Perhaps you have heard of the Golden Age in Spain? The Andalusian paradise? A time when from 711 to 1492, Islam ruled Spain. We’re told it was a wonderful place where Jews, Christians, Muslims, all lived together in harmony. It was a wonderful, multicultural community.
Well, this is not quite true. And there’s a book been written about this subject. By the way, one of the ways to see the importance of Spain being free of Islam, is to think of a Europe that was dominated by Islam. No music, no art and sculpture, no art and painting. So this is just some of the small effects if the multicultural paradise in Spain had ruled Europe.
There’s been a wonderful book written about this called, “The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise,” by Dario Fernandez-Morera. Now, the book is laid out in a very interesting way. Every chapter starts off with the argument for Islam and then it goes on to use facts to refute this argument. Now, the Islamic invasion is portrayed as a wonderful time when cultured elite Muslims came into a hillbilly part of Europe and took it over and brought great culture. But this is simply not the case. Spain was western Rome. They had poets, emperors. They had fine municipal buildings, irrigation. They had wonderful art. It was a very civilized place. It was the Arabs who were the barbarians.
Now another argument has been made that this wonderful golden age in Spain helped preserve Greek knowledge. But that also is false. Those were the Byzantine Empire. The eastern or Greek end of the Roman Empire. What Islam contributed to Europe was to dominate the trade on the Mediterranean with piracy and to impoverish Europe and make it part of the Dark Ages. The rule of Spain was plunder and domination and harsh Sharia Law. Christians and Jews who spoke against Islam could be murdered. Also, in the Muslim community, there was a violent suppression of heresies and apostacy.
This was not a nice place to live. Here’s how ironic it is, there are some writers who even say that the sex slaves in Andalusian harems were free women. I don’t know how they put that together but it is an argument that’s advanced. There were atrocities committed both publicly and private by a Muslim rulers. As an example, one Muslim ruler, every spring and every fall, went out on jihad raids. If Spain was ruled by the Sharia, which means that Jews and Christians were dhimmis and subjugated and this was the rule of Spain in its Golden Age. It was not pluralist, it was not secular, and it offers no model whatsoever of what we might have in civil society as a wonderful way to run our lives.
Why this paradise? Well, it turns out that there were those who hated the Spanish Catholics. Such as Gibbons, who wrote “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and Voltaire. And so, they built Islam up to tear the Catholics down.
So, if you would like to know more about the truth of a piece of western civilization, read this book on the Andalusian paradise. I highly recommend it. I guarantee that it will stretch your head.
Bill Warner is the author of several books about Islam. He writes at Political Islam.