Lessons for the Present from Al-Andalus, the Cradle of Civilization
Every civilization has its own features, and they all leave their unique traces upon history. However, the Islamic civilization of Andalusia stands out from all other civilizations in its numerous exceptional features.
During the period typically described by Western historians as the “Dark Ages,” al-Andalus was a shining star of the epoch, and it played a leading role in the development of European culture. While Europe was engulfed in darkness after the sun had set, the streets of Córdoba in al-Andalus were lit by lamps. While Europe was covered in dirt and mud, Córdoba was completely paved and had over a thousand public bathhouses. While the citizens of Paris and London were living in huts by the river, Córdoba had virtually all of the modern comforts of a city. The city was the embodiment of an enlightened cultural center, boasting a hospital, library and schools. Córdoba’s library, with 600,000 bound handwritten books, was large enough to rival even today’s major libraries.
The Spanish Peninsula learned of Islam a century after the Hegira. After Tariq ibn Ziyad’s coming to Spain from North Africa, Muslims built one of the most glorious civilizations of history. For eight centuries, al-Andalus was the center of Islamic civilization in Europe. Amongst other things, Europe benefitted from the developments that took place in medicine, science, education and architecture thanks to the Islamic civilization. Many historians consider that the starting point of the European Renaissance was the civilization of al-Andalus.
Al-Andalus’ wonderful city architecture also had features for protecting nature. The city was full of gardens and ponds, which were modeled on descriptions of paradise in the Qur’an, and made the city eye-catchingly magnificent.
In addition to its beauty and magnificence, al-Andalus developed into a center of science and medicine. The newest discoveries of Islamic scientists in astronomy and mathematics soon reached the Iberian Peninsula.
European fashion also has its roots in al-Andalus. Italian tailors became renowned for their use of fabric from the Islamic world.
Al-Andalus was a social state in which Muslims, Christians and Jews lived comfortably together. Many works revealed the talent of artists of the three religions.
In 800 years of the Andalusian Islamic civilization, 80,000 palaces and mansions, 80 schools, 600 mosques and 600 public houses were constructed. However, only a few dozens of these great works remain.
In short, Muslim rule made the region Europe’s richest and most developed lands. Science, culture and art were greatly advanced, and the people experienced significant development. In addition, al-Andalus showed that the relationships between Muslims and the Western world could continue smoothly through the values of brotherhood, reconciliation and solidarity that Islam brings with it. Muslims are again needed to become the leaders in the building of a new civilization of democracy, modernity and beauty. The foundation of this breakthrough is inherent in the Islamic religion. In order to reach this lofty goal, it is sufficient to remove the innovations that were subsequently added to our religion and return to the original principles of the Qur’an. The Muslim world must take the pleasant culture, excitement and enthusiasm that was seen in the glorious first years of Islam as example and recreate a new Golden Age in the 21st Century.