More whitewashing of Muslim Spain. “In Granada, once the center of a rich Muslim culture, adherents are trying to reassert their historic role amid a climate of suspicion.” From the LA Times, with thanks to Greg B. Grabinski:
GRANADA, Spain “” Across a valley of fragrant cedars and orange trees, worshipers at the pristine Great Mosque of Granada look out at the Alhambra, the 700-year-old citadel and monument to the heyday of Islamic glory.
Granada’s Muslims chose the hilltop location precisely with the view, and its unmistakable symbolism, in mind.
It took them more than 20 years to build the mosque, the first erected here in half a millennium, after they conquered the objections of city leaders and agreed, ultimately, to keep the minaret shorter than the steeple on the Catholic Iglesia de San Nicolas next door.
Cloistered nuns on the other side of the mosque added a few feet to the wall enclosing their convent, as if to say they wanted neither to be seen nor to see.
Many of Spain’s Muslims long for an Islamic revival to reclaim their legendary history, and inaugurating the Great Mosque last year was the most visible gesture. But horrific bombings by Muslim extremists that killed nearly 200 people in Madrid on March 11 have forced Spain’s Muslims and non-Muslims to reassess their relationship, and turned historical assumptions on their head.
“We are a people trying to return to our roots,” said Anwar Gonzalez, 34, a Granada native who converted to Islam 17 years ago. “But it’s a bad time to be a Muslim.”
Spain has a long, rich and complex history interwoven with the Muslim and Arab world, from its position as the center of Islamic Europe in the last millennium to today’s confrontation with a vast influx of Muslim immigrants.
For more than seven centuries of Moorish rule, “Al Andalus,” or Andalusia, was governed by Muslim caliphs who oversaw a splendid flourishing of art, architecture and learning that ended when Granada fell to Christian monarchs Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in 1492.
Muslims were expelled or exterminated in the Inquisition that followed, but the legacy of the Moors is seen throughout Andalusia, Spain’s southern tier, in its language, palaces like the Alhambra, and food.
Yes, Isabella and Ferdinand ended all that flourishing of art, architecture, and learning. Sure. Aside from the dubious nature of that “flourishing” in itself, Muslim Spain was hardly a paradise for non-Muslims. Even Maria Rosa Menocal, in her extended whitewash of Muslim Spain called The Ornament of the World, admits that at the laws of dhimmitude were very much in force in the great Al-Andalus:
The dhimmi, as these covenanted peoples were called, were granted religious freedom, not forced to convert to Islam. They could continue to be Jews and Christians, and, as it turned out, they could share in much of Muslim social and economic life. In return for this freedom of religious conscience the Peoples of the Book (pagans had no such privilege) were required to pay a special tax “” no Muslims paid taxes “” and to observe a number of restrictive regulations: Christians and Jews were prohibited from attempting to proselytize Muslims, from building new places of worship, from displaying crosses or ringing bells. In sum, they were forbidden most public displays of their religious rituals.
So much for paradise. Also, historian Kenneth Baxter Wolf observes that “much of this new legislation aimed at limiting those aspects of the Christian cult which seemed to compromise the dominant position of Islam.” After enumerating a list of laws much like Menocal’s, he adds: “Aside from such cultic restrictions most of the laws were simply designed to underscore the position of the dimmÃ®s as second-class citizens.” These laws were not uniformly or strictly enforced; Christians were forbidden public funeral processions, but one contemporary account tells of priests merely “pelted with rocks and dung” rather than being arrested while on the way to a cemetery.
If Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together peaceably and productively only with Christians and Jews relegated by law to second-class citizen status, then al-Andalus has absolutely no reason to be lionized in our age. The laws of dhimmitude give all of Menocal’s accounts of Jewish viziers and Christian diplomats the same hollow ring as the stories of prominent American blacks from the slavery and Jim Crow eras: yes, Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington were great men, but their accomplishments not only do not erase or contradict the records of the oppression of their people, but render them all the more poignant and haunting. Whatever the Christians and Jews of al-Andalus accomplished, they were still dhimmis. They enjoyed whatever rights and privileges they had not out of any sense of the dignity of all people before God, or the equality of all before the law, but at the sufferance of their Muslim overlords.
There is more on this in Onward Muslim Soldiers.
At least the article is honest enough to acknowledge the traditionalist basis of the jihadist claims to Spain:
Unfortunately for Spain’s Muslims, the militants who swear loyalty to Osama bin Laden are history buffs too. In claiming responsibility for the March bombings, they cited the loss of “Al Andalus” as motivation.
“We will continue our jihad until martyrdom in the land of Tarik Ben Ziyad,” they said in a communique issued after the massacre, alluding to the Moorish warrior and original Islamic conqueror of the Iberian peninsula.