Lessons in history ; Shared prayer space – al-Andalus

In the West we are increasingly seeing shared prayer spaces being offered within Churches for Muslims. This is due to the flood of migrants which have come to the West from the Middle East and Africa.
No consideration was given by the powers that be, as to how the migrants would assimilate or even practice their faith, certainly no thought was made for the natives of the countries they flooded into with the mass migration.
The shared prayer space is viewed by most westerners as being tolerant, accepting, welcoming and embracing other cultures and faiths.

If we look back in history to see when this practice was carried out and where it led to, we can see that this has led to the subjugation of Christians.
One example is Islamic Spain, or as it was known then, al-Andalus.

al-Andalus at its peak

The Moors of North Africa invaded by the strait of Gibraltar (Jabal Tariq), and entered the Iberian lands after a battle at Guadelette River in 711 AD.
Muslims rapidly swept North and across the Iberian Peninsula, the natives only choice was to submit to Islamic rule or die. Most were submitted by their own leaders, where a contract was signed, which set out conditions adhering to the rules of the Qur’an and Sunnah and the pact of Umar. The conditions listed how a Christian or Jews would live under Ahl Al-Dhimma (non-Muslim subject of an Islamic state) If the rules were broken the agreement would be disgarded and the punishment for doing that would be put into place, one was punishment of the death penalty.

Prior to this in the Iberian Peninsula, the treatment by the Visigoths to the Christians and Jews was said to be unfair, but nothing could prepare them for what was to come living under Islamic rule.
Muslims conquered many towns and cities within Spain and very quickly had most of the Iberian Peninsula under Islamic rule. It was promptly renamed al-Andalus.
Towards the south of Spain, the Church in city of Cordoba was captured by Muslims. Initially the Muslim rulers designated the Church as a joint prayer space, half for Christians and half for Muslims. They each had separate areas for worship.
This wasn’t to last, as the ruler Emir Abd al-Rahman I purchased the other half of the Church in 784 AD and proceeded to demolish it to make way for a mosque.

The mosque was started by Emir Abd al-Rahman I in 785 AD, 74 years after the conquest of Spain by Muslims, the Mosque was added to by Abd al-Rahman II in 833 AD, before being completed by al-Hakam II and the vizier al-Mansur in the second half of the 10th century.
The Mosque was called The Great Mosque of Cordoba.

It was to compete with the Mosque in Damascus, in size and architecture. On completion, the mosque was deemed one of the grandest mosques within Islam. Muslims are proud of the mosque to this day in time.

Inside Cordoba Cathedral (formerly a Mosque)

Another town towards the north named Santiago de Compostela was invaded. Santiago is very important to Christians, as it is believed to be the place where St. James, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ is buried.

In 977 AD, Santiago de Compostela was pillaged and razed to the ground, excavations of the area have revealed ash and rubble of the former ruins. As war booty, the bells of the Church were carried back to Cordoba on the backs of Christian captives. The bells were then installed within the mosque of Cordoba as oil lamps.
It was quite an accomplishment to obtain the bells of Christian Churches, plus being symbolic.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, built after destruction of former holy building by Muslim rulers

Muezzins sound the call of prayer (Adhan) from mosques to signal the time of prayer and to order Muslims to go to prayer, Adhans were and are used for announcements. The Adhan is now becoming common in the West with Muslim communities pushing for local authorities to allow it.
Similarly, Church bells of the time were used to organise the Christian community by signalling the times to pray, to sleep, to wake and would also be used to inform people of deaths in their community.

Nowadays in Mosques, loudspeakers are used to sound the Adhan, which will be heard over most everyday sounds.

At the time of the Islamic rule of Spain there were obviously no loudspeakers and if Church Bells were sounded, the call of prayer was unlikely to be heard.

In the time of Islamic rule of Spain hundreds of Churches were destroyed and mosques built in their place, as with the Santiago de Compostela and the Church of Cordoba.
Cordoba was taken back in 1236 AD during the Reconquista of Spain, the mosque of Cordoba was converted into a Roman Catholic Church, minarets were destroyed, all but one which was made into a bell tower.

It took two hundreds years after Santiago de Compostela was destroyed to recapture. King Ferdinand recaptured the bells at Cordoba Mosque, where they were taken back to Santiago de Compostela where a Cathedral now stood, they were never re-hung, they were left as a display of the recapture.
Within the church at Seville, there is a statue of King Ferdinand on a horse taking back the keys of the city from the Muslim ruler.

King Ferdinand taking keys back to Cordoba from Muslim ruler – Statue in Seville Cathedral

Granada was the last place to be taken back in the reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula.

Nowadays there a number of Muslim converts who want to reconnect with the version of history they have been taught. It is unlikely they know the truth of treatment of Christians under Islamic rule of Spain which is documented in history.
In 1990, there was two thousand Muslims in Granada – mostly converts – by 2010 there were fifteen thousand Muslims in Granada.

In 2003 a mosque opened there, a Muezzin called the adhan on the opening, before this it was previously prohibited, likely due to the history of the Islamic invasion. This was celebrated by Muslims as they had waited over 500 years for this moment.

Granada Mosque

It was a 22 year-old project which had many objections by locals after the land was purchased by Muslims.At the opening of the Mosque, Abdel Haqq Salaberria, a spokesman for the mosque and convert to Islam said.

“It will act as a focal point for the Islamic revival in Europe.”

It is a stones throw away from the Alahambra Palace which was built by Muslim rulers of Spain in the 14th century. At its peak it was known as the centre of the Islam. It is now a tourist attraction for people from all over the world.

Alahambra Palace

The Mosque of Cordoba was second in place to the Alahambra Palace. Muslims are now asking for shared prayer space at Cordoba Cathedral, the initial request was specifically from Muslim converts and was in the year of 2000.

In 2010 whilst visiting the Cathedral, half a dozen Muslims out of a group of 100 knelt down to pray in the Cathedral. A fight broke out with security, and the Muslims were arrested. One Muslim was reported to have had a knife in his possession and the prayer session was said to be provoked in a pre-planned fashion.
Some might see this as harsh treatment without prior knowledge of there being a knife, but due to evidence from Islamic history and from Muhammad’s time, if a Muslim prays in an area it means the area, building or land is being claimed by Islam.
That goes for all holy buildings, streets, sites of importance like the outside the WhiteHouse, the Vatican and The Houses of Parliament as we have seen in recent years.

By 766 AD, Cordoba was the capital of the Islamic caliphate; the caliphate was named The Caliphate of Cordoba.

Ariel view of Cordoba Cathedral

Islamic Spain is known to Muslims as the period of the Golden Islamic age. Muslims long to take back Spain and revive the caliphate they once had there.

With the flood of migrants, the converts who haven’t researched the history of Islamic Spain, the growing Muslim population, pressure from the left, and world authorities, including the Pope, to allow the growth of Islam in Spain is looking like it could become a very real possibility.
There is pressure from Muslim Groups for the Cathedral which is owned by the Catholic Church to be repossessed, to enable it to be used as shared prayer space.

The Cathedral is known as the Mosque – Cathedral due to its Islamic past which is still present in architecture and some Islamic scripture on walls, but in 2014 UNESCO started calling it The Great Mosque of Cordoba.

Random Fact – Area 51, the building to be used for conversion of the proposed mosque near ground Zero, New York, was named The House of Cordoba.

“My Dear brothers, we are here to spread the message of Allah. Now, the enemy is in front of you and the sea behind. You fight for His cause. Either you will be victorious or martyred. There is no third choice. All means of escape have been destroyed.”(Tariq Ibn Zayed, Invasion of the Iberian Peninsula

© Islamic Blueprint-JA Statham 2017


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