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  • The great mosque in Cordoba, Spain, the Mezquita, built from 784 to 987 AD

    The great mosque in Cordoba, Spain, the Mezquita, built from 784 to 987 AD | Photo: Reuters

Contrary to the racist notion of Africa being primitive and contributing very little to civilization, it was the Moors who civilized Europe.

At the height of the Spanish inquisition, 408 years ago, in 1609 King Phillip III of Spain signed an order that essentially led to the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the European country.

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In Western narratives, the Moors have been called uncivilized, barbaric and rash. In Shakespeare's "Othello," Iago refers to Othello as a "Barbary horse" and "black ram," associating his blackness to carnality and barbarism.

But contrary to the racist notion of Africa being primitive and contributing very little to civilization, it was the Black Muslims who civilized Europe and paved the way to knowledge and civilization.

According to renowned Senegalese historian and anthropologist, Cheikh Anta Diop, and many others, some of the greatest empires in the world were African empires. But the mainstream media continues to deny this fact, shedding very little light on the educational and cultural hubs that these African empires once were.

During the formation of Europe's first civilization in Greece, it was the Black Africans from the Nile Valley who civilized the Greeks. Later, as Greece handed over the acquired culture to the Romans who almost lost it, initiating the Dark Ages, the Moors came onto the scene and helped restore civilization.

In 711 AD, after the collapse of the Roman empire, the warring tribes from the Caucus were pushed to western Europe while the Moors invaded the Spanish shores bringing culture to these barbaric tribes. The African Muslims ruled over Spain, Portugal, southern France and North Africa for over seven hundred years.

Civilization

The Middle Ages are often referred to as the Dark Ages because there was little to no scientific or cultural progress. This might hold true for Christian Europe but not for Muslim Spain.

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While the monarchs of France, Germany and England dwelled in barns with no ventilation systems and were convinced that their subjects shouldn't indulge in cleanliness as it amounted to sinning, Muslim Spain was always ahead, building 600 public baths.

In the 10th century, Cordoba, the capital of Moorish Spain was deemed the most modern city in Europe. The city with half a million inhabitants boasted street lighting, 50 hospitals with running water, 70 libraries and 500 mosques. Ruled by the Catholic Church, cities such as London and Paris did not see street lamps and paved roads until hundreds of years later.

Education

According to the center for research in globalization, in Christian Europe, nearly 99 percent of the population was illiterate, even a majority of the monarchs themselves couldn't read or write, while education was universal in Muslim Spain. At a time when Europe had a meager two universities, Spain boasted 17.

The founders of the Oxford University of England, the epitome of Western European education, took inspiration from the educational institutions of Spain. According to UNESCO’s Education Sector, the oldest operating university in the world today, the University of Al-Karaouine of Morocco was founded during the height of the Moorish Empire in 859 AD by a Black woman, Fatima al-Fihri.

Exploration

The Muslims of Spain were also responsible for the scientific revolution in Europe. They introduced the number zero and the decimal system that was a game-changer in solving mathematical problems. Historical evidence suggests Africans took to the skies nearly 600 years before Leonardo Da Vinci invented a hand glider.

In 875 AD, Abbas ibn Firnas made the world's first scientific attempt to fly and was partially successful. Muslim Spain was known to have great navigational technology with skills in cartography and craftsmanship in shipbuilding, which were taken great advantage of by the monarchies of Spain and Portugal after defeating and putting an end to African Muslim rule in the region in the 1400s, helping to launch the colonization of the Americas.

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