The Spirit of Al-Andalus

June 29, 2006 § 2 Comments

Today in America we find the most diverse society in the world. North America is a place that every race, religion and ethnic origins call home. The United States of America is home for approximately 7 million Muslims according to a study by Cornell University (2002), a number which has been agreed on by the Council of American-Islamic Relations. And of the entire Muslim population in the US South Asians, African-Americans and Arabs make up 88%, according to sources. As a result the presence of the Muslim community in the US is being acknowledged and respected more and more each day.

For example, laws against public noise are changing in cities with large Muslim populations to allow the Islamic call to prayer (Al-Adhan) to be recited over a loud speaker at the appropriate times. In addition mosques or masjidat are being erected all over the US. Presently, the largest mosque is the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. The Islamic Center of America is a beautifully designed mosque that follows traditional Islamic architecture.

As I see Islam gradually making its way into the vein of America it is difficult not to think of the great Islamic movement of Western society in Al-Andalus. Al-Andalus was the Arabic name for the Iberian Peninsula where Spain and Portugal are today. The Islamic society that developed in Al-Andalus was an advanced and socially progressive society which would rival some of the less progressive societies of today over a thousand years later. The society of Al-Andalus was composed of Muslims, Christians and Jews; there was ethnic diversity as well as religious where the population consisted of Arab, African (Arab, Berber and Black), European, Slavic and other minority groups.

Lion Patio @ Al-HambraIn this society there was a central theme of tolerance from 912-1066 under the reign of Amir Abd-ar-Rahman III and his son, Al-Hakam II. Scholars studied the rise and fall of Al-Andalus for centuries and most agree that the society of Al-Andalus was socially advanced. For example, María Rosa Menocal, a specialist in Iberian literature at Yale University, has argued that “Tolerance was an inherent aspect of Andalusian society”. Likewise our society here in the United States is approaching a need for tolerance and understanding.

During what has been deemed the “Golden Age” of Al-Andalus the level of tolerance and brotherhood allowed for advancement not only in social relations but in scholastic and scientific development as well. I feel that our society has a similar if not greater opportunity to advance in social justice, government, science and scholasticism if we can tolerate the inherent diversity of the people in America and learn from it rather than fear it.


§ 2 Responses to The Spirit of Al-Andalus

  • As-salam alayka

    I have a 1hr 42minute history program called when the Muslims ruled in Spain. It is presented by a female english historian. Come and have a look I know you will enjoy it.
    here is the link :

  • […] This was a great example of da’wah and really a part of Ramadan that we often forget. Ramadan is a time when Muslim become closer there is no doubt that we develop a closeness by refraining from indulgences together and breaking the restraints together. But Ramadan is also a time when Muslim should offer the sadaqa of da’wah to non-Muslims. It is a perfect time because Muslims gather much more frequently during Ramadan. With hunger pains, bad breath and all we love being together during the month of Ramadan. I found a perfect example of this being exemplified by Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn MI who barely had time for lunch saying, “Then, this week, there’s so much to do in getting ready for at least about 1,200 people who’ll be here every night of Ramadan, and that includes a lot of non-Muslim visitors who like to come here, too.” […]

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