Once all these above were under Muslim rule. But in 1490 the only Muslim Kingdom of Granada ruled over truncated Andalusia in the South. Earlier 1469, Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabella of Castile, though neither had as yet succeeded to a throne.
The Andalusia Peninsula had been settled by Muslims (Arab and Berber) from the year 711, when Tariq bin Ziyad started the Muslim era in Jabal al-Tariq (Gibraltar as the West calls it) and which ended, after the meandering course of events in Granada in 1491. Muslim Andalus state once ruled Spain for 800 years from Gibraltar in the South to the Pyrannes Mountains on the borders of Spain and France. The Muslim period had risen to high peaks of civilization, enlightenment, knowledge and culture but then suffered drastic decline.
The Jews had also settled and flourished during this 800 years of Muslim rule. Most of the Jews arrived with the Muslim conquerors in the eighth century.
The 800 years of Muslim Andalus or Muslim Spain brought about the evolution of three desperate peoples - Muslim, Jewish and Christians into cohabitation to a degree unknown elsewhere because of the Islamic spirit of tolerance and equal justice.
In the year 1491, the last Muslim Kingdom of Granada fell to the Christian invading army.
After this followed a protracted civil war with rival Christian princes and princesses pursuing conflicting dynastic rights to achieve acceptance as a Christian bastion and an European country: this work was taken up as a sacred task by the Christian monarchs and clergy. Spain underwent a pathological mutation that infused its leaders with a resolve to purge this new nation of its non-Christian minorities which in turn brought about the infamous Inquisition and forced expulsion of Muslims and Jews whereby Spain lost its heritage but the voyage of Columbus gained for Spain a continent and the new-found commerce and wealth.
The Muslim contribution to the rural and urban development of Spain, to the agricultural and industrial growth of Andalusia and, above all, to its educational and cultural progress, were most inspiring. Muslim scholars, with the support of Muslim governments of the time in different provinces, started not only a number of institutions of higher learning like the Universities of Cordoba Seville, Toledo, Granada, Malaga etc., but also built great centres of historical and scientific research. Unfortunately, after the fall of the last Muslim Kingdom of Granada, we Muslims have almost forgotten our great and marvelous achievements and put them on the forgotten shelf of oblivion. Besides our worldly achievements, we have also forgotten the researches undertaken by our scholars of Muslim Spain in the field of the Quran, the Sunnah and the Fiqh.
It is said that when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabelle first entered Granada after the last Muslim Kingdom in Spain surrendered on Jan. 2, 1492, both of them and their courtiers marveled at the beauty of the fortified palace of Alhamra and the treasures this last truncated Muslim Kingdom contained.
The splendour that was Granada and the unsurpassed grandeur of Cordoba dazzled Europe; and just as spectacular were the contributions of Muslim genius of Andalusia like Ibn Rushd (Averroes) Abul Qasim Al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis) Al-Zarqati (Azarquiel), Jabir Aflahal-Ishbiti, Al-Bitruji, Al-Idrisi, Aqul Abbas el-Nabati, Ibn Baitar, Ibn al-Awan, Qazi Qasim al Andalusi among others.
Yet in the centuries that followed while Muslim lost a Andalus the legacy of almost 800 years of Muslim presence on the Iberian peninsula could still be seen in Spain's languages, food, traditions, architecture and music. But the official version recorded by the fall of Granada was that it was a great Catholic victory over the "infidels'.
To show our gratitude to the rich cultural heritage and to appreciate the intellectual and scientific advance in all fields of life by the Muslims of al Andalus beside learn valuable lessons, the Motamar Al-Alam Al-Islami (World Muslim Congress) had been tying for over six years to mobilise the Ummah Islamiyah and others to hold suitable commemorative programmes. In this respect last year in November 1991, at Lahore, the Motamar AI-Alam AI-Islami itself held the first-ever international Islamic Seminar on the "Cultural Heritage of Muslim Spain. At Lahore it also held the first-ever 'Exhibition' on the unique cultural laboratory of AI-Andalus which projected an exquisite blend of all arts and knowledge. Both these two global programmes by the Motamar Al -Alam AI-Islami were inaugurated by the Hon'ble Prime Minister of Pakistan at Al-Hamra Complex, Lahore on November 14th.
Allama Dr. Mohammed Iqbal, incomparable not only in his vision of Islam but also in his reservoir of knowledge made Al-Andalus, the Muslim Spain, a cherished subject of his poems.
These poems reveal Iqbal's intense passion for the resurrection of the past glory of Islam.
Iqbal's mission was to persuade Muslims of the world that their past has been glorious and that there was no reason why their future should not be so as well. One of his notable poems Masjid-e-Qurtaba was inspired by his visit to the magnificent Mosque of Cordoba. This poem exhorts the Muslim Ummah to initiate a re-awakening:
"Wake up, my friend and defile no more with chains"
"The supreme Divine gift of the nature born free"
"The river Kabir flowing by the city of Cordoba still beckons the Muslims."
In the thrilling poem entitled, "Hispania', Allama addresses Spain:
"Hispania: of Muslim blood you are a noble repository"
"That makes you sacred like the Great Haram, for me".
"Etched in your soil are the forehead prints of the worshippers of old." "Floating in your winds are the sounds of prayer-calls of ages ago".
That itself is a reason for the Muslim Ummah: people, institutions, nations, to keep the memories of Al-Andalus the Muslim Spain alive and commemorate its cultural heritage.
The distinction of Muslim Spain, compared to other great Muslim empires, was that it was a bridge for cross-cultural interaction between Islam and the West, and it was the pathway of renaissance in the West.
(Contributed by: World Muslim Congress, Motamar Al-Alam Al-Islami, Karachi)
To commemorate the occasion Pakistan Post is issuing a postage stamp of Rs. 7/- denomination on December 14, 1992.