Once Upon a Time in
By: Dr. Abdellatif Charafi
This article is intended to be a trip in time to a very
special period in world history: from the ninth to the thirteenth century in
Andalusia, and more specifically in Cَrdoba, where a million people lived
By examining the trajectory of Islam in
The Myth of the Muslim Conquest of
More than five hundreds years have elapsed since Islam was
When looking at the Muslim expansion in
W. Montgomery Watt in A History of Islamic Spain states:
"It is a common misapprehension that the holy war meant that the Muslims gave their opponents a choice "between Islam and the sword". This was sometimes the case, but only when the opponents were polytheist and idol-worshippers. For Jews, Christians and other "People of the Book", that is, monotheists with written scriptures - a phrase that was very liberally interpreted - there was a third possibility, they might become a "protected group", paying a tax or tribute to the Muslims but enjoying internal autonomy"
The case of
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never pretended to create a new religion:
'Say: I am no bringer of a new-fangled doctrine among the Messenger' (Quran 45:9); and 'Nothing is said to thee that was not said to the messengers before thee' (Quran 41:43).
He came to remind the people of the Primordial Religion:
'Say ye: We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all the Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to God (in Islam).' (Quran 2:136).
Islam came to confirm the previous messages, to purify them from historical alterations to which they were subjected and to complete them. The Qur'an says:
'If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee.' (Quran 10:94).
The Muslim community was then opened, without distinction to all those who believe in the unity and transcendence of God.
Besides, in the
The peasants had a very difficult time, were ill-treated and reduced to the status of slaves. Poverty, corruption, ignorance and instability were the order of the day. Even the free men felt themselves to be underprivileged. There was much discontent, and many ordinary people looked on the Muslims as liberators and gave them all the assistance they could. The Jews who have been persecuted for a long time under the Visigoth rule (e.g. a special decree in 694 enslaved all those who did not accept baptism), opened the gates of many cities. So deep and widespread was the satisfaction given to all classes that during the whole of the eight century there was not a single revolt of the subjects.
It is difficult to understand how a small army could cross
the whole of
The great Spanish writer Blasco Ibanez in Dans l'ombrc de la cathédrale talks about a 'civilizational expedition' coming from the south rather than a conquest. To Ibanez, it was not an invasion imposing itself by arms, it was a new society whose vigorous roots were sprouting from everywhere. Describing the conquering Muslims, he says: 'The principle of freedom of conscience, cornerstone of the greatness of nations, was dear to them. In the cities they ruled, they accepted the church of the Christian and the synagogue of the Jew.'
History, therefore makes it clear that the legend of
fanatical Muslims sweeping through
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Allah! There is no God but He,
the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal.
No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep.
All things in heaven and earth are His.
Who could intercede in His presence without His permission?
He knows what appears in front of and behind His creatures.
Nor can they encompass any knowledge of Him except what he wills.
His throne extends over the heavens and the earth,
and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them,
for He is the Highest and Most Exalted.
[Quran 2: 255]
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