be classified as "radical" and worthy of watching, but Islam, at it's roots, is not evil.

I take it for granted that most people would like to find the moderate Muslims and work with them...we don't have to look that hard, mostly just around the corner. But we have to make sure we're not confuse ourselves that the version of Islam that the media alludes to most often is the version of Islam that is most prevalent. It may be the loudest (with the biggest BOOMing voices, perhaps), but it's not the biggest.

It disappoints me that the people calling for Muslims to be more tolerant and not blow stuff up are not willing to give most Muslims the benefit of the doubt themselves.

You are of course welcome to disagree with me, and I welcome the comments below that I can argue with.

UPDATE: There is, of course, a benefit to allowing Muslims to hold services in this particular Mosque/Cathedral Hybrid, alongside Christians, and as long as they don't interfere with the Christian worship that happens inside. The Catholic Church, as the owners of the property, would have tremendous influence over which Imam's get to preach inside their property. The Imam who teaches at this particular Mosque (one of the biggest in the world) would recieve tremendous publicity and influence, just because they taught at the only Mosque in the world that shared a physical space with a Christian Cathedral. Not all of this publicity would be approving, but the message would get out. This is an excellent way to find the "moderate" Muslims and give them a voice and a platform. I think this plan is a win/win for the Christian Faith and moderate Muslims...


  1. You omitted the Christian church built by the Goths that was on the sight between it being a Roman temple and a mosque.

  2. "The Christian religion wants to be known as the one of tolerance..."

    Since when? There is a difference between the tolerance of "putting up with that with which you disagree" and the leftist "embracing everything that is opposite to your core principles."

    I am Catholic. I go to Mass every Sunday. I don't recall ever hearing the word "tolerance" as part of the liturgy. Yes, I am required to put up with people who do not do things the way I do (as long as what they are doing is legal, moral and ethical), but I do not have to invite them into my home and I really do not have to invite them into my sacred space and allow them to defile it by performing a religious ceremony that is contrary to what I believe. The Catholic Church has strong beliefs and principles and does not need to compromise them in the name of liberal tolerance.

  3. I wasn't trying to give an exhaustive description of all the different religious sites that were on the site, just to mention a few of the important ones...

    This sentence is where I included the Christian church you're referring to - "The ground underneath the building changed hands many times before the existing structure was raised while the Muslims controlled Spain and called it Al-Andalus."

    The church you're referring to actually changed hands a few times too, and there was another Christian building there before this one...

    The point is, the dirt under the church has been used for religious ceremonies forever, so "we were there first" doesn't really count. And, anyway, the building that is there was built by the Muslims...so, if it did matter, they would win, in my book...otherwise, the pagans who were there before the Romans arrived would win, so all the moderns would loose.

  4. class-factotum - Good point, though I wasn't referring only to the Catholic church when I was talking about "tolerance." I should perhaps have used a bulkier phrase. For example, "the Christian Church wants to be known as one that loves it's neighbors and enemies." (though that definitely doesn't mean rolling over to their every demand. I don't see this request/desire on the part of Muslims as particularly unreasonable, nor does it compromise anything inherent in my religion.)

    However, the current Catholic Pope had made no secret of his desire to open up dialog and relations with other religions, particularly Islam. This seems like a good way to show that he's serious. Especially since he's at a disadvantage, given the way he was so publicly misquoted last September.