Skip to comments.Was the Islam of Old Spain Truly Tolerant? (The Religion of Peace™ and its idea of inclusiveness)
Posted on 09/27/2003 1:05:33 PM PDT by quidnunc
Granada, Spain A dispenser of iced lemonade sits invitingly by the door of the newly whitewashed building hospitality for summer visitors coming to the first mosque built in Granada in over 500 years.
But looming over the freshly planted garden, seeming to quiver in the furnacelike heat, is another image: the Alhambra, a 14th-century Muslim fortress of red-tinted stone that is everything this mosque is not: ancient, battle-scarred, monumental. It seems at once a reminder of lost glories and a spur for their restoration.
It may also inspire darker sentiments. For it was from the Alhambra's watchtower that Christian conquerors unfurled their flag in 1492, marking the end of almost eight centuries of Islamic rule in Spain. Less than a decade later, forced conversions of Muslims began; by 1609, they were being expelled.
That lost Muslim kingdom the southern region of Spain the Muslims called al-Andalus and is still called Andalusia now looms over far more than the new mosque's garden. And variations of "the Moor's last sigh" the sigh the final ruler of the Alhambra supposedly gave as he gazed backward abound.
For radical Islamists, the key note is revenge: in one of Osama bin Laden's post-9/11 broadcasts, his deputy invoked "the tragedy of al-Andalus." For Spain, which is destroying Islamic terrorist cells while welcoming a growing Muslim minority (a little over 1 percent of Spain's 40 million citizens), the note yearned for is reconciliation.
The sighs have also included a retrospective utopianism. Islamic Spain has been hailed for its "convivencia" its spirit of tolerance in which Jews, Christians and Muslims, created a premodern renaissance. Córdoba, in the 10th century, was a center of commerce and scholarship. Arabic was a conduit between classical knowledge and nascent Western science and philosophy. The ecumenical Andalusian spirit was even invoked at this summer's opening ceremony for the new mosque.
That heritage, though, can be difficult to define. Even at the mosque, the facade of liberality gave way: at its conference on "Islam in Europe," one speaker praised al-Andalus not for its openness but for its rigorous fundamentalism. Were similar views also part of the Andalusian past?
But as many scholars have argued, this image is distorted. Even the Umayyad dynasty, begun by Abd al-Rahman in 756, was far from enlightened. Issues of succession were often settled by force. One ruler murdered two sons and two brothers. Uprisings in 805 and 818 in Córdoba were answered with mass executions and the destruction of one of the city's suburbs. Wars were accompanied by plunder, kidnappings and ransom. Córdoba itself was finally sacked by Muslim Berbers in 1013, its epochal library destroyed.
Andalusian governance was also based on a religious tribal model. Christians and Jews, who shared Islam's Abrahamic past, had the status of dhimmis alien minorities. They rose high but remained second-class citizens; one 11th-century legal text called them members of "the devil's party." They were subject to special taxes and, often, dress codes. Violence also erupted, including a massacre of thousands of Jews in Grenada in 1066 and the forced exile of many Christians in 1126.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
But these varieties of Islamic style, far from reflecting a humanistic vision, suggest a world governed by the rigors of the intellect and the strictures of law. That world, whether in a mosque or a palace, presumes submission and declares mastery. But the individual is not the focus of attention. The position or status of the individual is. This is quite different from the humane ideal so often attached to Andalusia's name. The outcome is not a version of tolerance, though at its best it can offer a version of the sublime.
The upshot is, to the Muslim mind tolerance and inclusion means that infidels are turned into second-class citizens dependent upon the mercy of Muslims instead of being killed.
But it is such ignorance which could enable it again. France could be the first to fall into a modern dark age. Will people who have adopted the multicultural view defend their own culture when attempts are made to smother it?
While much has changed, many things have not. Perhaps there will be another 'al-Andalus'. Is there a modern day Charles Martel in our future?
Furthermore, Christianity was adopted by a Roman Emperor, but in the same years Islam was busy conquering territory for the ol' Arabian moon god, Christianity was not spreading itself with the sword. Later, after the Crusades, with the Teutonic knights and with the Spanish in America, perhaps, but basically, Christianity has spread with missonaries preaching, not soldiers putting the sword to people and telling them convert or die, as does Islam.
Perhaps this will help. Whenever the Christian brute enforces intolerance, he has to contort the New Testament to divine his moral obligation. The Muslim brute, on the other hand, just simply has to have a literal reading of the Koran.
Granted, but nobody today with two brain cells to rub together claims that it was.
On the other hand Andalusian Islam is touted by many as being nirvana.
Though bin ladin made remarks about restoring "morisco" rule in Espana, that is about as likely as the "reconquista" of the American southwest by the Aztalans.
the defects of Islam come from its practice:
it is, in its very scriptures, a violent, cruel creed that is both a religion and a political system.
verbum sat sapientes
Well, Torquemada wasn't exactly a fifteenth-century Ghandi, the Spanish inquisiition wasn't an early-day Rotary Club and an auto da fe wasn't quite akin to a Sunday-school picnic.
The Moors brought civilization to the Spanish much in the same way that Nazis brought civilization to the Jews in the years prior to the 'final solution.'
So, let me get this straight.
My Spanish ancestors were deeply rooted in Western Civilization since the Romans won the Second Punic War in 202 B.C., the Islamic hoards destroyed most of Hispania's Hispano-Roman society in 711 A.D., it took my ancestors until 1492 to drive them back into Africa and they want revenge?
Well, bring it on. Under the banners of the Visigothic Kingdom of Spain, under the banners of Castile and Leon and under the Stars and Stripes, my family has been fighting these Islamic fanatics, on and off, since 711 A.D.
The fight ain't over.
"Islamic" Spain's "civilization" was enlightened only in comparison to the surrounding barbarism. Unfortunately for Islam, those surrounding barbarians became civilized, while Islam remained mired in its own fundamentalist barbarism--hence the situation today.
Again, the wars were started by Islam, and it was Islam that treated Christians and jews as 2nd class citizens -Dhimmi- . You should read Ba'at Yeor's books on the subject, it was really pretty nasty. A status about like free blacks in the old south: no say in things, no rights, can't testify in court, can't defend yourself against a moslem, ad nauseaum.
I'm not suggesting the Christians didn't get carried away, but, rather that once the Moslems started their intended conquest of the world for the old Arabian moon god, they really can't complain about the way people fight back.
Interesting. Do you think we can convert them to Republicanism, then?
Protestantism had it's own versions of the auto da fe.
Nineteen accused "witches" were hanged on Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts in 1692:
George Jacobs, Sr.
The historian Bat Ye'or has written extensively on the institution of dhimmitude.
I suggest that you look up some using Google.
The Muslims' treatment of dhimmis was very similar to the Nazis' treatment of Jews prior to the holocaust.
And if dhimmis broke the laws of dhimmitude the pact was broken and the dhimmis could be summmarily killed.
Here's a sampl;e of Bat Ye'or's writings:
Beware historical pitfalls.
Over the last three decades, the West has been flooded by misleading books on Islam. Concealing the complexities inherent to an accurate portrayal of Muslim theology and the history of Islamic civilization, some Muslim groups have aggressively marketed a simplistic, roseate image of Islam to universities and other intellectual domains, as well as to the mass media.
Muslims specifically trained to teach non-Muslims were sent to Western universities. Since the 1970s, the Euro-Arab Dialogue apparatus a complex Euro-Arab propaganda lobby that involved the highest political levels of the two sides has encouraged this policy, conducted by local and immigrant professors. It is also thanks to this complex structure, based on oil, market interests, and arms sales, that many millions of Muslim immigrants were encouraged to settle in Europe over the last 30 years. This is one of the main causes that prevented Europe, until recently, from denouncing and fighting Islamic terror. The immigration policy also neutralized Europe's defenses and contributed to its drifting away from America.
Weakened by two world wars and obsessed with its immediate economic interests, the European Union has deliberately adopted an ostrich-like policy since the 1970s. Rather than confronting the real dangers of radical Islam, the EU chose to deny them and implicitly endorsed the Arab war against Israel. Over decades, this policy has boomeranged and further weakened Europe, rekindling a widespread antisemitism which is in turn exacerbated by Arab immigrant fanaticism.
Since September 11, 2001, many ideas have been presented to the American public concerning Islam and it is perfectly true that one cannot encompass a billion people in a single judgment. If one should not pre-judge people and individuals, one can nevertheless form an opinion on Islam according to its religious scriptures, its jurisdiction, its political institutions, its long history, and its doctrinal injunctions concerning Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims. One should not label people by generalizing, but one can and must examine and ponder over the Islamic historical and political legacy, especially in the domain that relates to non-Muslims.
It is traditional Islam that for 14 centuries has mandated against infidels a jihad -war on land, and piracy at sea. Its political and military institutions have devastated the Islamized lands and were used to justify the traditional laws of dhimmitude, which are not much different than present-day Wahhabism. In fact, it is difficult to disentangle them, since the rules concerning infidels are nearly the same in four schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, Hanbali). These four schools specify the same rules concerning Arabia in relation to non-Muslims. Arabia has a privileged status, being the land of the Arabs where the last Revelation was recorded in Arabic to an Arab prophet, while all the other lands are kuffar (infidel) lands Islamized by jihad .
It is of course easy to demonstrate an Islamic record of perfection if one overlooks its victims, whitewashing its history and the present policy of global terror or discrimination against its religious minorities which survive today as remnants from centuries of oppression. This simplistic view of history functions in a Manichean way: Traditional Islam is tolerant and broad-minded; militant Islam is perverse. Similar distortions appear in some generalizations of the complex relations of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Affirmations that Christianity has always persecuted the Jews, while Islam protected and "tolerated" them, borrows from the Islamic propaganda campaign that uses the Jews to criticize Christianity. The 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian relations on different continents and countries are far too complex to be dovetailed into this primitive view.
Christians have persecuted Jews, but they have also protected, respected, and appreciated them. Thousands of Christians have endangered or lost their lives defending Jews in different times and places, especially during World War II. Many are honored in Israel, as being the Just among the Nations, but many more died unknown. Christian authorities have apologized for antisemitism and for the persecutions they inflicted on Jews. Since Vatican II (1962-65), the Catholic Church has completely reformed the traditional teaching concerning the Jews and all incitement to hate has been suppressed. The same policy of rapprochement developed in the Protestant churches. Not only did modern Christian Zionism precede Jewish Zionism, but today millions of Christians stand in solidarity with Israel. Israel came into existence from Egyptian bondage in Biblical times. Its freedom has symbolized liberation from slavery for all peoples. And today, though many of those Christians who love Israel do not realize it, Israel's struggle to abolish in its homeland the bondage of dhimmitude, testifies to man's liberation from a dehumanized jihad ideology that includes Jews, Christians, and others in the same system.
Conversely, the relationship of Islam with Jews and Christians that has set the pattern of the jihad dhimmitude institutions on all continents, cannot be reduced to a simple Islamic magnanimity to Jews. These relations encompassed the jihad conquests of numerous countries and peoples, including mass deportations, enslavement, massacres, and subjugation, all sanctioned by traditional Islamic law. Reducing this complex historical record carefully documented in countless volumes by Muslim and non-Muslim chroniclers alike to a "benevolent Islamic protection of Jews," amounts to propagandistic lunacy. Moreover, most official Muslim bodies have never apologized for the suffering they have inflicted on other peoples; on the contrary, they call this system of oppression both just and tolerant.
In the past, to advance their own ends, Muslim propagandists have often used Jews against Christians, provoking thereby Christian anti-Jewish reprisals, just as they are currently using Europe against Israel and America. Spreading animosity between Jews and Christians will obstruct their rapprochement and maintain the poisonous relations of dhimmitude, fomenting mutual hatred among non-Muslim groups in general, to the great benefit of the dominant Islamic power. Such a deliberate, cynical campaign a jihad against Judeo-Christian rapprochement cannot be permitted to degrade the over 50 years of serious post-Shoah reconciliation efforts between Christians and Jews. This remarkable conciliatory process, epitomized by the Nostra Aetate declaration of 1965, has been furthered by subsequent ecclesial documents and by a fruitful and ongoing Judeo-Christian dialogue.
Using Jews in order to attack Christians is a cynical and dangerous policy, and Jews should be careful not to become pawns in this Muslim-Christian polemic, whose aim is not ecumenical understanding but the destruction of the Judeo-Christian values through the undermining of both the Jewish-Christian rapprochement, and the undeniable Jewish roots of Christianity.
The politics of a cynical negationism, based on deceit and ignorance, is being coupled with an even more grave moral violence. The obfuscation of jihad , a war continually pursued on three continents and qualified as "just," implies the abolition of the human rights of its victims. Only by the criteria of justice established in Islam can the jihad a war to impose Koranic law on the world be considered just.
Likewise, dhimmitude can be considered tolerant only through the dehumanization of millions of non-Muslims: Jews, Christians, and others who endured this religious, apartheid-like system for over 1,000 years. It is arrogant to dismiss those countless masses whose children were enslaved, or the distress of the deported young victims or to disregard the suffering of those dispossessed and condemned to exploitation and humiliation. Their testimonies, which can still be heard today from the Sudan and elsewhere, cannot simply be ignored. Because such a system has been cloaked in "justness," today the lives of Jews, Christians, Hindus, and others are held so cheap that they can be dispensed with by the thousands in Israel, America, Russia, Sudan, Kashmir, Indonesia, and elsewhere; it is under the excuse of jihad that such crimes against humanity are perpetrated with impunity. Only a frank mea culpa denouncing jihad campaigns as genocidal wars rather than "liberations," welcomed by those conquered would foster true reconciliation between peoples and religions.
(Bat Yeor in National Review, February 3, 2003)
I suggest that you search Google using keywords "Bat Yeor" and "dhimmitude" separately.
By the way, when architecture and poetry are the only avenues of individual expression allowed to the individual in a society, it is inevitable that these two disciplines will be highly advanced.
Proving that the Spanish Inquisition was nothing more sinister than a Friar's Club celebrity roast; a bunch of merry japsters larking about; a sort of a prototypical hotfoot that got out of hand, I suppose?
You're a number of centuries off between the adoption of Christianity by Constantine and the dealings of Muhammed. Secondly, you need not go to the middle ages to find the spread of Christianity by the sword. You need only look at Charlemagne.
I am in no way trying to defend Islam, either in its initial spread or in its present attempts to conquer by means of the unthinking brutality of suicide. I feel that much of the Islam clergy would be more appropriate in the Stone Age. However, the topic of this post was how brutal Islam was in the past. My point is that, during that era, Christianity was just as violent.
The difference is that Christianity has outgrown those acts; Islam has not.
Bump. There are no moderating forces in the Qu'ran that I know of.
I did it and nothing showed up for the most famous of Jewish philosophers born in Islamic Spain. That would be Maimonades (RAMBAM). Check out his bio sometime. (It omits the fairy tales.)
Nor will it. Mohammed himself saw to this.
The Islamic contributions to science including mathematics was largely derivitive, confined largely to preserving the knowledge of earlier Greek, Roman and Indian writers.
As with every early civilization throughout history the tempraments of the individual rulers determined the tenor of the times.
Some Muslim rulers were relatively enlightened as judged by the standards of their period while others were little more than bloodthirsty savages.
This matters to us today only because Muslim propagandists are heralding a fictional, idealized, Islam of the mind which never existed to attempt to convince us that Islam is something which it really isn't a religion of peace, enlightenment and tolerance.
As for commerce, the Vikings were traders who engaged in commerce all over the known world, and their social system was well-developed.
But this doesn't make them people who you'd want living next door to you.
Yes, the Visogoths had conquered Roman Hispania.
However, the Visigothic Kingdom was comprised of a small barbarian warrior class that ruled over a vastly greater Hispano-Roman population that had been an integral part of Roman civilization since 200 years before the birth of Christ.
The civilization of Hispania that produced Hadrian, Trajan, Lucan and the aqueduct of Segovia did not need Muslim invaders to "civilize" them.
The miniscule effect that the Visigothic invasions had on the culture of Hispania is evident by the fact that, today, the Visigothic Germanic language is totally extinct in Spain except for a few lingustic peculiarities in Castilian. Except for the Basques that speak their pre-Roman language, every other region of Spain today speaks a Romance language that is a direct descendent of the Latin language of Roman Hispania.
Aquaduct of Segovia. Circa late First Century A.D.
Denarius of Hadrian honoring Hispania. Circa 118 A.D.