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.'