Rethinking Andalusia

Grenada- Generally those who write about Andalusian civilization have no civilization consciousness and remain in a state of longing for the past. In spite of so much lamentation for a civilization, it is ironic that Muslims do not have “civilization consciousness.”

Because Andalusia was not understood well enough, the results of its fall are not known well enough. Beyond 1492 being a turning point in history, it is also the beginning of forgetfulness. Our remembering 1492 is due in part to the Jews who were driven out from here. Although Andalusia is remembered a little due to the 500th anniversary of the Jews coming to Ottoman lands, there is no question mark in our minds regarding what happened to the Muslims who shouldered that civilization.

However, a very large Muslim population remained there after Andalusia’s fall. This year is the 400th anniversary of their mass exile. They had reigned for 800 years in 1609. We are unaware of the suffering and oppression which became a kind of genocide that the Andalusian people, most of whom were natives who had chosen Islam and the balance being Muslims, faced until they were driven out of Spain. However, between 1492 and 1609 there was a continuing resistance against the imposition of Christianity and torture and death in the inquisition courts. In addition to the resistance displayed from time to time during this period, there are two big rebellions that are an important part of Andalusian history.

In order to understand the level of suffering, it is sufficient to remember that during the period after the fall of Grenada when people were forced to become Christians and when every kind of Islamic worship was forbidden, that bathing and not eating meat of animals whose throats had not been cut were sufficient reasons to be tried in the inquisition. The dimensions of the drama can be understood when it is realized that up to a million people were exiled en masse in 1609.

The exile of “moriscos” (a name given by the Spanish to Muslims who remained under the Christian rule) and their status under Christian rule will be discussed in a meeting that began yesterday in Grenada and will continue for three days. Meanwhile, it should be remembered that Spain apologized to the Jews for the injustice done to them, but it has not yet apologized to Muslims who were the real victims of oppression.

It is also a fact that in spite of the great exile, there were Muslims who protected their existence by hiding.

While sitting around a table and talking with native Spanish Muslims on a cool Granada evening, I felt as if the flow of history is changing. While looking at the Alhambra palace that appears like a chain of burning torches hung in the sky over our heads in the dark of night, the stories of salvation that I listened to were like signs of the rebirth of civilization consciousness. A once-famous musician, one Andalusian Muslim said, “My first shock was realizing that the music I heard when I first went to Morocco was the same as the music I had heard in my village as a child.” Later after becoming a Muslim due to being enchanted by the rhythm of hymns sung by Sufi Muslims and after trying to remember the traditions of his childhood village, he discovered that his village was actually a Muslim village that had continued existing by hiding its Muslim identity. He discovered that the prayers his grandmothers made secretly to his young soul were none other than Muslim prayers. And he added that until the beginning of the 20th century many Andalusian villages secretly remained as Muslim villages with awareness of their Muslimness.

The drama lived in Andalusia is important in respect to the worldviews of two civilizations and the exposure of characteristic qualities in their relationship with the other. In order to comprehend this, it is necessary to look at what happened after the fall of Andalusia as much as the Islamic civilization in Andalusia. In this respect, there is much to be shared regarding the oppression of the Moriscos and their resistance and the way this resistance has been covered up to date. If possible, I think taking up this subject again would expand our horizons.

lgili YazlarDünya, English, Kültür

Editr emreakif on May 20, 2009



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