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Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus)


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Zeynab
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« on: July 18, 2008, 01:13:17 am »





The Glorious days of Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus).  The image shows teaching art (music) to children.

It is openly expressed in the history of the Spanish Inquisition how the multiculturism (i.e. Muslims, Christians and Jews living in harmony) of Spain was thrown into pieces with the persecution carried out by the Catholic Church in the name of the "Holy Inquisition" where all those who weren't rigidly following the orders issued by the Vatican at Rome were to be declared as "heretics."  These "heretics" would be tried by the office of the Catholic Chruch, a trial known as the Inquisition.  They would then be subjected to different types of punishments, the lightest of which was either exile or confined within the walls of a prison for many years, sometimes for life, on only bread and water.  The worst punishments included being quartered, burnt alive on the stake, thrown into the river or sea with hands bound with a rope and attached with a heavy stone, beheaded or thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil.   The Inquisition completely disrupted the tranquility of this community.  In the process, it gave rise to intrigues even among the common people in order to ensure their safety by getting themselves into the 'good books' of the Inquisitors.  Thus, friends and neighbours spying on each other became commonplace.  This step was the beginning of the end of multicultural Spain. Watch this wonderful documentary, if you can get it, to watch everything about this era prior to the Inquisition. 

The documentary "Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain" produced & directed by Alexander Kronemer was shown on PBS.org in 'Cities of Light.'   The following is Kronemer's article on this documentary.


Islamic Spain: History's refrain

It's a model for interfaith ties, and a warning about religious division.
 

The past sometimes provides examples of glory and success that serve as

models. Other times, as the philosopher George Santayana said, it warns

of impending calamity for those who do not learn from it.

For the past several years, I've been immersed in a history that does

both. As one of the producers for an upcoming PBS documentary on the

rise and fall of Islamic Spain, I've witnessed its amazing ascent and

tragic fall countless times in the editing room, only to go home and watch some of

the same themes playing out on the nightly news.

Islamic Spain lasted longer than the Roman Empire. It marked a period

and a place where for hundreds of years a relative religious tolerance

prevailed in medieval Europe.


A model for religious tolerance

At its peak, it lit the Dark Ages with science and philosophy, poetry,

art, and architecture. It was the period remembered as a golden age for

European Jews. Breakthroughs in medicine, the introduction of the number

zero, the lost philosophy of Aristotle, even the prototype for the

guitar all came to Europe through Islamic Spain.

Not until the Renaissance was so much culture produced in the West. And

not until relatively recent times has there been the level of pluralism

and religious tolerance that existed in Islamic Spain at its peak. Just

as the vibrancy and creativity of America is rooted in the acceptance of

diversity, so was it then.

Because Islam's prophet Muhammad founded his mission as a continuation

of the Abrahamic tradition, Islamic theology gave special consideration

to Jews and Christians. To be sure, there were limits to these

accommodations, such as special taxes levied on religious minorities.

But in the early Middle Ages, official tolerance of one religion by

another was an amazingly liberal point of view. This acceptance became

the basis for Islamic Spain's genius. Indeed, it was an important reason

Islam took hold there in the first place.

When the first Muslims crossed the straits of Gibraltar into Spain, the

large Jewish population there was enduring a period of oppression by the

Roman Catholic Visigoths. The Jewish minorities rallied to aid the Arab

Muslims as liberators, and the divided Visigoths fell.

The conquering Arab Muslims remained a minority for many years, but they

were able to govern their Catholic and Jewish citizens by a policy of

inclusiveness. Even as Islam slowly grew over the centuries to be the

majority religion in Spain, this spirit was largely, if not always

perfectly, maintained.

Pluralistic though it was, Islamic Spain was no democracy. After years

of enlightened leadership, a succession of bad leaders caused the

unified Muslim kingdom to fragment among many smaller petty kingdoms and

fiefdoms.

Though they competed and fought, the spirit of pluralism continued.

Indeed, it thrived as rival kings sought the best minds in the Muslim,

Christian, and Jewish worlds for their courts. This was just as true in

the Christian petty kingdoms, as the Muslim ones. Christian and Muslim

armies even fought alongside each other against mutual rivals of both

faiths.


It is at this point that the darker parallels to our time begin. In to

the competition for land, resources, and power, some leaders on both

sides began to appeal to religion to rally support for their cause. Wars

became increasingly religious in nature. Into this tinderbox a match was

thrown: the Crusades - the same term that many Arabs use today when

referring to America's adventure in Iraq.

The Crusades deepened Spain's religious divide. Minorities in both

Christian and Muslim kingdoms become increasingly suspect. Persecutions,

expulsions, and further warfare ensued. Nothing could stop it, not even

the black plague.

Ultimately, Christian kingdoms gained the upper hand as the Muslim

kingdoms of Islamic Spain fell. Spain's Muslims and Jews were forced to

either leave or convert. This led to the rise of the Inquisition, whose

purpose was to verify the loyalty of suspect converts. The expulsions

and inquisitions racked Spain economically, culturally, and morally. Its

power was severely compromised. The fall of pluralism in Spain was the fall of

Spain itself.


Dark parallels with today

This fall directly links to events today and raises many of the same

stakes. Though few Americans note it, one of Osama bin Laden's

justifications for the 9/11 attacks was to avenge the "tragedy" of

Islamic Spain.

So far, the post-9/11 world and the policies it has spawned seem to be

heading in the same dangerous direction as witnessed before. The

religious intolerance that engulfed and overwhelmed medieval Spain

threatens the increasingly beleaguered pluralism of our own time.

At its best, the history of Islamic Spain is a model for interfaith

cooperation that inspires those who seek an easier relationship among

the three Abrahamic faiths. At its worst, it's a warning of what can

occur when political and religious leaders divide the world.

It reminds us what really happens when civilizations clash.


Alexander Kronemer is a writer, lecturer, and documentary producer
focusing on religious diversity, Islam, and cross-cultural
understanding.


Source of this article: CS Monitor

"Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain" is available in DVD and can be purchased online by visiting the website Film & Outreach.

Scroll down to see the 45-Minute Classroom Video of Muslims in Spain:
https://www.islamicspain.tv/the-film/



"A battle re-enactment scene from a film. In 1492, greed, fear and intolerance destroyed the peaceful co-existence of Muslims, Christians and Jews in Islamic Spain. Puritanical judgments and religious absolutism snuffed out the lights of learning, thus beginning years of war and destruction." - kpbs.org

"The lemon tree, the water wheel and Aristotle's lost philosophy all arrived in Europe through Islamic Spain, as did algebra and the beginnings of modern medicine, science and poetry. Here were the very roots of the European Renaissance. But the fragile union dissipated, destroyed by greed, fear and intolerance
."   ..... intolerance of hardcore, orthodox Christianity!   Just about all Western historians admit the huge advancement of human civilization that was achieved during the 700 years of Islamic rule in Al-Andalus.  They also admit that its downfall started with intolerance.  But they stop short of saying that intolerance came wholly from bigots loyal to the Catholic Church.


Enjoy the following video clips.


Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain - Introduction (2.02 minutes)



The Berber Revolt in Islamic Spain (5.33 minutes)


Muslims, Christians and Jews Collaborate (5.54 minutes)



Full documentary available at following sites:

https://www.islamicity.org/9544/the-rise-and-fall-of-islamic-spain-pbs-documentary/
Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain.

and

https://archive.org/details/CitiesOfLightTheRiseAndFallOfIslamicSpain1of2
Cities of Light.



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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2008, 03:30:26 am »

Very very interesting.  I saw this documentary on Cities of Light.  After that I waited and waited to see it again but PBS never showed it.  InshAllah I'll try to buy this video offline or online - but I think it's available only online.  It was great seeing these video clips and reading that nice article by Alexander Kronemer.
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Zeynab
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2020, 01:42:55 am »




Those two links of full documentary at the end are very good. 


Also watch this very nice one titled Muslim Spain's legacy by Abdullah Hakim Quick.


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