Does Islam really have a history of building mosques at the site of its conquests? Let’s consider just the following examples:
1. The Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam:
At the time of Muhammad (CE 570–632), his tribe the Quraysh was in charge of the Kaaba, which was at that time a shrine containing hundreds of idols representingArabian tribal gods and other religious figures, including Jesus and Mary. Muhammad earned the enmity of his tribe by claiming the shrine for the new religion of Islam that he preached. He wanted the Kaaba to be dedicated to the worship of the one God alone, and all the idols evicted. The Quraysh persecuted and harassed him continuously, and he and his followers eventually migrated to Medina in 622.
After this pivotal migration, or Hijra, the Muslim community became a political and military force. In 630, Muhammad and his followers returned to Mecca as conquerors, and he destroyed the 360 idols in and around the Kaaba. While destroying each idol, Muhammad recited Qu’ran 17:81 which says “Truth has arrived and falsehood has perished for falsehood is by its nature bound to perish.”
The Kaaba was re-dedicated as an Islamic house of worship, and henceforth, the annual pilgrimage was to be a Muslim rite, the Hajj, which visits the Kaaba and other sacred sites around Mecca.
2. The Hagia Sophia, the largest Christian cathedral for nearly a thousand years:
The church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 49 foot (15 m) silver iconostasis. It was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years. It is the church in which Cardinal Humbert in 1054 excommunicated Michael I Cerularius – which is commonly considered the start of the Great Schism.
In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features — such as the mihrab, theminbar, and the four minarets outside — were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the [secularist] Republic of Turkey.
3. The Babri Masjid, built on perhaps the holiest site in all Hinduism:
When the Muslim emperor Babur came down from Farghana in 1527, he defeated the Hindu King of Chittorgarh, Rana Sangram Singh at Fatehpur Sikri, using cannon and artillery. After this victory, Babur took over the region, leaving his general, Mir Banki, in charge as Viceroy.
Mir Banki enforced Mughal rule over the population and used terror to maintain control over the civilian population. Mir Banki came to Ayodhya in 1528 and built the Mosque destroying the temple.
Ayodhya is revered by devout Hindus as the birthplace of ancient King of India and Hindu God Rama, believed by Hindus to be an avatar of Vishnu. Mir Baqi after building the mosque on the site of the destroyed temple called it Babri Masjid (Mosque), named after his master Babar.
4. The Great Mosque Of Cordoba, which like its proposed namesake in New York, was built to dominate a conquered people:
The building was begun in approximately AD 600 as the Christian Visigothic church of St. Vincent. After the Islamic conquest of the Visigothic kingdom the Emir Abd ar-Rahman I bought the church. Abd ar-Rahman I and his descendants reworked it over two centuries to refashion it as a mosque, starting in 784.
There were countless other mosques similarly built, meant to convey the enduring dominance of Islam over all other religions. Can we endure such a mosque next to Ground Zero?