Islam is one of the major religions of the world. Islam originated in the Middle East in the year 570 A.D., when the Last Islamic Prophet, Muhammad, was born.
Islam is a monotheistic religion, which means that people of the Islamic faith only worship one God. The name of the Islamic God is Allah.
Islam first spread to Spain in 711 A.D., and the Islamic Empire controlled a significant portion of the region until 1492, when it lost its grip on the land, and Islam became a minority religion.
Islamic territories are ruled by a government called a caliphate, and a leader called a caliph. Because the religion of Islam is centered in the Middle East, it is up to the caliphate to decide where they will invade to spread the faith – in other words, it is the government’s choice if they want to travel far from their home base.
The Umayyad Caliphate was the first major caliphate of the Islamic Empire, and the first to arrive in Spain. Soldiers of the Umayyad Caliphate arrived in Spain in 711 A.D., having already conquered much of Northern Africa and Morocco.
Spain’s military was no match for the Umayyad soldiers, and by 714 A.D., the Islamic army had taken control of its southern half.
At its peak, the Islamic region of Spain was called “Al-Andalus”, and covered about three quarters of the land of Spain.
The border of Al-Andalus and the Christian regions of the Frankish north shifted constantly, as the two sides fought an endless battle.
Following a failed invasion of France, the Islamic army was forced back to the regions of Spain and Portugal, where their leadership was confined.
In 750, the Umayyad Caliphate collapsed in the Middle East – however, it remained in control of Spain for several hundred years afterwards.
Without guidance from the Umayyad Caliphate, a new and exclusively Spanish caliphate was established in 926: the Caliphate of Córdoba. Córdoba became the Islamic capital of Spain.
During the Umayyad Caliphate’s time in power, Spain experienced a period of unprecedented economic and cultural development.
The city of Córdoba became one of the greatest cities in the continent, very different to the filthy cities of other central European countries.
Córdoba had fully paved streets, skilled doctors, full-sized hospitals, adequate homes for peasants, running water, and public bathing facilities. It became a cultural hub of Europe due to the presence of its large library, and many scholars took up residence there.
Córdoba was much like a second Constantinople; a hub for economists and scholars alike to make their home.
Both of these Islamic cities were considered major capitals of Europe at their peak, and were a symbol of the enlightenment that came in the transition of the ancient times to the medieval era.
Córdoba was a much better place to live than most medieval cities of the time. Non-Muslims were allowed to live peacefully with those who practiced Islam, so long as they paid an extra tax to the government.
The average lifespan of a Córdoban citizen was much longer than that of a citizen any other medieval city, due to the increased emphasis on sanitation and healthcare, and the people enjoyed a generally high standard of life.
The long-lasting war between the Christian forces and Islamic armies of the Caliphate of Córdoba was known as the “Reconquista”. The war lasted 700 years and ended in 1492, when the united forces of Aragon and Castile ended the Islamic occupation of Spain.
Much of the country’s Islamic influence was now confined to its southern coast, the side closest to North Africa. Christianity quickly spread and became the dominant religion in the rest of the country.
Many of the mosques constructed during the Umayyad Caliphate’s reign were redesigned and reconstructed as churches, and these churches are now popular tourist sites for Muslims and Christians alike.
– North Africa.
– The Caliphate of Córdoba.
– The Reconquista.