The Nasrid king Abu Abdullah Muhammad XII (Boabdil in Spanish sources) surrendered over Granada, the last of the Islamic states, in the treaty of Jan 2, 1492 to Ferdinand and Isabella that allowed him to stay on as royalty. But it was only a few months before he realized he had no place there and was forced to leave. Stopping at a rocky place and looking back on the Alhambra and the surrounding lush gardens of Granada, he began to weep, prompting his mother to remark, “Cry and weep like women for a kingdom that you could not defend like men.” That spot became the focus of much legend and folklore, and became known as “the Moor’s Last Sigh.”
The systematic evacuation and elimination of Muslims from the Iberian peninsula began in 1492 but it wasn’t until 1614 that the last ships carrying the Moriscos (Muslims) left the peninsula. With that, a new, darker chapter in the relationship between Europe and the Muslim world started.
What happened? This is the story of the Muslims in Spain and the Iberian Peninsula. A story that is inspiring, and at the same time very painful. A story that begins in the era of the Companions. It began when the celebrated Berber general Tariq bin Ziyad landed on the shores of the peninsula in 711 with his Muslim army, on a mountain that would be named after him- Jabal Tariq, which would eventually become Gibraltar, the most famous rock in the world and a symbol of invincibility and might, inspiring the phrase “solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.”
The Muslims quickly conquered the peninsula and began an extended chapter in the history of the region. They witnessed the birth of a civilization of knowledge and learning, one that boasted the birth of such personalities as Ibn Hazm, Imam al-Qurtubi, Ibn Rushd and others. That story has tremendous parallels and lessons for us today in the West, as minorities, as people of faith devoted to knowledge and learning and reviving the Islamic intellectual tradition, and as Muslims facing an uncertain future in a post-911 global climate.
In a series of sessions, Shaykh Yasir Birjas plans to take us on that journey and back, inspiring us with lessons and visions for the future. More to come. . .
Live from Houston, Ilm Summit 2008, Day 2