08 August 2007

Spain cathedral shuns Muslim plea

I was looking over some letters I have written in the last few months about the double standard by which the Dar al-Islam and the West are judged. While conversion to Islam is encouraged of South Korean Christian prisoners of the Tabiban as they wait to be murdered and an Egyptian former Christian is denied permission to convert back to his original faith. Christians and Jews - in fact all non-Islamic religions - are forbidden to build places of worship in Saudi Arabia. Muslim authorities routinely deny that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is a Jewish Holy site, seeming to claim that it came into existance with the onset of Islam or that the kings, prophets, and patriarchs of the bible were Muslim.

Within this environment the BBC lambasts the Roman Catholic bishop of Cordoba in southern Spain for the religious insensitivity of his rejection of an appeal from Muslims for the right to pray in the city's cathedral, a former mosque.

The BBC discussed at length the request of Spain's Islamic Board to share the Mezquita, the Cathedral in Cordoba, as "an ecumenical temple where believers from all faiths could worship". While this might seem to be a reasonable request to someone who does not consider the worship of a different religion within the confines of a Catholic Cathedral to be a desecration it should be considered within context, which the BBC story does not provide.
While the the short article noted three times, the history of the Cathedral as a former mosque, it doesn't mention even once the name of the Cathedral, officially the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin.

Nor did the story address the Islamic practice after conquest of desecrating existing religious sites and replacing them with mosques. Such notable examples are the Tejo Mahalaya, a hindu temple-palace which is now known as the Taj Mahal, the most holy site in Judaism which is the site of the Temple of Solomon but is now the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Visigothic cathedral of St. Vincent which was razed to build the Aljama Mosque - the very site of this story.

Most interestingly, the Aljama Mosque episode began with a determination by Tariq ibn-Ziyad, who occupied Cordoba in 711, that the Cathedral would be used as a shared place of worship. This was eventually determined to no longer be acceptable, the Christian portion was expropriated and St. Stephen's was destroyed.

Within the context of history the hesitation of the Bishop of Cordoba is understandable.