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Newsletter for February 2007


the Message Continues ... 8/66

Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12



                    Cordoba’s Great Mosque
                                                          by Javed Akbar,Markham, ON

The Cordoba mosque reminds us as a metaphor of the Christian-Muslim struggle. Here was one of the most magnificent buildings in the world distorted and disfigured by the inquisitors. Abdur Rahman I had begun the mosque in 785 after buying the land at the site; in 1236, it was captured and converted into a church. Shortly after, when King Charles V of Spain visited Cordoba and saw what his priests had done, he was appalled. "You have built here what you or anyone might have built anywhere else, but you have destroyed what was unique in the world," he said with sorrow.

Here was a glorious Muslim civilization which, after centuries, was abruptly killed off. Yet the contours of this civilization are still
visible in their buildings, such as the Cordoba mosque.

Andalusia remained buried as deeply in the Muslim as in the Spanish psyche. Now, five centuries after the expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Andalusia, the world media have helped to exorcise the ghost. There is an exuberant discovery of the past; suddenly Andalusians are proud of their Moorish heritage.

John Moore rightly suggests that "the Great Mosque stands as a potential symbol of religious reconciliation..." With the influx of immigrants and with a growing Muslim population, people across Europe are agitated, xenophobic and need to ask: Can humanism be sustained in the face of populations that are neither European nor white? Will intolerance - whether religious or ethnic - tear the fabric of society, as we saw in the former Yugoslavia during the1990s?

Some of these answers were successfully tackled by a European society which existed some one-thousand years ago --Muslim Spain. Europe would do well to look to the past for inspiration in shaping its future.

Muslim Spain challenges some of our contemporary stereotypes. Here were Arabs as a vastly more developed civilization; here were Europeans still with centuries to go before they could compete as a great civilization; yet here also was harmony in spite of the divisions of race and religion. It is a lesson we would do well to learn in a world of plural societies that are often at odds with one another.



 Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12



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