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Muslims in Spain Campaign to Worship Alongside Christians

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Source: CNN Article by Atika Shubert

Cordoba, Spain (CNN) — Muslims in Spain are campaigning to be allowed to worship alongside Christians in Cordoba Cathedral — formerly the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

Today, at the original Cordoba mosque in Spain, there is no call to prayer, only the ringing of church bells. That’s because the former mosque is now a working Catholic cathedral, performing a daily mass.

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It’s been a Cathedral since Spain’s Christian monarchy conquered Cordoba in the 13th century and more than a million visitors walk through its doors every year.

Depictions of Jesus’ crucifixion hang underneath the distinctive red-and-white arches of what was once the Muslim prayer hall. Cordoba’s dazzling “mihrab” — the sacred alcove from where Muslim prayer is lead — still stands as a separate part of the site and is one of the main attractions for tourists.

In fact, the site remains significant for Muslims as a symbol of Islam’s golden age of learning and religious tolerance. The Mosque of Cordoba was once famed for allowing both Christians and Muslims to pray together under the same roof.

Now, some Muslims are trying to repeat that history. Mansur Escudero, a Spanish convert to Islam, is leading the movement that is pushing for the right of Muslims to pray at the Cordoba Cathedral.

“I don’t think it’s important for Muslims. I think it’s important for humankind,” Escudero says. “We think this is a beautiful paradigm of tolerance, knowledge, culture. People of different religions living together.”

Spain has more than a million Muslims, little more than two percent of the population. Most of that growth is made up of migrants from countries such as Morocco. But the southern European country has a significant community of Muslim converts inspired by its Islamic history.

In April, more than one hundred Muslim visitors staged a protest by unrolling their prayer rugs inside the site and beginning to pray. When security tried to remove them, the protest got violent and two were arrested.

According to Cordoba’s Bishop, Demetrio Fernandes, this incident shows it is impossible to share a house of worship. It would be like sharing a wife between two husbands, he told CNN.

“Would they be happy to do the same in any of their mosques?” he asked. “Absolutely not. Because I understand their religious feeling and they have to understand ours as well. The religious feeling is the deepest one in the human heart, so it is not possible to share.”

Bishop Fernandes points to the basilica of San Juan in Damascus as an example of a Christian site that has been converted into a mosque.

“We wouldn’t think of asking for the Damascus mosque, because it belongs to the Muslims and for them it is an emblematic place.

“It is [the same] for [Christians] because the San Juan’s basilica is very important to us, but we understand that history doesn’t go back. It only goes forward. So, it doesn’t make sense to ask for the Cordoba [cathedral] to convert it into a mosque, it doesn’t make sense because history is irreversible,” he said.

Escudero insists this is not about winning a victory for one religion or the other.

He said: “They pretend that we are trying to conquer the mosque again. That’s not the intention at all. We want it to be a place where anyone — whether Muslim, Christian or Jew — can do his meditation or his internal way of worshipping, or praying or whatever he wants to call it.”

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Ify Okoye is a Muslim woman, a convert, born and raised in the U.S. She is from New York and her parents are from Nigeria. Despite the petty hassles of work and school, Ify finds time to travel usually for AlMaghrib Institute seminars and to visit beautiful places. Pronunciation primer for her name, say it like this: E-fee O-coy-yeah!

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Mohammad Sabah

    August 17, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    I do not see the point of using this site for prayers. Let’s accept the fact that it is a cathedral now and and has symbols of shirk in it (e.g. images of Jesus (pbuh), cross) and move on! There is plenty of land around to build a masjid, outside the cathedral. Besides being Islamically unacceptable to pray in a church with it’s symbols and all, it’s common sense that instead of creating an unwanted confrontation, our energies are better utilized elsewhere. Also once you open the door to ‘reclaiming’ ‘converted’ sites, you will end up with bigger problems as history has shown again and again. Obviously we have bigger and more relevant issues to tackle ahead.

    wasalaam.

  2. Jamila

    March 2, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Yes, i understand u very well,now but u know how this Christians or Jews refer to us ” Violent”. Please for the sake of peace and Allah, allow them to worship there. There are a lot of places that we can build our mosque, so to avoid any trouble or embarrassment, let just leave it for them.

    Salam Alaik.

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