Early Interactions Between Muslims, Jews, And Christians Under Islam

2462 words - 10 pages

When it comes to the modern relationship that Islam shares with both Christianity and Judaism, it is not difficult to recognize mutual hostility. Islamic extremism has been gradually dominating the Western perception of Muslims—in the midst of this, the World Trade Center attacks could only exacerbate the situation. On that account, it was no surprise when these hostile attitudes were unmistakably revealed during the “Cordoba House” mosque controversy at which point in 2010, it was proposed that a mosque dubbed the Cordoba House be established near ground zero. Sure enough, the proposition was met with overwhelming opposition and rebuke (Barbaro). Most of the country objected to the mosque while many of those with more personal experiences regarding 9/11 felt deeply offended and unsettled. What is more, the event garnered picket signs, protests, and contempt from local civilians (Goodstein). Among the mosque’s prominent opponents was former house speaker Newt Gingrich. Speaking out against the proposal, he claims that the push for the Cordoba House mosque “is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites” (Gingrich). Gingrich goes on to say that calling the mosque the “Cordoba House” is a deliberate insult in that “it refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex,” and “every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest. It is a sign of their contempt for Americans.” However, an investigation into Cordoba’s state of affairs during Muslim rule might lead one to believe that the existing hostility between these cultures has not always been so prominent; and, moreover, that the relationship between these religions was more peaceful than expected.
The mosque that Newt Gingrich refers to is the Great Mosque of Cordoba. It was built by Abd al-Rahman I in the latter half of the eighteenth century in al-Andalus, Spain (Menocal 7, 58, 59). Abd al-Rahman I himself had arrived in al-Andalus as a prince—the last of his family, the Umayya. The Umayyads started out as one of the elite clans of Mecca who at first rejected Muhammad’s divine revelations (Kishlansky, Geary and O'Brien). However, Muhammad utilized his resources and quickly grew a strong following, organizing them into the Umma, an Islamic family “that transcended the old bonds of tribe and clan” (Kishlansky, Geary and O'Brien). As his support proliferated, his opposition dwindled and increasingly converted to Islam. In 629, with 10,000 warriors at his command, Muhammad marched onto Mecca and quickly conquered it with few casualties. The elite Meccan clans—the Umayya among them—were swiftly rehabilitated into the Umma, much to the chagrin of Muhammad’s earliest followers.
The Umayya remained a powerful clan as Islam spread under Muhammad and, after his death in 632, his two successors, or...

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