Muslim Spain (711-1492)

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  • Topic: Al-Andalus, Averroes, Islamic Golden Age
  • Pages : 29 (8957 words )
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  • Published : November 18, 2012
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Over a thousand years ago, Europe experienced one of its greatest periods of cultural enlightenment.Islam in Spain has had a fundamental presence in the culture and history of the nation. The religion was present inmodern Spanish soil from 711 until 1492 under the rule of the Arabs and Moors of al-Andalus.Islamic Spain was a multi-cultural mix of the people of three great monotheistic religions: Muslims,Christians, and Jews.For more than three centuries in Medieval Spain, Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together and prospered in a thriving multicultural civilization. Here, remarkable individuals of different faiths made lasting contributions in such areas as poetry, art, architecture, music, dining etiquette, science, agriculture, medicine, engineering, navigation, textiles, and even hydraulic technology.Their rich, complex culture reached a high point in the Mediterranean Middle Ages. However, larger forces in conquest of land and power brought about puritanical judgments, absolutism and religious extremism. The conflict they triggered extinguished the shared learning that once flourished in this enlightened land.

"...I will forgive all the shortcomings and remove the evil deeds of those who were expelled from their homes or were persecuted for My sake and who fought for My cause and were slain. I shall admit them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow. This is their reward from Allah, and with Allah alone is the richest reward!" (Al-Qur'an, 3:195)"

Al-Andalus, which means, "to become green at the end of the summer" is referred to the territory occupied by the Muslim empire in Southern Spain, which refer to the cities of Almeria, Malaga, Cadiz, Huelva, Seville, Cordoba, Jaen and Granada.


This civilization spanned the eighth to the fifteenth century. In 711, Arabs crossed the Straight of Gibraltar (derived from 'Gabal Al-Tariq': 'Mountain of Tariq') and established control over much of the Iberian Peninsula. 2 Of the Arab conquest, Muslims called the area of the Iberian Peninsula they occupied, "Al-Andalus." This land called Al-Andalus, hence often called "Andalusia" had at one point included Portugal, Southern France, and the Balearic Islands. Within 3 years, in 714, Muslims had occupied almost all the peninsula. Muslims crossed to Sicily and established control there for 130 years, until Muslim rule fell in 1091 to the Normans. Muslims also established rule in parts of France, but they were soon defeated by Charles Martel in 756, in which remains today one of the greatest victories for Christian Europe for bringing a halt to Islam's expansion. The Muslims who arrived and settled in Andalus were called "Moors," ('dark') a corrupt and negative term referring to the people who came from Morocco. They themselves, however, did not use the term to refer to themselves.

Muslims took control under the leadership of Tariq ibn Ziyad and his army of 12,000 troops. King Roderic, the last Visigoth ruler had reportedly "kidnapped" and raped the Governor of Ceuta, Count Julian's daughter who was sent to be educated. Julian vowed to Roderic, "the next time I return to Spain, I promise to bring you some hawks the like of which your Majesty has never seen!" Julian, a Christian, appealed to Musa ibn Nusayr, the Umayyad Governor of N. Africa for assistance in avenging Roderic for his crime, and hence take him out of rule. Musa did not commit to a full-scale invasion, but called upon his lieutenant to take charge. Because of the weakened Visigoth kingdom due to internal conflicts, and the Muslims' organization, the Muslim army easily defeated Roderic's army of over 90,000 men almost without resistance.

As an important reminder, during Islamic rule in Muslim history, we recall that upon hearing the news that a Muslim woman had been dishonored, Khilafah (Caliph) Jafer Al-Mansoor,...
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