Islamic Tours will take you on a unique journey into historical Andalusia, which will make you stand in astonishment and awe at the ingenuity and enterprise of the early generations of Muslims within Europe. We have formulated an intricate educational tour that will take you from the Giralda Tower in Seville (Ishbilliya) into the Grand Umayyad Masjid of Cordoba, and onto the breath-taking visual delight of the ‘Al Hambra’ Palace in Granada.
Spain's history has been shaped by many nations and powers; The Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Germanic tribes (Visigoths, Vandals) all had an impact on the cultural fabric of the Iberian Peninsula, of which Spain is a part. But the peak of Iberian civilisation was reached in the period of Muslim Sovereignty and authority, between 711.ad to 1492.ad.
The Iberian peninsula, except for the Kingdom of Asturias, became part of the expanding Umayyad empire, under the name of ‘Al-Andalus’, the Muslims used this name for the ‘Land of the Vandals (Germanic tribe).
At first, Al-Andalus was ruled by governors appointed by the Caliph in Damascus, most ruling for periods of under three years. However in 750, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad’s for control of the leadership of the Ummah. In 756, the sole surviving Umayyad prince “The Hawk of Bani Quraysh” Abdur Rahman-I established himself as the Emir of Cordoba. Abdur Rahman's progeny would continue to rule Al-Andalus in the name of Bani Umayyah for several generations, the zenith of their power coming during the reign of Abdur Rahman-III.
The Muslims started to build a civilisation far superior to any known in Europe within this epoch, ‘The Ornament of the World’ described by a visiting German nun in the 10th Century. Ruling with wisdom and justice, they treated Christians and Jews with tolerance, with the result that many embraced Islam with the guidance of Allah (Most Exalted is He). They also improved trade and agriculture, patronised the arts, made valuable contributions to science, and established Cordoba as the most sophisticated city in Europe.
By the tenth century, Cordoba could boast of a population of some 500,000, compared to about 38,000 in Paris. According to the chronicles of the day, the city had 700 mosques, some 900 hamams (public baths), and 70 libraries ; one library housing 500,000 manuscripts and employing a staff of researchers, calligraphers and illustrators. Europe's first street lights were established in this city upon the beautiful banks of the River Guadalquivir. Five miles outside the city, Abdur Rahman-III built Madinat al-Zahra in 936. The largest known city built from scratch in Western Europe, Madinat al-Zahra was the forgotten Versailles of the middle ages. It would be described by travelers from northern Europe and from the East as a dazzling series of palaces full of treasures never seen before. It was only re-discovered 90 years ago with only 10% of this cascading Palace & administrative city excavated.
Cordoba under Al Mansur eventually overtook Constantinople as the largest and most prosperous city in Europe. Within the Islamic world, Cordoba was the key centre of learning alongside Baghdad. The work of its most important philosophers and scientists notably Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) had a major influence on the intellectual and scientific life of medieval Europe.
Imam Abu 'Abdullah al-Qurtubi, was born in the same era, an eminent Maliki scholar who specialised in Fiqh and Hadith. The most famous of then is his twenty-volume Tafsir of the Noble Quran, ‘Al Jami' li-Ahkam al-Quran’.
Muslims and non-Muslims often came from abroad to study in the famous libraries and universities of Al-Andalus. The most noted of these was Michael Scot, an Englishman (1175-1235), who took the works of Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and ‘Ibn Sina (Avicenna) to Italy. This transmission was to have a significant impact on the formation of the European Renaissance.
For more information please telephone:
Tel: 07788 50 50 83