When The Moors Ruled in Europe

Just finished watching a beautiful and very informative documentary on More 4 called ‘When The Moors Ruled in Europe’ about the 700 year history and influence of Islamic Spain – al-Andalus.

The two hour programme reminded us that in Spain, Islam was a culture of phenomenal innovation which continually emphasised the importance of learning. France’s largest library at the time contained 700 books. The library in Cordoba, Spain, on the other hand, contained over half a million volumes. People converted to Islam because they believed the religion was attractive and offered them something of value. The Muslims in Spain built a culture that was the very pinnacle of civilised life. And when later the rest of Europe underwent a massive intellectual and cultural revolution – the Renaissance, the programme convincingly asserted that the Renaissance was the continuation of an intellectual process that had begun centuries earlier in Islamic Spain.

I went to Amazon to see if I could purchase the documentary – which seems to have been made in 2008 – and could only find an American import edition.

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8 Responses to When The Moors Ruled in Europe

  1. Usman Hasan says:

    The documentary also reveals that El Cid was ethnically an Arab, that Guzman El Bueno (Spanish hero of the ‘reconquest’ who has a street named after him in every Spanish city was actually a Muslim probablly born in Tangiers, an idea virtually blasphemous to most Spaniards!

  2. Usman Hasan says:

    The word ‘ballad’ and the idea of romantically sentimental poems or song was an (Spanish) Islamic tradition, exported to the world via French royalty. This documentary really is worth watching!

  3. Several of you have kindly sent me links to the full ‘When the Moors Ruled in Europe’ documentary online via Facebook. For the benefit of all here is a good link (with thanks to Saqib Helal for sending me this link):


  4. 'Uthmān says:

    Sounds great. One crucial lesson that we can learn from Moorish spain is their philosophy of Convivencia – “living together” – where Muslims, Christians and Jews would live side by side in harmony. It provides a great example of religious tolerance which certain modern European states could perhaps learn a thing or two from. Oh, and it also belies the egregious picture of Islamic history painted by some where Non-Muslim citizens are subjugated and treated as second-class citizens, or otherwise forced to convert (although I don’t deny that this has ever happened).

    But anyway, on a completely unrelated note, readers might be interesting in watching the following video where a Muslim sister chastises a retailer in Green Street, London for his insistence on selling Israeli dates and his refusal to take them off. All I can say is WOW. Power to you sister! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rrfNSZ_DCM&feature=player_embedded

    • 'Uthmān says:

      Or maybe not. The video has now been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on “shocking and distasteful content”. Well come to think of it, maybe the sister did go somewhat overboard. May Allah guide her and all of us. Ameen.

    • KMH says:

      “It provides a great example of religious tolerance which certain modern European states could perhaps learn a thing or two from.”

      Uthman,why just the European states? Do you not feel that certain muslim majority states today could perhaps a thing or two?

      • 'Uthmān says:

        Good point. Yes, I do wholeheartedly feel that too. The way that religious minorities and members of other faith communities are treated in some Muslim majority states is a great shame upon the Muslim nation and I find it to be wholly inconsistent with Islamic values and the example of the early Muslim rulers.

  5. Terry King says:

    This series is available to stream in the Uk through Channel 4 – 4oD, “Four on demand” service. Free and easily available.

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