Minarets and the Tower of Babel

Photo Credit: cccme

According to Genesis 11:1-9, after the deluge, Noah and his family disembarked the ark and eventually settled in the land of Shinar. The newer, more improved version of man then tried to build a tower whose pinnacle might touch Heaven. This arrogant attempt to reach God so angered Him that he confounded their languages scattering the peoples across the globe. There is no satisfying the God of the Hebrews.

Likewise, the Swiss last month voted (1) to ban the construction of new minarets in their country, not because the structures are symbols of a religion, but rather because they are perceived as an arrogant in-your-face political challenge to their way of life.

In the modern age of alarm-clocks, emails, cell-phones, news broadcasts, there is actually no need for a muedzin to summon poor Muslim shlubs to prayer five times a day. Indeed, the minaret was never a solely religious edifice: in times of siege or war, Muslim warriors used the minaret as a watchtower.

Muslims can live without them. If they were forced to tell the truth, they would admit that a minaret in a modern, civilized country is about as useful as a Liberal to a free country.



Arab News, Misunderstanding the minaret

THE controversy over the Swiss vote against the construction of new minarets seems to emphasize political and constitutional issues, notably the restructuring of many right-wing parties around the issue of a “European-Christian” identity standing against an “Islamization of Europe” and the possible conflict between the democratic right to make decisions by voting and the constitutional principle of freedom of faith. Yet the main argument suggested to support the ban position is rarely discussed.

The basic reasoning of the ban position is presented in a flyer prepared by the “Federal Popular Initiative Against Minarets”, which is initiated by a provincial “Egerkinger Kommittee”, and it focuses on the significance of the minaret. The key idea lays in the following assertion: “The minaret is an expression of willingness to have politico-religious power.” The two-page flyer suggests that this is the case because the minaret “has nothing to do with faith,” and also because of what Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in 1997 when he compared, playing with the words of a 1912 Ottoman poem, the minarets to “the bayonets” in an Islamist march to power.

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