Cultures are full of symbols. Flags, standards and banners are symbols. They are not just pieces of colored cloth, wood or metal; they symbolize armies, ideologies and nations. Idols are not deities but symbols of such entities. The cross is a symbol, reminiscent of the crucifixion of Jesus, and so is the crescent, the symbol of the Mesopotamian moon god, that has been adopted by the Muslims as the symbol of Islam. While celestial religious symbols and deification of humans have been prohibited by the Jews, they symbolically sanctify the Torah scrolls, hand-written on parchment, that describe the pre-monarchic history of the Israelites, their laws and faith, inherent in Jewish culture.
People honor and protect their own symbols but often destroy the symbols of adversaries as a token of dominance.
The New York Trade Center was a symbol of US global economic dominance. Its destruction by suicidal Jihad (holy war) has symbolized for Muslims all over the world the dominance of Islam over the non-Muslim West.
Jerusalem and its temple have been a symbol of sovereignty and independence of the Jewish nation, and thus became the main reason for their destruction by the Chaldeans and subsequently by the Romans.
Today, like 2000 years ago, Jewish reign over Jerusalem and its Temple Mount symbolizes the vitality of the Jewish nation; this is the reason for the persistent attempts of the Muslim to infringe on, and eventually abolish this sovereignty by any way possible.
In their attempts to symbolize the superiority of Islam over Judaism, the Muslims built a mosque on the ruins of the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem. They built a mosque over the church in Cordoba and then converted the Hegia Sophia church in Constantinople into a mosque. They did the same to hundreds of Hindu and Buddhist shrines. Recently, the Taliban followed the same fourteen hundred year old Islamic tradition and destroyed the monumental Buddha statues in Bamyan – again, to symbolize Islamic global dominance.
The Muslims, who now intend to build a gigantic mosque near the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City, with the active support of its “progressive” Jewish Mayor, plan to name it “Cordoba House,” presumably to symbolize the mythical Islamic religiously tolerant “golden age.” However, ironically the “Cordoba House” symbolizes something very different.
I visited the colossal Cordoba mosque some years ago. It is a monumental building that encompasses a beautiful small pre-Islamic church in its interior. That church was functional when my wife and I visited the place. The so called “barbaric” Christians preserved the mosque that encompasses it, symbolizing the superiority of Islam, as a historic shrine. After recapturing Cordoba, the Christians could have destroyed the mosque and free their ancient church from its Islamic jail. They could have also converted the entire mosque, which was most probably built by Christian forced laborers, into a spectacular church as was done to the Hegia Sofia. They did neither. They showed respect for the culture of the vanquished Muslims. This act of Christians symbolizes the intrinsic difference between the so called “barbaric” medieval Christianity (as it is being described by today’s Islamophil scholars) and the so called “enlightened” “golden age” Islam.
Coming back to the “Cordoba House” in NYC, let us not surrender and validate the 9/11 atrocity as a symbolic Islamic victory (this is how it has been received in the entire Muslim world), on grounds of American “freedom of religion.” The 9/11 carnage was undoubtedly a religiously inspired act. However, that religion mandates its believers to kill any “non-believer” and glorifies suicide as a means to achieve that goal, as was so gruesomely illustrated on 9/11/2001. This was not a transgression but a hallmark of fundamental Islam.
Any member of society who intentionally commits a blatant anti-social act, i.e., murder, must lose most of his societal privileges. Likewise, a faith that violates basic premises of social behavior and motivates atrocities all over the world should not enjoy privileges of American “freedom of religion.” Certainly, it should not be rewarded by a symbolic victory.
The Muslims who promote erecting a conspicuous Islamic monument close to the site of the 9/11 massacre are not interested in interfaith harmony or in religious worship but in glorification of the most successful act of Jihadism to date; inevitably it would encourage more Muslims world-wide to volunteer for such a “gallant” mission. A simple test of the true symbolic meaning of this planned overwhelming Islamic structure is the persistent refusal to change its venue.
Michael Anbar PhD