On “Columbus” Day: I Mourn The Collapse of Arab Civilization

The court of the Caliph in Cordoba. How is this great civilization, extending from Cordoba to Baghdad turn into today’s chaos? I recommend two great reads .. Reza Aslan’s book on the rise of Islam and Hisham Melham’s recent essay on the fall of Islamic civilization at Politico.

How different the fate of the Arawak might have been if the three ships had been sent by Andalus!

Seattle has decided to rename October 12th as “Indigenous People’s Day.”  This is sad.  Why celebrate the exterminations of the Arawak Indians, a people exterminated by Columbus, by naming a holiday for their exterminator?

Should we celebrate the bigotry and racism that led to so much pain from Christian colonialism?

I would rather take this day to honor the people whose enlightenment and culture provided the science and technology that allowed the Christian barbarian rulers of Spain to send Columbus on his trip.  These people were the Andalusians.

The Andalusians, Muslims and Jews, were expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella, their property expropriated.  Those Jews who chose to stay in Christian Spain were forced to convert, earning them the epithet Murano, pig.

Among those pigs were Luis de Torres (died 1493), perhaps born as יוסף בן הלוי העברי, Yosef ben HaLevi HaIvri, (“Joseph, Son of Levi, the Hebrew”) .  Luis is said to be the  the first person of Jewish origin to settle in America, though it is likely that many or even most of the crew were muranos fleeing the Inquisition.  .

Adapted from Wikipedia: When Columbus set off for Spain on January 4, 1493, Luis de Torres was among the 39 men who stayed behind at the settlement of La Navidad founded on the island of Hispaniola. Coming back by the end of that year, Columbus learnt that the whole garrison had been wiped out by an Indian attack, which had occurred in retaliation to the Spaniards’ abducting native women. The Indians remembered that one of the settlers, likely Luis de Torres or another Murano , had tried to dissuade the Arawak from adopting Christianity.

On September 22, 1508, de Torres’s widow Catalina Sánchez, living then in Moguer (Andalusia), received a grant from the Spanish treasury in recompense for the services of her deceased husband.

My family has long celebrated October 12 as de Torres day because a great source of pride for me is my family’s origins in Andalus … the Spanish world before the conquest by Christian barbarian.  My ancestors were on the last Jewish ship to leave, led by Abravanel, a great Rabbi and Courtier in the Courts of Anadalus and Portugual.  Their boat sailed to Italy.

Much of the best of today’s world has its root in that Islamic world.  Andalus was part of a civilization that stretched from India to Spain.  Within that civilization science, government, and philosophy flourished, leaving to the world algebra, astronomy, chemistry, and  philosophy. That heritage gave Europe what later became the first Universities and preserved the heritage of Greek learning that would likely have otherwise died at the hands of the Christians. .

Luis De Torres Synagogue in Bahamas

Although hard to imagine today, Andalusia success was largely due to Islamic precepts of tolerance and a government that denied the rights of kings and emperors.  The rules of Andalusian states, following the princi0ples of the Koran, respected the authority of the Caliph not as their liege lord but as the arbiter of law and fount of Islamic ideology.  Further, under the teachings of  The Prophet, all men are equal and .. at least for those who accept Islam, race was not an issue.  Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians were all tolerated as people of the book.  The result was a tolerance unknown in the Christian world.

These ideas were not unique to Andalus.  In far off Baghdad, the Caliph claimed that role over the entire Muslim world .. not accepting the authority of Andalus’ claimants in Cordoba but also not going to war.  Fortunately, presumably because of the distance, no schism arose.

How different the fate of the Arawak might have been if the three ships had been sent by Andalus!

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  1. Fahad #

    It’s sad that Muslims didn’t go further conquest to Europe but only stopped in Spain. Renaissance would have happened in Europe much earlier if the Muslims reached Europe. Muslim land had much prosperity than any other lands in the entire world at that time, while Europe lived in its dark ages. In Al Andalus all religions lived side by side, all contributed to society, there were no racism. But when Ferdidnand and Isabella conquered Islamic Spain they committed a massacre against the Arabs, Jews and all the people who lived in Spain. They were forced to either convert or flee from Spain, or else would face death.

  2. theaveeditor #

    Or .. Spain Andalus would have developed a higher and higher culture, conquered France history would have been very different.

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