The debate that is taking place over the building of the Cordoba House, which will include a mosque a few under feet from Ground Zero, has led to many discussions between proponent and opponents of this project. However, in all the reading I did on the topic, none went in great detail into an explanation of why Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has used the name Cordoba House for his project and Cordoba Initiative for his organization.
Let us suppose that a German group called Blitzkrieg Initiative or The Lebensraum Initiative wanted to build a cultural center near the ruins of a concentration camp. Would we be asking why the organization chose the name it did?
Why are we not doing the same with respect to the Cordoba Initiative? Why Cordoba and what is the significance of this name in Muslim History?
Cordoba is a city in Andalusia, Spain that the Moors conquered in the year 711 from the Visigoths, and which five years later was declared an emirate under the rule of the Damascus Caliphate. By 785 the Moors began the construction of the now famous Mezquita mosque on the ruins of a Christian Visigoth Church. As the Muslims have done throughout all the places that they had conquered, their important mosques are built on top or near the great houses of worship or symbols of the conquered civilizations.
Cordoba and Andalusia, are both a symbol of Islam’s expansion and the collapse of Islam in Spain after the Reconquista. In the writings and speeches of Osama bin Laden, he frequently refers to Andalusia and the goal of the reestablishment of the caliphate.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is not interested in establishing a cultural center for the sake of interaction and the promotion of tolerance. This center is designed, just like the great mosque in London that will be located near the Olympic stadium, as an Islamic symbol of the first step taken by radical Muslims to ensure the establishment of Sharia law in the West and the United States.
We cannot continue celebrating the words of tolerance that we hear from Islamic organizations and their leaders without listening and reading the translation of the speeches that the same leaders give in Arabic throughout the Muslim world.
Here is a video presented by PJTV with translations and explanations of statements made by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf in the Middle East that sound quite different from the words we hear when he or his wife are interviewed by the mainstream media.