I have recently heard that Spain was once an Islamic country; how did it become like this now? Will you give me information about the Andalusian State?

The Details of the Question
I have recently heard that Spain was once an Islamic country; how did it become like this now? Will you give me information about the Andalusian State?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Andalusia is a name given by Muslims to Spain. Today it is the name of a province in the south of Spain. Andalusia, which was conquered by Muslims between 711 and 714 as a natural extension of early Islamic conquests, remained an Islamic country for eight centuries though its geographical boundaries narrowed over time.

The history of Andalusia is divided into six separate periods:

1. The Era of Governors (715-756)

In this period, Andalusia was administered as a province of the Umayyad State in the east. The most important development then was the military expeditions that the Muslim conquerors made over the Pyrenees to conquer Europe. During these expeditions, Muslims reached Paris in 732. Efforts were made in order to establish a new social order in Andalusia. A free religious environment was created by ending the oppression on the Jews and the Arianists applied with the provocation of the Catholic Church during the period of Visigoths. Thus, the old social order based on the principle of classes was abolished.

2. The Era of Andalusian Umayyads (756 - 1031)

Having made Andalusia an independent state in 756 based on the model of eastern state order, Andalusian Umayyads established an independent army to maintain their political entity on the one hand and sent a lot of students to the favorite centers of ilm (knowledge/science) like Cairo, Mecca, Madinah, Baghdad and Damascus, transferring the scientific developments in these centers to Andalusia on the other hand.

In this period, there were very few people who could read and write except for the priests in the churches in Europe but almost all of the people in Andalusia were literate. Along with the increase in the economic and public works activities, Qurtuba (Cordova), the capital city, became a diplomatic center. Thanks to the tolerant environment that was provided, mosques, churches and synagogues were able to remain side by side without any fighting.

As a result, Andalusia became the most powerful state in Europe during this period.

3. The Era of "Small Sultanates" (1031-1090)

When the Umayyad State declined due to internal disorders in 1031, Andalusia entered a process of division politically. In this process, almost every city was transformed into an independent state. Despite this political division, the rise in civilization continued in Andalusia. The most important indication of this was that almost every city turned into a Qurtuba. Significant developments took place in literature, astronomy, medicine and philosophy. However, the political disunity led to the fall of Tuleytula (Toledo), the second largest city of Spain in 1085. Thereupon, Andalusians had to ask for help from North Africa.

4. The Era of Murabits (Almoravids) and Muwahhids (Almohads) (1090 - 1228)

Murabits, who helped Andalusians in 1086 and who established a big state in North Africa, ruled Andalusia as a province subject to them until 1147. After this date, the administration of Andalusia was undertaken again by Muwahhids, who came from North Africa. In this period, the Christian Europe made Andalusia the target of crusade attacks with the direction of the Pope. For this reason, this period was spent mostly through defensive wars against the crusaders. However, the developments in the field of civilization did not stop. As a matter of fact, the upbringing of scholars and philosophers such as Ibn Rushd (Averros), Ibn Bajja (Avempace) andIbn Tufayl, who affected Europe deeply, took place in this period.

5. The Emirate of Granada (1231 -1492)

Upon the decline of the administrationof Muwahhids in 1228, Christian Spain began a rapid invasion movement on the Andalusian territory. Losing the power to defend themselves, the Andalusians lost all of the territories except Granada, Malaga and Almeira in the south. In 1231, the Nasri dynasty declared its independence in these remaining territories. This small Granada sultanate succeeded in surviving for two and a half centuries thanks to the politics it pursued. The Alhambra Palace, which is one of the most popular works of both Islamic architecture and the world architecture, belongs to this period. Granada, which was besieged by Christian armies in 1490, was delivered to Christians with an agreement made in 1492 on condition that the religious and civil rights of the Muslims would be guaranteed. Thus, the domination of Islam, which continued for eight centuries in Spain, came to an end.

6. Moriscos (1492 -1609)

Upon the decline of the Emirate of Grenada, a large number of Muslims remained under Christian domination in Spain. In 1497, the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella decided to force Muslims to be Christianized, disregarding the agreement they made. They put Muslims in closed places and sprinkled baptized water on them; then, they were declared to be Christians. The Quran and other Arabic works were confiscated, libraries were emptied and traditional clothing was forbidden. They forbad the Muslims to teach Arabic to their children. The mosques were transformed into churches. Those who acted contrarily were sent to the inquisition courts.

According to some Spanish sources, the Inquisition decreed death penalty for more than three thousand Muslims; they were either impaled or burnt. Despite this oppression, Muslims were able to practice their religion secretly. In 1609, the Spanish kingdom made a decision with the church and decided to expel the Muslims living within the borders of Spain. Some of them were expelled to France and others to Africa. In these exiles, hundreds of thousands of Andalusian died. Although the Muslims were expelled from Spain, their influence continued afterwards.

That the Umayyads made Andalusia an independent state and ensured its political unity in 756 formed a serious obstacle to Christian progress. Thanks to it, a decline that could have happened much earlier was prevented.

The Umayyad dynasty, which successfully ensured and represented the political unity of Andalusia until 976, began to lose its power and influence after this date. The emergence of the Amiris as a rival power overturned all of the balances of the state and made the system impossible to produce solutions. This weakness of the central government eventually led to the strengthening of the local aristocracy and the division of the country.

Andalusia, has always been out of mind for Anatolian Muslims maybe because it was out of sight as it is now. Today, there are very few people who remember Spain with its Muslim identity. The "Western cultural imperialism", which imposes its own values ​​and assumptions, and makes people forget their freedoms that are contrary to it, becomes evident here. Once, I asked in a classroom with thirty students in the third grade of the Faculty of Theology, who really need to establish this relationship, what nationality the following scholars were and what they thought about them: Baqi Ibn Makhlad, Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi, Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi, Ibnu Mada, Abul Abbas al-Mursi, Abu Amr ad-Dani, Abu Hayyan, Ibn Atiyya. Unfortunately, nobody knew that these people were Andalusian.

The state of a huge country where Muslims dominated more than eight centuries, the tens of thousands of scholars who were brought up there, the tremendous civilization that was established there, and their present inheritors should not be like that. Yes, the Christian bigotry, which established sovereignty there by defeating the Muslims five centuries ago, which is not a distant past, may have done its best to erase the Islamic identity with a rarely seen savagery there. However, this persecution should have made the Muslims more sensitive to them. Intensive studies should have been made to search and to inform people about the end of the Muslims there, their laws, the properties of the great civilization established there, the works that remained from them and/or were destroyed. It was not possible to do these during the period of Inquisition and bigotry but it is possible to do it in the atmosphere of liberty of this century. I do not know how many people go there with this idea though we have so many possibilities and potentials.

However, Westerners have tried to find some traces belonging to two thousand years ago in Anatolia; and if they cannot find any, they make up some Christian elements such as Mother Mary's healing water in Kuşadası and the legend of Santa Claus in Demre and try to connect them with Turkey. They cherish the memory of the Christian domination of this land one thousand years ago, and write  and pronounce the Christian names of the cities and towns like  Constantinople (Istanbul), Smyrna (Izmir), Cappadocia (Kapadokya), Cilicia (Kilikya), Bithynia (Bitinya), Ephesus (Efes), Hierapolis, etc. They come here to repeat the travels of the disciples like Paul, Pierre, and Barnabas to spread Christianity and perform the sacred pilgrimage. The Muslims transform their cemeteries of thirty to forty years old into green space first, divide into plots after that and finally construct residences there but the cemeteries of Christians that are more than centuries old are not touched.   

According to a newspaper that I have read recently, there are seventy-five churches belonging to the Greek population of about five thousand in Istanbul. They are maintained though most of them are not used. However, Andalusia, which was a Muslim land until five or six centuries ago, is unprotected.  

At least the Qurtuba Mosque, which somehow survived the bigotry, should be given to Muslims and revived. I believe that Muslims will restore it, prepare it for prayers on their own and by spending their own money if they are allowed. (These restorations are sometimes carried out with the financial support of Muslim countries here.) Some other historical monuments can be repaired after it. Unfortunately, we saw some Muslim statesmen who tried to revive the sacred places of Christians under the pretext of tourism.  

Some Muslims celebrated the 500th anniversary of the end of Islam in Spain with Christians. Muslims, however, should have declared this 500th anniversary in 1992 as a call to search, worldwide, for the rights of the millions of Andalusian Muslims that were killed, deported or Christianized by force. Alas no. How can we, weak Muslims, who cannot do anything about the Middle East, which has become a blood bath and which is seen by the whole world through the means of media, search the rights of the Muslims five hundred years ago?

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