Standing Mosques

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Survivors of the 2005 earthquake, which struck Pakistan and took the lives of 79,000 people, pray in front of the ruins of a mosque ahead of the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha (2006).

When mosques are left standing in natural disasters, it is often claimed as a miracle and attributed to an intervention by Allah. It is then used by apologists for propaganda purposes in order to gain new converts to Islam. This article analyzes the various claims made by these apologists.

Mosques Left Unharmed[edit]

1999 Earthquake in Turkey[edit]

Mosque.jpg

The 1999 İzmit earthquake in Turkey left between 17,000 - 45,000 people dead and another 43,953 injured.[1][2]

In the picture to the left, the Golcuk mosque along with a few more buildings look unaffected by the quake while most of the buildings around it are destroyed.

Islamic websites had this to say about the image:

"It is indeed a miracle from Allah(swt), a miracle of this century. A camera lens captures a miracle from Allah(swt), if we were to realize it we would flee unto Allah(swt) and repent to him. Look how the town was totally destroyed and most of the buildings were leveled with the surface of the earth, especially around the mosque, except for the mosque which was not harmed at all, and a building across the street from the mosque, the side facing the mosque is totally unharmed yet the rest of the sides of the building were damaged, because had it collapsed it would have fallen on the masjid's extension. If one were to guess, before the earthquake, what in that town would be damaged it would of course be the masjid's Minaret. It's tall thin weak based structure is an indication that any earth movement will force it to collapse but no! Everything was destroyed but that! SUBHAN ALLAH!"
The Mosque
Miracles of Islam
This is a picture of another site destroyed by Earthquake

The buildings in the above picture that are completely erased were knocked down deliberately by excavators and bulldozers because obviously they suffered some severe damages in the earthquake, representing a danger to the people. The reason the buildings surrounding these mosques were so severely damaged is because of the sub-par construction and has nothing to do with Allah.

Important public buildings such as mosques, temples and churches are usually contracted to the best Architects and Engineers. They are built better and therefore last longer than ordinary buildings which are built by profit-seeking contractors who cut corners and are there for the money. This is especially the case in third-world countries where there is no authority to inspect the building codes in the moments of construction or overlook the deficiencies if paid to do so.

In other natural disasters mosques are also damaged. Earthquakes demolish buildings that are not built properly and make no distinctions concerning their use. Therefore, well-built buildings survive natural disasters over time. Mosques are built with, in effect, public financing, which enables the use of better construction methods and materials. (For example, the Indonesian tsunami of 2004 did not destroy mosques built by the Dutch using public funds and high-quality construction.) So, in natural disaster-prone regions, it is only logical to expect mosques to survive, as the poorly-built mosques were destroyed long ago.

Another important point to consider is the religion of 99% of the population of Turkey is Islam,[3] so the houses that surrounded these mosques belonged to Muslims. Why did Allah destroy them? If this was intentionally done by Allah, would one really want to worship a god that destroys the houses of so many innocent people and kills his followers while saving a mosque?

2005 Tsunami in Indonesia[edit]

Indo-mosque-tsunami.jpg

In the January 2005 picture to the left, we see the Baiturrahim mosque in Meulaboh, Indonesia, after a massive earthquake and tsunami destroyed the town.

If you look closely at the image you will notice there is another building that survived just above the mosque and another just below it. If this was not by chance but by a miracle from Allah, why were the other buildings also left standing, and what special significance do they have for Allah to spare them from being destroyed?

Damaged Mosque Banda Aceh Tsunami 2005.jpg

For this to be a true miracle, all of the other mosques which were struck by the tsunami would have also had to survive unharmed. The picture to the right, showing a damaged Mosque near the coast in Banda Aceh,[4] clearly proves this was not the case.

As with the Golcuk mosque in Turkey, these religiously important structures are generally better constructed than regular buildings, so there is nothing miraculous when a few out of hundreds/thousands survive.

Three military officers who were part of a large contingent of Australian military surveying the ruins around the Baiturrahim mosque also explained why there was nothing extraordinary about this mosque being left standing after such an incident.[5]

Sergeant Kasey Northausen explained, "In every disaster you have buildings like this one, You have whole areas destroyed and in the middle, one building is still standing." Adding it "must have been part of the specific patterns of the water's force."

Corporal Thomas Allison suggested that the mosque's architecture, specifically its open first floor, allowed the huge waves to flow through, leaving the building intact. This logical explanation can also be applied to other mosques struck by hurricanes and floods.

2010 Earthquake in Haiti[edit]

Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake which left 220,000-316,000 people dead, many Muslims claimed "all the masjid are standing while all the churches were destroyed".[6] Others gloated over the deaths of thousands of Christians and their clergy, claiming "all the mosques have now become shelters and refuge with food dispatching and relief for hundreds while churches became the tombs for hundreds. One thing to say: Subhan'ALLAH ["Glory be to Allah"]."[7]

What these claims fail to consider is that almost all Haitians are Christians (Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%)),[8] whilst only 3,000 (a tiny 0.04 percent of the population) are Muslim.[9] The claim that all the churches were destroyed is patently false, but, statistically, it is of little surprise that most of the victims were Christian, not Muslim, or that most of the damaged worship places were churches, not mosques.

Equally, the claim that all the mosques in Haiti were left miraculously unharmed is false. Percentage wise, mosques were harder hit than churches. The Muslim charity, "Life for Relief and Development", reported that since January 12, 2010 it has "renovated 6 Mosques that were damaged from the quake and at each site our team was able to renovate the abolition area and provide clean water to each Mosque."[10] In a news article titled, "The Haitian-Muslim community rebuild their mosques", HaitiLibre further reported that the charity provided "the reconstruction of the mosque Masjid Al Qadri whose structures were severely damaged by the earthquake, making this place of worship impractical and dangerous."[11]

2011 Tsunami in Japan[edit]

Muslims using mass-emails and postings on the internet claimed another "standing mosque" miracle, this time in Japan following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011 which left 15,561 dead and another 5,690 injured.[12][13]

The claim states, "THIS INCREDIBLE PICTURE WILL NEVER BE PUBLISHED IN THE ' WESTERN MEDIA '...(i put my head on the block , it will be overlooked).....only muslims will understand & appreciate 'the power of 'Allah'(SWT)..."[14]

However, the reason why it would never be published in western media is because it is a false claim. The "incredible picture" that was circulated with the lie was in fact the aforementioned Baiturrahim mosque after the 2005 Tsunami in Indonesia, and not any mosque in Japan.[15]

Mosques Damaged[edit]

Images of Various Mosques[edit]

This is only a small sample of destroyed mosques caught on camera (more images can be viewed here):

Further Incidents[edit]

"Collapsing Mosque" Miracles?[edit]

Following the 2010 floods in Morocco, the minaret and part of the roof of a historic 18th century mosque in Meknes collapsed onto the congregation during Friday prayers. At least 40 people died and 71 were injured.[16]

Similarly in 2004, the Ain Khalil mosque in the city of Fez caved in under the weight of the house above it, killing 10 worshipers and injuring another five.[17]

These incidents are the complete opposite of the "standing mosque" miracles. Whilst the people and ordinary buildings outside the mosques were left unharmed, the worship places were destroyed and many worshipers killed or injured.

Does this make these unfortunate events, anti-Allah "collapsing mosque" miracles?

Minor "Miracles"[edit]

In February 2011, four workers were injured when the roof of a mosque collapsed in the southern Gaza Strip.[18] And in May 2013, the roof of a mosque in Terengganu, Malaysia collapsed only minutes after worshipers finished their Isyak prayers.[19]

1509 Earthquake in Turkey[edit]

The 1509 Istanbul earthquake occurred in the Sea of Marmara on September 10, 1509. Forty-five days of aftershocks followed the earthquake, as well as a tsunami. Over a thousand houses and 109 mosques were destroyed, and an estimated 10,000 people died.[20]

If Allah saved the Golcuk mosque in 1999, why would he not save the other 109 Turkish mosques destroyed in 1509? It does not make any sense to believe that he would allow so many Turkish mosques in the past to be destroyed yet care enough to intervene on behalf of one.

2013 Earthquake in Indonesia[edit]

The 2013 Indonesian earthquake struck the province of Aceh on July 2, 2013, killing at least 35 people and injuring another 276 others. Approximately 4,300 homes were damaged or destroyed.[21] Of the 35 who were killed, six were children who were crushed to death during a Qur'an reading session when the mosque they were in collapsed on top of them.[22] A further 14 children were trapped under the mosques' rubble, but rescuers were unable to locate any of them.[23]

As with the Golcuk mosque, if Allah saved the Baiturrahim mosque in 2005, why would he not save this Indonesian mosque in 2013? It does not make any sense to believe that he would allow so many Muslim children to be crushed to death by a mosque in 2013 yet care enough to intervene on behalf of a vacant mosque in 2005.

2004 Earthquake in Jerusalem[edit]

The Dome of the Rock (not to be confused with the Al-Aqsa Mosque) located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem is one of the most important mosques in Islam. It was built over the spot from which Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel.[24]

In February 2004, the roof of the Dome of the Rock Mosque was cracked by an earthquake that hit Israel. A radio report had also stated that the renovations were to be funded by the United Arab Emirates.[25] Why would Allah protect a few obscure mosques while allowing this important mosque to be damaged?

1509, 1557, 1754, 1766 Earthquakes in Turkey[edit]

The original Fatih Mosque (or Conqueror's Mosque in English) located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey, was repeatedly damaged by earthquakes and was eventually replaced by the current mosque in 1771.

It was first damaged in the 1509 earthquake, after that it was repaired, but was then damaged again by earthquakes in 1557 and 1754 and repaired yet again. It was then completely destroyed by an earthquake on May 22, 1766, when the main dome collapsed and the walls were irreparably damaged.[26]

1941 Flood in Mecca[edit]

The Ka'aba is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is Islam's most holiest shrine.[27] Muslims believe it was constructed by Abraham and his son Ishmael, they face it during daily prayers, and one of the Five Pillars of Islam requires them to perform the Hajj pilgrimage (which entails walking seven times around the Ka'aba) at least once in their lifetime.

If one believes Allah saved the mosques above, then who flooded Allah's house in 1941?

The pictures below are of the Ka'aba when an unusual deluge flooded the area around the Ka'aba and immersed it in 5 feet of water (this is only a sample, more images of the Ka'aba can be viewed here):

Non-Islamic Structures Left Unharmed[edit]

2008 Hurricane In United States[edit]

Hurricane Ike hit Texas on September 13, 2008.[28] It was the third-costliest hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States and resulted in 33 U.S. fatalities.[29]

Unlike the standing mosques in Turkey and Indonesia which were both pictured with nearby buildings still intact, the house pictured below was literally the last house standing in the Texas island of Gilchrist.[30]

If we are to believe these structures remain standing due to Allah's intervention, then why would he bestow his most impressive miracle on non-Muslims living in America?

Similiar Incidents[edit]

1951 Earthquake in El Salvador[edit]

Following the earthquake in May 1951 at Jucuapa, El Salvador, "The only structure left standing, although badly damaged, was a partially unfinished market building"[31]

1945 Atomic Bombing in Japan[edit]

The first atomic bomb to be used in war detonated almost directly above the Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima, Japan. It was initially scheduled to be demolished with the rest of the ruins, but the fact that the now termed "A-bomb Dome" remained mostly intact led to it being preserved. The Dome is now registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.[32]

Conclusion[edit]

There is nothing miraculous about strongly built structures with open architecture allowing water and wind to flow through, surviving waves and high winds better than weaker buildings.

Nature is indiscriminate about what it damages during natural disasters, and mosques are no exception to this rule. This is proven by the hundreds of mosques which have been destroyed in natural disasters, and by the fact that non-Muslim buildings have also "miraculously" been left unharmed or standing during similar incidents.

The "standing mosques" are no more miraculous than Morocco's 2004 and 2010 "collapsing mosques" that only killed worshipers and left others unharmed. If the former can be used to claim Islam is the true faith, the latter can be used to prove it is a false faith.

It also makes no sense that Allah would protect a few obscure mosques while allowing his house, the Ka'aba, to be flooded and the Dome of the Rock mosque to be damaged in an earthquake.

Furthermore, in these attempts to find miracles and attribute them to Allah, Muslims only incriminate him rather than prove his greatness. If one were to accept these incidents as true miracles, then why be proud of worshiping a deity who would save his places of worship from destruction, but at the same time allow his worshipers to die and their property to be destroyed?

This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Miracles which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic Core part.png

See Also[edit]

  • Natural Disasters - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Natural Disasters
  • Mosques - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Mosques

References[edit]

  1. Magnitude 7.6 TURKEY 1999 August 17 00:01:39 UTC - U.S. Geological Survey
  2. Marza, Vasile I. (2004). On the death toll of the 1999 Izmit (Turkey) major earthquake. ESC General Assembly Papers, Potsdam: European Seismological Commission
  3. Religion in Turkey - Kwintessential, accessed August 22, 2010
  4. Laura Zink Torresan - Photo Gallery of Northwestern Sumatra: 21 January 2005 Banda Aceh (Damaged Mosque near coast in Banda Aceh) - U.S. Geological Survey, last modified May 31, 2005
  5. John Donnelly - Mosque that survived tsunami draws tourists - Boston Globe, January 28, 2005
  6. "SeekersGuidance Supports Islamic Relief’s Efforts for Victims of Haiti Earthquake", SeekersGuidance, January 16th, 2010 (archived), http://seekersguidance.org/blog/2010/01/seekersguidance-supports-islamic-reliefs-efforts-for-victims-of-haiti-earthquake/. 
  7. See the popular video titled "Haiti earthquake Mosques vs Churchs which one is standing now?," posted on YouTube by the user "MrMuslimknight"
  8. "Religion in Haiti", Wikipedia, accessed June 28, 2013 (archived), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Haiti. 
  9. "Islam in Haiti", Wikipedia, accessed June 28, 2013 (archived), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Haiti. 
  10. "Life in Haiti", Life for Relief and Development, accessed June 27, 2013 (archived), http://www.lifeusa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=c_haiti. 
  11. "Haiti - Religion :The Haitian-Muslim community rebuild their mosques", HaitiLibre, May 10, 2010 (archived), http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-1350-haiti-religionthe-haitian-muslim-community-rebuild-their-mosques.html. 
  12. Mosque survives in Japan - RationalSkepticism.org, March 29, 2011
  13. Damage Situation and Police Countermeasures associated with 2011 Tohoku district – off the Pacific Ocean Earthquake - Japanese National Police Agency, April 20, 2011
  14. Masjid-e-survives in Japan - Alhamdo Lillah - Satalways, Flixya, accessed July 17, 2011
  15. "Last Mosque Standing", Snopes.com, March 29, 2011 (archived), http://www.snopes.com/photos/tsunami/mosque.asp. 
  16. Morocco minaret collapse kills dozens - The Telegraph, February 20, 2010
  17. "Morocco mosque collapse kills 10", BBC News, November 5, 2004 (archived), http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3987003.stm. 
  18. "4 workers injured as mosque roof collapses", Ma'an News Agency, February 19, 2011 (archived), http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=361305. 
  19. Fahirul N. Ramli, "Mosque's roof collapsed after Isyak prayers", New Straits Times, May 21, 2013 (archived), http://www.nst.com.my/latest/mosque-s-roof-collapsed-after-isyak-prayers-1.283276. 
  20. 1509 Istanbul earthquake - Wikipedia, accessed May 21, 2011
  21. "Aceh earthquake death toll reaches 35", Jakarta Post, July 5, 2013 (archived), http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/07/05/aceh-earthquake-death-toll-reaches-35.html. 
  22. "6 kids die as Indonesia mosque collapses in quake", The Gulf Today, July 3, 2013 (archived), http://gulftoday.ae/portal/c5dcbe95-b865-4c6e-bead-cfb42b0c3ba0.aspx. 
  23. "2013 Aceh earthquake", Wikipedia, accessed August 1, 2013 (archived), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Aceh_earthquake. 
  24. Braswell, G. "Islam – Its Prophets, People, Politics and Power", Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers. 1996. p.14
  25. Dome of the Rock Mosque Damaged in Quake - Israel National News, February 24, 2004
  26. Fatih Mosque, Istanbul - Wikipedia, accessed July 18, 2011
  27. Wensinck, A. J; Ka`ba. Encyclopaedia of Islam IV p. 317
  28. Hurricane Ike - U.S. Geological Survey, accessed July 18, 2011
  29. U.S. death toll from Hurricane Ike rises to 33 - CBC News, September 15, 2008
  30. Mike Von Fremd - In Ike's Wake: Last House Standing - ABC News, September 21, 2008
  31. N.N. Ambraseys, J.J. Bommer, E. Buforn and A. Udías - The earthquake sequence of May 1951 at Jucuapa, El Salvador - Journal of Seismology Volume 5, Number 1, 23-39, DOI: 10.1023/A:1009883313414
  32. Hiroshima Peace Memorial - Wikipedia, accessed July 17, 2011