Wonderful, Wonderful Cordoba
Posted ByÂ David Solway/Frontpagemag
The Media Myth of CÃ³rdoba
Unfortunately for the credulous and gullible amongst us, the entire story is bogus. The myth of “the Golden Age of Islam” in Iberia is just that, a myth. (Andrew Bostom plucks this goose here on the Gates of Vienna)
The proposed construction of the “Cordoba” mega-mosque near Ground Zero has served as a catalyst for a renewed interest in the history of Cordoba under Islamic rule in Al-Andalus (Spain). Many of those who are opposed to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s presumed “bridge building” initiative, as represented by the project first called Cordoba House and now renamed Park51, have gone back to the history books, or have decided to speak out and address the purport of the designation: “Cordoba.” For instance, Victor Davis Hanson in a recentinterview  alludes to “the rather silly evocation of Cordoba; in toto, it was not really a utopian medieval city of understanding.” And Lisa GraasÂ shows  that “things started out rather bad under Muslim rule…and went downhill over time…The history for us is clear and it is a history that no Catholic would like to see a repeat of in Manhattan.” Cordoba Jews fared better for a time, as Jane Gerber lavishly chronicles inÂ The Jews of Spain , but they too eventually fell victim to persecution. Even the renowned Jewish sageÂ Moses Maimonides  was forced to flee the city, escaping to Fez where he lived for years disguised as a Muslim.
And yet all this should have been evident in the weeks and monthsÂ after the Twin Towers were destroyed and nearly three thousand people were murdered by so-called “Islamist” terrorists. For it would not take long before Muslim and non-Muslim apologists for the “religion of peace” would hearken back to the ostensibly genial and temperate era of Moorish Spain, a time, we were instructed, when Christians and Jews were welcomed by their Muslim overlords and peacefully integrated into the life of the realm, permitted to worship freely and even received into the learned professions, many asÂ katibs (secretaries) to the Caliph. Such conjurings by journalists and pundits constituted nothing less than an intellectual embarrassment.Â Mutatis mutandis, these fairy tale votaries resembled an updated version of Danny Kaye and crew singing “Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen ,” that “friendly old girl of a town.”
I recall coming across numerous references to the splendors of Cordoba in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, which were obviously intended to deflect indignation and fury and to distill for a supposedly vulgar multitude the deeper meaning of Islam. For example, in order to strengthen and validate a benign conception of Islam, attention was (and still is) frequently drawn to the intellectual activity of Cordoba, in particular to the translation and transmission of the seminal texts of the classical world that would otherwise have been lost to mankind. What such advocates for the great Islamic contribution to the Western library forgot is that none of this material was original to Islam.
As David Bentley Hart writes inÂ Atheist Delusions , “Islam was the beneficiary of Eastern Christendom.” It was “Syriac-speaking Christians who provided an invaluable caste of scholars and physicians, and through them the achievements of Greek and Roman antiquity passed into Islamic culture.” In fact, not Moorish Spain but medieval Italy was “perhaps a more important port of entry for Greek texts into Western Europe…in the late eleventh century,” when scholars, poets, clerics and doctors fled from the Muslim conquest of Constantinople to Pisa, Venice and Palermo. But resonant specifics are precisely what the glib justifiers of a presumably Islamic monument to human progress, of Cordoba as a shining city on the hill, have labored to suppress.
The point they were (and are) trying to make, of course, is that this particular epoch represents the essence of Islam, a religion which, according to President Obama, advances “the dignity of all human beings,” and which was later hijacked by extremists who perverted the root message of the faith. The destruction of the WTC and the human carnage of the event was, somehow, an aberration, a “man-caused disaster” which had nothing to do with theÂ real Islam. Ground Zero was only a grotesque distortion of the true Islamic inglenook where marchers for peace warm their bunions.
In order to maintain this fantasy, there is no recognition of the fact that the suicide terrorists, as Charles Krauthammer points out in an article titled “Moral Myopia at Ground Zero,” “were the leading, and most successful, edge of a worldwide movement…with cells in every continent, with worldwide financial and theological support, with a massive media and propaganda arm and with an archipelago of local sympathizers.” Those who defend the Cordoba project, dreaming the dream of pastoral reconciliation betokened by what is, at least in part, an Andalusian mirage, facilitate the task of the jihadists.
As I argued inÂ The Big Lie , which I began writing in September 2001 a few days after the catastrophe (and which was published in 2007), the golden age of Moorish Spain that features in the history books and glitters in the public imagination is, to a significant degree, something of a historical fiction: the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties were by no means an unbroken halcyon interregnum in the annals of Islam but cruel and intolerant dispensations given to fervid and prolonged outbursts of savagery. Even the famed Caliphate of Cordoba, as Hanson and others indicate, was not the uniformly enlightened Castle in Spain of popular fancy. Islamic tolerance, as Bat Ye’or in herÂ The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam  unpacks for us, is more of a modern fable than a historical verity.
Nothing is ever uni-dimensional when it comes to historical exegesis; complexities must always be allowed for. The history of Cordoba, which Richard Fletcher masterfully elaborates inÂ Moorish Spain , was exceedingly chequered: “years of peace and plenty under the Caliphs of the tenth century,” patronage of the intellectual and scientific disciplines and economic prosperity, broken by years of turbulence, political intrigues, exactions of tribute, fratricidal strife, sumptuary laws, vestimentary differentiation, slavery and in general the ill treatment of minorities. Ultimately, as Fletcher writes, “The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was a land of tranquility.” One wing of the historical diptych is impressive in the context of the age; the other is disfigured with the limning of atrocities. It is this second panel that is left out of the picture of Cordoba that has been painted for us.
And that is the trouble. A half-truth readily morphs into a complete lie. The misery and spoliation of conquered peoples, the executions and martyrdoms, the humiliation and oppression which is also Cordoba, are airbrushed out of the historical register. Amnesia and “bridge-building” are the order of the day. The pristine figment of an idealized Cordoba, the cherished beacon of tolerance and enlightenment in an otherwise dark and barbarous period, is meant to disarm skepticism in the present. “Cordoba” is, paradoxically, code for both grandeur and deception. I would respectfully suggest that theÂ Shanksville memorial  in honor of the heroic victims of Flight 93, currently under construction and scheduled to be dedicated on September 11, 2011â€”which is, interestingly enough, also the slatedÂ opening date  of the Cordoba mosqueâ€”might be a far more relevant and exalted pledge of remembrance than a minaret at Ground Zero.
Meanwhile, a vast chorus of Islamophiles are still busy warbling a melodious ditty to the pleasures, delights and glories of an immaculate Cordoba, a wonderful, wonderful Cordoba with its “welcome so warm and gay,” the Copenhagen of its day of which the Park51 mosque is touted as an exemplar and a revival. It is pitched to an increasingly dubious public as a metaphorical “bridge” to the long-desired destination of ecumenical harmony. Perhaps it should just be calledÂ al-Qantara, “the Bridge,” rather than the inscrutable Park51.
A bridge, however, is not always what it seems. Richard Fletcher reminds us that “the first mosque in Cordoba was built on a central site in the city near the Roman bridge over the river Guadalquivir.” The parallel is striking. The thirteen-storey high Cordoba House mosque is planned for the “central site” in New York City near the place where an architectural cynosure once stood. Is the mosque a bridge or a structure meant to overshadow it?
Questions remain. Assuming it is some kind of bridge, who is crossing it? Which way does traffic flow? Both ways? Or is it rather a permanent and grandiose pontoon intended to facilitate an inexorable invasion under cover of “mutual understanding,” what former Muslim andÂ author  Sayed Kamran MirzaÂ calls  “an iconic symbol of Islamic victory”? Â And where exactly will we find ourselves once the bridge has been crossed? In the modern or the medieval age? In New York? Or in Cordoba?
The controversial “Ground Zero” mosque will be launched by the so-called Cordoba Initiative. So Cordoba stands for the legendary Al-Andalus, where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in peace, right?
Not quite. Cordoba stands for many other things as well. It was the name of the Islamic empire’s center, from where Islam ruled most of the then known world. It’s stands for one of the grandest mosques of that time which was, notabene, built on the ashes of a Christian Visigoth church. It stands, too for a massacre of the Jews of Cordoba in 1011 (yes, Al-Andalus wasn’t quite what Muslims and their enablers would like us to believe) and for the rape of the city by the Almohades in 1148. Some websites claim that the year 1011 carries some symbolism as well, but while that is entirely possible, it is too far-fetched to make it a point here.
To understand the full implications one has to know two basically simple things:
First, Christians and Jews build their places of worship to, well, worship. Muslims build mosques to symbolize Islamic supremacy over others, to proselytize, to politicize, as an arsenal.
Second, Muslims act on symbols.
The Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on top of the Jewish temple symbolizes Islamic supremacy over Judaism, the Ummayyad Mosque in Syria is built on top of St. John the Baptist, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was converted into a mosque as a symbol of Islamic supremacy over Christianity. The Cordoba Initiative mosque will be built on the ashes of almost thousand Americans who couldn’t be recovered after September 11, 2001. An innocent naive fallacy? Maybe, but I doubt it.
Here are some examples from Germany, my country, a country with, as of 2009, 4.3 million Muslims (5.4% of the population). Of these, 1.9 million are German citizens (2.4%). As of 2006, there were about 15,000 ethnic German converts. The large majority are of Turkish origin. Most Muslims live in Berlin and the big cities of former West Germany, mainly in the those of the industrial stronghold along the rivers Rhine and Ruhr.
TheÂ Yavuz-Sultan-Selim mosque in Mannheim is one of the biggest in Germany. Its patron,Â Selim I was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to 1520. Selim carried the empire to the leadership of the Sunni branch of Islam by his conquest of the Middle East. On the eve of his death in 1520, the Ottoman empire spanned almost 1 billion acres.
More than 50 mosques in Germany are calledÂ Fatih. Fatih means conqueror and refers toÂ Mehmet II who was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire for a short time from 1444 to September 1446, and later from February 1451 to 1481. At the age of 21, he conquered Constantinople in a bloodbath, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire. Mehmet continued his conquests in Asia, with the “Anatolian reunification”, and in Europe as far as Belgrade.
Other popular names for mosques in Germany are:
Aksa/Aqsa means “farthest”, and in this context the “farthest [so far] from Mecca”. The Muslim claim to Jerusalem and the Holy Land comes in here as well.
Ayasofya is emblematic for and purposefully reminiscent of Christian humiliation.
Hicret (arabic hidschra) refers to Mohammeds flight from Mekka to Medina in 622.
Al-Quds stands for Jerusalem. (It was an Al-Quds mosque in Hamburg from where Mohammed Atta set out to promote his very own brand of conquering.)
Selimiye refers to theÂ megalomaniac Selimiye mosque in Edirne:
Then we have theÂ Merkez mosque in Duisburg (Merkez means stronghold in Turkish), currently the biggest in Germany and probably in Europe as well. I discussed it previously for exampleÂ here andÂ here.
TheÂ controversial projected mosque in Cologne is called “Merkez” as well, which is (politically correct) translated not as “stronghold”, but as “center”. Everything not to let Muslims appear in a less than angelic light. I have covered the interesting and complex controvery that was triggered by the Cologne mosque, but went far beyond, it here:
Â»Â 02/17: What Americans don’t twig
Â»Â 04/26: Innocents Abroad
Â»Â 04/30: The Unembarrassables
Â»Â 05/10: Loose Apes with Razors
Â»Â 05/10: Shameless Cologne
Â»Â 05/13: The “Fission Fungus”
Â»Â 05/15: Rent-A-Nazi
Â»Â 10/02: German Patriot now Muslim
Another popular name for mosques in Germany isÂ Bilal. No, this has no apparent, blatant connection to Muslim conquest, however, it is interesting in a different sort of way. The EthiopianÂ Bilal ibn Ribah was the first Muezzin in the history of Islam and called from the rooftop of the first mosque, no minaret in sight. Until today,Â minarets are not mandatory in Saudi Arabia and many minaret-less and relatively inornate mosques among the older ones, some of them very important, can be seen there. Why? What about “symbolism”? Saudi Arabia was, and is, Muslim heartland and needed no “spearheads” to impress and bully infidels.
Ask for the name of the mosque next to you and do a quick Google search. The result might be interesting.
One more word about the Cordoba Initiative. Granted for argument’s sake that the Ground Zero mosque, pardon me, the Cordoba outreach center to make better people of infidels, was planned and is being realized in good faith. Then we still have to deal with the sensitivity aspect, haven’t we. Wasn’t it abundantly clear in the first stages of the planning process already that only too many Americans wouldn’t react kindly to a project like that? It seems that the sensitivity and respect Muslims are always so stridently demanding for themselves is utterly missing when they are addressing non-Muslims. Is it too far fetched to speculate how the idea of a German cultural center together with Protestant church, theater, swimming pool, the lot, as a gesture of reconciliation at theÂ Westerplatte would be received by the Poles? Or why the Japanese did never propose a center for the promotion of their culture at Pearl Harbor?
I will never forget where I have been when 9/11 happened and how long it took for the reality of WHAT had happened to seep in â€” and the horror when it finally had. Shortly after 9/11, an anonymous New Yorker released a Macromedia Flash presentation with a collage of news photos from the attacks and the victims. “Only Time” by Enya (which I hadn’t heard before) was used as a soundtrack. The Flash presentation spread rapidly over the internet and it isÂ still available. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it during the days and weeks following 9/11, bawling my eyes out. 30 times? 50 times? How can I ever forget the pictures of those who chose to fall to their death rather than to burn or to suffocate. Some choice. How the thought of the hundreds of firefighters who rushed to the scene to never come back? How the face of the gallant Father Mychal Judge who died, 68 years old, in a hail of steel and concrete as he administered the last rites to a firefighter and an office worker. And you, you who have been there, allow THEM to build one of their disgusting symbols of heathen supremacy over YOUR culture on the ashes of the victims.
What else do you need to know about Islam?