The Latino Muslim Voice
The July-September 2012 newsletter features:
Quotes of the Month
A Silent Prayer to Allah
By Samantha Sanchez
O Allah! Please grant me one
Make him righteous and on your path
May he earn from halal sources
May he always refer to Qur'an
May he be conscious of his anger
May he honor and protect me
And finally, O Allah!
© December 2003
Latinos - Who are they?
By Juan Alvarado
In this article, I will try to explain some questions on identity and culture and possibly how to best approach Hispanics (for dawa). You might think that it is strange for someone to write about this. I know my neighbor-he's the nice Mexican fellow that lives down the street. Or, maybe you are "in the market" to marry a Latino Muslim. Do you really know who they (or we) are? In addition to the above, I also want to clear up some of the confusion as to who is Latino and what constitutes the Hispanic identity.
As a Hispanic Muslim, I get many marriage requests for other Hispanic Muslims from non-Hispanic Muslims. It is actually amazing the number of requests I see and get. From these requests, I gauge that these people are looking for something in particular. Maybe they are looking for someone that looks like Jennifer Lopez or Ricky Martin. I don't know. The thing is that there is no "typical" Latino/a. Some of the things I'd like to touch on are politics, beliefs, race and ethnicity. Whenever possible, I've tried to illustrate the point with pictures. Talking about race and ethnicity can be a touchy subject, though. I would like to submit my apologies in advance if I offend anyone as this is not my intention.
So, who are we? Better yet, what's in a name? Hispanic or Latino? There are a host of names and categories for what most people refer to as Hispanics or Latinos. Some of these are colloquial. Some are offensive. I will try to stick with some of the better known (non-offensive) ones. Among them are Latin American, Spanish, Latin, and of course Hispanic and Latino among others.
The term 'Hispanic' derives from the Spanish term "hispano" which in turn has its origins in the name of the Roman province of Hispania which later became Spain. In the United States, it has come to describe the culture and the people of Spanish-speaking countries. Hispanic is not the term that can be used to describe the people of Brazil and Portugal, though. Though rarely heard, they should be correctly described as "Lusitanic" from the Roman province of Lusitania (which was part of Hispania and later became Portugal). They are, however, included in the nomenclature of Latino. The term "Latino" most likely comes from the Spanish word for Latin American, "latinoamericano." This is also likely the source of the term "Latin" as well. Some people use the term 'Spanish' to describe Latin Americans. This, however, is incorrect. Although, they may speak Spanish, they are not "Spanish." It would be like describing someone that speaks English as English (which might be correct if you refer to someone from the UK). To say someone is Spanish is to say that they are from Spain. Also, it is the name of the language.
In the United States, the term Hispanic came to prominence in the 1970s as a way to describe people of Latin American descent regardless of race. You may have noticed this in the recent census. There was a separate category for the ethnicity of Hispanics outside of race. The term was mostly a result of the US Senator Joseph Montoya of New Mexico who wanted a label for people of Latin American descent and Spanish-speaking populations for the US Census. The term is an Anglicized form of the Spanish word "hispano" which many Latin Americans called (and call) themselves at the time. The terms Hispanic and Latino are used interchangeably in the United States, however.
Most Hispanics, however, prefer to refer to themselves not as 'Hispanic' or 'Latino' but rather according to their national backgrounds. Example, people from Puerto Rico will call themselves "puertoriqueños" or Puerto Ricans and people from Peru will call themselves "peruanos" or Peruvians and so forth. Among the people that can claim to be Hispanics are people from the following places: Spain (including Ceuta, Melilla, and the Canary Islands), Equatorial Guinea (in Africa), Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela, as well as the Hispanics in the United States. Additionally, the people of Latin America (i.e., "Latinos") can also include people from Brazil, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.
The language that Latin Americans and their descendants as a whole speak are Spanish, French, Portuguese, English, various creoles and Native American languages as well as the languages of those countries where they have chosen to migrate to and reside. The language that Hispanics speak as cultural inheritors of Spain is Spanish (as well as some of the above mentioned languages). Spanish is both referred to as Spanish (español) and Castilian (castellano). The language or languages that a Latino person may speak depends in large part on who you speak to and where they are from. Some Hispanics do not even speak Spanish anymore because they are descendants of immigrants. You can see this phenomenon in the United States and France among other places. Others could be bilingual or monolingual in the language/s that predominates where they are from (usually Spanish). Do not assume, however, that they all speak Spanish. Some people may only speak indigenous languages from the areas they are from, for example. Even if you know some Spanish, though, do not assume that you will be able to communicate effectively either since there are many regional varieties of Spanish.
Race and Ethnicity
To begin with, there is no Hispanic race. Latin America abounds with people from very diverse backgrounds. The following montage will give you an example of famous and not so famous people of Latin America that happen to be of many different races and ethnicities.
Celia Cruz (October 21, 1925 - July 16, 2003) was a Cuban-American salsa singer who spent most of her career living in New Jersey. She primarily worked in the United States and several Latin American countries. Celia Cruz was one of the most successful Cuban performers of the 20th century. She achieved twenty-three gold albums to her name and earned the nickname "La guarachera de Cuba" (The Salsa singer of Cuba). Leila Cobo of Billboard Magazine once said "Cruz is indisputably the best known and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music." She is best known for her exclamation "¡azucar!" (sugar).
Edson Arantes do Nascimento (born October 23, 1940 in Três Corações, Brazil), best known by his nickname Pelé, is a former Brazilian soccer (football) player. He is rated by many as the greatest footballer of all time. In the 20th century, he was given the title of "Athlete of the Century" by the International Olympic Committee and jointly received FIFA Player of the Century award chosen by officials at the organization, which he shared with Diego Maradona. In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero. He is known for his accomplishments and contribution to the game. He was officially declared the football ambassador of the world by FIFA and a national treasure by the Brazilian government. He is also acknowledged for his vocal support of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor (he dedicated his 1,000th goal to the poor children of Brazil). During his career, he was called "The King of Football" (O Rei do Futebol), "The King Pelé" (O Rei Pelé) or simply "The King" (O Rei). He is also a member of the American National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Alberto Ken'ya Fujimori (born in Lima, Peru on July 28, 1938) is a Peruvian politician of Japanese descent (he also has Japanese citizenship). He served as President of Peru from July 28, 1990 to November 17, 2000. Fujimori is a controversial figure. He was credited with uprooting terrorism in Peru and restoring the economy, though his methods have drawn charges of authoritarianism. He is alleged to be accountable for a number of human rights abuses during his presidency, for which he is currently facing trial.
Bruce Kastulo Chen (born June 19, 1977 in Panama City, Panama) is a pitcher for Major League Baseball who is currently signed with the Kansas City Royals. He attended Institute of Panama and studied civil engineering during the baseball off-season at Georgia Tech. He is from the little-known ethnic Chinese community in Latin America. His paternal grandfather, Kuen Chin Chan Lee, joined his brothers and other relatives in Panama when he was 9. Bruce's maternal grandmother, Kuen Yin Liu de Laffo, was actually born in Panama but her family returned to China after a fire destroyed their home. After years of hard labor, she was able to return to Panama at age 24. Both of Bruce's grandparents have died, but he hopes to reconnect with his Chinese roots someday. Chen has previously played for the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, among others.
Rigoberta Menchú Tum (born January 9, 1959 in Chimel, Quiché, Guatemala) is an indigenous Guatemalan, of the Quiché-Maya ethnic group. Menchú dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala's indigenous peoples during and after the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996), and to promoting indigenous rights in the country. She was the recipient of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and Prince of Asturias Award in 1998. Menchú is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She is the subject of the testimonial biography I, Rigoberta Menchú (1983) and the author of the autobiographical work, Crossing Borders.
Juan Evo Morales Ayma (born October 26, 1959 in Orinoca, Oruro Bolivia) is the President of Bolivia. He is popularly known as Evo and has been declared the country's first fully indigenous head of state since the Spanish Conquest over 470 years ago. This claim has created controversy, though, due to the number of mestizo presidents who came before him. Morales is the leader of Bolivia's cocalero movement - a loose federation of coca leaf-growing campesinos (farmers) who are resisting the efforts of the United States to eradicate coca in the province of Chapare in central Bolivia. Morales is also leader of the Movement for Socialism political party (Movimiento al Socialismo,with the Spanish acronym MAS meaning "more").
Middle Eastern influence
Salma Hayek Jiménez (born September 2, 1966) is an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Emmy-nominated Mexican-American actress. She is also a Daytime Emmy-winning director and an Emmy-nominated TV and film producer. Hayek has appeared in more than thirty films and performed as an actress outside of Hollywood in Mexico and Spain. Hayek's charitable work includes increasing awareness on violence against women and discrimination against immigrants. Hayek was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico. She is the daughter of Diana Jiménez, an opera singer and talent scout, and Sami Hayek, an oil company executive. Hayek's father is of Lebanese descent and her mother is of Spanish descent.
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born February 2, 1977), known simply as Shakira (Arabic: شاکیرا), is a Colombian contralto singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, record producer, dancer, philanthropist and occasional actress who has been a major figure in the pop music scene of Latin America since the mid-1990s. In 2001, she broke through into the English-speaking world with the release of Laundry Service, which sold over fifteen million copies worldwide. A two-time Grammy Award-winning, seven-time Latin Grammy Award-winning and fifteen-time BMI award-winning artist, Shakira is the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, having sold more than 50 million albums worldwide according to BMI. She is also the only artist from South America to reach the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, the Australian ARIA chart, the United World Chart and the UK Singles Chart. Shakira was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. She is the only child of Nidya del Carmen Ripoll Torrado, a Colombian of Spanish and Italian ancestry, and William Mebarak Chadid, of Lebanese descent.
Íngrid Betancourt Pulecio (born December 25, 1961, Bogotá, Colombia) is a Colombian politician, former senator and anti-corruption activist. Betancourt was kidnapped by the FARC, a Colombian guerilla organization, on February 23, 2002 while campaigning for the presidency. She had decided to campaign in an area of high guerrilla presence and ignored warnings from the government, police and military not to do so. She was dramatically rescued from the FARC guerrilla group along with other hostages. She was considered a key hostage for a possible humanitarian exchange of prisoners for hostages with the government of Colombia. Besides Colombia, her kidnapping has received wide coverage in France due to her French nationality.
Verónica Castro (born October 19, 1952 in Mexico City) is a Mexican actress, singer and host. She is the mother of singer Cristian Castro and Michell Castro and the sister of telenovela producer José Alberto Castro. She started her career as a television actress. This is where she met Manuel "El Loco" Valdez, father of her son Cristian. She is best known for starring in fotonovelas and telenovelas.
Mixed heritage - los mestizos & los mulatos
Northern Belize is home to the largest mestizo population in Belize. The term "mestizo" refers to individuals of mixed Spanish (European) and Native (Indigenous) descent. In Belize, where these two young ladies are from, a mestizo refers to a person of mixed Spanish and Yucatan Mayan descent whose primary language is Spanish and religion Catholic. Because of the large mestizo population within Orange Walk and Corozal, northern Belize demographically resembles Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula more than any Belizean region.
Mulatto (from Portuguese or Spanish mulato and possibly from the Arabic muladi) is a person who has both black African and white European ancestry. It can also be used as an adjective to describe something as a light brown color. This word is regarded as pejorative or even offensive by most English speakers but this is not the case in Spanish. It has been used since slave times to define a person of mixed heritage. Mulattos represent a significant portion of various countries in Latin America. A sample of their percentages follows: Belize (approx. 24.9%), Dominican Republic (approx. 73%), Brazil (approx. 38.5%), Cuba (approx. 24.86%), Colombia (approx. 14%), Puerto Rico (approx. 4.4%), and Haiti (approx. 5%). The roughly 200,000 Africans brought to Mexico were for the most part absorbed by the mestizo populations of mixed European and Amerindian descent. The state of Guerrero once had a large population of African slaves. Other Mexican states inhabited by people with some African ancestry, along with other ancestries, include Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Yucatan.
*Percentages based on the 2010 CIA World Factbook
Some Hispanics may have assimilated.
Cameron Diaz was born in San Diego, California to Emilio Diaz and Billie (née Early). Diaz's father is a second-generation Cuban-American and her mother is Anglo-German. On one occasion when Diaz was asked if she can speak Spanish, she responded saying: "I know what you're saying, I really do. I just cannot respond to you back in Spanish. I can barely speak English properly. I didn't grow up in a Cuban or Latin community. I grew up in Southern California on the beach, basically. And I'm third generation. I'm of Cuban descent, but I'm American."
You may not even know that someone is Hispanic from their name...
William Blaine "Bill" Richardson III (born November 15, 1947) was Governor of New Mexico until 2011. He was a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination to run for the President of the United States in 2008. He previously served as a U.S. Representative, Ambassador to the United Nations, and as the U.S. Secretary of Energy. He was chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention as well as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association in 2005 and 2006. Richardson has been recognized for negotiating the release of hostages, American servicemen, and political prisoners in North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba. He has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Bill Richardson was born in Pasadena, California to William Blaine Richardson Jr. (1891-1972), a banker who lived and worked in Mexico City for decades, and MarÃa Luisa López-Collada Márquez (born 1914). Just before Richardson was born, his mother was sent to California, where her husband's sister lived, to give birth because, as Richardson explained, "My father had a complex about not having been born in the United States." Three of his four grandparents were Mexican, and he identifies himself as Hispanic. Richardson was raised in Mexico City.
When most people think of Hispanics, they tend to think of Catholicism. Roman Catholicism is the faith that Spaniards brought with them from Spain to the New World. It continues to be the predominant religion of most Hispanics. There are, however, Protestant minorities among Hispanics. Most Protestant Hispanics belong to Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. There are many that belong to other churches too, though. Besides Christianity, however, Hispanics have a multitude of other religious beliefs. There are Jewish Hispanics as well as Muslim Hispanics (of course). I've met Buddhist Latinos and have heard of Bahai Hispanics. Many Latinos follow other esoteric beliefs systems, too, such as Santeria, Spiritism, Santuario, Candomble, Palo Mayombe, Voodoo, Curanderismo as well as many other non-traditional religions. It should come as no surprise that some Latinos are also atheists.
Political Views and Movements
The political views of Latinos can range from the far left to the far right. Communism and socialism hold a strong fascination for many Hispanics. Indeed, I have met many Dominicans whose name is Vladimir and Ivan due to their parents' admiration of Russians with the same names. In addition to this, though, as can be found in the United States, there are Republican and Democratic Hispanics. Some are anarchists and others are particularly capitalists.
To conclude, Hispanics come from many different countries. They speak many languages and belong to many races and ethnicities. Some are not merely of a particular race but can be mixed.. As cited above, Latinos have diverse opinions regarding politics. Although there are some things that bond them, they are not static. Keeping this in mind, when introducing someone to Islam, it would be beneficial to first find out more about them -- where they are from, what do they believe, do they prefer beisbol or futbol, what is their background, and what do they think? Know who you are talking to. In this way, you may be able to more effectively tell them about the beauties of Islam.
Once Upon a Time in Andalusia
By Dr. Abdellatif Charafi
This article is intended to be a trip in time to a very special period in world history: from the ninth to the thirteenth century in Andalusia, and more specifically in Córdoba, where a million people lived in Europe's largest city, the cultural center of that period. There existed no separation between rigorous scientific study, wisdom and faith. Nor was East separated from West; nor was the Muslim from the Jew or the Christian. It was there that the European Renaissance actually began, and from where it grew.
By examining the trajectory of Islam in Andalusia, the objective is not to praise an illustrious dead, but to reintroduce in our life the affirmation of absolute and universal values of Islam without which our society will inevitably disintegrate.
The Myth of the Muslim Conquest of Spain
More than five hundreds years have elapsed since Islam was irradicated from Spain. The event was celebrated in grandeur at Expo '92 in Seville, during which the organizers tried to make us believe that Spain was formed by over seven centuries of continuous struggle against Islam. But was the defeat of the Muslims on 2 January 1492 a liberation for the Spaniards? Was the reign of the Muslims a colonization of the Iberian Peninsula?
When looking at the Muslim expansion in Spain one is struck by its speed, its generally peaceful aspect and civilizational component. It took the Muslims less than three years (from 711 to 714) and one battle (at Guadalete, near Cadiz) to spread throughout the whole of Spain. In contrast to this, it took the Prophet Muhammad twenty-two years (from 610 to 632) and nineteen expeditions to get Arabia to accept Islam. This difference in both time and effort, to gain Arabia and Spain to Islam, is due to theological affinities as well as socio-cultural and politico-economical reasons which appealed to the Spaniards.
Pre-Islamic Arabia was predominantly polytheist, with small Jewish and Christian communities. There, Islam had to fight against a 'world without law' (Jahiliyya) to make monotheism prevail. Pre-Islamic Spain was Christian with important Jewish communities. This difference, according to Roger Garaudy, not only explains the speed of the expansion, but also its type.
W. Montgomery Watt in A History of Islamic Spain states: It is a common misapprehension that the holy war meant that the Muslims gave their opponents a choice "between Islam and the sword". This was sometimes the case, but only when the opponents were polytheist and idol-worshippers. For Jews, Christians and other "People of the Book", that is, monotheists with written scriptures - a phrase that was very liberally interpreted - there was a third possibility, they might become a "protected group", paying a tax or tribute to the Muslims but enjoying internal autonomy The case of Spain is therefore not exceptional and that is due to the very essence of Islam.
The Prophet Muhammad never pretended to create a new religion: 'Say: I am no bringer of a new-fangled doctrine among the Messenger' (45:9); and 'Nothing is said to thee that was not said to the messengers before thee' (41:43).
He came to remind the people of the Primordial Religion: 'Say ye: We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all the Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to God (in Islam).' (2:136).
Islam came to confirm the previous messages, to purify them from historical alterations to which they were subjected and to complete them. The Qur'an says: 'If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee.' (10:94). The Muslim community was then opened, without distinction to all those who believe in the unity and transcendence of God.
Besides, in the Iberian Peninsula there raged a civil war between Trinitarian Christians, who accepted the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, and Arian Christians, who saw Jesus not as God but as a Prophet inspired by God. The Council of Nicea in 325, invoked by the emperor Constantine in order to unify ideologically his empire, imposed the dogma of Trinity and condemned the teachings of Anus of Alexandria who refused these dogmas. The conflict erupted, when in 709, the Trinitarian Christians declared Roderick as king. The archbishop of Seville opposed him and the inhabitants of present Andalusia (Bétique) revolted against his rule. When Roderick invaded Andalusia, the inhabitant of the latter looked south help. The able Berber General Tariq ibn Ziyad crossed to Algeciras and a battle in Guadalete, near Cadiz took place. The Bishop of Seville as well as that of Toledo rallied to the Muslim army.
The peasants had a very difficult time, were ill-treated and reduced to the status of slaves. Poverty, corruption, ignorance and instability were the order of the day. Even the free men felt themselves to be underprivileged. There was much discontent, and many ordinary people looked on the Muslims as liberators and gave them all the assistance they could. The Jews who have been persecuted for a long time under the Visigoth rule (e.g. a special decree in 694 enslaved all those who did not accept baptism), opened the gates of many cities. So deep and widespread was the satisfaction given to all classes that during the whole of the eight century there was not a single revolt of the subjects.
It is difficult to understand how a small army could cross the whole of Spain in less than three years if one imagines a military invasion. The historian Dozy, in Histoire des Musulmans d'Espagne, describes the event as 'a good thing for Spain' which produced an important social revolution, setting the country free from the chains it was groaning under for centuries. Taxes were much less compared to those imposed by previous governments. The Muslims introduced land reforms by taking land from the rich and distributing it equally among serf-peasants and slaves. The new owners worked it with zeal. Commerce was liberated from the limitations and high taxes that caused its demise. Slaves could set themselves free in return for a fair compensation, something which threw in new energies. All these measures, says Dozy, created a state of well-being which was the reason behind the welcoming of the Muslims.
The great Spanish writer Blasco Ibanez in Dans l'ombrc de la cathédrale talks about a 'civilizational expedition' coming from the south rather than a conquest. To Ibanez, it was not an invasion imposing itself by arms, it was a new society whose vigorous roots were sprouting from everywhere. Describing the conquering Muslims, he says: 'The principle of freedom of conscience, cornerstone of the greatness of nations, was dear to them. In the cities they ruled, they accepted the church of the Christian and the synagogue of the Jew.'
History, therefore makes it clear that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through Spain and forcing Islam at the point of the sword is an absurd myth. The expansion of Islam in Spain was not a military conquest, but a liberation.
The Meaning of Life in Andalusia
The meaning of life and its goal in Andalusia at the time of its Islamic apogy, directed each act of day to day life, as well as scientific and technical research. The spiritual giants like the Muslims Ibn Rushd (i (1126-1198) known in the West as AverroÃ«s and Ibn Arabi (1165-1240), or the Jewish philosopher Maimonides (11351204), are some of the men who put across most brilliantly the message of Andalusia. This spirit lay behind all the scientific and technical progress of those golden centuries.
Science was not set apart from wisdom and faith, and nothing can express this fact better than Ibn Rushd when he writes: Our philosophy would serve for nothing if it were not able to link these three things which I have tried to join in my 'Harmony of science and religion': A Science, founded on experience and logic, to discover reasons.
A Wisdom, which reflects on the purpose of every scientific research so that it serves to make our life more beautiful.
A Revelation, that of our Qur'an, as it is only through revelation that we know the final purposes of our life and our history.
The unity of the Abrahamic tradition and the critical approach to philosophy are expressed with the same force, in the work of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides, who was a contemporary of Ibn Rushd. At the synagogue before the Torah, he said: If for Ibn Rushd the Holy Book is not our Torah but the Qur'an, we both agree about the contributions of reason and of revelation. These are two manifestations of one same divine truth. There is only a contradiction when one is faithful to a literal reading of the scriptures, forgetting about their eternal meaning. In Andalusia, Islam takes a new dimension with Ibn 'Arabi, nicknamed Muhyi al-Din (the one who gives life to faith). What interested Ibn Arabi was not what a man said about his faith, but rather what this faith makes of that man. He states: God is unity. The unity of love, of the lover and the beloved. Every love is a wish for union. Every love consciously or unconsciously is a love for God.
Bear witness to this presence of God within yourself, of God's creation, which never ceases. The act is the exterior manifestation of faith. Islam recognizes all the Prophets as messengers of the same God. Learn to discover in each man the seed of a desire for God, even if his belief is still dim and sometime idolatrous. Help to lead him towards the fullest Light.
Ibn Rushd endeavours to bring to light the universal message of Islam overshadowed by regional traditions, when he defines the best society as, 'That where every woman, every child and every man is given the means of developing the possibilities God has given to each of them.' The power to establish it 'will not be a theocracy, like that of the Christians of Europe, a power of religious accomplices or tyrants: God says in the Qur'an, "He has breathed into man His spirit". Let us make Him live in every man!' When asked about the conditions ofsuch a society, he answers: 'A society will be free and pleasing to God, when none acts either out of fear of the Prince or of Hell, nor the wish of a reward from a Courtesan or of Paradise, and when no-one says: This is mine.'
Islam in Andalusia gave birth to a number of spiritual giants who have shown that humanity has no future without the warmth and the spiritual values that emanate from the belief in the transcendence and oneness of God. Men such as Ibn Massara of Córdoba (883-931), for whom man was responsible of his own history; Ibn Hazm of Córdoba (994-1064) who was a pioneer of the comparative history of religions; Ibn Gabirol of Malaga (1020-1070) whose fundamental work was the synthesis of the Jewish faith and the philosophy of Ibn Massara; Ibn Bajja (1090-1139) with whom the Islamic philosophy xvas presented in a systematic way with its own direction; Ibn Tufayl from Cádiz (1100-1185) whose central theme was the relation between reason and faith.
All these men of knowledge, wisdom and faith stand as memories to a glorious past when true Islam was preached and practised; a time when the beautiful example of the Muslims won them fame and respect; a time when these peace-loving people would rise simply because injustice was being practised and would fight in the name of God with a strength that led handfuls of believers to victory over armies of non-believers.
The Style of Life in Andalusia
Andalusia was unique in terms of its tangible accomplishments in all spheres of life. Learning was emphasized, marked by a fascination with science, the Arabic literature and the philosophical discourse on reason and faith. In the world created in the land of Andalusia, there was commercial wealth, wealth in terms of consumption, and wealth of productivity and exchange. There was also a wealth of information, thanks to the libraries of Córdoba and a wealth of thinking about the meaning of life, God, and material things. And there were even poets who sang to all the ways of wealth.
We will restrict ourselves to a brief description of the scientific and technical achievement, and a more detailed account of the Mosque of Córdoba as it is one of the first monumental expressions of Muslim rule, and arguably the building that most fully embodied an image of the Muslim hegemony in Andalusia.
Scientific and Technical Achievement
When discussing the scientific development in Andalusia, one cannot separate it either from the contributions of the other great civilizations, nor from the wisdom and faith that inspired the efforts of all researchers in Andalusia: science is One because the world is One, the world is One because God is One. This principle of tawhid commanded all aspects of scientific research in Andalusia as well as in other parts of the Islamic world, at its period of apogy. The following are some of the achievements of such a philosophy of life.
The first attempt to fly was in Córdoba by Abu Abbas al-Fernass. Al-Zahrawi, born near Córdoba in 936, was one of the greatest surgeon of all times. His encyclopedia of surgery was used as a standard reference work in the subject in all universities of Europe for over five hundred years. Al-Zarqalli, who was born in Córdoba, devised the astrolabe: an instrument which is used to measure the distance of the stars above the horizon. The astrolabe made it possible to determine one s position in space and the hours of the day, to navigate and to call the faithful to prayer at the given time.
Al-Idrisi, who was born in Ceuta in 1099 and studied at Córdoba, drew maps for the King Roger II of Sicily in which he used methods of projection to pass from the spherical shape of the earth to the planisphere that were very similar to those used by Mercator four centuries later.
The agricultural and irrigation methods of the Muslims of Spain were revealed by the great Italian engineer Juanello Turriano, who came to Andalusia to study the hydraulic and agricultural techniques of eleventh century Muslim Spain to solve his problems of the sixteenth century in Italy.
The Great Mosque of Córdoba
Córdoba deserves its titles of the 'bride of the cities' and the 'jewel of the tenth century'. A city of factories and workshops, which attracted many scholars and produced her own. It was the first city with street lights in Europe. It rose to eminence as the torch of learning and civilization at a time when the Normans had savaged Paris and England had been ransacked by the Danes and Vikings. Its showpiece was its magnificent mosque, which is the most famous building of Spain after the Alhambra palace in Granada.
The foundations of the mosque were laid by Abd al-Rahman I in 785 on the site of an old Christian church. Since the time of the conquest in 711, the church had been used by both Muslims and Christians. The Muslims bought the church because of the growth of the population at that time, and not because of religious intolerance. It had been enlarged between 832-848, then in 912, and mainly in 961, by al-Hakam II, with its splendid mihrab. Al-Mansur, in 987, doubled the prayer hall which then contained 600 columns. It had already been perturbated in 1236, when Córdoba fell to Ferdinard III of Castille and chapels were inserted, and further in 1523 when a cathedral was built in the heart of the mosque. King Charles V is recorded to have remarked upon seeing the new cathedral: 'Had I known what this was, I would not have given permission to touch the old, because you are making what exists in many other places and you have unmade what was unique in the world.' As we can see it today, despite the opposition of the Spanish government to a UNESCO project to move the cathedral as it is without omitting the least detail (as the temple of Abu Simbal in Egypt was moved), the Mosque of Córdoba still reflects the image of the Muslim art at its best.
The practical problem faced by the architect of the Córdoba Mosque for the construction of a huge room for a big community, was to raise the roof of the oratory to a height proportionate to the extent of the building, so that a feeling of depression-like the one we feel when we get into an underground parking can be dispelled. The antique columns, or the building-spoils which were available, were insufficient. It was therefore necessary to supplement them, and the example of Damascus suggested arcades on two levels. But the model of Córdoba has a very surprising feature: the lower and upper arcades are no longer part of a wall, but are reduced to their pillars and arches without any intermediate masonry. The upper arches which support the roof, rest on the same pillars as the lower arches. Such a concept, without precedent in the history of architecture and unique to the Córdoba Mosque, is a real defiance to the weight and inertia of stones.
Let us say, to give a better picture of the image evoked by this architecture, that the curves of both series of arches soar like palm- fronds from the same trunk, which rests upon a relatively slender column, without the feeling of being too heavy for it. The arches with their many-coloured and fan-shaped wedge-stones have such expansive strength that they dispel any suggestion of weight. This _expression in static terms of a reality which goes beyond the material plane, is due to the outline of the arches. The lower ones are drawn out beyond the shape of a pure semicircle, whereas the upper ones are more open and purely semicircular.
Many archaeologists have suggested that the composition of the arcs used by the architect of Córdoba was inspired by the Roman aqueduct in Merida. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two compositions. The Roman architect had respected the logic of the gravity, a building's support must be proportionate to the weight, thus the upper arcs must be lighter than the supporting elements. For the Córdovan architect-and more generally for all Islamic architecture-this rule does not work. Why?
To answer this question we have to move from the technical considerations, to the symbolic _expression of space in the Muslim prayer, which was the most important factor preoccupying the 'Master' of Córdoba. The purpose was not to achieve an architectural exploit, but rather to create a new type of space-one that seems to be breathing and expanding outwards from an omnipresent centre. The limits of space play no role at all; the walls of the prayer hall disappear beyond a forest of arcades. Their sheer repetition (there were 900 of them in the original mosque) giving an impression of endless extension. Space is qualified here not by its boundaries but by the movement of the arcades, if one may describe it as movement. This expansion which is both powerful yet in reality immobile. Titus Burckhardt describes this as being 'a logical art, objectively static but never anthropomorphic.'
It is to al-Hakam II that we owe the marvellous mihrab, the master piece of Córdovan art, as well as the various copulas which stand before it, including their substructures, of interlacing arcades. The niche of this mihrab, which is very deep, is surrounded in its upper part by an arch, that is like an apparition and a source of light, of which the very curve seems to dilate, like a chest breathing in the air of infinity. According to the highest Muslim spirituality, beauty is one of the 'signs' which evokes the Divine Presence. The inscription above the symphony of colours, in severe Kufi script, proclaims the Oneness of God.
The Mosque of Córdoba is the embodiment of the universal message of Islam. Muhammad Iqbal in his poem A Ia mosquée de Cordoue wrote: Oh! Holy Mosque of Córdoba Shrine for all lovers of art Pearl of the one true faith Sanctifying Andalusia's soil Like Holy Mecca itself Such a glorious beauty Will be found on earth Only in a true Muslim's heart
Who Killed Islam in Andalusia
The scientific and philosophical learning of the Andalusians was channelled off beyond the Pyrenees, to irrigate the dry pastures of European intellectual life. Students from Western Europe flocked to the libraries and universities set up by the Muslims in Spain. This decisively changed the European mind, and it is no exaggeration to say that Western civilization owes its regeneration to the intellectual energy released by the dynamo that was Islam. The period of regeneration, which started in Florence in sixteenth century Italy, is referred to by the West as the Renaissance. It was a direct result of another European Renaissance which began at the university of Córdoba in ninth century Spain. This profound truth of our common history becomes clear when we know how to listen to the music of the stones of Córdoba. There is, however, a fundamental difference between the two 'renaissances': the one which started in Córdoba was based on faith and was conscious of the universality of the divine; the one which began in Florence was made against God with its essential project of secularising all aspects of life.
The reasons leading to the death of the Córdovan-type renaissance generated by Islam, can be understood best by reference to the causes of its success. Islam owed its spectacular success entirely to the teachings of the Qur'an and the example (Sunna) of the Prophet Muhammad (s). The active vigour of the system was neutralized as soon as the Muslims relegated the Qur'an to the status of a treatise on dogmas, and the Sunna became a mere system of laws and a hollow shell without any living meaning. In his Muqaddima, Ibn Khaldun condemns the methods of education practised by some of the fuqaha' of Andalusia when, he says that, instead of helping the student to 'understand the content of the book on which he is working', they force him 'to learn it by heart'.
The Maliki school of thought (madhhab) was so dominant in Andalusia to the point that no other madhahib were taught, and knowing by heart the Muwatta' of Imam Malik and its commentaries was enough to make a faqih a renowned scholar. This closure of the door of ijtihad (independent judgement), which would have been condemned by Imam Malik himself were he to witness it, was encouraged by most of the rulers of Andalusia for it implies an unconditional obedience to the established power. It led to an intellectual degeneration, the treatment to those spiritual giants mentioned before illustrates this best. Ibn Massara was forced to exile; Ibn Hazm was evicted from Majorca; al-Ghazali's books were burned; the universal library of al-Hakam II was thrown into the river; Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Rushd were expelled; and Ibn Arabi evicted. All these acts were not performed by Christians, but by fellow Muslims! These were but signs that this grand structure represented by Islam which had weathered many a storm, had reached a stage when its inner vitality had been slowly sapped away and one powerful blast might well uproot it from the soil on which it has been thriving for centuries.
The early Muslim conquerors in Spain had a mission which made it impossible for them to be selfish, cruel or intolerant. The moment this was lost on their successors, their clannish spirit replaced their unity of purpose. At one time there were as many as twelve Muslim dynasties. That was a signal for collapse. The Muslim society came to represent a decadent social order incapable of dynamic growth and with no capacity for effective resistance. Under such circumstances, it is difficult for any society to survive a serious external threat. The Muslim rule over the Iberian Peninsula started to shrink on account of the treachery of the different Muslim Princes until Granada fell to the hands of the Crusades on 2 January 1492.
When Abu Abdullah the last king of Granada, looked at the Alhambra for the last time, tears came into his eyes. At this, his aged mother Aisha said: 'Abu Abdullah Cry like a women for a kingdom you could not defend as a man.' But our history should play a more inspiring and guiding function than to reminisce about the past. When one sees all these marvels, and all these palaces left in Andalusia-one wonders: Surely, there must have been injustice, there must have been oppression. As Abu Dharr said to Mu'awiya: '0 Mu'awiya! If you are building this palace with your own money, it is extravagance and if with the money of the people, it is treason'. We should not glorify our past and our ancestors regardless of their mistakes. Our study of the history of Islam should be more objective, and not a mere justification of all acts by our predecessors.
We must aim to ensure that the tragedy of Andalusia is not repeated. To do that we must not address our children: Once upon a time in Palestine... Once upon a time in Bosnia... We need a true Islamic Renaissance that will lead us to the eternal and universal Islam. An Islam that is the constant appeal for resisting all oppression because it excludes any submission other than to the will of God and holds man responsible for the accomplishment of the divine order on earth. An Islam, in the words of Roger Garaudy, whose principles are: in the economical field: God alone possesses, in the political field: God alone commands, in the cultural field: God alone knows. It is for us to respond to this eternally living call: without imitating the West and without imitating the Past.
Postgraduate: Education with a soul
From New Straits Times
March 15, 2012
Conventional postgraduate studies with an Islamic essence are what the International Islamic University Malaysia offers its potential students. A form of blended studies where students have the opportunity to obtain an orthodox graduate degree and on top of that, Professor Dr Hassanuddeen Abd Aziz, Dean of IIUM's Centre of Postgraduate Studies, points out that Islamic approaches in all disciplines will be given
"In all our programmes, students are exposed to the Islamic vantage point. Using what they have learned, we expect our students at a postgraduate level to be able to formulate solutions to issues that may arise in their field of study by incorporating an alternative way of thinking. Doing so allows them an escape from repeating the same mistakes that occur when the standard solutions are offered time and again."
The holistic nature of Islamic approaches in education at IIUM works as a much needed counterbalance to the customary western-based programmes. When reviewing the corporate and economic situation thus far, and how the pillars of western education have not been able to shoulder the burden of the new world economy in a sustainable way, it is only natural for academicians seek out auxiliary sources to replace the current structure. With a rich history and ethics-bound tradition, specialised practitioners from Islamic backgrounds would be a welcome change from the tales of corporate greed that have become all too common these days.
In terms of unique education, IIUM has been a front runner in many Islamic-based programmes. Islamic banking and finance, while gaining enthusiastic global recognition in the past decade, has been on IIUM's programme list since the university itself first began in 1983. Currently IIUM has continued this focus on education with a religious basis through programmes under the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, the Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance as well as through discussions and studies carried on throughout all their offered courses in all the faculties. IIUM is a comprehensive university offering basically all branches of knowledge.
The Centre for Postgraduate Studies (CPS) acts as a gateway for postgraduate students. All admissions pass through CPS to ensure applicants are of the minimum grade before being handed over to the individual faculties, where the students are chosen according to criteria and screened for suitability. This screening process is one of the methods IIUM implements to ensure the quality of its students, and subsequently, its programmes.
"Students that are up to par allow our education processes to evolve with them," says Professor Hassanuddeen, who assures that the success of a student's entry is wholly merit based. "This is important in maintaining a high standard of education. Most of our teaching and learning processes are ISO approved, and when push comes to shove, getting better students allows our programmes to achieve the standards that we had promised them in the first place."
The postgraduate programmes at IIUM are constantly evolving and improving, and this is reflected in the attributes of the students they turn out - well-spoken, in possession of clear communicative skills and capable of laying out intelligent ideas concisely. "It is the environment here that shapes them," Professor Hassanuddeen avers. "As the Garden of Knowledge and Virtue, we champion the Islamisation of knowledge. This gives our students a sturdy foundation to stand on."
A strong grasp of English is another aspect that allows IIUM students to flourish once they graduate. The university is licensed to teach in English from the top down, and Professor Hassanuddeen believes that this fluency and exposure to English helps the students by giving them confidence in their communication.
How does IIUM serve postgraduate academics looking for studies with aspects in Islam, while at the same time fulfilling the needs of the industry in a satisfying manner? The key to this is the programme reviews that are carried out every two years. "Once a cohort graduates, we carry out a thorough review of that programme, adjusting it to contemporary demands," explains Professor Hassanuddeen. "We convene a board of studies for the review, which includes specialised practitioners, invited from the corporate world to give their input based on experience, as well as our own academics."
While most universities conduct reviews every half a dozen years, IIUM carries it out at a regular interval as part of their culture of quality, ensuring that changes for the best can be incorporated as soon as possible into their programmes.
CPS also hopes that its active postgraduate community will help in the university's bid for Research University (RU) status from the Ministry of Higher Education. "A large postgraduate community is integral to attaining and maintaining RU status, and the CPS will play an important role in this," Professor Hassanuddeen states. In anticipation of a heightened research status, IIUM has encouraged graduate studies in all spheres, and tried to address the needs of research and funding constructively to provide a well-rounded postgraduate education.
"Right now, IIUM has students from about 106 countries, and we are looking to increase that number," Professor Hassanuddeen reveals. "For now, we are interested in creating awareness in Latin America. We have been working closely with NGOs in South America. These NGOs are interested in the Islamic component of the education that we offer, and this would appeal to the Muslim community in Latin America."
Latin American students who choose to study at IIUM should rest assured that their welfare will be well taken care of. The International Affairs Division and the CPS work closely together to lend international students a helping hand, whether it is a pickup from the airport to the university, or assistance in finding accommodations.
Why does IIUM hold such an appeal to students throughout the globe? "We have always been foremost about our intention to champion the ummah," answers Professor Hassanuddeen. "During Friday prayers, you can hear the students answering the call to worship together, and later they talk to each other in different languages and accents. We welcome them from every part of the world, and their presence here creates a deep sense of community while at the same time showing the diversity of Islam."
This is the very essence of IIUM, and through its graduate students who form a community of specialised knowledge, it embodies an ideal of a university with a soul.
Tajweed Blog/ Blog Sobre Tajweed
By Julio C. Colón
October 3, 2011
As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatu Allahi wa Barakaatuh,
I started a blog to transcribe tajweed rules into Spanish. There's really no place to get it all in one place in Spanish that I know of. I hope to post up at least once a week. Please share with your Castillian-speaking friends.
Guia De Viaje Al Arte Hispano-Musulman
By Aznar Fernando
Guia Total, Anaya Touring Club, 328 páginas, 2005.
Un apasionante y exhaustivo viaje por la cultura hispanomusulmana que nos llevará a atravesar nuestra geografía desde los castillos fronterizos de las tierras del Duero o el Ebro levantados por el califato hasta las plazas fuertes que defendieron el reino nazarí, el valle del Guadalquivir, los desiertos almerienses o las fértiles tierras levantinas. Un recorrido en el tiempo por lugares tan unidos a la leyenda como La Alambra o Medina Zahara, pasando por alcazabas como Toledo, Ronda, Córdoba o la perdida Medina Siyasa en Cieza, Murcia, todo ello apoyado en una completa documentación gráfica.Una obra imprescindible para viajeros y estudiosos ya que, de manera general y como complemento a las fichas de acceso y descripción de cada monumento, se incluyen introducciones a la historia y al arte andalusíes acompañadas de tablas cronológicas y dinásticas.
Revista Luz del Islam
Get your 'Yo Hablo Islam' T-shirt today!
By Wendy Diaz
July 19, 2012
As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu Brothers and Sisters,
In an effort to raise funds to keep our Islamic children's books (bilingual in English/Spanish) in print, Hablamos Islam is selling the "Yo Hablo Islam" T-shirt! "Yo Hablo Islam" means "We Speak Islam!" It is a way to bridge gaps between us and those who speak Spanish, and insha'Allah, open up opportunities for dialogue. And besides that, it just looks cool!
If you have been wondering where you can get one, we have a box full of them from sizes Small to X-Large! They are only $12 each! You can order one personally from us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or order online: http://nuestratiendita.bigcartel.com/
All proceeds to to Hablamos Islam dawah projects! There is no better time to contribute to this cause than now, as we enter into the blessed month of Ramadan.
We are currently raising money to send a box of books to Masjid Othman ibn Affan in Barranquilla, Colombia, South America. At the request of the imam there, they are in need of books to distribute to the Muslim children during the month of Ramadan, insha'Allah.
Read about our books here: http://www.muslimlinkpaper.com/community-news/community-news/3110-local-muslim-authors-investing-in-future-with-books-for-children.html
Ideally, we should send the books no later than mid-Ramadan so that they can arrive before Eid. With your purchase of a T-Shirt, you will be helping this cause, insha'Allah. Donations are also welcome. Please email me if you are interested. JazakumAllahu khaiyran.
August 13, 2012
Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,
We have reached the last ten days of Ramadan, Alhamdulillah! I pray that Allah (SWT) makes these days a source of purification for us all.
As you know, Dawah is a large part of ICNA's work. ICNA brings knowledge of our deen to our friends, neighbors and communities; our Dawah programs are extremely important in bringing the true message of Islam to the public at a time when Islamophobia and hate are on the rise.
I write to you to ask for your support of these efforts. Your contribution to ICNA will support major initiatives such as:
Dawah to Latinos: ICNA hopes to increase its Dawah efforts amongst the Hispanic community in the future InshaAllah. Several new initiatives like all Spanish booths, more trained Spanish speaking volunteers, Spanish literature, Spanish language support on the 1-877-WhyIslam hotline etc have already been launched and several other initiatives are planned.
Dawah to the movers and shakers of society: With your help, ICNA will focus its efforts on educating community leaders, elected officials, interfaith leaders, educators and media personnel on Islam. This will help us take the message of Islam to those who have the means to shape the narrative on Islam.
Call centers: Trained volunteers operate national hotlines dedicated to answering questions about Islam and arrange local mosque visits for those interested in learning more. Currently we have the 1-877-WhyIslam, 1-800-662-Islam (by GainPeace) and the 1-855-Shariah for the Shariah campaign.
Information booths: Arranged at street fairs, malls, book fairs, and high traffic areas across the country, Dawah booths provide the public with the opportunity to ask questions about Islam. Thousands visit these booths and ask for brochures, DVDs and translated copies of the Holy Quran.
Social services: Projects such as the Back to School Giveaway are a form of Dawah through action. ICNA's social services create a sense of community and bonding between Muslims and their neighbors.
Dawah ad campaigns: Billboards on major freeways are covered with Islamic messages and an invitation to call the Dawah hotline. ICNA also sponsors radio, TV and subway ads in major cities across the country.
Dawah in prison: Volunteers have established direct contact with prison inmates through personal correspondence. Hundreds of inmates have turned their lives around and accepted Islam through the correspondence system.
As Ramadan comes to a close, let us look back and reflect on what we've done to make a difference this month. Your donation to ICNA will bring the light of Islam to others. Commit to making a difference and donate today.