RE: Arab World: Al-Andalus: Fall or Reconquista?

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In response to:

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/01/03/arab-world-al-andalus-fall-or-reconquista/

In year 711 an army crossed towards north the straits of Gibraltar. 7 years later, most of my land was under control of north african berbers led by arabs, who expanded mostly using their strength , ther military wisdom and advantage over the primitive goths, and specially the lack of union among ruling goth nobles at the time. It was as easy as taking a matured apple, and these goth rulers were easily conviced to join the newcoming power (and that, at the time, meant one had to convert if your ruler does, according to the rule “cuius regio eius religio”).

Those who didn’t convert and decided to remain christians were soon known as “mossarabs” (from must’arib) and were displaced from the city centres to the suburbs, banned to get access to high culture learning, to serve in the army, to dress like the rest of society mixing with them, or to achieve any task of social relevance. Jews had better treatment historically than spanish christians. Those spaniards who converted, usually called “muladis” spent those 8 centuries claiming for a higher weight in the decission taking. This was their land, after all, but they were socially under arabs and berbers, that is… under strangers. This led to multiple revolts and history accounts are full of examples of them. There is even cases of re-conversion to christianism as a reaction to smthg that was considered an unfair rule. Al-Andalus meant that a foreign language was imposed, same as a foreign alphabet, measurement units, justice practices, food traditions, clothing rules, etc,…and most of it was like a pill swallowed together with the subtile drinking of religion.

Spaniards were not so open to that feeling of fightng for religion until they suffered the religious “re-conquest” led by the Al-murabitum, the Almuwahhid and others, who introduced in Spain a model to follow. The same model that aimed the Crusades. Fanatical Religious Holy War.

It was no ther than the same kind of fanatism on both sides. While christians created diverse “holy” figures of “moor-slayers” altering deeply the spirit and the core values of their religion, muslims crossed again Gibraltar heading up north, after the death of Al-Mansur, to gather again the “daifa” kingdoms while destroying all the splendor of Qurtuba, levelling down Madinat Az-Zahra.

They forced the expulsion of open minded wise men as Ibn Raschid, and The Rambam (Ibn Maimun, or Maimónides, the jewish) together with every other religious minority (mossarabs were expulsed north, just to vanish in history as they were rejected there too for being too arabized)…. and we can spend hours and pages talking about this history.

Arabs and berbers left a lot in our culture. We lived together in this land for 800 years, They took much of our roman engineering for watering and improved its use for agriculture, they advanced on science and study while we were in darkness and our religious fanatism grew. We learnt from arabs, and we really admire that part of our own essence as a country. But we never took religion with the pack. The process of “reconquista” was slow and irregular. Many times it was normal to find soldiers from both religions fighting together on each side of the battlefield. Many times it was a good business to accept taxes (parias) of gold payed by andalusians to the kings of the north to keep peace alive. But the final retake of their land was smthg that had to happen. Simply because those leading the andalusian society were not spanish, but arabs and berbers. Their language was not spanish and derivating from our latin or german or celtic or iberian roots. Everything they brought came from the south, from the land of the dark-faced men (“maurus”, in latin… and from there, “moro”… moorish).

From the very first time it was not a spanish thing at all. The andalusian way was that of importing here the arab and berber way of life. And it could take 800 years for spaniards to retake full control over their whole land, but it had to happen from the very first day.

Any outsider has succeeded in changing us so deeply except maybe romans. Romans were more practical than arabs. They were politheists. When they conquered a new land, they adopted the local beliefs as part of their collection, and the local nobility as roman citizens, giving them equal rights. They were flexible and more open to integrate spanish celts and iberians in their social scheme. Goths who came after Rome were not as that. They didn’t share power or made spaniards feel that they all belonged to a same kind. They lost easily the popular support when arabs came.

Arabs were more successful than goths as they were far more advanced, and their cultural load was far more intensive… but still, they kept the same mistake. Al-Andalus was not a spanish self-creation. It was a project that came from outside leaving out everything that could link to smthg that we could call “spanish identity”. Arabisation was an advantage for Al-andalus if we compare science and general cultural advance with the rest of european countries,… but same as happened with other regions in Europe… soon or later we will always react and reject the “ethnic and cultural invader”.

All this happens when “outsiders” impose, violently or not, their ways. So …accept things as they are: We Spaniards love and respect our heritage, our cultural background and the deep footstep that arabs left in this land. But anything else.

We are who we are. And we never accepted anyone telling us that we were less than them. Last who tried was Napoleon and we gave french the hardest occupation they faced by far. Hitler didn’t dare to try repeating the same mistake. Or the allies after WWII…

To those who talk about “Retaking Al-Andalus” I say… this is Spain.

This is our land. You can try again your luck. You can talk loud abt covering us in cultural advance and prosperity. About making us regain the pride of belonging to the Ummah… about reswitching the street lights of Qurtuba… you can keep talking.

You will never succeed. It will only succeed if it’s a spanish thing.

With our people ruling.

Using our language (our 5 languages).

With our deeply rooted traditions.

It will only succeed if it’s OUR decission and OUR change.

If not, it may take us 800 years or 8000.. but that project called Al-Andalus instead of España, will fail again..

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3 thoughts on “RE: Arab World: Al-Andalus: Fall or Reconquista?

  1. Hi, being the author of the Global Voice article you are discussing here, I owe you a comment and woud like to ask you a favour as well.

    In Global Voices, we try to just report what people are saying or discussing in social media, so by definition, the opinions mentioned in the article are neither GV opinions nor mine. You can even see this in how we quote totally different and contradicting opinions. Nevertheless, if you want to know my personal opinion, I sure agree with you that is was an occupation and being a Muslim myself, I find the process of “reconquista” the moral option that anyone should support and not the occupation, and I have already had such debate on my twitter account then making it clear that the calls of retaking Al-Andalus are not just stupid, but also immoral and against my beliefs.

    Having that said, we would love to know if there are more discussions on the spanish side for the same issues, I mean blog posts like yours, or on twitter, either in English or Spanish. I cannot promise it, but we may then write a follow-up post reflecting the other side’s point of view. So the favour I want from you, is to share with those posts if you happen to stumble upon any.

    Finally, thank you very much for the comment, and for the historical information, and wish you a great day.

    • To be honest, my blogging activities are very recent and most of my thoughts come from myself. so it’s not smthg that maybe reflects a trend into spanish social media. Also if you check the blogs I follow, you will notice that I tend to set my attention in what is said from the arab side, specially from moderate points of view. I don’t have interest in getting into discussion with those who just have a single view and impose it over the rest. Except when that imposition means that freedom of belief, speech, expression, and all the rest of basic human rights (which belong to everyone independently of their differences and should be suitable for all mankind) is compulsory and positively protected by law.That says quite a lot abt my point of view abt things, that is intrinsecally mine, strong, and personal, but accepts that others can think differently even if we disagree.

      Regarding the spanish side, I already have a general vision of what my society things abt arabs and muslims who live already here, and in general it’s not a positive view. Specially considering the cultural shock and the cliffs that muslim religious attitude and typical arab behaviour open between us. When you check the immigration that came to Spain during the good old times, abt 15 years ago, you notice that south americans, (who share language with us but anything else, from ethnic origin, phisical aspect, traditions, foods, personality,…) try to adapt to our ways, and mostly succeeded. Same happened with eastern europeans. Chinese never integrated, in most cases but they don’t create trouble and just work work work making little noise and attempting to preserve their opacity without disturbance between us. Then arabs are different.

      I am going to talk about my hometown because I guess there won’t be any other opinion more sincere and honest than that based on my own daily observation.

      Here most arab women are head covered and wearing abaya. The women of the imam’s family wear niqab and gloves so on street the look like Harry potter’s dementor to our eyes. Other women of their family wear it without gloves but for us is the same, if they want to show up discretion and to avoid looks, all they get is to call permanent attention. And not a positive look. To our eyes is like if they were protecting from us, avoiding to be contamined by our contact, even visual contact. Let’s remember that trdition here states that men shake hands but women, out of the strictly professional situations, are kissed on both cheeks of face. Even on the first informal presentation.So hijab to our eyes is weird, not touching by shaking hands or kiss on face is weird. But niqab is simply offensive to our eyes. It is like saying we are infected or something.It’s like saying “we don’t want to have anything to share with you, don’t dare even to see me”.

      Most of men are dressed in the western way, the older ones exhibiting long beardies without moustache, in the new trend made fashionable by the salafis. Again the imams, wear some short kind of “galabiyah” or “thobe” but no keffiyeh, guthra or shemag, whatever u like to call it. They mostly don’t mix with us, even when some go to bars and use to gather drinking coke or , in some cases, even beer. Never saw a drunk arab. Their women stay apart from ours and mostly join within them in groups.

      Many times it’s men who go shopping at groceries and etc, and not women, enhancing the feeling that they stay away from us. When you see the kids at school, they seem to be integrated, speak spanish and valencian (our local language) perfectly, etc,… but that mixing ends when they get back home, and on streets and squares u see arab kids playing just with arab kids. Teenagers and early adults who grew up here seem to gather better with their local mates but still, there is a cultural barrier, not based now in language but on clothing, values, religion, etc… They don’t join to get out, or for fun, etc.

      I am not saying that one is better than the other or viceversa, just stating that they are divergent ways, and stay separated.

      So, in general, and exporting our local model to the whole country, we notice that those very little examples of moderate or modern muslims and arabs completely able to integrate, become so invisible, that they are unnoticed, as they are like us, speak with us, met us on street, work with us, etc…. I mean men and women.

      Those who chose to keep their identity in our society are the visible face. And most of times they look as the beardies we see from time to time in the news asking to rebuild the Caliphate in Al-andalus.

      How does anyone consider that we will accept such an option?. This people does not belong here. They stay away from us and our reality. They reject our ways… and they say they are going to come here and build again a model of society which will be PERFECT JUST FOR THEM in OUR LAND? not talking our language?… letting us out and ruled by gulfian imams or rich guys?… disrespecting our traditions and our culture to impose theirs and make a nation FOR THEM?… really… how does anyone think we are going ever to support this? … our answer is a big “la!”

      In our radical extreme cases (we also got our intolerant incult specimens, as everyone else), you will find many asking to “kick their asses out again”, before they f…ing grow and get demographic power as they did in France, Germany or UK, where many people considers them to be a risk for the survival of their national identity. And among europeans, that is a big issue.

      Even more among spaniards, who are divided in 17 regional governments with 5 languages and our own identitary clashes. When we hear again that someone plans to come and take our country and make it a land for them, we think that they must be high on hash or smthg… We cannot conceive at all to have these people ruling our land. At all.

      There’s absolutely ANY chance for us to accept these people’s ways, at this point.

      So my answer abt the spanish point of view is clear.

      We won’t let any New Al-Andalus to be born.

      I am sorry if I seem not to be very diplomatic but things are as they are, and I am just being honest.

      From my side I can just be more than thankful for your interest in my thoughts and of course I will be open to share links to other spanish views over middle eastern and arab-islamic issues and their relation with us.

      Shukran for ur attention!… Gracias!!

      • Muchas gracias, I am really happy that you explained it to me in details. I sure understand your point and hope that Arabs in Spain spend more time explaining things like why women cover their face, which is – from their point of view – a religious obligation, and it has nothing to do with disrespect or refusing to share anything with you, rather than wasting their time in stupid stuff like re-taking Al-Andalus back and such foolish calls.

        Muchas gracias otra vez, y por seguro voy a leer tu blog en el futuro.

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