Jews in Islamic Spain

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Qubbat As-Sakhrah (The Dome of the Rock)

The conquest of the Iberian Peninsula (modern day Spain) by muslim armies began in the 710s. Following the collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate under the Abasids, ‘Abd Al Rahman al-Dakhil (literally, the immigrant) who had escaped execution, established himself as the ruler of the Umayyad state in 755; Cordoba (Qurṭubah) was the capital. This was separate from the Abbasid caliphate who were centered in Baghdad, Iraq. Islam prospered for centuries, so much so that by the late 900s almost half of Spain was muslim, and by 1100 Christians made up only 20% of the Spanish population.

Jews were able to thrive in Islamic Spain, despite being under threat topogroms throughout the rest of mainly Christian Europe. Maimonides (Mūsā ibn Maymūn) was a brilliant Jewish scholar, who was a product of the tolerant approach by the muslims in Spain. He is recognised as one of the greatest Jewish philosophers of all time.

After the fall of Qurṭubah in 1492, the Spanish Government expelled all Jews from the country. The Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II ordered his military to welcome any Jewish refugees. He was quoted as saying: “You venture to call Ferdinanda wise ruler,” he said to his courtiers — “he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine!” (The Jewish Encyclopaedia, page 460). Descendants of these Jews remained in Istanbul until the twentieth century.

This is in stark contrast to how the muslims are being treated in Palestine (Filasṭīn) today. Remember them in your Duʿās.

Allah alone knows best.

Sources: Lost Islamic History; Alkhateeb, Firas; Image credit: Al-Quds.

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