Europeans Celebrate the Fall of Al-Andalus and Make Fools of Themselves

This 2nd January marked the 530th anniversary of the fall of Granada, the loss of the Emirate in 1492 effectively ending some seven centuries of Islamic authority in modern-day Spain and Portugal and pushing Muslims (or “Moors”) to live as some sort of internal refugees till their final expulsion in the 17th century.

Christians, obviously, are celebrating it.

But should a European celebrate the downfall of the continent’s most brilliant period?

Should he celebrate an event that anticipated later European acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide?

RELATED: Genocide in the Bible and the Hypocrisy of Christian Critique

Western Writers on Al-Andalus

Western authors, often Orientalists, agree that Islamic Spain was the pinnacle of human civilization at the time, more so when compared to Christian Europe.

Thus Américo Castro, a Spanish academic who’s whole work in life was precisely to demonstrate how Islam shaped Spain, writes:

Those victorious armies [Spanish-Christians] could not repress their astonishment upon beholding the grandeur of Seville; the Christians had never possessed anything similar in art, economic splendour, civil organisation, technology, and scientific and literary productivity.[1]

Likewise, Nietzsche, the famed German philosopher, writes in paragraph 60 of his Antichrist:

Christianity destroyed for us the whole harvest of ancient civilization, and later it also destroyed for us the whole harvest of Mohammedan civilization. The wonderful culture of the Moors in Spain, which was fundamentally nearer to us and appealed more to our senses and tastes than that of Rome and Greece, was trampled down (—I do not say by what sort of feet—) Why? Because it had to thank noble and manly instincts for its origin—because it said yes to life, even to the rare and refined luxuriousness of Moorish life!… The crusaders later made war on something before which it would have been more fitting for them to have grovelled in the dust—a civilization beside which even that of our nineteenth century seems very poor and very “senile.”

There are literally dozens of such quotes from influential Westerners, and we obviously can’t put them all here.

But the point is they all recognized the civilizational superiority of Al-Andalus on Christian Europe.

To have a slight idea of the civilizational gap, in the 10th century the city of Cordoba alone produced around 70,000-80,000 manuscripts every year, while Konrad Hirschler, a contemporary Orientalist from Germany, studied a medieval Syrian library (of course the analysis also applies to Al-Andalus) and contrasted it with the manuscript collections in the best English monasteries centuries later. The overall picture is quite grim for European supremacists:

To put this number into perspective, on the British Isles the number of books in medieval monastic libraries typically did not exceed the low to mid-hundreds. In the late fourteenth century the largest Friars’ library, the Austin library of York, held 646 volumes; the catalogue of the Cistercian library of Meaux listed 363 volumes; the Benedictine Dover Priory’s library stocked 450 volumes; and the Augustinian library of Lanthony had 508 volumes. In this period, more than a century after the Ashrafīya was founded, only the most remarkable libraries had a collection that came close to 2,000 volumes (…) although we do not have numbers for other Arabic libraries, the fact that the library of this rather unremarkable institution in Damascus was of a magnitude only matched a century later by the most prestigious institutions in medieval Britain gives a taste of how bookish life in Syria was.[2]

Other major Western intellectuals, such as Gustave Le Bon in France, Sigrid Hunke in Germany, etc., also looked at the book-productions difference as evidence of the civilizational supremacy of Al-Andalus. Certainly, modern Western liberal secularists, who fetishize bookish knowledge and rationalism, will have to admit that Islam had civilized Europe for many centuries.

After all, the modern Western liberal is certainly no hypocrite!

RELATED: How Did the West Advance Past the East?

The loss of such a cultured and industrious population had its effects on Spanish society, some of which T.B. Irving (Al-Hajj Ta’lim Ali Abu Nasr), who also happens to be the first American translator of the Qur’an in the 80s, details in his book The End of Islamic Spain:

The wholesale expulsion of Muslims inflicted havoc and misery every­where; it cost the Spanish people one of the most productive sectors in their society, and the best agricultural workers (…) the economy suffered penury when the country lost its produc­tive workmen in this wanton fashion, Muslim artisans who had laboured diligently in the crafts and agriculture (…) the arts and crafts of Spain truly suffered (…) the manufacture of textiles lagged as well, especially cotton and silk weaving in Granada, Seville and Pastrana (…) irrigation engineering, especially in and around Valencia’s Huerta, suffered from the expulsion of its best workmen. Farms and fields lay abandoned in the Alpujarras moun­tains southeast of Granada. Generally trade was stifled in those parts of Spain where Muslim or “Morisco” workmen, the busy and talented Mudejars, had plied their trade.

The Model of Genocide

While the modern European, or the Westerner in general, can’t celebrate the loss of Al-Andalus from his own purely materialistic perspective (as Islamic Spain was the “civilization” in Europe for many centuries), he also can’t celebrate it for another, perhaps more “legal” reason, as it was the forerunner of modern-day ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Indeed, this is what Kwame Anthony Appiah, one of the world’s leading Black intellectuals, wrote in his review of British journalist Matthew Carr’s Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain, 1492-1614:

A fascinating account of perhaps the first major episode of European ethnic cleansing and, just as importantly, the story of the beginning of the conviction that “blood” matters more than belief; a conviction that led, in the end, to modern racism.

So, those who celebrate the expulsion of the Moors, do they also approve of ethnic cleansing and racism?

Well, in the epilogue of his book, Carr compares the plight of the Moors with the situation of the modern Muslim population in liberal Europe. Perhaps those celebrating are just wishing for an encore on the old continent.

RELATED: The Algerian Genocide: How France Killed Millions of Muslims

Notes

[1] W. Montgomery Watt, A History of Islamic Spain, Edinburgh University Press, 1977, p. 173.

[2] Konrad Hirschler, Medieval Damascus: Plurality and Diversity in an Arabic Library, Edinburgh University Press, 2016, p. 3.

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Bruno al-Andalusi

as Portuguese I say that the destruction of Al-Andalus was the worst thing that could have happened to this region of Europe. A culture center destroyed by a bunch of people who couldn’t even count to 10. And now we have this, two countries Portugal and Spain, totally liberal and decadent. A former colleague of mine once did a podcast a few years ago ( and he wasn’t Muslim). The title of this podcast was ” Did we expel the moors for this?”

Baz

Yes, they made the most advanced civilization, and they did all that without adopting or imposing a harsh draconian version of sharia on everyone similar to the domestic laws of Taliban and ISIS. Al-Andalus along with Abbasid Baghdad was very much like a medieval version of what Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are today.

Which means that they are kingdoms and sheikhdoms ruled by Muslim kings or emirs, they made a rich and prosperous developed country with advanced infrastructure, AND they allowed arts and culture and entertainment including musical instruments and dancing and singing (including female performers).

What is more shocking for you is that they had a large “underground scene” of many people having wild parties and doing alcohol, fornication and homosexuality. It wasn’t exactly like the modern west with the shirk of halalizing it or doing it publicly on streets (pride parade), but it was still widespread as an “underground scene”, like Arabian gulf cities today where its technically officially illegal but the authorities rarely crack down on it or prosecute people for doing these things, and even many officials and rulers are involved in this debauchery.

Baz

I’m not justifying their sins and debauchery or halalizing them (in fact some Islаmist commentators say that their rulers and mainstream society indulging in a decadent lifestyle was one of the big reasons why they were defeated, as a divine punishment from Allah), but I am saying that basically, Al-Andalus and its rulers and people (the medieval Dubai) were in no way Таlіbаn-like ultra-conservative hardliners who oppresed the people with harsh draconian social restrictions, but instead they were very much the type of Muslims who would be considered as tolerant of liberals, or cosmopolitan “Moderate” Muslims by today’s standards.

The khulafaa and people of Al-Andalus have proven that it is not necessary for all places in the world to impose a Taliban-style harsh draconian system of “this is haram, that’s haram, almost everything is haram and crime” in order to make an advanced successful prosperous Islamic civilization. Muslim skeptic totally denounced Desmond Tutu in an earlier article just because Tutu supports LGBT, while not praising him or saying that Tutu was an overall good person or hero because of his anti-apartheid. If Muslim skeptic is consistent, then he may also denounce Al-Andalus for the same reason and avoid praising them as being an overall good civilization or something that the Muslim ummah can be proud of.

Baz

Here are the similarities between medieval Al-Andalus and modern GCC;

1 – A collection of multicultural kingdoms and еmіrаtеs run by all-powerful liberal-friendly “moderate Sunni Muslim” Arab royal shеіkhs, kings and sultаns who live extremely luxurious lives in palaces with thousands of servants (slaves in medieval era).
2- These kingdoms being mostly allied with each other but sometimes having petty dispute feuds.
3- High-tech rich developed country with advanced economy and first world infrastructure.
4- Non-Muslims residents being Jizia-paying Zimmies (foreign national expatriates paying visa fees to the state to renew their residency visa)
5- Non-Muslims being given full religious and cultural autonomy rights including the right to build and maintain their own churches and synagogues.
6- An informal ethnic hierarchy where pure Arabs are on top, and others face a little ethnic discrimination.

Baz

7- Arts, culture and entertainment being fully allowed, including musical instruments, folk dance and singing (including by female performers).
8- The gоvernmеnts investing heavily in world-class education institutions and knowledge-based economy.
9- Women being allowed to work and contribute to public life and live lifestyles other than burka-clad housewife and stay-at-home mom imprisoned at home.
10- Much of the population (Muslims and nonMuslims, including many officials and rulеrs) quietly living a decadent double-life of wild partying, alcohol, Zinaa and gay lust, all done discreetly and covertly in an open secret underground scene without publicly admitting their sins, which is why they didn’t get punished for it.
11- All of this while the country is still officially a Sunni Іslamіс state, with Sharia as the official main law, and rulеrs commissioning elaborate grand mosques to show off how pious they (supposedly) are.

Baz

So as you can see, the GCC (the club of 6 Arabian gulf states) is nothing less than the modern version of medieval Muslim-ruled Andalus and maybe also Abbasid Baghdad and Istanbul in its Ottoman heyday which also had most of all of these same elements I mentioned above. Dubаі since the last 2 decades is nothing less than the modern version of what Cordoba was during its “Islamic” golden age heyday. The only significant difference between medieval Muslim Andalus and their modern counterpart is that the medieval Andalus was in conflict with the so-called “crusaders” or “Christian west” whereas their modern counterpart is allied with them. And the modern version of Al-Andalus also makes their many non-native Muslim residents into de facto Jizia-paying zimmies.

Baz

It is ironic that many of today’s ultra-conservative hardline Muslims who demand harsh draconian sharia and Talibanization everywhere and criticize Arabian GCC kingdoms for being “too liberal” are themselves misappropriating and invoking the legacy of Al-Andalus, Abbasid Baghdad and Ottoman Istanbul and portray them as the “Islamic” golden age when in fact those medieval Muslim kingdoms were living like exactly what these modern hardliners hate and demand to destroy.

Maybe some hardline ultra-conservative Muslims of the distant future (who demand harsh draconian sharia and denounce the “liberals” of their time) will look back at the early 21st century Arabian gulf GCC kingdoms and call them as part of the “Islamic golden age which should be revived” like how we look back at the medieval Muslim civilizations today.

I R

I’m sure if you looked into how Muslim Spain began to how it ended, you will see a stark contrast. You seem to be picking a picture in time in which things seemed “perfect” i.e having all the glory and enjoyment (hidden decadence) and religious say “right with God” and saying this is the example we should be following today..You mention how “hardline” Muslims take credit for Muslim Spain but criticize GCC’s modern day example..I ask you, how many manuscripts come from today’s GCC? You are comparing an era of production to an era of consumption..Muslim Spain began from humble and religious beginnings that included struggling in the Way of Allah..the elements of Muslim Spain you praise are precisely the reason it is no longer today..even with their errors mostly away from public eye (as you mentioned). How does that compare to the very public, flamboyant/extravagant decadence, witnessed in the gulf countries today? The only reason I may seem to be coming off a certain way is because you seem to be attacking any element of conservative religiosity as hardline. You are ignoring our scholars, righteous predecessors and best generation’s words and examples when you do so and we can no longer afford to do that. It was on their backs that Allah Made them a reason we are even talking about Islam today..

Wee Jim

Well, no, the fall of Granada didn’t mark “the downfall of the continent’s most brilliant period“. Leaving aside other periods, at the time of its fall Granada was an insignificant and impotent state. It was the union of Castille and Aragon and the end of their mutual rivalry that enabled them to concentrate on Granada without fear of one another.
In fact, describing all of the seven hundred years that parts of Spain were rued by muslims as “the continent’s most brilliant period” displays astonishing ignorance. “The Golden Age of Muslim Spain” ended long before the fall of Granada, and was only golden compared with medaeval Europe and the islamic rulers that followed it. It effectively ended with the fall of the Ummayads in the early eleventh century and the loss of the taifa kingdoms that succeeded it. The former gave peace and the latter toleration and both vied to show their cultural superiority to their rivals.
The taifa were tolerant for practical reasons – small kingdoms involved in petty wars could not be concerned with the beliefs of potential allies. Taifa kingdoms allied with and employed christians whenever they needed to. Christian kingdoms were no more fussy. Before he was turned into a christian hero, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (“El Cid”) had fought for muslim kingdoms as well as christian ones.
The golden age ended partly because of the gradual advance and domination of christian kingdoms, mainly because of al-Andalus’s muslim Moorish rescuers. Indeed, an aspect of the history of al-Andalus that is often forgotten is its relationship with muslim North africa, especially Morocco. Under the Ummayads they were effectively joint-kingdoms and after the fall of the taifa states they were nearer to colonies. Unlike other rmuslim conquests – most notably here North Africa itself – there don’t seem to have been enough immigrants or converts to produce muslim numerical domination.
Threatened by piecemeal defeat after the fall of Toledo to Alfonso of Leon and Castille in 1085 al-Andalus invited the Almoravid dynasty (which had recently restored what they regarded as true islamic standards to Morocco and North Africa) to rescue them. How much choice the taifa states had in the matter is another question. Suffice it to say that the Almoravids – who took the view that the more people knew of the koran and the less they knew of anything else, the better – were so intolerant even other muslims noticed. In turn, they were succeeded by the Almohads – again, first in Morocco – who were so intolerant even the Almoravids noticed.
Granada’s survival is usually ascribed to luck and chance. As I said, it could have fallen at any time in the previous century. It could have survived longer still, but one likely factor not often mentioned is the rise of Ottoman power in North Africa. The expulsion of former muslims a century later was justified on the grounds that they could – would – assist Ottoman invaders.
You’re mistaken to say Europeans “celebrate the fall of al-Andalus”. Nearly all of them neither know nor care about it. Much more worrying are anniversaries of the expulsion of Ottoman rule and many muslims from Eastern Europe. In the eyes of many people, this isn’t a matter of history but unfinished business.