Muslims challenge Christians’ use of Cordoba mosque

 

Europe Features

By Sinikka Tarvainen Jan 3, 2007, 8:29 GMT

‘; var PageContent= ‘Cordoba/Madrid – Few buildings are as emblematic of Europe\’s Muslim past as the Great Mosque in Cordoba.

\nThe southern Spanish city was once the capital of Moorish Spain, where the mosque was promoted as the third Islamic pilgrimage site after the Kaaba of Mecca and the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

\nDeclared a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1984, the stunning mosque pays tribute to the architectural and artistic achievements of Muslim Spain, which also shone as a beacon of science and scholarship in 10th-century Europe.

\nCordoba residents still often call the building \’mezquita\’ (mosque), though it has in fact been used as a cathedral since the 13th century when Christian troops conquered the city from the Moors.

\nA mysterious dim light typical of Catholic churches now surrounds the forest of pillars ending in red-and-white-striped arches, which has been compared to a Muslim tent in the desert.

\nA Catholic altar, a choir stall and chapels have been erected inside, mingling with Islamic features such as the mihrab or prayer niche.

\nSo who does the building, with a prayer hall measuring 23,400 square metres, belong to?

\nIs it the heritage of Arab-Berber-Spanish Moors, who ruled large parts of Spain for some 800 years and for whom emir Abd ar-Rahman I started building it in the 8th century?

\nOr does it belong to Christians, who completed their Reconquest of Spain from the Moors in 1492 and whose King Charles V financed the mosque\’s definitive conversion into a cathedral in the 16th century?

\nUntil recently, few Spaniards questioned the Catholic Church\’s exclusive use of the building, but the arrival of some 800,000 mainly Moroccan Muslim immigrants over the recent years has raised new questions about the sanctuary.

\nThousands of Spaniards have also reclaimed their Muslim roots, converting to Islam in cities such as Granada, once a Moorish stronghold.

\nMansur Escudero, a convert who heads Spain\’s Islamic Board, prayed in front of the mosque recently to claim Muslims\’ right to use it for prayer.

\nThe board has written to Pope Benedict XVI, proposing that the mosque be turned into an ecumenic temple where Christians, Muslims and representatives of other religions could pray together and \’bury past confrontations.\’

\nIt has sent a similar letter to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

\nSpain\’s Islamic organizations have distanced themselves from Osama bin Laden\’s call on Muslims to \’reclaim Al-Andalus,\’ the traditional name for Moorish Spain.

\nThey condemned the 2004 Madrid train bombings, staged mainly by Moroccan Islamists, which killed 191 people.

\nThe mosque, a building with an \’enormous symbolic power,\’ could show the way for a \’universal spirituality,\’ Audalla Conget, secretary of the Islamic Board, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in a telephone interview.

\n\’Spain could be the key that opens the door to peace,\’ he says, recalling the Moorish period when Christians, Muslims and Jews lived in a relative harmony.

\nAfter the Reconquest, however, Spanish identity was largely based on a militant brand of Catholicism as a sign of differentiation from Islam.

\nIt is only recently that Spaniards have begun toning down traditions which could be offensive to Muslims, for instance removing a statue of Saint James \’the Moorslayer\’ from Santiago de Compostela cathedral.

\nSome villages have modified traditional plays or spectacles in which \’Christians\’ kill \’Moors.\’

\nRicardo Blazquez, the head of Spain\’s Episcopal Conference, initially showed sympathy towards the idea of Muslims praying at the Cordoba mosque, but the conference quickly issued a statement saying he had not authorized any Islamic prayers at the cathedral.

\nCordoba bishop Juan Jose Asenjo rejected the Islamic Board\’s request, saying joint use of the temple would confuse believers and promote religious indifference.

\nThe Vatican has rejected earlier petitions by Muslims to pray at the Cordoba mosque, but Conget was hopeful that Benedict XVI would have a more favourable attitude.

\nThe Cordoba bishop\’s negative answer contrasts with \’interesting gestures\’ by the pope, such as praying at an Istanbul mosque, he said.

\nA spokeswoman at the Cordoba bishop\’s office declined to comment, saying the office had \’nothing to add\’ to what the bishop said earlier.

\n© 2007 dpa – Deutsche Presse-Agentur‘; PrintArticle();//–>

Cordoba/Madrid – Few buildings are as emblematic of Europe’s Muslim past as the Great Mosque in Cordoba.

The southern Spanish city was once the capital of Moorish Spain, where the mosque was promoted as the third Islamic pilgrimage site after the Kaaba of Mecca and the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Declared a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1984, the stunning mosque pays tribute to the architectural and artistic achievements of Muslim Spain, which also shone as a beacon of science and scholarship in 10th-century Europe.

Cordoba residents still often call the building ‘mezquita’ (mosque), though it has in fact been used as a cathedral since the 13th century when Christian troops conquered the city from the Moors.

A mysterious dim light typical of Catholic churches now surrounds the forest of pillars ending in red-and-white-striped arches, which has been compared to a Muslim tent in the desert.

A Catholic altar, a choir stall and chapels have been erected inside, mingling with Islamic features such as the mihrab or prayer niche.

So who does the building, with a prayer hall measuring 23,400 square metres, belong to?

Is it the heritage of Arab-Berber-Spanish Moors, who ruled large parts of Spain for some 800 years and for whom emir Abd ar-Rahman I started building it in the 8th century?

Or does it belong to Christians, who completed their Reconquest of Spain from the Moors in 1492 and whose King Charles V financed the mosque’s definitive conversion into a cathedral in the 16th century?

Until recently, few Spaniards questioned the Catholic Church’s exclusive use of the building, but the arrival of some 800,000 mainly Moroccan Muslim immigrants over the recent years has raised new questions about the sanctuary.

Thousands of Spaniards have also reclaimed their Muslim roots, converting to Islam in cities such as Granada, once a Moorish stronghold.

Mansur Escudero, a convert who heads Spain’s Islamic Board, prayed in front of the mosque recently to claim Muslims’ right to use it for prayer.

The board has written to Pope Benedict XVI, proposing that the mosque be turned into an ecumenic temple where Christians, Muslims and representatives of other religions could pray together and ‘bury past confrontations.’

It has sent a similar letter to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Spain’s Islamic organizations have distanced themselves from Osama bin Laden’s call on Muslims to ‘reclaim Al-Andalus,’ the traditional name for Moorish Spain.

They condemned the 2004 Madrid train bombings, staged mainly by Moroccan Islamists, which killed 191 people.

The mosque, a building with an ‘enormous symbolic power,’ could show the way for a ‘universal spirituality,’ Audalla Conget, secretary of the Islamic Board, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in a telephone interview.

‘Spain could be the key that opens the door to peace,’ he says, recalling the Moorish period when Christians, Muslims and Jews lived in a relative harmony.

After the Reconquest, however, Spanish identity was largely based on a militant brand of Catholicism as a sign of differentiation from Islam.

It is only recently that Spaniards have begun toning down traditions which could be offensive to Muslims, for instance removing a statue of Saint James ‘the Moorslayer’ from Santiago de Compostela cathedral.

Some villages have modified traditional plays or spectacles in which ‘Christians’ kill ‘Moors.’

Ricardo Blazquez, the head of Spain’s Episcopal Conference, initially showed sympathy towards the idea of Muslims praying at the Cordoba mosque, but the conference quickly issued a statement saying he had not authorized any Islamic prayers at the cathedral.

Cordoba bishop Juan Jose Asenjo rejected the Islamic Board’s request, saying joint use of the temple would confuse believers and promote religious indifference.

The Vatican has rejected earlier petitions by Muslims to pray at the Cordoba mosque, but Conget was hopeful that Benedict XVI would have a more favourable attitude.

The Cordoba bishop’s negative answer contrasts with ‘interesting gestures’ by the pope, such as praying at an Istanbul mosque, he said.

A spokeswoman at the Cordoba bishop’s office declined to comment, saying the office had ‘nothing to add’ to what the bishop said earlier.

4 thoughts on “Muslims challenge Christians’ use of Cordoba mosque

  1. I am a british born pakistani muslim, I believe that the muslim in spain should forget about old building, and just get on with their lives. Praying in a place were paganist worship by chistians is taking place, can not be considered correct. They should just made their own new mosque were they should pray.
    Stop looking to the past, it a place we can not go.

  2. I m a Muslim from Pakistan and i think claiming it back is not the appropriate thing to do. i agree they have every right to do it but still i believer we should move on. Yeah it would be great if the Christians would allow Muslims to pray there (I don’t have any issue praying with them) but i think Islam grade the heart of human high then walls and buildings. If our taking it back can hurt the feelings of Christians there then i don’t think on the price of damaging someone else worship place (which every one get attach too) we can justify our own prayers. I know everyone has the option to stand for its right but being a Muslim we all know Islam place forgiveness and kindness on a very high place; much higher than Taking it back. Islam don’t support the law eye for an eye rather it advise forgiveness when you have the choice to take eye for an eye. Like if Christians give the mosque back then not just history but both religions will place them on much more higher ground so forgive the mistake of past is the best option. Muslims should move on; digging the past is will create uneasiness in society and no Muslim is allowed the do such thing which can destroy the peace of a society. Build another Cordoba mosque, History will praise them.

  3. Enough of these pathetic Muslims. I am half Spanish (my mother is from Andalusia) and proud of it. I am especially proud that Spain defeated the Muslims and expelled them out of the country. They never belonged there, nor do they belong there now! The Moorish invasion was a tragedy for Spain and came about as a result of betrayal by a traitoreous Count Julian.

    Long live Spain! Long live the Reconquest! Spain always was and always will be Christian. Even in times of the Moorish occupation, the yearning was always there to rid itself of the vile invaders who never belonged there, no matter how long they stayed there.

    Muslims out of Spain. Muslims out of Europe!

  4. @ Jack Williams

    hey dude im sorry that u have a little brain..
    if the ppl in afghanistan saying “american troops out of our country “or “christians out of our country ” then it is something intolerant but if u say muslims out of europe or spain its acceptable or something ??

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