Building of a mosque at site of a victory?

Please help me with something.  In discussing the ground zero mosque last night with my son, he asked me to find authority for the proposition that the mosque was being built as a part of a Muslim tradition of building mosques at the site of their victories.  As the most knowledgeable group of people I know (yeah, that’s sucking up, but it’s also true!), I’m asking for your help.

What authority do you know of, authority that would persuade an open-minded but skeptical fellow like my son, that Muslims generally have a tradition of building mosques at the spot of their victories and/or that this particular mosque was proposed as a part of that tradition?  What else do you know about that whole dispute that might be useful in my discussion with my son?

Thanks, DQ

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  • BobK

    I can only cite a couple of anecdotal examples, but they’re biggies:  Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (formerly Christian Constantinople) and the Grand Mosque of Cordoba in Spain (formerly Al-Andalus).  The Grand Mosque was originally a Visigothic Christian Church, built on the site of a pre-Christian pagan temple.  Of course, once King Ferdinand of Castile reclaimed Cordoba for the Spanish, it was immediately converted to a Roman Catholic church. 

  • Call me Lennie

    To expand on Bob K’s point, the GZM was going to be named the Al Corboda Community Center (and fun park) which refers to one of the greatest inroads made into Christendom, namely the conquest of Spain. It would also make reference to one of the most catastrophic reversals in islamic history as well, (the Reconquista) and to the desire to reclaim this territory. So to me, use of the name Al Cordoba for the GZM has definite supremacist overtones

  • Kevin_B

    I’ll see whether I can help you out somewhat, Don Quixote. 
    First of all, the project known as the “Ground Zero Mosque” is now officially named ‘Park51’, but used to be named Cordoba House. I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that Cordoba is a city in Spain. Once upon a time, the Iberic Peninsula was conquered and rules by islam. The conquest started in 711 under the Berber general Tarik Ibn Ziyad, when he crossed the Strait of Gibraltar (which he gave his name; Gibraltar is derivative of the Arabic ‘gebrel tarik’, Tarik’s mountain), and pretty much ended at the battle of Tours in 732, when the muslims where defeated by Charles Martel’s troups. Anyhow, Cordoba was already at the time one of Spain’s major cities. When the musulmans conquered Cordoba, they destroyed one of it’s major churches to replace it with the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the third largest mosque in medieval times. In this respect, the – now disused – naming was quite symbolic. It clearly invoked previous muslim conquest and domination.
    Historically speaking, muslim conquerors have had a tradition of building mosques on the most sacred sites of the peoples they had previously conquered, often through extremely cruel means, often also after having destroyed the sacred sites. Here are two articles detailing the practice and offering historical examples:
    And here is Rush Limbaugh on it:
    Furthermore, these triumphalist practices might go back to the days of Muhammad himself. In 622, the muslims (then low in number) performed what is known as ‘al-hijra’ or migration – from Mecca to Medina. After al-hijra, the muslims became a political and military force. In 630 they went to war and conquered Mecca. What happens when they reach the Ka’aba – you know, that cuboid black building in the middle of the Grand Mosque of Mecca? Well, as you may know, the Ka’ba used to be a place of worship for the pagan Arabs in the pre-islamic period, in Arabic called al-jaahiliya (‘ignorance’). When Muhammad and his army reach the Ka’aba, what supposedly transpired, is written down in islamic texts.
    Narrated Ibn Abbas:
    When Allah’s Apostle arrived in Mecca, he refused to enter the Ka’ba while there were idols in it. So he ordered that they be taken out. The pictures of the (Prophets) Abraham and Ishmael, holding arrows of divination in their hands, were carried out. The Prophet said, “May Allah ruin them (i.e. the infidels) for they knew very well that they (i.e. Abraham and Ishmael) never drew lots by these (divination arrows). Then the Prophet entered the Ka’ba and said. “Allahu Akbar” in all its directions and came out and not offer any prayer therein.

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 584

    The hadith are substantial collections of anecdotes about the sayings and acts of Muhammad and his contemporaries. The word ‘sahih’ means authentic or correct – such hadith are considered to be completely authentic stories and recordings. Such collections are consired important resources to the understanding of the Quran, and sources for islamic jurisprudence. They can also serve as examples for the behavior of muslims. Thus, what we read here – Muhammad ruining the idols and taking over the place of worship, could be exemplary for the later acts of muslims.

    I hope this helps.

  • Don Quixote

    Thanks, Kevin, for an excellent start.  I appreciate all the time that must have taken.  The links are solid and I’ve passed them on to my son. What other links and references can people point to?

  • Libby

    Kevin’s links may have already covered this, but JihadWatch has a detailed description of what the  Quaran specifies for the treatment of the conquered (enslaving women & children non-believers taxed or killed, etc.) and dividing/distributing the spoils of war.
    While there’s no specific rule about building a mosque on the conquered peoples’ holy site, this practice is right in line with these detailed rules on humiliating the conquered and denying them the option of practicing a religion other than Islam. For example, the person paying the non-believers tax must be humiliated while doing so – and they cannot pay through an intermediary. Obviously, the most effective & humiliating way to do this is to deny them their holy sites/meeting places and use it for their mosque.

  • Jose

    “New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it’s not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact is we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation…”
    Also, Pamela Geller actively fought against the mosque.

  • Jose

    I think the temple mount in Jerusalem is a good example of claiming a conquered landmark for Islam .  Not only do Muslims prohibit access to Jews, but they also discourage archaeology.  Arafat went on record with the absurd statement that the Jewish temple had never existed in Jerusalem.

  • MacG

    DQ,  as an extension of logic ask your son if Islam is the religion of peace why are there sites like these:

    The present day wxamples of presecution only supports the idea that they will tear down enemies structures after they have vanquished them…sometimes even while Christians are in worship.

    Mosques are our barracks

    These Muslims are not the ones your son has based his opinion on.

  • Mike Devx

    You would have to research every specific incident when Islam took over a community, state, or nation that had a significant cultural history within a different religion.  In each case: What happened to every sort of symbol of that religion, be it churches or places of worship, or idols, or other cultural indicators?

    One recent case occurred in 2001 when the Taliban took over Afghanistan.  They immediately set about destroying large stone statues of Buddha that had existed for 1700 years.

    The opening paragraph from:
    THE world’s two largest standing Buddhas – one of them 165ft high – were blown up by the Taliban in Afghanistan at the weekend.

  • Kevin_B

    “The present day wxamples of presecution only supports the idea that they will tear down enemies structures after they have vanquished them…sometimes even while Christians are in worship.”
    That made me remember something… something along those lines is happening in Nigeria. The responsible muslims are the members of “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad” or People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad,  internationally better known as Boko Haram.

    They have responsible for the bombings and destruction of several catholic/christian churches in Nigeria; often they have bombed the churches or attacked them with machine guns during worship or at the time people are leaving the church, resulting in large numbers of deaths.
    Boko Haram’s goal is to conquer the – largely christian/catholic – south of Nigeria and islamize it. The north of Nigeria is largely islamic, and many of the northern states/provinces have some form of sharia law. Boko Haram wants to implement full sharia and a full salafi islam state in the whole of Nigeria. One of their means is destroying churches and killing christians.

  • Don Quixote

    Thank you all for your help.  My son has not had time to wade through it all and comment, but he will.  And you will have given him a lot to think about.

  • Call me Lennie

    The Dome of the Rock atop the Temple Mount (cue palm thrust against own forehead)  Of course!  This is by far the most obvious, obnoxious display of supremacy by one religion against another religion in history.  This was done to absolutely guarantee that the Jewish people could never regain their holy site without provoking a all out war wit hone quarter of humankind.  And it’s a clear statement that Islam is the completion and perfection of the religions that preceded it.  And although this structure wasn’t built until 50 years after the conquest of Jerusalem, I have no doubt that it set the precedent for Musllims building triumphant shrines and mosques wherever they set foot.

  • MacG

    Thank you Kevin,  Those are the kinds of modern-day events that I was referring to as well as this recent news.

    This surprised me though, Iraq rebuilt a Church destroyed by al-Qaeda. Good on them even if it is a symbolic gesture towards good will any gesture in that region is progress from extremism.