Dear readers, Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you)
Bi fadhlillah al-adheem (= by the immense bounty of God, the most High) I am currently in Spain, in the province of Andalusia which is the modern form of the Arabic name, Al-Andalusia. Al-Andalusia comes from how the Arabs called the ‘Vandals’, the old European tribes that lived in this area.
Now many of my readers, as indeed I was a few years ago when yet again, this period of lost history was revealed to me, would be surprised to know that there was a long period of Islamic rule in Spain. It began only 80 years after the death of the prophet (peace be upon him) and ended with what the Spanish call ‘The reconquest’ and Inquisition of the 15th century – a period of over 700 years. Yet, my history books certainly never breathed a word of it. It is a very interesting history and Muslims derive many teachings by it. It is also very interesting how many Islamic civilizational practices came into European culture by it, such as for example the ‘three course meal’ and apparently even the tradition of traveling musicians ‘troubradours’.
I am most interested also for a personal reason which I will share; Sri Lankan Muslims are commonly considered descendants of Arab traders who settled over the centuries (and integrated with the local communities, via marriage and adopting local languages while Arabic was preserved only in the written form and that too with interesting variations on the text itself…that are now being corrected with the Internet-age), however we are ethnically called ‘Ceylon Moors’. I always wondered where the term Moor came from. Some said it was because the British who coined it during their rule of what was at that time Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) were only familiar with Muslims from Spain so they called any Muslim a Moor. That seems rather simplistic to me. An alternative I have heard is that we may indeed be descendant of those Spanish Muslims who fled Grenada when it fell to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who then initiated a brutal and comprehensive inquisition which lasted many decades if not centuries. This happened in the year 1492 CE, the same year the same couple blessed the voyage of Chistopher Columbus! Its outcome is that the Muslim history in Europe was almost wiped out. But not quite, and this is good, for no matter what religion or group we belong to, history is a common human treasure and must be preserved.
Having said that, I will endeavor to share more of what I learn here, but for now a very well produced documentary from a great historian, Bettany Hughes, that will introduce the subject well I believe and that I feel you will enjoy. It is called ‘when the Moors ruled in Europe’
BTW I can’t help but say that I love the segment where Bettany speaks with a very honorable princess of the modern-day Royal family in Spain (if I recall correctly). I love the way she holds herself, her simplicity and her clear presentation of facts.
Enjoy, peace be with you all