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Muslims occupying other religion's holy shrines

Reader comment on item: The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem

Submitted by Bharat Raina (United States), Jan 5, 2006 at 20:06

Thank you Mr. Pipes for this illuminating essay. I have studied Islamic theology and what you say is certainly true. Muslims believe that Muhammed "visited" in some miraculous manner, Jerusalem in one night and returned back to Mecca. This night journey is called "Miraaj". They also believe that his soul ascended to heaven from Jerusalem. Clearly both these claims can at most be articles of faith.

To a student of history and Abrahamic religions it is clear what Muhammed was trying to do - strengthen his claim to being in the same line of prophets as Moses, Jesus etc. by tying himself to the city of these prophets.

And Islam, whereever it has expanded, has ALWAYS used destruction of original shrines and building mosques on these sites as a symbol of Islam's superiority. Whether it be the desecration of the Hagia Sophia and conversion into a mosque in Constantinople, or destruction of thousands of hindu temples and making mosques over them in India. This is a consistent pattern, and indeed seems to be sanctioned by the Kuran itself when it says that "fight to make only the worship of Allah on the earth."

The double standards of course stand out - in India, where Hindus want to reconstruct a temple on the site where they believe Lord Ram was born, and which was destroyed by invading muslim armies and a mosque erected in its place as a symbol of the subjugation of hindus. Muslims typically retort by saying "there is no evidence that such an event happened." That is, of course, besides the point. Religious shrines cannot be destroyed just because the article of faith that they symbolize is suspected by another religious group. By that same logic, the Al Aqsa mosque must also be destroyed since it is purely a muslim article of faith that their prophet visited there in a night journey, accompanied by angels. Indeed, since Al Aqsa was built on a previous site, its right to exist is even weaker. The temple of Lord Ram had existed on the site for centuries before Islam even came to India and to this day is considered one of Hinduism's holiest sites.

The fact is that Islam's CENTRAL claim is that it abrogates all other religions, and therefore destroying the holy sites of other religions is not only condoned, but recommended, since that means displacing an older, "false" faith with the final revelation of Allah

It is important to realize the reason why muslims over the ages have felt to compelled to destroy other faith's religious sites and erect their own on top of that rubble.
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