The world news is filled with stories of conflicts in the so-called Middle East. Sometimes folks here in America don't realize that these stories are taking place in northern Africa ... ancestral home of the Moors.
When the Romans entered West Africa in 46 B.C., they saw Africans and called them Maures, from the Greek adjective Mauros, meaning dark or black. It is from Mauros and the Latin term Marues that the word Moor is derived. Since the inhabitants of North Africa were Black, the Romans and later the Europeans called them Moors. It is no coincidence that the land inhabited by the Moors was called Mauritania and Morocco, meaning "Land of the Blacks."
In the beginning of the seventh century, the Arab prophet, Muhammad, began to preach the word of Islam. Consumed with religious fervor, the Arabs sought to spread Islam and conquer the world. By 708, the Arabs had overrun North Africa. Consequently, Moors in large numbers accepted Arabic as the national language and converted to their conqueror's religion, Islam. Interestingly, hundreds of years later, Africans who had been enslaved by Europeans would again convert to their conqueror's religion, Christianity.
After the fall of the Roman Empire (fifth century), Spain was held by a barbaric white tribe, the Visigoths. Though they were Christians, their brand of Christianity was cruel and unjust. For this reason, Spain's Jews, serfs, and slaves looked favorably upon the arrival of a new civilization in which they would be able to live free of persecution.
Tarik, a great African chief, was given the rank of general in the Arab army and sent to raid Spain. On April 30, 711, Tarik landed on the Spanish Coast with 7,000 troops. His troops consisted of 300 Arabs and 6,700 native Africans (Moors). An ancient source, Ibn Husayn (ca. 950, recorded that these troops were "Sudanese", an Arabic word for Black people.
The Moors of Africa were the real conquerors. When the Arabs arrived, the hardest part of the job had been done. Instead of treating the Moors fairly, the Arab chiefs assigned themselves the most fertile regions. The dissatisfied Moors were not long in coming to blows with the Arabs. (The History of Spain by Louis Bertrand and Sir Charles Petrie - published by Eyre & Spottiswood, London, 1945, page 36). Ultimately, the Moors acquired two-thirds of the peninsula, which they named Al-Andulus.
Al-Andulus was obliged to pay tribute to the Arab Caliph (King) of Damascus. As Al-Andulus acquired its own identity, its bond with the Caliph began to weaken. In 756, Al-Andulus proclaimed itself an independent state. Thus, its only links to the Arabs would be the Islamic faith and the Arabic language.
The Moorish architectural remains in Cordoba, Seville, and Granada prove conclusively that these cities were more prosperous and artistically more brilliant than any Christian cities in Europe at the time. The Moors of Al-Andulus held the torch of leaning and civilization when the rest of Europe was plunged in barbaric ignorance.
If Moorish Spain had been an accomplishment of the Arabs it would have been called Arab or Arabic Spain. Instead it bears the name of its creators, the Moors, i.e., Moorish Spain.
Moorish culture was Black in origin, bright in Achievement, and powerful in its influence on the rest of Europe.
Sometimes it is important to take a moment for OURstory ... we cannot forever be mis-educated by HIS-story all the time! What can you share with us about the Moors of North Africa?