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 ...
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.
Fat corpora's women [have to turn] a glass house
And the Arabs have it made
All their women in veils, eyes glazed
Second Dark Age. Death of the USA.
Return of the family.
And the commune crapheads sit and whine
While the commons near my birthplace is now a police college
It's a second dark age.
Mark E. Smith, 1980
It is immaterial what is in the Bible or the Koran except as they are viewed as calls to action by the faithful who consider them to be the word of God.
Outside of a few very few cranks, there are no Christians who consider Holy Writ to be a justification for the forcible conquest of other faiths, with death being the penalty for resistance or apostasy.
There are many millions of Muslims who so believe, and are willing to put their beliefs into action.
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?
No. Proving that religious intolerance was not a uniquely Spanish trait before the Age of Enlightment and proving that the First Amendment was adopted, not to protect against the Spanish Inquisition setting up shop in Philadelphia, but as a safeguard against English Protestantism's own history of excesses in rooting out "heresy" by use of state power.
There is no way that you can make Islam into something warm. fuzzy and non-threatening by establishing that at ceretain times and in certain places it was somewhat less barbaric than other contemporary religions.
What matters is what Islam is today vis a vis Western Civilization, and it is inescapable that it is a dark, sinister, primative thing, antithetical to our concepts of freedom and human dignity.
Any attempt to prove otherwise is akin to putting lipstick on a pig.
no. they just needed somoene to get rid of the barbarians that took over.
The Islamic invaders of 711 A.D. simply replaced one military ruling class for the other.
The difference was that the Visigoths were already somewhat integrated into Western Civilization while the Moors imposed an Eastern culture and religion by force of arms.
In Islamic Spain, the Hispano-Roman population settled in for 700 years of second-class citizenship. In the unconquered northern Spanish Christian kingdoms, the Visogothic barbarians were simply assimilated into the much larger Hispano-Roman civilization and, like the Normans in Britain, they became extinct as a separate population.
I posted this article because Moorish Spain is held out by Muslim apologists as some sort of beau ideal and conclusive evidence that Islam is not a threat to the West.
This myth needs to be dispelled.
The fact that Muslims sometimes subject 'infidels' to dhimmitude rather than simply killing them does not make it a benign thing.