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Moors in Spain

Moors in Spain

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Published by: Alim Talib Rashid El Mustafa on Jul 28, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/21/2011

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Moors in Spain: A Height of a Muslim Nation
When you think of medieval Europe, you usually think of knights, castles, and the church. Rarely,though, do you think of the Moors, the powerful, benevolent rulers of Spain for nearly 700 years.While the rest of Europe was still struggling with Feudalism and food shortages, Moorish Spain was acenter of culture, science, and trade. The illustrious Moors brought to the dry Spanish plains irrigationsystems imported from Syria, transforming the area into a rich agricultural cornucopia. Foodsintroduced by the Moors were pomegranates, oranges, lemons, aubergines, sugar-cane, cotton, rice,figs, grapes, and many others. The Moorish conquest and subsequent colonization of Spain had manyeffects on Spanish and European culture.In the early 8th century Moorish soldiers crossed over to Spain from North Africa. The 10,000 manarmy was lead by Tarik bin Ziyad, who in 711 AD won a major victory over the defenders of theIberian peninsula. After this quick victory Tarik ran like a plague through the Iberian Peninsula andafter a month had ended European dominance there. Musa bin Nusayr, the Arab governor of NorthAfrica, crossed over with 18,000 men to help subdue the peninsula. In the aftermath of the Arabconquest thousands of eager Arabs flooded into the newly conquered emirate. This quick and easyconquest could not have been accomplished without the events of 755. At that time the current rulers of Spain were the Visigoths. In 755 the Visigothic King was engaged in a power struggle with his half- brother, who had claimed the thrown for himself. To subdue this usurper, the King asked for aid fromthe Witiza family, a powerful and influential clan in Morocco. The clan agreed and helped in capturingand beheading the usurper. Meanwhile, as the king was busy quelling the rebellion, he was not winningany popularity contests. The Arabs in turn made pacts with local nobles, who agreed that they wouldwithhold support from the king when the Moors invaded. These agreements, together with theindigenous population's apathy, lead to the speedy take over of Spain.By the beginning of the 9th century, Spain had become the gem of Europe with its bristling capital atCordoba. At a time when London was no more than a wide spot in the road, Cordoba boasted a half-million citizens, 700 mosques, 300 public baths, and over 70 libraries. The twenty-one suburbs had paved and lit streets, with marble and mosaic floors and balconies. Artificial gardens and fountainsgraced the city proper, and paper, still unheard of to the west, was in ample supply. Nearing the end of the 1st Millennium, Cordoba was the intellectual center of Europe. Students from allover Europe came to be taught by Arab, Christian, and Jewish scholars in the great Library of Cordoba,which held over 600,000 manuscripts. The rich and complex society had a tolerant view of other faiths.Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together in harmony, and the society had a literary base. Privateland ownership was encouraged, as well as banking among Jews. Non-believers in the Muslim faithwere simply levied a special tax. Unfortunately, rifts began to form within Arabic Spain, and in 1013Cordoba fell to a Muslim faction with fanatical religious beliefs. The great library of Cordoba wastorched, and many inhabitants fled the once brilliant city. Luckily, most of the books were spared theflame and were dispersed among the surrounding towns.As the Moors were fighting and dividing, the Christians in the north were doing the opposite. In thenorthern areas of Spain, Christian kingdoms united to drive the Moors from the European continent. In

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