How Muslims Changed Spain

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Elhambra Sarayı, İspanya. Fotoğraf: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos-Unsplash

Spain is one of the best-known nations in the world today and it is incredibly popular. It is the second most visited nation in the world receiving over 82 million tourists in 2017 alone. Spain is a major economic and industrial power and thanks to its sporting achievements too, Spain is known globally. However, not many know that what is now Spain was once ruled, controlled, and transformed by Muslims.

It all started in the 8th century (from the period of 711-718) when the gallant Muslim warriors from North Africa (they were called the Moors) conquered the southern portion of Europe known as the Iberian Peninsula (which is the area that now covers Spain and Portugal). These Muslims conquered the Iberian Peninsula as part of the moves of expansion for the Ummayyad Caliphate. From the year 711 to 1492, the entire Iberian Peninsula was renamed Islamic Spain and it experienced some of the best leadership examples by Muslims.

Islamic Spain was a very interesting and colourful place as it was a melting point for the three great monotheistic faiths of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. The Muslim rulers treated non-Muslims based on the laws of sharia so they were not persecuted. The Muslims in power promote tolerance and unity and that was why all the different religious groups were able to live together. Peace and harmony dominated the entire realm and the level of civilization that was brought to this part of Europe was so impressive that scholars and historians have compared it to what obtained during the most prosperous periods of the Italian Renaissance or the Roman Empire.

Over time, the Islamic leaders will spread the beauty of Islam in the region under their control and they left the unmistakable influence of Islam all over the area. For example, the famous rock that is now called Gibraltar was named by the Muslims, they called it Jabal At-Tariq (in Arabic this means ‘Rock of Tariq’) and it was named after the location with the Muslim troops of general Tariq bin Ziyad landed.

Even when they took over the Iberian Peninsula, the victorious Muslims offered merciful conditions of surrender, and that even assisted in consolidating their control as the Spaniards and Portuguese welcomed them. In Islam, it is taught that the victorious Muslims must treat the conquered with mercy and kindness and this was how the Moors were able to control the area for centuries.

The era of Muslims in Spain has been described as an era of stability and prosperity. The advancement was so prominent that it was referred to as the golden age. This was because there were public baths, libraries, colleges, and other institutions of learning all over the place. At the institutions, subjects as poetry, literature, and architecture were taught and this way, Muslims contributed greatly to the culture of the region.

It was stated earlier that one of the main reasons that Spain has remained very popular is because of tourism and one of the most visited sites is Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most important legacies of the Muslims when they ruled Spain. May Almighty Allah (SWT) direct the Ummah on a path of global prosperity, aameen.