|The white minaret of the new Great Mosque of Granada doesn’t overshadow a nearby church but is nonetheless a testament to Spanish Muslims’ pride in their history in “Al Andalus,” the region of southern Spain now known as Andalusia|
GRANADA, Spain – Across a valley of fragrant cedars and orange trees, worshipers at the pristine Great Mosque of Granada look out at the Alhambra, the 700-year-old citadel and monument to the heyday of Islamic glory.
Granada’s Muslims chose the hilltop location precisely with the view, and its unmistakable symbolism, in mind.
It took them more than 20 years to build the mosque, the first erected here in half a millennium, after they conquered the objections of city leaders and agreed, ultimately, to keep the minaret shorter than the steeple on the Catholic Iglesia de San Nicolas next door.
Cloistered nuns on the other side of the mosque added a few feet to the wall enclosing their convent, as if to say they wanted neither to be seen nor to see.
Many of Spain’s Muslims long for an Islamic revival to reclaim their legendary history, and inaugurating the Great Mosque last year was the most visible gesture. But horrific bombings by Muslim extremists that killed nearly 200 people in Madrid on March 11 have forced Spain’s Muslims and non-Muslims to reassess their relationship, and turned historical assumptions on their head.
“We are a people trying to return to our roots,” said Anwar Gonzalez, 34, a Granada native who converted to Islam 17 years ago. “But it’s a bad time to be a Muslim.”
Spain has a long, rich and complex history interwoven with the Muslim and Arab world, from its position as the center of Islamic Europe in the last millennium to today’s confrontation with a vast influx of Muslim immigrants. Continue reading “Islam’s Claim on Spain”