Kommentar

Det er to måter å se på Ground Zero-moskeen på. Motstanderne har fått mye presse pga koblingen mellom Ground Zero og moske. Men ser man nærmere på ideene bak prosjektet Cordoba Initiative, så er det uttrykk for de samme tanker som ligger bak det flerkulturelle prosjekt i Europa: harmoni, sameksistens, toleranse, kreativitet og gjensidig «befruktning».

Cordoba eller Andalusia, er navnet på maurernes Spania, og det fremholdes ofte som eksempel på toleranse og sameksistens mellom muslimer, kristne og jøder. Convivencia, kalles det på spansk. Kulturelt samliv. Imamen bak Cordoba Initiative, Feisal Abdul Rauf, ønsker å gjenskape en slik toleranse i dagens verden. Han mener Andalusia kan være et eksempel. Sameksistens var mulig den gang, hvorfor ikke i dag? Noen vil begynne. Han vil begynne nær Ground Zero. Dermed gir han en positiv spin til moskeens plassering.

Men stemmer dette, var Andalusia, den positive toleransens hjemland, som Rauf påstår?

Jødiske intellektuelle har lenge vært opptatt av spørsmålet. De var minoriteten, og Cordoba/Andalusia har vært brukt som politisk argument i dagens politikk: Hvis jøder, muslimer og kristne kunne leve fredelig sammen denn gang, hvorfor ikke idag?

Historien brukes som samtidens speil. Det er ikke noe nytt, men man trenger å være bevisst de politiske implikasjoner og motiver.

Michael Lame skriver om Raufs bruk av ordet Cordoba på www.rethinkme.org:

The Cordoba Initiative’s website offers this explanation of the Cordoba connection:

“Despite what many think, Islam and the West have a long history of coexistence and harmony. For nearly 800 years, the city of Cordoba in Spain endured as a shining example of tolerance among the three monotheistic religions. Muslim, Christian and Jew cohabited in prosperity during a period known for its outstanding literary and scientific productivity.”
From this blurb it sounds as if medieval Cordoba was an idyllic oasis of brotherly and sisterly love, the sort of world we should all aspire to re-establish. Many writers have waxed rhapsodic about a golden age of peace and prosperity in Muslim Spain. But is that really what it was like? “Nostalgia is the enemy of historical understanding” warns historian Richard Fletcher, author of Moorish Spain. “The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was a land of tranquility.”
The 800 years referred to by the Cordoba Initiative constitutes the entire era of Muslim rule in Spain, stretching from 711 to 1492. Yet Cordoba itself, the cultural and for long periods of time the political capital of al-Andalus, succumbed to Christian conquest (or reconquest) in 1236.

Imam Rauf’s book, What’s Right with Islam: a new vision for Muslims and the West, narrows the pertinent time frame, explaining that the Cordoba Initiative is “named after the period between roughly 800 and 1200 CE, when the Cordoba Caliphate ruled much of today’s Spain.” This formulation is also problematic. To be a bit more precise regarding chronology and terminology, the Umayyad emirate of Cordoba, established in 756, was proclaimed a caliphate in 929. Barely a century later, in 1031, the last Umayyad caliph abdicated, after which Cordoba ceased playing the central role in Spain’s political and intellectual life.

Det er kommet ut en bok som et stykke på vei bekrefter myten om det fruktbare kulturmøtet: Maria Rosa Menocal, The Ornament of the World: how Muslims, Jews, and Christians created a culture of tolerance in medieval Spain, og det ville forbause om ikke den dukker opp i norsk presse.

Yale professor Maria Rosa Menocal, in The Ornament of the World: how Muslims, Jews, and Christians created a culture of tolerance in medieval Spain, further whittled down the time period in question regarding Cordoba’s heyday: “From about the mid-eighth century until about the year 1000 this was an Islamic polity, centered in Cordoba, which at its height, in the mid-tenth century, declared itself the center of the Islamic world.”

Though any identifiable Cordovan era of good feelings lasted closer to 250 years than to the 400 or 800 years posited by Rauf, those two and a half centuries also contained episodes of intolerance and bouts of anarchy. Still, for Rauf, the name Cordoba “reminds us that Muslims created what was, in its era, the most enlightened, pluralistic and tolerant society on earth.” That is a big, bold, though commonplace assertion. The idea of an Andalusian golden age, when Christians and Jews lived contentedly under Muslim rule, has become a fixture of Western historical thinking over the last hundred years. But is it true?

Professor Fletcher weighs in on the question: “Early medieval Spain was multicultural in the sense of being culturally diverse, a land within which different cultures coexisted; but not in the sense of experiencing cultural integration. Toleration for Christians and Jews as ‘Peoples of the Book’ is enjoined by the Koran. But in practice it was limited – Christians under Islamic rule were forbidden to build new churches, to ring church bells, to hold public processions – and sometimes it broke down altogether. In 1066 there was a pogrom in Granada in which its Jewish community was slaughtered. Thousands of Christians were deported to slavery in Morocco in 1126. Thoroughly dismissive attitudes to Christians and Jews may be found in the Arabic literature of al-Andalus. It is a myth of the modern liberal imagination that medieval Islamic Spain was, in any sense that we should recognize today, a tolerant society.”

Regardless of historical accuracy, the very name of Cordoba exerts a powerful appeal for many who long for a multi-religious, harmonious pathway to the future. As Rauf writes, “We strive for a ‘New Cordoba,’ a time when Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all other faith traditions will live together in peace.”

Som Lame skriver: Andalusias toleranse hvilte på islamsk overherredømme. Den som underslår dette forfalsker historien.

In considering the “Old Cordoba”, however, one should not forget that Cordovan tolerance was predicated on Islamic rule. Jews and Christians, once they accepted their status as dhimmi, protected albeit subservient peoples, could participate in the intellectual, artistic, and economic life of the broader community. But one fact was clear throughout medieval Spain, that a single faith was dominant – Islam in the south and Christianity in the north – and the other religious communities were allowed to remain at the pleasure, or rather the sufferance, of the dominant religious-political power.

Marc Tracy behandler Cordoba fra et mer jødisk perspektiv i The Tablet. Jøder har hatt en tendens til å behandle Andalusia enten som utopi eller en dystopi. Begge deler er myter. Sannheten ligger et sted midt i mellom. Men «midt i mellom» er et relativt begrep.

For almost two centuries, though, as many Jewish scholars have described medieval Spain as atrocious for its Jews as have seen it as a sort of utopia. The latest to call the utopians’ bluff is essayist Hillel Halkin, in his 2010 Nextbook Press biography of the period’s greatest Jewish poet, Yehuda Halevi. “The higher Jews did rise,” Halkin writes of the time and place, “the more they aroused the anger and resentment of the Muslim or Christian majority, and the more vulnerable they became. The culture of tolerance stretched only so far.” Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Spain “kept socially to themselves,” according to Halkin, “never intermarried, were convinced of the superiority of their own faith, and shared no common identity.” As for the intimations of some that the period was an ancestor of our contemporary multicultural West? “Such an analogy,” Halkin concludes, “is misleading.”

The debate over what Spain was like for its Jews 900 years ago has rarely been purely academic. Rather, over the past two centuries, Jewish historians have frequently seen in the period things they needed to see in order to make arguments about contemporary circumstances. If coexistence in Christian- and Muslim-ruled Spain was possible even in the 11th century, some have argued, then why do Jews today need a state in which they are the ones in charge—why, rather, shouldn’t the states in which they already reside welcome them as fully equal citizens? And if, on the other hand, even the convivencia—supposedly history’s most brightly shining beacon of multifaith tolerance—was a myth, then how could the Jews do without a state in which they are the ones in charge? The battle over medieval Spain is, to many, a battle over Zionism, and over what it means to be a Jew today.

Raufs moske-prosjekt viser hvordan historien virvles opp og blir del av samtiden. Bølgeslagene kjennes helt til vår egen lille dam. Nå har Ground Zero-bråket ødelagt for noe av propagandaeffekten, det ville ellers vært et perfekt eksempel på tilstrebet harmoni i munnen på en Abid Raja eller Jens Stoltenberg: upresist, ullent, generelt, vanskelig å få tak på, men ikke helt uten historisk belegg.

Slik kan diskusjonen om maurernes Spania ha relevans for vår tid. Eksemplet er ikke enestående. Thorvald Steen har laget en myte om Saladin som gjør noe av det samme: beviser at det var muslimene som var tolerante, og de kristne som var drapsmenn. Det holder ikke med agg og politisk motvilje: man må gå til kildene og spørre: hva er sant?

Det tjener til jødiske intellektuelles ære at de er i stand til å forsvare mostridende versjoner.

According to Princeton historian Mark Cohen, the notion of convivencia, of medieval Spain as utopia, began with mid-19th century German-Jewish historians. Disappointed to find that emancipation did not equal equality, they crafted a long-ago world of true Jewish freedom as the model that their own world failed to live up to. “They looked back nostalgically to Muslim Spain, and said, ‘Look there,’ ” Cohen told me. “They wanted to embarrass the Christians.” They were not demanding a state of their own; on the contrary, they were demanding the right to live freely in another people’s state and, moreover, to be considered members of that people.

A subsequent batch of historians, under the spell of early-20th-century Zionism, cast medieval Spain not as a utopia but as, according to Cohen, “an unmitigated disaster.” They did so in order to argue that “Arab anti-Semitism is firmly rooted in a congenital, endemic Muslim/Arab Jew-hatred,” which in turn buttressed their case for a country of, by, and for the Jewish people.

So, which of those versions is right? Neither, Cohen said. In one essay, he refers to a “myth” (the German historians’ heaven) and a “counter-myth” (the Zionist historians’ hell) and asserts that the truth lies somewhere in between. Those who hold up the period as an ideal are exaggerating: “In a medieval situation,” he argues, “where you have monotheistic religions living in proximity, there is no such thing as toleration.” (In other words, tell “toleration” to the Jews of Granada, many of whom were massacred by angry Muslims in 1066, or to Granada’s Jewish vizier at the time, who was crucified.) And those who downplay the extent of tolerance and pluralism exaggerate, too. “If by convivencia,” said Cornell historian Ross Brann, “we mean that cultural and social proximity, conversation, and interaction among Jews, Muslims, and Christians were significant and productive,” then convivencia was real.

Despite the rise of this compromise position, some historians continue to push versions of the two more extreme visions of the period. The most prominent contemporary member of what might be termed the “utopian” school is Yale humanities professor María Rosa Menocal. And the historian to most recently advance the “counter-myth”—to posit that medieval Spain was largely hellish for its Jews—is Halkin.

Påvisningen av at tyske jøder hadde behov for å finne en gyllen æra hvor jøder ble tolerert og blomstret i historisk tid, er interessant.

I dag kan man si at muslimene har behov for noe av det samme. Men man må spørre: er motivene like gjennomskuelige, og ærlige? Er det virkelig toleranse man vil fremme, eller er det som i Andalusia, under islamsk overhøyhet?

Bernard Lewis skriver i boken The Jews in Islam:

“The claim to tolerance, now much heard from Muslim apologists and more especially from apologists for Islam, is also new and of alien origin. It is only very recently that some defenders of Islam have begun to assert that their society in the past accorded equal status to non-Muslims. No such claim is made by spokesmen for resurgent Islam, and historically there is no doubt that they are right. Traditional Islamic societies neither accorded such equality nor pretended that they were so doing. Indeed, in the old order, this would have been regarded not as a merit but as a dereliction of duty. How could one accord the same treatment to those who follow the true faith and those who willfully reject it? This would be a theological as well as a logical absurdity.”

To titler

En kommentator til Marc Tracys artikkel skriver:

while the published english language title of Rauf’s book was indeed “What’s Right With Islam”, in other languages in muslim lands it’s correct title is ” “The Call From the WTC Rubble: Islamic Da’wah From the Heart of America Post-9/11.”

And Dawa .. Da‘wah is to invite people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, to understand the worship of Allah as expressed in the Qur’an and the sunnah of the prophet, as well as to inform them about Muhammad.

Det er denne triumfalistiske tonen, som vekker ikke-muslimers mistanke og skepsis. Når det kommer til stykket er det kun samling og fred og fordragelighet på islams premisser.

Cordoba-initiativet representerer et dristig fremstøt: Man ikler seg amerikanske friheter, og vil bygge senteret/moskeen i toleransens navn. Som en amerikansk muslim sa til NRKs Verden på lørdag: -Hvis dette prosjektet blir stanset er det et angrep på friheten i Amerika.

Man kunne knapt gjort noe mer dristig enn å foreslå en moske to kvartaler fra Ground Zero. At imam Rauf forsvinner/går under jorden, gjør seg utilgjengelig for pressen og sletter opplysninger fra hjemmesiden, styrker ikke troverdigheten. Det føyer seg inn i et mønster.

As for that, what could be more authentic than the treatment of the jews by the prime example of Mohammed, as exemplified by the Banu Qurayzah and at Khaybar ..as they chanted in the Gaza flotilla – ‘Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Mohammed will return!’

As far as ‘Cordoba’… Maimonedes must have left the caliphate for SOME reason. Perhaps that reason should be mentioned somewhere.

Det er den samme tvil og dilemma Norge og Europa strir med: skal vi tro på forsikringene om toleranse og sameksistens? Er det oppriktig ment? Eller legger man noe helt annet i ordene?

Why Cordoba?
The Ground Zero Islamic center was named for a period in Spanish-Muslim history that some call a golden age of tolerance