Islam, March 1985

Andalusia and Twentieth Century

Halil Necatioglu

When I look at the state of the Muslims throughout the world, I see them in troubles and face to face with dangers. Despite this serious condition, I see a widespread heedlessness and unawareness of the terrible consequences, especially in the educated elite. Those who have good intentions are far away from a cooperation and solidarity among themselves.

I've been thrown into the midst of the two unintelligent,
I can make neither the ground nor the heaven understand.

To pull ourselves together, we need to know the states and the ends of the Muslims who lived before, and need to learn lessons from them. Perhaps, we could realize our problems better and recognize the friends and foes better. We could prepare plans and programs better, take better precautions, and cure our problems sooner.

How did we loose Balkans, Crimea, Caucasia, Middle Asia? With what spirit did we conquer these places? What are the reasons for our failure? How did we fall from a state of unbeatable power and glory to a state of disorder, ruin and confusion? We must investigate these questions seriously and correct our mistakes.

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Full of lessons, the story of the Andalusian Muslims is a warner for today's Muslims. Islam entered Spain 91 years after Hegira (710 C. E.) with Tarîf bin Zur'a and his companions. The following year Tariq bin Ziyad crossed the Gibraltar with an army of 12 000 and dominated Spain in a short time. He conquered Gordova and Granada; he reached Toledo and the northern borders. Following years Muslim armies reached middle of France.

The success of the Andalusian Muslims was not due to inferiority of the Christian natives in comparison to Muslims in number, military equipment or courage; it was because of their unrivalled spiritual state, love of jihad, desire to be martyrs in the cause of Allah, zeal to serve to the religion of Allah, thought of exalting the word of Allah, and effort to convey the message of Islam. In short, it was because of their strong faith, strong solidarity among them, and their self sacrifices for their ideals. As the historians point out, King Rodrigo had an army of about 70 000 soldiers to fight Tariq bin Ziyad.

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Muslims took faith and humanity, art and civilization, elegance and knowledge with them to Spain. They illuminated the Europe of the Dark Ages. With excellent cities, monuments and schools, Andalusia became a dreamland. Only Gordova had 800 madrasas and 1700 mosques. Many scholars in social studies and science were raised. At that time, Arabic was compulsory in European universities. Kings would send hundreds of male and female students to Andalusia for a quality education.

It is a fact that, Europe woke up because of Andalusia; renaissance and reform movements have the roots in Andalusia.

Islam dominated in Spain for eight centuries to make it truly an "Islamic land." Unfortunately today there are no remnants of an Islamic civilization other than few historical artifacts and some mosques such as Cordova Mosque which was converted to a church.

In Andalusia, Catholic grudge and fanaticism caused a terrible destruction of the signs of the Islamic civilization. Excellent works of art were ruined; books, burnt; Muslims, killed in mass; signs of an exceptionally elegant civilization, erased.

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The Andalusian Muslims were wiped out not because of their number, their poverty or their lack of equipment and tools. Not even their inability or cowardice caused them to loose. Their disregard to Islam and infirmity in following the Islamic rules had lead them to a disastrous end. Whenever they held on to Islam tight and act in unity, they were victorious; whenever they indulged in unproductive arguments and quarrels among themselves, they were defeated. It was not their enemies but their feeble manners and unforgivable administerial and political shortsightedness and lack of discernment to make them loose.

The situation of Muslims today is not mush different. Wouldn't they learn a lesson from the disasters they had experienced?

History has been defined as "repetition"
Would it repeat if lessons were taken?

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