The Parasitic Host: Conversion of Historic Non-Muslim Places of Worship into Mosques

Because Islam is the creation from looting and invasions, it differs from the other major religions in it that it had no actual leadership, no ‘prophet’ conveying its message, but it was a ‘borrowed’ religion. Hindus, Buddhists and Christians through ages have always opined and written that Islam – unlike the other main religions – is a false religion built on a war strategy by a criminal warlord. The Qur’an is copy and paste from whatever booty Mohammed managed to acquire from his raids and pillages.

It was not unusual in medieval times to exploit people’s religious superstitions for war strategy. Timur (Tamerlane 9 April 1336 – 18 February 1405), the Turco-Mongolian military genius and a tactician, was known for his clever use of religion as a strategy for war and invasion. Tamerlane wanted to conquer and rule the Muslim world but could not claim the supreme title of the Islamic world, caliph, because the “office was limited to the Quraysh, the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad.” Therefore, Tamerlane reacted to the challenge by creating a myth and image of himself as a “supernatural personal power” ordained by God. Probably exactly what prophet Mohammed had done centuries before him.

Therefore, the Qur’an has no beginning, no end, no actual structure and even to this day Muslims cannot agree on the validity of passages since they widely contradict each other. They thus keep abbreviating the Qur’an again and again. One can say that the only authentic sections of the Qur’an which indeed seem to originate from the time of Mohammed and bear testimony to his life is the Hadith’s and the Sirath – his biography and teachings. The rest originates from other religions.

As is common with a parasitic host, it lives off others without an ability to create anything of its own. And Islam has always been a parasitic host on the creations, ideas, and inventions of the victims of Muslim mass murders, invasions and pillages.

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The conversion of non-Muslim places of worship into mosques occurred primarily during the life of Muhammad and continued during subsequent Islamic conquests and under historical Muslim rule. As a result, numerous Hindu temples, churches, synagogues, the Parthenon and Zoroastrian temples were converted into mosques. Several such mosques in Muslim or ex-Muslim lands have since reverted or become museums, such as the Hagia Sophia in Turkey and numerous mosques in Spain.

File:Mosque of Cordoba Spain.jpg

Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba, Built over a pagan worship place, then converted into church and then, the Umayyad Moors built a mosque half of the site, which was then turned into a Christian cathedral.

Ka’aba

Before the rise of Islam the Ka’aba, and Mecca (previously known as Bakkah), were revered as a sacred sanctuary and was a site of pilgrimage.[1] Some identify it with the Biblical “valley of Baca” from Psalms 84 (Hebrew: בך‎).[2][3] At the time of Muhammad (AD 570–632), his tribe the Quraysh was in charge of the Kaaba, which was at that time a shrine containing hundreds of idols representing Arabian tribal gods and other religious figures. Muhammad earned the enmity of his tribe by claiming the shrine for the new religion of Islam that he preached. He wanted the Kaaba to be dedicated to the worship of the one God alone, and all the idols were evicted. The Black Stone (al-Hajar-ul-Aswad), still present at the Kaaba was a special object of veneration at the site. According to tradition the text of seven especially honoured poems were suspended around the Ka’aba.

According to Islam, Muhammad’s actions were not strictly a conversion but rather a restoration of the mosque established on that site by Abraham, who is considered to be a prophet in Islam. The Ka’aba thus became known as the Masjid al-Haram, or Sacred Mosque, the holiest site in Islam.

File:Kaaba mirror edit jj.jpg

Biblical Holy Sites

Mosques were regularly established on the places of Jewish or Christian sanctuaries associated with Biblical personalities who were also recognized by Islam. This practice was particularly common in Palestine. The Caliph Umar initially built a small prayer house, which laid the foundation for the later construction of the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, the most sacred site in Judaism, possibly by the Umayyads. The Dome of the Rock was also built on the Temple Mount which was an abandoned and disused area. Upon the capture of Jerusalem, it is commonly reported that Umar refused to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.[5] for fear that later Muslims would then convert it into a mosque in spite of a treaty guaranteeing its safety.[6]

The mosque of Job in Ash Shaykh Sa’d, Syria, was previously a church of Job.[4] The Herodian shrine of Cave of the Patriarchs, the second most holy site in Judaism, was converted into a church during the Crusades before being turned into a mosque in 1266 and henceforth banned to Jews and Christians. Part of it was restored as a synagogue after 1967 by Israel.

Umayyad Mosque

The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus (‘Umayya al-Kabīr), located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. It is considered by some Muslims to be the fourth-holiest place in Islam.

After the Arab conquest of Damascus in 634, the mosque was built on the site of a Christian basilica dedicated to John the Baptist (Yahya). The mosque holds a shrine which today may still contain the head of John the Baptist, honored as a prophet by both Christians and Muslims alike, and is believed to be the place where Isa (Jesus) will return at the End of Days. The tomb of Saladin stands in a small garden adjoining the north wall of the mosque.

File:Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.jpg

The Christian basilica dedicated to John the Baptist was converted into the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus.

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The “Mosque”of Córdoba was actually a Cathedral belonging to the Catholic church. Visigothic Catholic Church from ≈600; divided into Muslim and Christian halves after the Islamic conquest.

After the Islamic conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom, the building was divided between the Muslims and Christians. When the exiled Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman I escaped to Spain and defeated the governor of Al-Andalus, Yusuf al-Fihri, he allowed the Christians to rebuild their ruined churches, and purchased the Christian half of the church of St. Vincent. Abd al-Rahman I and his descendants reworked it over two centuries to fashion it as a mosque, starting in 784. Additionally, Abd al-Rahman I used the mosque (originally called Aljama Mosque) as an adjunct to his palace and named it to honour his wife. Traditionally, the mihrab, or apse of a mosque faces in the direction of Mecca; by facing the mihrab, worshipers pray towards Mecca. Mecca is east-southeast of the mosque, but the mihrab points south.

The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while Al-Hakam II, in 961, enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of the reforms was carried out by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 987. It was connected to the Caliph’s palace by a raised walk-way, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – with Christian Kings following suit and building their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

File:Mezquita de Córdoba desde el aire (Córdoba, España).jpg

Muslim invasions and brutality forced this church to be converted into a mosque.

Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples

The destruction of Hindu temples in India during the Islamic conquest of India occurred from the beginning of Muslim conquest until the end the Mughal Empire throughout the Indian subcontinent. In his book “Hindu Temples – What Happened to Them“, Sita Ram Goel produced a politically contentious list of 2000 mosques that it is claimed were built on Hindu temples.[7] The second volume of the book excerpts from medieval histories and chronicles and from inscriptions concerning the destruction of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples. In Indonesia, where popular conversion from Hinduism to Islam was more widespread, it is believed that the minaret of the Menara Kudus Mosque, in Java, was originally part of a Hindu temple.[7]

Ram Janmabhoomi

Ram Janmabhoomi refers to a tract of land in the North Indian city of Ayodhya which is claimed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. Archeological Survey of India (ASI), after conducting excavations at the site reported that prior to 1528, filed a report that stated that a temple stood at this site before the arrival of Mughals who constructed Babri Mosque at its present site.[8] Critics of the report claim that the “presence of animal bones throughout as well as of the use of ‘surkhi’ and lime mortar” that was found by ASI are all characteristic of Muslim presence, which they claim “rule out the possibility of a Hindu temple having been there beneath the mosque”.[9] From 1528 to 1992 this was the site of the Babri Mosque. The mosque was razed in 6 December 1992 by a mob of some 150,000 nationalist Hindus supported by the nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP),[10][11] after a political rally developed into a riot[12] despite a commitment to the Indian Supreme Court by the rally organisers that the mosque would not be harmed.[13] The Sangh Parivaar, along with VHP and the main Indian opposition party, sought to erect a temple dedicated to Lord Rama at this site. Nobel Laureate novelist V. S. Naipaul has praised Hindu nationalists for “reclaiming India’s Hindu heritage”. Naipaul added that the destruction of Babri structure was an act of historical balancing and the reclaiming of the Ramjanmabhoomi was a “welcome sign that Hindu pride was re-asserting itself”. The 1986 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica stated that “Rama’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Moghul emperor Babar in 1528 on the site claimed of an earlier temple”.[14] Archaeological excavations at the site by the Archeological Survey of India reported the existence of a 10th-century temple.[8] ” The report stated that scientific dating indicated human activity at the site as far back to the 17th century BC.[15] On 30 September 2010, Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2.7 acres disputed land in Ayodhya, on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on 6 December 1992, will be divided into three parts: the site of the Ramlala idol to Lord Ram, Nirmohi Akhara gets Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, Sunni Wakf Board gets a third.

Somnath Temple

File:Somanatha view-II.JPG
Somnath temple (“today”; as reclaimed by Hindus), Somnath, India

A century later the third temple was constructed in red sandstone by the Pratihara king, Nagabhata II. Soon the temple regained its old glory and wealth, the descriptions of which were carried to the Middle East. In particular, the accounts of the Arab Al Biruni impressed Mahmud of Ghazni. In AD 1025, Mahmud destroyed and looted the temple, killing over 50,000 people who tried to defend it.[16] The defenders included the 90-year-old clan leader Ghogha Rana. Mahmud personally broke the gilded lingam to pieces and took them back to his homeland and placed them in the steps leading to the newly built Jamiah Masjid, so that they would be stepped upon by those going to the mosque to pray.[16][17] Work on the fourth temple was started immediately by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhima of Patan and the temple was ready by AD 1042. This temple was destroyed in AD 1300. At that time Allaudin Khilji occupied the throne of Delhi and he sent his general, Alaf Khan, to pillage Somnath. The fifth temple was built by King Mahipala of the Chudasama dynasty.[17]

File:Somnath temple ruins (1869).jpg

Converted structure at the site of Somnath temple, 1869

Somnath was repeatedly attacked in the succeeding centuries. The last of these attacks was by the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in AD 1701. A mosque was built at the site of the temple.[17] In AD 1783 queen Ahilyabhai Holkar built the sixth temple at an adjacent site. The temple still stands and worship is carried out there. After independence, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel pledged on 13 November 1947, that the seventh temple would be reconstructed. According to prescribed Hindu rituals, pledges are made by taking holy water in one’s fist. Leaders like Morarji Desai, Dr. Rajendra Prasad (the first president) and Kanhaiyalal Munshi joined in and the work was entrusted to the Sompura Shilpakars, whose ancestors rebuilt each new temple through the ages. The mosque built by Aurangazeb was not destroyed but carefully relocated. In 1951 Dr. Rajendra Prasad performed the consecration ceremony with the words “The Somnath Temple signifies that the power of creation is always greater than the power of destruction.” The temple construction was completed on 1 December 1995, long after the demise of Sardar Patel. The then President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, dedicated it to the nation.

Kuragala Cave Temple

Kuragala Cave Temple is an ancient Buddhist holy site in the Sabaragamuwa province of Sri Lanka which has roots in the preChristian era and declared at the beginning of 20th century as a protected place by the department of archaeology of the country.

There is small mosque and a shrine at the place used by Dafthar Jailany for prayer. The mosque and the temple have co-existed since 10th century AD.

Other references

File:Intricate stone carvings in the cloister of Quwwat ul-Islam mosque, near Qutub Minar.jpg

Intricate stone carvings on the cloister columns at Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque, Qutb complex, Delhi

An inscription at the Quwwat Al-Islam Mosque adjacent to Qutb Minar in Delhi states: “This Jamii Masjid built in the months of the year 587 (hijri) by the Amir, the great, the glorious commander of the Army, Qutb-ud-daula wad-din, the amir-ul-umara Aibeg, the slave of the Sultan, may God strengthen his helpers! The materials of 27 idol temples, on each of which 2,000,000 Deliwal coins had been spent were used in the (construction of) this mosque”.[18] However as the inscription depicts, the mosque was built from the material remnants of Hindu temples which was destroyed by Muslims. Alberuni in his India[19] writes about the famous temple of Multan: A famous idol of theirs was that of Multan, dedicated to the sun, .. When Muhammad Ibn Alkasim Ibn Almunabbih, conquered Multan, he inquired how the town had become so very flourishing and so many treasures had there been accumulated, and then he found out that this idol was the cause, for there came pilgrims from all sides to visit it. Therefore he thought to build a mosque at the same place where the temple once stood. When then the Karmatians occupied Multan, Jalam Ibn Shaiban, the usurper, broke the idol into pieces and killed its priests. .. When afterwards the blessed Prince Mahmud swept away their rule from those countries, he made again the old mosque the place of the Friday-worship. An inscription of 1462 A.D.at Jami Masjid at Malan, in Banaskantha District of Gujarat states: The Jami Masjid was built by Khan-I-Azam Ulugh Khan, who suppressed the wretched infidels. He eradicated the idolatrous houses and mine of infidelity, along with the idols with the edge of the sword, and made ready this edifice. He made its walls and doors out of the idols; the back of every stone became the place for prostration of the believer.[20] Mughal Emperor Jahangir wrote in his Tujuk-i-Jahangiri:

“I am here led to relate that at the city of Banaras a temple had been erected by Rajah Maun Sing, which cost him the sum of nearly thirty-six laks of five methkaly ashrefies. …I made it my plea for throwing down the temple which was the scene of this imposture; and on the spot, with the very same materials, I erected the great mosque, because the very name of Islam was proscribed at Banaras, and with God’s blessing it is my design, if I live, to fill it full with true believers”.[21]

Zoroastrian Temples

After the Islamic conquest of Persia, Zoroastrian fire temples, with their four axial arch openings, were usually turned into mosques simply by setting a mihrab (prayer niche) on the place of the arch nearest to qibla (the direction of Mecca). This practice is described by numerous Muslim sources; however, the archaeological evidence confirming it is still scarce. Zoroastrian temples converted into mosques in such a manner could be found in Bukhara, as well as in and near Istakhr and other Iranian cities.[4]

The Practice Today

The conversion of non-Islamic places of worship into mosques has abated since no major territorial acquisitions have been made by Muslim majority populations in recent times. However, some of the Greek Orthodox churches in Turkey that were left behind by expelled Greeks in 1923 were converted into mosques.

A relatively significant surge in church-mosque conversion followed the 1974 Turkish Invasion of Cyprus. Many of the Orthodox churches in Northern Cyprus have been converted, and many are still in the process of becoming mosques.

File:Aksadenhaag2.jpg

The Aksa mosque in The Hague, Netherlands, was formerly a synagogue.

Churches and synagogues in non-Islamic countries re-arranged as mosques

In areas that have experienced Muslim immigration, such as parts of Europe and North America,[22][23] some church buildings, and those of other religious congregations, that have fallen into disuse have been converted into mosques following a sale of the property.

In London, the Brick Lane Mosque has previously served as a synagogue.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia (from the Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Turkish: Ayasofya) is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople of the Western Crusader established Latin Empire. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who subsequently ordered the building converted into a mosque.[24] The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed and many of the mosaics were plastered over. Islamic features – such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets – were added while in the possession of the Ottomans. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularised. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.[25]

__________________________

Notes:

  1. Britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM, “Ka’bah.”
  2. Daniel C. Peterson (2007). Muhammad, prophet of God. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 22–25. ISBN 978-0-8028-0754-0.
  3. Psalms 84:6, King James Version
  4. Hillenbrand, R. “Masdjid. I. In the central Islamic lands”. In P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912.
  5. He was touring the Church and prayer time came around and he requested to be shown to a place where he may pray and the Patriarch said “Here”.
  6. Adrian Fortescue, “The Orthodox Eastern Church”, Gorgias Press LLC, 1 Dec 2001, pg. 28 ISBN 0-9715986-1-4
  7. [1] Hindu temples- What happened to them
  8. Proof of temple found at Ayodhya: ASI report Rediff News, 25 August 2003 19:35 IST
  9. Ayodhya verdict yet another blow to secularism: Sahmat The Hindu, 3 October 2010
  10. Babri Masjid demolition was planned 10 months in advance – PTI
  11. Uproar over India mosque report: Inquiry into Babri mosque’s demolition in 1992 Al-Jazeera English – 24 November 2009
  12. Babri mosque demolition case hearing today. Yahoo News – 18 September 2007
  13. Tearing down the Babri Masjid – Eye Witness BBC’s Mark Tully BBC – Thursday, 5 December 2002, 19:05 GMT
  14. 15th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 1986, entry “Ayodhya”, Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.
  15. The ASI Report – a reviewFrontline (25 October – November, 07, 2003), published by The Hindu
  16. [2] Destruction of Somnath Temple
  17. [3] Muslim invasion of Gujarat
  18. Epigraphia Indo Moslemica, 1911–12, p. 13.
  19. Alberuni’s India, Edward C. Sachau, (Translator and Editor)
  20. Epigraphia Indica-Arabic and Persian Supplement, 1963, Pp. 26–29
  21. Tujuk-i-Jahangiri Trans. David Price, http://persian.packhum.org/persian/pf?file=11001040&ct=7
  22. Perlez, Jane (2 April 2007). “Old Church Becomes Mosque in Uneasy Britain”. The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  23. Applebome, Peter (18 August 2010). “Utica Welcomes a New Mosque Replacing an Old Church”. The New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  24. Hagia Sophia.” ArchNet.
  25. Magdalino, Paul, et al. “Istanbul: Buildings, Hagia Sophia” in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. http://www.oxfordartonline.com. accessed 28 February 2010.
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