If it’s not a mosque, then what is it?

September 12, 2010

Writing in the New York Post, Amir Taheri has an interesting theory of what the proposed mosque/community center/whatever at Ground Zero really represents. He mentions the various types of Islamic buildings, all of which have very specific roles in Islam: for example, the takiyah is a Shiite building dedicated to passion plays about the death of Imam Husayn, while a zawiyyah is a type monastic complex.

But then, if the proposed building at Ground Zero is not a mosque, and if it isn’t a cultural center, then what is it?

Taheri’s answer? It is a rabat, a building meant to facilitate conquest:

The first rabat appeared at the time of the Prophet.

The Prophet imposed his rule on parts of Arabia through a series of ghazvas, or razzias (the origin of the English word “raid”). The ghazva was designed to terrorize the infidels, convince them that their civilization was doomed and force them to submit to Islamic rule. Those who participated in the ghazva were known as the ghazis, or raiders.

After each ghazva, the Prophet ordered the creation of a rabat — or a point of contact at the heart of the infidel territory raided. The rabat consisted of an area for prayer, a section for the raiders to eat and rest and facilities to train and prepare for future razzias. Later Muslim rulers used the tactic of ghazva to conquer territory in the Persian and Byzantine empires. After each raid, they built a rabat to prepare for the next razzia.

It is no coincidence that Islamists routinely use the term ghazva to describe the 9/11 attacks against New York and Washington. The terrorists who carried out the attack are referred to as ghazis or shahids (martyrs).

Thus, building a rabat close to Ground Zero would be in accordance with a tradition started by the Prophet. To all those who believe and hope that the 9/11 ghazva would lead to the destruction of the American “Great Satan,” this would be of great symbolic value.

(…)

A rabat in the heart of Manhattan would be of great symbolic value to those who want a high-profile, “in your face” projection of Islam in the infidel West.

I’ll note that Taheri has been controversial in the past, but that last statement echoes the opinions of Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah, writing in Canada’s Ottawa Citizen newspaper:

New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it’s not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as “Fitna,” meaning “mischief-making” that is clearly forbidden in the Koran.

Imam Rauf and other backers of the “Cordoba House” (since renamed Park51) have been adamant that the purpose of the new building is to promote interfaith understanding. Perhaps we should be listening to what other Muslims have to say, too.

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(Crossposted to Sister Toldjah)


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