Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mosques: A Place of Prayer -- and Jihad

The shedding of blood, the violation of the sacred houses of God and the terrorizing of worshippers are acts of corruption on the earth.
Ahmed El-Tayyeb, current Grand Imam of al-Azhar and former president of al-Azhar University

In the last week of November, over 300 Sufi Arabs were murdered in a terrorist attack on their mosque:
The death toll in a bomb and gun attack on a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai has risen to 305, with 27 children among the dead, Egypt's state prosecutor said Saturday.

Another 128 people were wounded, according to a statement from the public prosecutor read out on Egyptian state-run news channel Nile TV.

Between 25 and 30 armed men carried out the assault on the al Rawdah Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed, the statement said.
Along with the horror at the senseless massacre is the sense that of all places, a mosque -- as a holy place of worship -- should be immune from bloodshed. Even if the Islamists behind the attack considered Sufis to be heretics, the blind gunfire would result in the destruction of copies of the Koran in addition to the carnage.

There was a similar Western sense of revulsion and confusion in response to other news reports of Muslim attacks on mosques over the years.

In the course of one year, from August 2010 to August 2011:
While the Turkish destruction of a mosque was in the context of a "military intervention" if not a war, those other examples, including the Sufi mosque massacre, were a consequence of Muslim infighting.

Why was there no sense of sacrilege to inhibit the attackers in each case?

Back in 2010, in response to the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center dedicated a chapter of it's own report, Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip, to the Hamas exploitation of mosques. An article in The Jerusalem Post summarized the report findings: Hamas used almost 100 mosques for military purposes:
The Malam report asserts that the extensive use of mosques to store weapons and as launch pads for rocket attacks on Israel was part of a Hamas strategy based on the knowledge that the IDF would not target civilian infrastructure including mosques, which were therefore ideal for weapons storehouses and rocket attacks.

The Malam analysis is based on Hamas sketches of neighborhoods that show that mosques were used as sniper positions, Israel Air Force videos showing massive secondary explosions after mosques were hit as well as reports from IDF troops.

One mosque in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City was raided by IDF troops who discovered a warehouse full of rockets and mortar shells. During the operation, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at Israel troops from the mosque.

On January 13, IDF troops raided a mosque in Jabalya in northern Gaza that was full of weaponry including an anti-aircraft cannon. In a mosque in the Atatra neighborhood in northern Gaza City, troops uncovered a secret warehouse built under the podium, from where the imam leads prayers, which was full of weaponry and improvised explosive devices.
According to the report, the use of mosques for military purposes is as old as Islam itself:
The massive military use Hamas and the other terrorist organizations made of mosques has historical-religious roots. By the 7th century the prophet Muhammad had turned the mosque he built in Medina into a center for preaching, a place where political matters were dealt with, consultations held and appointments made, and where the Muslim army was prepared before it was dispatched to war and to attack the enemies of Islam. Muslim sages are of the opinion that the mosque is not only a house of prayer but that other uses, including military and political, are acceptable. Contemporary examples of the military and political uses made of mosques by radical Islamic terrorist organizations can be found in the Gaza Strip and many other places in the Arab-Muslim world. [p145. Emphasis in the original]
One example of such a Muslim religious leader is the Salafist Sheikh Saeed Abdul Azim:
The mosque is the place of worship and retreat, the place of education and guidance, the place of consultation and advice of Muslims, the safe driving center, the headquarters of the military command, the holding of the armies of the Mujahedeen in the cause of Allah and the place of reception of the coming delegations of the Messenger of Allah. The mosque, and say to them - peace be upon him -: (without you sons of Arvada) Agreed upon.[translated with Google Translate; emphasis added]
Then there is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who until 2015 permitted suicide bombings:
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi asserted at the time that mosques may be used for political, social, cultural and religious purposes, including on issues related to jihad. He noted that in the days of the Prophet Muhammad, the mosque was the center of activities for the entire Muslim society. The mosque was not only a place to worship Allah, but also a place of study, a gathering place for consultation, a place for people to get to know one another and the like. According to him, in the days of the Prophet Muhammad, delegations would travel from the Arabian Peninsula to meet with the Prophet at the mosque. In those days, Friday sermons were delivered at mosques, and instructions from the Prophet were given to his followers on various topics, including religious, social and political matters. In AlQaradawi’s opinion, since the inception of Islam, the mosque has played an important role in encouraging Muslims to embark on jihad and in the management of the "resistance against the enemies of the [Muslim] community, from among invaders who seek to govern it [i.e., the Muslim community]." Al-Qaradawi noted that mosques play an important role in any jihad. Moreover, in his opinion, it is permissible to preach in a mosque against a government that does not comply with Sharia. [p. 2, emphasis in original]

Al-Qaradawi. Source: Wikipedia. Credit: Nmkuttiady

Using mosques as a base of operations to fire rockets of course disregards the danger it causes to civilians. We have seen in the past that civilian casualties are not a concern for a terrorist group like Hamas. However, the further danger of this approach towards mosques is that they do not appear to have the kind of sanctity that protects worshippers from attacks by other Muslims.

This is a Pandora's Box that was faced by Jews, when in protest against the writings of the Rambam, they burned his books. When non-Jews saw how Jews treated their own writings, they picked up on the idea and burned Jewish holy books too.

This domino effect explains how the Taliban had no problem defacing a Koran in order to sell Heroin.

We learned our lesson.

The Muslim attitude towards mosques, however, is hardwired into Islam -- and considering the tinderbox that is the Middle East, that Sufi mosque is unlikely to be the last to be targeted by Islamist terrorists.

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