Muslims in Spain from 1492-1568

With the Treaty of Garnata in place, Muslims were given a multitude of promises that their Deen shall not be interfered with and that all freedom of religion should be preserved, (not unlike the modern western liberal democracies such as America, Britain, Canada). In fact the day after the agreement was signed, “…Ferdinand and Isabella made a solemn declaration in which they swore by God that all Moors should have full liberty to work on their lands…and to maintain their religious observances and mosques heretofore, while those who preferred could sell their property and go to Barbary, (Lea, 2001, 21).” Thus in the beginning, western historians argue that the capitulations were made in good faith by the Spanish sovereigns and that they intended to carry them in good faith as well. It must be remembered that under the Capitulations, Garnata and only Garnata, was given a certain degree of autonomy, (albeit technically and in fact being part of the Spanish crown as its territory), to govern their religious and social affairs. In regards to the Muslims of Spain, (inclusive of Garnata), located mostly in Valencia, Castille and Garnata, they were now all Ahl Al-Dajn or Mudajaneen. In the hectic times that followed, the people that were afraid for their Deen and of the permissibility of remaining under the rule of the Kuffaar, fled mostly to the Maghreb States, (modern-day Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya), Mali, Egypt and Sham[1]. The Spanish had arranged transport and logistics to allow for the exit of these Muslims, and they left unhindered by Spanish forces either on the path to the port or after departure.

As for those that stayed behind, the capitulations were respected and implemented. Ferdinand and Isabella appointed Inigo Lopez De Mendoza as their Captain General, (e.g. governor), of Garnata and he certainly intended to follow the letter of the law in regard to his Spanish-Muslim subjects. Abu Abdullah, the ousted Emir of Garnata, was suspicious of the Christians, (Ibid, 23), and rightfully so, as he had originally requested papal approval of the Treaty of Garnata, (as is evidenced in Appendix I, as Maqari mentions in his account of the Garnatan capitulations, that Papal approval was demanded by the Muslims), but after realizing the futility of the endeavour, he dropped this point during Treaty negotiations. As per the capitulations, Muslims were left relatively unhindered in their religious affairs and traffic back and forth between the Maghrib and Andalus was not restricted. Furthermore, Al Bayyazin’s[2] wall was monitored to avoid Christians climbing upon it to peer down at Muslim houses. However, taxes were made more burdensome on Muslims by, “…farming the revenues to Moorish almojarifes or tax speculators… (Ibid, 24).” Furthermore, (inspite of the fact that Spanish Crown did not charge a toll to exit Spain or hindered the path of emigrants), private ship owners began speculating, (increasing), on the prices of the trip and freight to the Maghrib, (Ibid). This burdened many of the people that wanted to leave, and in fact stopped many people from leaving since they did not have the funds to do so.

The Spanish, had begun to renege on some of their non-religious promises of the Garnata Capitulations but had for the time kept their end of the bargain, (with a few exceptions), on religious matters, (Ibid). It was only when, in 1499, Cardinal Ximenes was appointed to assist Talavera in Garnata that matters began to devolve. However, let me state clearly that even if Ximenes was not present in Garnata, the forced conversions, the inquisition courts, massacres and the expulsions of the Muslims would have happend anyway (due to many reasons, not the least of which was the nature of the reconquista, in that it was a religious crusade against the ‘infidel’ and ‘heretic’ Muslim occupier). Ximenez’s appointment only accelerated affairs.

In any case, as a sign of the charitable stance of the Spanish sovereigns, they appointed Hernando De Talavera to be the Archbishop of Garnata in 1493. Talavera was known to be a man that was gentle and a man of “…Charity and loving kindness, (Lea, 2001, 26).” In addition he instructed “…his missionaries to learn Arabic but he himself in his old age acquired it sufficiently for his purposes and composed an elementary grammar and vocabulary, (Ibid).” Talavera certainly wasn’t an opponent of the reconquista and of destroying the Muslim faith, but he certainly didn’t adopt the inhumane measures adopted later by his assistant Ximenes. Therefore Talavera was successful in making quite a few Muslims either feign apostasy, (out of fear, and rightfully so, of punishment and torture, since the Spanish inquisition had, at this time, already been operating since 1476), or truly apostatize and become Christians. An example of this would be the Muslims of Caspe, (a town in the province of Aragon or Arghun), announcing the desire to be baptized and become Christians in 1499 or that in the district of Teruel and Albarracin [Al Birazeen] a masjid was converted into a church by the residents in 1493.

In terms of global events, the Uthmanis were preoccupied had, since 1453 CE gone from strength to strength, with the conquest of Constantinople and the defeat of the Byzantines, to the gradual acquisition of Eastern European territory between 1456 to 1461, (including Bosnia, Serbia and Albania), while defeating the Shia’ Safawiyya (Safawids), in 1473. During this period the Uthmanis had also attempted to invade Italy in 1480, (which ended in failure). Truly the Uthmanis were a superpower of their time and European powers trembled at their power whether on land or sea. A special emphasis should be placed of Uthmani sea power as it was the equivalent of American Air power today, and in military terms is a decisive factor in contemporary warfare and strategic planning. Without doubt, the Uthmanis possessed one of the strongest navys in the world, at the time, with active patrols across the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and even the Pacific. That is to say nothing of the Uthmani naval ghazis, (such as Khair Al Deen), who used to venture even further out to sea up to even the shores of Iceland and America to raid kafir ships and obtain ghaneema. As it applies to Andalus, the naval power of the Uthmanis was applied when they sent Kamal Reis, an Uthmani naval commander, who was sent to Bijaya, (in the Mediterranean ocean), presumably after the fall of Garnata to maintain contact with the Muslims of Andalus to collect intelligence and assess their situation by which to judge what course of action should be taken, (Harvey, 2005. 335). Kemal Reis was recalled in 1495 back to port in Turkey for unknown reasons, (perhaps he completed his mission?). In light of increasingly successful of Portuguese attacks on Muslim cities on the eastern coast of Africa, and the taking of the island of Hormuz, (on their way to strengthen the Portuguese forces already present in Gujurat), the Mamlukes decided to respond to this Christian aggression. In 1507, on the way to defend the Sultan of Gujurat against the Portuguese, the Mamluke navy fortified the port city of Jeddah against any possible Portuguese aggression. The very real fear was that the Portuguese would sail up the Red Sea and, in the words of Joao de Barros, a 16th century Portuguese historian:

“…take the city of Jeddah, a port very near by, by which we could go to Mecca and thence to Medina to steal the body of their Prophet and hold it in our possession in the same way as they hold Jeruslam, which is the home of our faith…(Peters, 189)”

This certainly was the aim of one of the commanders of the Portuguese naval reinforcement group on its way to Gujurat, Alfonso De Albuquerque. He would go onto replace Francisco de Almeida as the Portuguese governor of the Portuguese territories of India. On arrival in the area, the Mamluke navies, under the command of Hussein Al Kurdi, engaged the Portuguese forces in 1508 in the Battle of Chaul and defeated the Portuguese in the engagement while killing their commander, Lourenco de Almeida, (son of Francisco de Almeida).


[1] Historically it usually refers to the region bordering the eastern Mediterranean, which includes modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan

[2] This is known in Spanish as Albaycin and was one of the three quarters in the city of Garnata, (Al Bayyazin, Al Hamra’ and the Christian quarter). In Arabic, the full name of the quarter was Ribad Al Bayyazin, which means ‘Quarter of the Falconer,’ but there is dispute over this meaning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: