The Ground Zero Mosque Developer: Muslim Brotherhood Roots, Radical Dreams
Everything there is to know about Faisal Abdul Rauf, the wolf in sheep’s clothing behind the planned lower Manhattan mega-mosque.
The prospective developer of a $100 million, 13-story mosque 600 feet from Ground Zero presents himself as a Muslim moderate (1). Yet Kuwait-born Faisal Abdul Rauf also boasts of his issue from an “Egyptian family steeped in religious scholarship” (2). Indeed, Feisal Rauf’s Muslim Brotherhood provenance, radical by definition, is as authentic as it gets.
Rauf’s father, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf (1917-2004) – an Egyptian contemporary of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna – conveyed to Feisal his family’s long tradition of radicalism, which he acquired at Islam‘s closest equivalent to the Vatican, Al-Azhar University. The elder Dr. Rauf studied and taught there before fleeing Egypt in 1948. That year, Feisal Abdul Rauf was born in Kuwait.
Feisal Rauf has planned for some time to further develop his father’s U.S. Islamic expansionism. In 1990, Rauf opened the tiny al-Farah Mosque at 245 West Broadway in lower Manhattan. Area residents did not even notice the mosque until 2006, when the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) refused to license a new bar on the same block and started yanking others’ liquor licenses (3).
Rauf attended grammar school and high school in the UK and Malaysia, according to his biography. He probably first lived in America only in 1965, at age 17, when his father moved from Malaysia to New York to plan and head the Islamic Cultural Center (not built until the mid-1980s) (4). Rauf then obtained a BS in physics at Columbia University (5). In 1971, the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Rauf’s father headed the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Ave. (6) His father, buried in Suitland, MD, at the for-profit Washington National Cemetery, also founded three Malaysian Islamic studies programs, including the International Islamic University of Malaysia (7).
Rauf’s early UK education and familiarization with American popular culture and values made him an acutely adept practitioner of Islamic taqiyya – deceptive speech and action to advance the interests and supremacy of Islam (8). To further that Islamic advancement, Rauf in 1997 established the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA). His Kashmir-born wife Daisy Kahn, an interior designer by profession, has run the organization since 2005 (9).
Rauf then began cultivating new spheres of influence. In about summer 2002, Rauf started lecturing on Islam at the 750-acre southwestern New York campus of Chautauqua Institution, a 136-year-old non-profit where religion director Joan Brown Campbell took Rauf under her wing. Under the rubric of the “Abrahamic” faiths, a convenient cover for Rauf’s Islamic activities, Campbell subsequently named him the prospective head of a Muslim house now planned on campus by another Rauf brainchild – the 501(3)c organization Muslim Friends of Chautauqua. Rauf also befriended Karen Armstrong, the former British nun and devotee of Islam.
In summer 2002, as a “theologian in residence,” Armstrong advocated for the Muslim Brotherhood – as if the father of all Islamic terrorist organizations was a progressive charity:
[The MB] set up a wonderful welfare program before it was suppressed. … Factories where Muslims could work, had time for prayers, had vacation time, insurance, [learned] labor laws, [provided] clinics, they taught people how to treat sewage, drainage, and it was always the religions response to try to help modernity to give to the ordinary people the benefits of modernity in an Islamic setting that made sense to them and made things more balanced (10).
In 2003, Rauf befriended leaders of Denver’s Aspen Institute, including former executive director and four-term Aspen mayor John S. Bennet. In 2004, under ASMA auspices, Rauf organized a meeting of 125 young Muslims and formed Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow. With Bennet’s help, he co-founded the Cordoba Initiative in Aspen, purportedly to “improve” Muslim-West relations (11). Rauf gets funding from a variety of other liberal organizations, including, for example, Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Foundation.
However, Rauf directly contradicted his conciliatory behavior with a firebrand interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. Terrorism, he stated, will end only when the West acknowledges the harm it has done to Muslims:
The West’s role during World War II was strictly defensive, and in no way religious. Moreover, Rauf’s statements – which Daisy Kahn glossed over in a December 2009 Fox News interview with Laura Ingraham – ignored Islam’s continuous attacks, from the 7th to 16th centuries, on non-Muslim peoples throughout the Mideast, Africa, Europe, central Asia, and India (12).
The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. … It was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets (12).
Rauf further revealed his antagonistic sentiments in the 2006 Copenhagen gathering he organized for the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow. To enhance his moderate cloak, Rauf invited such liberal Muslims as Irshad Manji and Mona Eltahawy. But he also hosted radicals like Yasir Qadhi – a favorite speaker at conferences of the Muslim Brotherhood‘s Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), among others.
Perhaps Rauf founded the Cordoba Initiative in 2004 intending to build a mosque in downtown Manhattan directly across from Ground Zero. However, Rauf tipped his hand to authorities only in April 2009, when he incorporated the Cordoba Initiative in New York (13). Within months, in July 2009, he bought a future mosque site at 45 Park Place for $4.58 million in cash from the heirs to New York’s Pomerantz family.
As Islamic attacks on September 11, 2001, destroyed the World Trade Center towers, falling jet debris simultaneously crushed the five-story 1923 structure some 600 feet away that until that morning housed a robust Burlington Coat Factory store (14). Over the ruin of the former retail outlet, Rauf now plans to build a 13-story, $100 million mosque. Rauf says the Cordoba Initiative bought the former retail building to prove to the world that Islam is not a violent faith (14).
Imam Rauf says that New York Muslims provided nearly $5 million in cash to buy the Park Place building (16). Yet in fiscal 2009, Rauf’s ASMA received large international donations. In the year ended June 30, 2009 – days before Feisal closed the purchase – ASMA received at least $1.3 million. The largest donation, $576,312, came from Qatar (17). That Persian Gulf nation has long harbored terror financiers, and even the government stands accused of funding international terrorism. Qatar also has, for decades, hosted Muslim Brotherhood spiritual chief Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The elderly sheikh, a large and founding shareholder in the terror-financing al-Taqwa Bank, champions sharia law, wife beating, and suicide bombing.
ASMA also received $481,942 from Holland’s Millennial Development Goals Fund (MDG3), $144,752 from New York’s Carnegie Corporation, $53,664 from the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), plus donations from the Rockefeller Brothers and Hunt Alternatives funds, among others (18).
The Ground Zero mosque plan is more than a little reminiscent of a program initiated by Rauf’s late father in 1965. That year, Muhammad R. Abdul Rauf moved to New York to plan and head a huge Islamic Cultural Center that took decades to realize (19). He bought prime Manhattan real estate at 96th St. and 3rd Ave – roughly two thirds of a city block – apparently with $1.3 million in funding from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Libya. The late Rauf long retained some of that land in a personal trust (19). But when construction started on the $17 million mosque in 1984, it had received funding from 46 Islamic nations. By 2010, the enormous Islamic complex had added another two buildings. Since 1984, its founders-envisioned apartment unit has been restricted to Muslims alone (20).
Whenever Feisal first considered building a mosque across from Ground Zero, he had the idea firmly in mind by 2004, when he wrote What’s Right with Islam. The book was translated into many languages. In Indonesia’s Bahasa, its title translates as “The Call from the WTC Rubble.” Rauf promoted the book in December 2007 at a Kuala Lumpur gathering of Hizb ut Tahrir (20) – an organization banned in Germany since 2003, and also outlawed in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, among other places – and ideologically akin to the MB. Both seek to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law (sharia), and eventually impose Islam and sharia law worldwide. Most North American MB organizations avoid widely publicizing that aim. The HT however, at a July 2009 Khalifah conference at a suburban Chicago Hilton, openly promised to replace capitalism with Islam and sharia law (21).
Feisal Rauf supports sharia law, too.
Described in one Asian report as an Egyptian citizen living in the U.S., he has repeatedly stated, and writes in his 2004 book, that the U.S. Constitution is sharia-compliant. The “American Constitution and system of governance uphold the core principles of Islamic law,” Rauf wrote in his book. The “American political structure is Shariah-compliant,” he contends, since Muslim jurists over the centuries have “defined five areas of life” to be protected by Islamic law – life, mind, religion, property, and family. Only two further actions could render the U.S. more Islamic than it is already, Rauf contends:
[Inviting] voices of all religions to join the dialogue in shaping the nation’s practical life, [and allowing] religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves according to their own laws (22).
These assertions, however, merely fulfill the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine of flexibility – adapting to each and every environment in which the brothers eventually hope to force Islamic law upon the masses. Rauf’s claims starkly represent taqiyya, the Islamic practice of deception, to further theocratic and essentially fascist Islamic advances (23). And the additional “leeway” Rauf seeks for intra-community religious-law enforcement is a thinly veiled attempt to impose shariah more widely in the U.S., in direct contravention of the U.S. Constitution.
President Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo challenged Muslims, as Rauf wrote in a June 5, 2009 Washington Post column (24): “Live up to the tenets of our religion, embrace Shariah law as conceived by the Prophet, and see what happens.” But sharia inhibits all kinds of freedoms, especially those of women and non-Muslims. Islamic law protects only the lives, minds, religion, property, and families of Muslims – not all peoples of all faiths, as Rauf would have us believe (25).
Since at least 2006, Rauf’s Cordoba Initiative has partnered with the Gallup Organization and “a team of Sunni and Shi’a scholars from Morocco to Indonesia” to create “an Islamic legal benchmark for measuring ‘Islamicity’ of a state” for use by the public, pundits, “and state officials in both the Muslim and Western worlds.” If the U.S. is so sharia-compliant, and Rauf so strongly supports Western democracy and separation of mosque and state, why has his U.S.-based institution initiated such a project? Funded by Malaysia and many other Muslim nations in the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), no less?
Rauf has often directly contradicted his seemingly tolerant and peace-loving pronouncements with harsh, antagonistic assessments of the U.S. In his May 7 Khutbah (Muslim sabbath sermon), delivered at 1:00 p.m. at 45 Park Place in Manhattan, Rauf implied that Muslims did not perpetrate 9/11 at all, according to writer Madeline Brooks, who attended (26): “Some people say it was Muslims who attacked on 9/11 … ” he stated, before trailing off into another topic.
He also expressed this view in an interview with 60 Minutes aired on Sept. 30, 2001 as well (27):
The attacks were “a reaction against the U.S. government politically, where we espouse principles of democracy and human rights, [yet] … ally ourselves with oppressive regimes in many of these countries. … [U.S.] policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
Not the crimes Muslims committed: “the crime that happened.” He continued:
In … the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden was made in the USA (28).
Rauf explained the Islamic disdain for life, as well:
In the Islamic belief system, the next life is the primary life. The next life is more real, more intense, and more vivid.
In short, Islam reveres death. Indeed, Islam orders its adherents to conduct jihad warfare, and promises paradise and 72 virgins to those who die in the service of Allah (29).
Even Cordoba Institute’s name telegraphs the organization’s deceptiveness. Cordoba (also the name for Chautauqua’s proposed new Muslim house) was the seat of the Islamic Caliphate that ruled most of Spain from Tariq ibn Zayid’s 711 invasion through 1248, and controlled parts of Spain until its full liberation in 1492. However, neither the Umayyads (who ruled monolithically until about 1031), nor the particularly vicious Almoravids (who swept over the Atlas mountains and, in 1080, into Spain) ruled non-Muslims kindly. While Islamic harshness varied, it remained unquestionably ever-present.
Rauf is not alone in his blatant whitewash of Islam’s brutal history in Spain. Many others purvey the same historical falsehood. Yet Muslim rule in Spain never remotely approached the mythic level of beneficence that Rauf pretends (30).
The surviving victims of 9/11 and families of the deceased should not be alone in opposing Rauf’s proposed 13-story mosque, 600 feet from the World Trade Center site. Traditionally, Muslims have destroyed houses of worship built by virtually every other faith under the sun. Worldwide, Islam has plundered tens of thousands (if not more) of Christian churches, Jewish synagogues and holy archaeological sites, plus Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Sikh, and other temples and monasteries. Then, in the interest of jihad, Islam has claimed all these religious places of others as their own “mosques,” forever Muslim.
To allow a mosque at a place a Muslim gang destroyed on 9/11 would amount to formally blessing Islam’s 1,400-year-old tradition of exclusivity and suppression of all persons of all other faiths. It would be a 100% victory of Islam and sharia law over the U.S. Constitution and America’s time-honored democracy and pluralism.
1 Feisal Abdul Rauf biography, http://asmasociety.org/about/b_rauf.html (viewed 4/28/2010).
2 Feisal Abdul Rauf biography, http://asmasociety.org/about/b_rauf.html (viewed 4/28/2010).
3 Carl Glassman, “West Broadway bars facing license ban,” Tribeca Trib, Mar. 31, 2006, http://www.tribecatrib.com/bak/archives/newsmarch06/Bar_new.htm (viewed 5/20/2007).
4 Rauf bio, http://asmasociety.org/about/b_rauf.html, ibid.; Islamic Cultural Center of New York, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Cultural_Center_of_New_York (viewed 5/9/2010).
5 Rauf bio, http://asmasociety.org/about/b_rauf.html, ibid.
6 Islamic Center of Washington, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Center_of_Washington (viewed 5/9/2010).
7 Salmy Hashim, “Islamic scholar Tan Sri Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf Dies,” Bernama, the Malaysian National News Agency, Dec. 12, 2004, ibid.; Jaclyn Ling-Chien Neo, “‘Anti-God, anti-Islam and anti-Quran': Expanding the range of participants and parameters in discourse over women’s rights and Islam in Malaysia,” Pacific Basin Law Journal, Vol. 21:29, 2003, p. 69, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID753226_code491760.pdf? abstractid=753226&mirid=1 (viewed 5/7/2010).
8 Ikhwan website, http://www.ummah.net/ikhwan/ (viewed 6/4/2008); The Muslim Brotherhood charter calls on members to sidestep attention through their long-established “flexibility” strategy — muruna in Arabic. To spread Islam, a basic requirement of shari’a or Islamic law, MB adherents also routinely practice concealment, known alternatively as either taqiyya or kitman. See also Warner MacKenzie, “Understanding Taqiyya: Islamic principle of lying for the sake of Allah,” Apr. 30, 2007, http://www.islam-watch.org/Warner/Taqiyya-Islamic-Principle-Lying-for-Allah.htm (viewed 5/16/2010).
9 “Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf,” chairman, Cordoba Institute, http://www.cordobainitiative.org/?q=content/staff-bios (viewed 5/11/2010).; Daisy Kahn biography, http://www.asmasociety.org/about/b_dkhan.html (viewed 5/12/2010).
10 Quotation in Chautauqua institution panel, summer 2002.
11 American Society for Muslim Advancement Financial statement for period ended Jun. 30, 2009, p. 9, http://www.asmasociety.org/about/asma_audit_2009.pdf (viewed 5/10/2010).
12 Frank Walker, “We must act to end jihad: imam,” Sydney Sun-Herald, Mar. 21, 2004, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/03/21/1079789939987.html (viewed 4/5/2004).
12 Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity, ibid; Andrew G. Bostom, Legacy of Jihad, ibid.
13 American Society for Muslim Advancement Financial statement for period ended Jun. 30, 2009, p. 9, http://www.asmasociety.org/about/asma_audit_2009.pdf (viewed 5/10/2010).
14 Marc Pitzke, “Finding Allah at Ground Zero: A new Manhattan mosque hopes to heal,” Spiegel Online, Dec. 17, 2009, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,druck-667678,00.html (viewed 5/10/2010); “9/11 Firefighter opposes mosque at Ground Zero as “a Trojan horse rolled onto our most sacred ground”, asks “Where is the money coming from?” The Jawa Report, May 8, 2010, http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/202370.php (viewed 5/9/2010);
14 Gadi Adelman, “Exclusive: Spitting in the Face of Everyone Murdered on 9/11,” Family Security Matters, May 10, 2010, http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.6177/pub_detail.a sp (viewed 5/10/2010); Matt Dunning, “CB1 committee hails plan for a mosque two blocks from WTC site,” Tribeca Trib, May 10, 2010, http://www.tribecatrib.com/news/2010/may/603_cb1-committee-hails-plans -for-a-mosque-two-blocks-from-world-trade-center-site.html (viewed 5/10/2010).
16 “9/11 Firefighter opposes mosque at Ground Zero as “a Trojan horse rolled onto our most sacred ground”, asks “Where is the money coming from?” The Jawa Report, May 8, 2010, http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/202370.php (viewed 5/9/2010); Christian Salazar, “Some 9/11 families angry about plans for Ground Zero mosque,” Associated Press, May 7, 2010, http://www.kboi2.com/news/national/93073789.html (viewed 5/10/2010).
17 American Society for Muslim Advancement Financial statement for period ended Jun. 30, 2009, p. 8, http://www.asmasociety.org/about/asma_audit_2009.pdf (viewed 5/10/2010), as cited by Gadi Adelman, “Exclusive: Spitting in the Face of Everyone Murdered on 9/11,” Family Security Matters, May 10, 2010, http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.6177/pub_detail.a sp (viewed 5/10/2010).
18 ASMA Financial statement for year ended Jun. 30, 2009, p. 8, http://www.asmasociety.org/about/asma_audit_2009.pdf , ibid, as cited by Gadi Adelman, “Exclusive: Spitting in the Face of Everyone Murdered on 9/11,” Family Security Matters, ibid, http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.6177/pub_detail.a sp.
19 Salmy Hashim, “Islamic scholar Tan Sri Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf Dies,” Bernama, the Malaysian National News Agency, Dec. 12, 2004, http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/bernama-malaysian-national-new s-agency/mi_8082/is_20041212/islamic-scholar-tan-sri-dr/ai_n51486662/ (viewed 5/4/2010).
19 George Goodman, “Ground broken for Islamic Center,” New York Times, Oct. 28, 1984, http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/28/realestate/ground-broken-for-islamic -center.html?&pagewanted=print (viewed 5/10/2010); Islamic Cultural Center of New York, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Cultural_Center_of_New_York (viewed 5/9/2010).; Hashim, “Islamic scholar Tan Sri Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf Dies,” ibid.
20 Goodman, ibid.; David Dunlap, “A new mosque for Manhattan for the 21st century,” New York Times, Apr. 26, 1992, http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/26/arts/architecture-a-new-mosque-for-m anhattan-for-the-21st-century.html?pagewanted=print (viewed 5/10/2010).
21 “Hizb Ut-Tahrir: Shariah Takes Precedence over U.S. Constitution,” IPT News, July 20, 2009, http://www.investigativeproject.org/1100/hizb-ut-tahrir-shariah-takes- precedence-over-us, (viewed May 13, 2010).
22 Spencer Ackerman, “Religious protection,” The New Republic, Dec. 12, 2005, http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/religious-protection; Feisal Abdul Rauf, What’s Right with Islam: a New Vision for Muslims and the West, (New York: HarperOne, 2004) p. 86.
23 “Taqiyah,” Dictionary of Islam, http://www.answering-islam.org/Books/Hughes/t.htm (last visited 4/20/2010).
24 Feisal Abdul Rauf, “Obama’s challenge to the Muslim world,” Washington Post, Jun. 5, 2009, http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/feisal_abdul_rauf /2009/06/obamas_challenge_to_the_muslim_world.html (viewed 4/26/2010).
25 al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance; Reliance of the Traveller.
26 Madeline Brooks, “The Ground Zero Mosque Must Be Stopped,” No mosques at Ground Zero, May 9, 2010, http://nomosquesatgroundzero.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/breaking-our-med ia-and-the-news-thats-not-fit-to-print5-09-10/ (viewed 5/9/2010).
27 Ed Bradley, “Prominent American Muslims denounce terror committed in the name of Islam,” 60 Minutes, Sept. 30, 2001, http://islamicity.com/video/ch20/CBS60Minutes.ram; (viewed 5/5/2010). Transcripts, at Monroe County Green Party, http://www.monroegreens.org/Sept11/60minutes20010930b.htm, The Anti-Venom, http://brotherandrew.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=Jiha d&thread=75&page=1 and Islam for Today, http://www.islamfortoday.com/60minutes.htm (all viewed 5/5/2010); Partial transcripts at http://hem.passagen.se/okn50/60m_e.html, http://newsbusters.org/forums/topic-discussion/religion-peace-17019 , http://www.abc.se/~m9783/CBS_60.html, and http://web.comhem.se/onesr/CBS_60.html, (all viewed 5/9/2010).
28 Ed Bradley, “Prominent American Muslims denounce terror committed in the name of Islam,” 60 Minutes, Sept. 30, 2001, http://islamicity.com/video/ch20/CBS60Minutes.ram, ibid.
29 Qur’an 9:29 commands, “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” As translated by Yusuf Ali, from Yet Another Quran Browser, http://qb.gomen.org/QuranBrowser/cgi/bin/retrieve.cgi?version=pickthal l+yusufali+khan+shakir+sherali+khalifa+arberry+palmer+rodwell+sale+tra nsliterated&layout=auto&searchstring=009:27-31, (4/26/2010); see also Sahih Muslim: The Book of Jihad and Expedition (Kitab al-jihad Wa’l-Siyar), As cited in Bostom, Legacy of Jihad, 2005, pp 138-139, from Abdul Hamid Siqqiqi, “Translation of Sahih Muslim,” Muslim Students Association, “Book 019, Number 4294:
30 Richard Fletcher, Moorish Spain, University of California, 2006, 2nd ed., 206 pp.
According to three important contemporary reports Fletcher summarizes, – one “crucial administrative document from the Islamic side,” some small “archaeological evidence” and the “Chronicle of 754,” an anonymous Christian narrative in Latin – after 711 Arab raids laid waste to “several provinces,” Tariq ibn Zayid’s army followed with fully equipped legions, who in 712 murdered Roderic of Spain.
North Africa’s governor then executed all Toledo’s prominent nobles (causing the Bishop to flee), devastated the countryside and perpetrated further destruction and mass murder in Zargoza and the Ebro valley. Upon returning to the Umayyad seat of power in Damascus, he transported innumerable enslaved Visigoth lords, and all their gold and jewels.
By 715, the next governor, Abd al-Aziz, conquered provinces throughout Iberia. Documents and archaeological excavations corroborate the arrival of Toledo’s Bishop in Rome and signs of 8th century devastation beside coins dated 711 to 713. In his April 713 treaty, Abd al-Aziz promised Theodemir lordship over, and free Christian practice throughout, seven southeastern towns. For this Abd al-Aziz extorted from Theodemir stiff annual head taxes of one silver dinar per person, all the region’s wheat, barley, unfermented grape juice, vinegar, honey and oil, and an inviolable promise not to help enemies of Spain’s Islamic conquerors.
From 718 through 720, As-Samh handed all Visigoth monarchy holdings to Arab Muslim governors, and gave all the less fertile land to the North African Berber Muslims. His generosity brought 150,000 to 200,000 Arab and Berber soldiers to Spain to usurp its wealth.
After the 750 Abbasids defeat of the Umayyads, in 762, the Islamic caliphate moved from Damascus to Baghdad. In 756 the Umayyad Abd al-Rahman escaped the Abbasid Caliph al-Saffah (“shedder of blood”) and established a rival Umayyad empire that ruled Spain until 1031. But the Umayyads continued to wreck havoc on Spain. Emir al Haken (796-822) kept a palace cavalry of 2,000 and a standing army of 60,000. In 805 alone, he crucified 72 people. In 818, he leveled Cordoba’s southern suburb. The military governors of the Umayyads’ three Spanish regions were constantly at war. In 884, for example, Burgos was destroyed “to its foundations.”
Even the reputedly enlightened Abd al-Rahman III (912-961) brutalized the population. At the Cordoba palace alone, he owned 3,750 slaves on his death in 961. On July 26 in 920, a Pyrenean monk at San Juan de la Pena recorded a slaughter in Valdejunquera, southwest of Pamplona. In 920, a three month campaign culminated on July 25 with a siege of the Muez castle. All “combatants” were “put to the sword,” including over 500 “counts and knights.” While returning to Cordoba, general al-Nasir totally destroyed many other villages too. The poet Ibn Abd Rabbihi later wrote the invaders left Osma “like a blackened piece of charcoal.”
In 976 Almanzor or Al-Mansur (“the victorious”) took power. In 977 he campaigned with his general against Leon. Some 56 campaigns followed in Almanzor’s rule alone. In 985, he sacked Barcelona and the San Cugat del Valles monastery. In 987, he plundered Coimbra (now in Portugal). In 995, he imprisoned the count of Castile, and destroyed Carrion and Astorga. In 997 he attacked Santiago de Compostela. In 999 he destroyed Pamplona and in 1002 flattened Roija and San Millan de la Cogolla monastery. Almonzor raided Catalonia in 1003; Castile in 1004; Leon in 1005; and Aragon in 1006. Almanzor himself described all war on Christians as Jihad. Christian subjects said he was “seized by the Devil.”
In the 11th century, Morocco’s Almoravids crossed the Atlas mountains, conquered its plain and then conquered Spain – which they ruled from 1080 until Fernando liberated most of the peninsula in 1248. “[N]oting can stand in their way,” wrote the Muslim historian Ibn Kahldun of Almoravid religious and military fervor, “for their outlook is the same and the object they desire is common to all and is one for which they are prepared to die.” Thus in 1148 alone, the Almohads massacred 100,000 Jews in Fez, 120,000 Jews in Marrakesh and wrecked devastation and death throughout Spain, from Seville to Tortosa.
In 1148, Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides fled Cordoba’s Almohad persecution with his family disguised as Muslims. He found asylum in Fatimid Egypt. Arabs and Muslims had “persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us,” he later wrote. “Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they.” Maimonides’ 1172 Epistle to the [persecuted] Jews of Yemen that forced conversions they reported from Yemen, the Berbers had similarly forced upon Jews across the Maghreb and Spain. He described Mohammed as “the Madman,” despairing that the sole objective of his “invented … well known religion,” was “procuring rule and submission….”