Friday, February 02, 2007


For all the negative press Muslims get these days due to crazy fanatic terrorists, this post would like to acknowledge and celebrate some real accomplishments by this culture in world and most especially Hispanic history.

Ya see, back in 711 AD or something like that, Muslims invaded Spain and overran most of the Iberian peninsula (including Portugal). Only a few Catholic Christian kingdoms survived in the north, whilst the Arabs began to heavily influence Spanish culture with their own Muslim traditions, while surprisingly living in harmony with many Jewish and Christian subjects. They were called Moors while in Spain, and slowly but surely, the northern Christian kingdoms began to kick them out as they fought to reconquer the country from the heavy Arab influence. This was key to Christian Spanish nationalism, and came to be known as La Reconquista or
"The Reconquest" in English.

By 1492, the last Moorish stronghold remained in Granada, Spain and the Catholic monarchs, Fernando and Isabel managed to take hold of the city and throw the Moors out (along with the Jews of course). Spain was now a Catholic country again, ready to send Columbus off and establish its massive world empire through conquest, for they were used to doing so in their own territory. However, the 800 years that the Moors spent in Spain were not without consequence, for their mark was left on the culture of Spain forever, and they are credited with being the one true beacon of light in Europe, while the rest of the continent was caught in an artistic and cultural dark age.

Fully one quarter of Spanish words today are of Arab origin, which in turn affected other European languages too. Words, expressions, and places like naranja ("orange"), alcohol, álgebra, alfalfa, azúcar ("sugar"), almohada ("pillow"), zanahoria ("carrot"), alcalde ("mayor"), olé, ojalá
("God hope"), Madrid (originally Mayrit in Arabic), Guadalajara (originally Wādī al-Ḥaǧārah), and many many others are all of Moorish derivation. Arab architecture greatly affected Spain, and The Alhambra Palace in Granada is considered one of the supreme examples of this, and one of the world's most beautiful and marvelous buildings. California mission style, with the tiles and patio fountains are all very Moorish in origin. Gypsy flamenco music and singing style is very Arab sounding and comes from the southern region of Spain, which was deeply affected by the Arabs: Andalucía, or as it was originally known, Al-Andalus.

Even the politeness and courtesy known in Hispanic culture with commonly used phrases such as a sus
órdenes ("at your orders"),and para servirle ("at your service") is all very Arab.

This strange Spanish/Arab/Jewish hybrid was to come in contact with the Native American peoples starting in 1492 and mix even further.

Because of its support of the war in Iraq, and having once been in Arab hands, Spain was attacked by terrorists on March 11, 2004 . The fanatic crazy terrorists actually had said they wanted to avenge Spain's past sins against them; throwing them out of the country and then subjecting the remaining ones to the Spanish Inquisition. Talk about holding onto grudges for hundreds of years!



Crazy Eddie said...

Wow. It's amazing how much they influenced in life in general. The Muslims and Arabs are a people in turmoil, but I fear that religion is the root of all evil in the Middle-East...

It's refreshing to see something written about their influence in history. I'm officially schooled.

PS. Love your favorite commercial. You crack me up pa...


Scot said...

I've also learned that all profanity in Hebrew is actually Arabic. I've learned a few choice ones over the last couple years from Isreali friends. It turns out that the "language of God" (Hebrew)does not have equivilents to all my favorite four letter words and discusting insults, but Arabic does. And since the jews do like their insults as well, they borrowed from thier neighbors. There's one insult a Russian woman I know uses that isn't popuar in English, though I can't see why not. It translates to , "Go crawl back up your monther's c***!" Language is so interesting.

Sebastien said...

Great post! I'd love to visit Granada and see the architecture. It's interesting, through the course of history many times it has been the Arabs who've been less prejudiced, especially towards Jews, but also quite tolerant of Christians... European Christians were quite terrible and barbaric, very xenophobic and narrow minded...