Rockin' The Kabaa

by The New Republic Staff | October 10, 2007

I'm no longer impatient with imagined offenses to Muslim sensibilities. I am just bored by them. This may be irresponsible. Because taking offense may turn to hysteria and hysteria, as we say with the Danish cartoons, turned to murder. In any case, Steve Jobs has insulted the Kabaa and everything holy besides, as you will see if you click on some of the links below. This piece below was written by Andrew Bostom, an independent scholar who knows so damn much that he can't possibly be a professor of Arabic studies at Columbia University. Please don't laugh as you read.: Rockin' the Kabaa? -- Sharifs Don't Like It!
Andrew Bostom  One year ago, on October 10, 2006 an Islamic website alerted Muslims to yet another of the seemingly endless litany of "insults to Islam." The message claimed a cube-shaped building under construction in New York City, on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets in midtown Manhattan, bore a deliberate resemblance to the sacred Meccan "Kabaa," and as such was meant to provoke Muslims. After taking liberties to contrive a resemblance between Apple's (as in Macintosh computers) "Mecca," and the actual Meccan Kabaa (see here), the Islamic website maintained the New York structure intended to be open 24 hours a day (alas, like the Kabaa), and moreover, contained bars selling alcoholic beverages -- both blatant "insults to Islam." The message further urged Muslims to disseminate this "alarming" information, in the hope that "Muslims will be able to stop the project." As Robert Spencer observed aptly, at the time, "The only problem is that the project is finished, and the actual building doesn't look like the Kabaa at all, unless all cube-shaped structures are forbidden to infidels." Fast forward almost exactly one year, and a strangely delayed outpouring of "Kabaa outrage" was expressed on October 6, 2007 -- in Kashmir! As reported by the Iranian (Islamic Republic) News Agency , hundreds of Muslim college students in the Northern Kashmir city of Baramulla took to the streets in demonstrations, "to decry a bar built in the shape of the holy Kaaba in New York." Proclaiming anti-American and pro-Islamic slogans, the students insisted that the putative construction of a wine-shop or a bar like the Kaaba was tantamount to the desecration of the holy sites of Islam. "Muslims all over the world should protest at this," they stated. They also demanded that the "bar" be closed down immediately, accompanied by a "US apology" to the Muslim world for creating the Kaaba replica. Ignoring the final constructed appearance of Apple's New York City cube, and the fact that alcohol was never served there, what is the Kabaa, and why might any perceived insult to this Meccan structure arouse the ire, once again, of pious votaries of Islam? The Kabaa is a black-gray, cube-like building located in the center of the mosque at Mecca which contains the black stone (the Hajaru 'l-Aswad). The bizarre and fantastic Muslim narrative -- a melding of traditions from the core Islamic texts (including the Koran), and the inventiveness of Muslim writers -- maintains that the Kabaa was originally constructed in heaven some 2000 years before the world's creation (indeed, this heavenly model of it persists eternally, named the Baitu'l-Ma

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