Muslims have always built mosques on the sites of their conquests. The Prophet Muhammad himself made the Ka’aba, a pagan pantheon, into a mosque after he captured Mecca in 630 CE. The Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was deliberately built near the Temple Mount, the holiest places in Judaism. The Ummayad mosque in Damascus was built on the site of the Church of Saint John. Babri mosque in Ayodhya, India was built by demolishing a Hindu temple at the site of Hinduism’s Lord Rama’s birthplace. They built mosques on the sites of thousands of temples throughout India.
The request to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center is not accidental. It is astute and deliberate, as is the decision to call the place Cordoba House. Cordoba is city in Spain that resonates mightily in Muslim history. It was the capital of the Islamic empire in Spain. It was the place where Islam established its first caliphate in Europe. The Grand Cordoba Mosque was built where a Visigoth Christian church stood.