Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Few Historical Notes

A friend sent me the following information. As it presents historical facts, I thought it would be prudent to share it.

Let me note three things: First, the incidents cited are facts, not conjectures or interpretations. Second, the friend who sent me this is a man intimately acquainted with Islam having lived many years in a Moslem controlled country. Too often we accept the romanticized opinions of those who do not have direct experience with particular realities - my friend does not represent that propensity. Third, I have 'neutralized' several statements to remove potential contextual misunderstandings.

Moslems are proposing a 13-story $100,000,000.00 Million Dollar Mosque in the immediate debris field of the destroyed World Trade Center site in New York. Questions have been raised whether this Mosque would be an example of America's 'tolerance', or a Tribute to a great Moslem Conquest. Some have charged that the proposed complex’s name “Cordoba Cultural Center” reveals the intentions to be triumphalistic. Others relate the name to an historic era of peaceful coexistence on the Iberian Peninsula.

What history witnesses:

In 630, Muhammad led 10,000 Moslem soldiers into Mecca and turned the pagans' most prominent spot, the Ka'aba, into the Masjid al-Haram Mosque.

In 634, Rightly Guided Caliph Umar conquered Syria and turned the Christians' most prominent spot, the Church of Job, famous for being visited by Saint Silva in the fourth century, into the Mosque of Job.

In 637, Caliph Umar conquered Hebron and turned the second-most prominent spot in Judaism, the Cave of the Patriarchs, into the Ibrahimi Mosque. (This was repeated by Saladin in 1188.)

In 638, Moslem generals Amr ibn al-As and Khalid ibn al-Walid conquered Gaza and turned the prominent fifth-century Byzantine church into the Great Mosque of Gaza.

In 638, Caliph Umar conquered Jerusalem. In 691, Caliph Al-Malik ordered the Dome of the Rock built on the most prominent spot in Judaism, the Temple Mount, followed by Caliph Al-Walid building the Al-Aqsa Mosque there in 705.

In 651, Moslems conquered Persia and turned temples in Bukhara and Istakhr into mosques.

In 706, after Moslems took Damascus from the Byzantine Empire, Caliph Al-Walid turned the prominent Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist into the Umayyad Mosque.

In 710, Gen. Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Pakistan, defiled the prominent Sun Temple in Multan, which housed the great idol "Sanam," and erected a Mosque.

In 784, after the conquest of Spain, Emir Abd ar-Rahman turned the prominent Visigothic Christian Church of Saint Vincent into the Great Aljama Mosque of Cordoba.

After the conquest of Egypt, Caliphs al-Mamun (813-833) and al-Hakim (996-1021) turned prominent Coptic Christian churches and Jewish synagogues in Cairo into mosques.

In 831, Moslems conquered Palermo, Sicily, and Asad ibn al-Furat turned the prominent Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption into the Great Mosque of Bal'harm.

In 1193, Moslems conquered Delhi, India, and Qutbuddin Aibak turned the Red Citadel in Dhillika, the most prominent spot of the last Hindu rulers, into the Qutb Minar Mosque.

From 1250-1517, Mamluk Moslems controlled the Golan Heights and used the ancient Synagogue of Katzrin as a mosque.

In 1387, Turkish Moslems conquered Thessaloniki and turned the Katholikon Monastery and the Church of Aghia Sophia, which housed the relics of Saint Gregorios Palamas, into Mosques, as Symeon of Thessaloniki recorded: "The greatest number of the buildings of the churches fell to them, of which the first was the Holy Church of the Savior. These were trampled underfoot and the infidels rejoiced in them. Most of the religious buildings in the city were despoiled, while altars were demolished and sacred things profaned."

On May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople and turned the great Byzantine church, Hagia Sophia, into the Ayasofya Mosque. The largest Church in Christendom for a thousand years, the church's four acres of gold mosaics were covered with whitewash and Quran verses.

In 1458, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Athens and turned the Greeks' most prominent spot, the Parthenon on Acropolis hill, into a mosque. When Venetian Gen. Francesco Morosini drove the Moslems out in 1687, a cannonball hit the gunpowder stored in the mosque, blowing it up.

In the 15th century, Ottoman invaders turned Saint Clement's Macedonian Orthodox Monastery in Plaosnik, Balkans, into the Imater Mosque.

From 1519-1858, Moslem Mughal rulers gained control of India and turned over 2,000 Hindu temples into Mosques, including demolishing the Temple of Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Rama, and replacing it with the Babri Mosque.

India's Mughal Moslem ruler, Jahangir (1605-1627), wrote in Tujuk-i-Jahangiri: "At the city of Banaras was a temple. I made it my plea for throwing down the temple and on the spot, with the very same materials, I erected the great Mosque."

In 1543, Hayreddin Barbarossa's 30,000 Moslem troops wintered in Toulon, France, and turned the prominent Toulon Cathedral into a Mosque.

In 1570, under Sultan Selim II Khan, Moslems conquered Paphos, Cyprus, and Gov. Mehmet Bey Ebubkir turned the prominent Christian church into the Great Mosque of Paphos.

In 1571, Moslems invaded Famagusta, Cyprus, and turned Saint Nicolas Cathedral, a rare Gothic church, into the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Nicosia, constructed in 1228, into the Selimiye Mosque.

In 1588, Sultan Murat III turned the Eastern Orthodox Church of Saint John the Forerunner in Constantinople into the Hirami Ahmet Pasha Mosque.

In 1781, after having conquered the Old City of Acre, Ottoman Moslems turned the Roman Catholic Church built by Crusaders into the Jezzar Ahmet Pasha Mosque, where a hair from Muhammad's beard is preserved.

In 1923, Moslems expelled Greeks from Turkey and turned Orthodox churches into mosques.

In World War II, Nazis allied with Bosnians and turned the prominent Artists' Gallery Museum in Zagreb, Croatia, into a mosque.

In the 1950s, Moslems expelled Jews from Arab lands and turned synagogues into Mosques.

Algerian Moslems warred against French colonial rule until the French took their Leave in 1962, after which the Cathedral of St. Philippe was turned into the Ketchaoua Mosque. Violence caused 30,000 Jews to flee and the Great Synagogue of Oran was turned into the Mosque Abdellah Ben Salem. In 1974, Turkish Moslems invaded northern Cyprus, and prominent Greek Orthodox Churches were turned into Mosques.

In 1981, Moslem immigrants to the Netherlands converted Amsterdam's historic Catholic Sint-Ignatiuskerk into the Fatih Mosque, and a synagogue in The Hague into the Aksa Mosque.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Moslems attacked the World Trade Center. In less than 10 years, the number of Mosques in New York City has skyrocketed to over 140. In light of History, would a Mosque in the immediate debris field of the Ground Zero site be a sign of America's 'tolerance', or a monument to a Great Moslem Victory over "The Great Satan"?

Coming in 2011

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On a Certain "Contemporary Translation"

As most readers know, your rambling host prefers Biblical translations that follow (in the Old Testament) the Septuagint (New English Translation of the Septuagint, Brenton, Orthodox Study Bible - and the long awaited translation that will come from Holy Transfiguration Monastery). That said, I have a fondness for the Revised Standard Version, the very good English Standard Version and the classics - the Douay Rheims and the King James Versions.

A particular translation that captured my fancy centuries ago - long before I knew anything about translation principles and the original texts - was the New American Bible. As one might expect, the more I learnt about the Scriptures in the Greek (and Hebrew) the less favorable the NAB came to be in my estimation. Consequently, I must agree with Cistercian Brother Stephen of Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank in Wisconsin, whose Sub Tuum entry Isn't It Time to Retire the "New" American Bible? makes me want to strike up a chorus of "If I Had A Hammer".

Give it a read.

First Thing on the 9-11 Mosque Controversy

First Thing's On the Square yet again brings its typically incisive analysis to one of the best essays on the controversy surrounding the plans to build an Islamic cultural center in the neighborhood of the 9-11 attack site in New York City.

Two quotes for your consideration:

But America is being told—by the very people who have spent decades promoting the primacy of “feelings,” over thought, and who have declared that “a feeling is neither right or wrong”—to shut up, to not express its feelings, to not even have feelings, because those feelings are bad, stupid ones that are very, very wrong.
They are not afraid of the mosque or its members; they’re afraid of what the mosque will communicate—to the world and to themselves—as it rises so near the sterile ground where once stood two towers. They intuit that such a structure will signal a defeat more thorough than any found on a battlefield because it will suggest a defeat of the will, of priorities, ingenuity, of energy, and most importantly of identity.
Read it Rhetorical Axes and Park51 here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

Troparion of the Dormition in Tone One

In giving birth, you have preserved your virginity; and in falling asleep, you did not forsake the world, O Mother of God. You have passed to life, being the Mother of Life. Through your intercessions, save our souls from death.

Kontakion of the Dormition in Tone Two

Neither death nor the tomb could hold the Mother of God, our watchful protectress and our unfailing hope. Since she is the Mother of Life, Christ who dwelt in her ever-virginal womb lifted her up to the eternal life.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord

Troparion of the Transfiguration in Tone Seven

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, showing Your Disciples as much of Your Glory as they could hold. Let Your eternal Light shine also upon us sinners, through the prayers of the Mother of God, O Giver of Light, glory to You!

Kontakion of the Transfiguration in Tone Seven

On the mountain You were transfigured, O Christ our God, and Your Disciples saw as much of Your Glory as they could hold, so that when they should see You crucified, they would know that You suffer willingly, and would proclaim to the world that You are verily the Splendor of the Father.