Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Tragedy of Al

Andalus, Andalusia, Moorish Spain, Islamic Spain are all names given to those parts of the Iberian Peninsula governed by Muslims or Moors at various times in the period between 711 and 1492.

When it comes to Al Andalus, I am extremely ambivalent. Don't know whether to:
  • Feel proud for the great Arab/Islamic civilization that flourished there for almost 800 years or ashamed for the humiliating self destruction that lead to it's demise.
  • Celebrate the great scientists, philosophers, poets, architects, and artists whose works became a major influence on the intellectual life of medieval Europe, or mourn the millions of valuable manuscripts that were burnt in 1499 by direct orders from Cardinal Ximénez de Cisneros, Queen Isabella's confessor.
  • Admire and long for the tolerance that became an inherent aspect of Andalusian society where religious minorities were treated better than any other time or place in history, or scorn the violence, discrimination, and forced conversion suffered by the Muslim/Arab and Jewish populations after the reconquest.
Andalusia is a rich and valuable history lesson that all Arabs should know inside out. If you are not in favor of dry history books, then allow me to recommend two great novels that are honest, informative and enjoyable:
  • Granada, by Radwa Ashur
  • Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, by Tariq Ali
Reading those two books might help us find the "Andal" (rascals) who caused the fall of the ""

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