The Moors Bring Civilization To Europe
The story of the Moors in Europe is one of the greatest stories in world history. Europe would not have advanced as it has if not for the Afrikans, who originated in the Nile Valley, trekked into Europe, and were known throughout the world as the Moors. Their sojourn into Europe began in 711 A.D., when an Afrikan general named Tarik ibn Ziyad, of which Djabal Tarik (Tarik’s mountain), or the Rock of Gibraltar is named after, crossed the Iberian Peninsula from Afrika into Spain.
Europe was in the crux of the Dark Ages, suffering from a massive intellectual, scientific, social and cultural decline for almost a 1000 years. This primarily occurred when the Anglos and the Saxons defeated the Roman Empire and destroyed whatever gains Europe enjoyed from Roman ingenuity.
When the Moorish Afrikans entered Spain, they brought Europe up to a level of civilization it had never experienced. Jose V. Pimenta-Bey, in his article “Moorish Spain: Academic Source and Foundation for the Rise and Success of Western European Universities in the Middle Ages” states, “For behind Europe’s ‘Scientific Enlightenment,’ we find many African Muslims. In fact, we find that the very foundation and structure of ‘Western’ Science and Academe is built upon the erudition of these people known as Moors. (See Golden Age of the Moors edited by Ivan Van Sertima)
The influence of the Moors spread throughout Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and England. Twelve of Europe’s greatest known universities were established during the Moorish occupation to translate and study Moorish texts. The universities of Rome, Oxford, Cambridge, Lisbon and Salamanca are among this group.
The totality of what the Moors contributed to Europe’s revival are too numerous to list here, but an attempt will be made in order to visualize the scope and breadth of how they brought Europe back to life.
Starting with basic survival, the Moors showed the Europeans how to increase the fertility of their soil to sustain larger growth and harvest. They introduced such items as: rice, cotton, oranges, bananas, coconuts, maize, medical herbs and introduced food preservation and storage in order to survive the harsh winters. The Moors introduced the use of water wheels, aqueducts, paved streets and windows. The houses in Cordova were “air conditioned in summer by ingeniously arranged draughts of fresh air drawn from the garden over beds of flowers, chosen for their perfume, and warmed in winter by hot air conveyed through pipes bedded in the walls.” (See “The Moor: Light of Europe’s Dark Age” by Wayne Chandler in Golden Age of the Moor) Bathrooms were supplied with hot and cold running water.
In fact, the Moors established hundreds of bathhouses in Spain. Cleanliness was almost as important as eating, but also for health reasons. “Europeans offered no scientific reason for 'infection.' Let us again remember that the Catholic masses did not view bathing and personal hygiene as vitally important to good health and the prevention of disease.” (Pimienta-Bey)
Europeans were accustomed to drinking out of gold and silver goblets. The Moors introduced crystal glasses and plates. They also introduced a technique used today, where to place plates, glasses and silverware on tables for meals.
Science was primitive and undeveloped in Europe. They were still debating if the world was flat, until the Moors showed them that the world was round. The Moors brought chemistry. The Moors brought medical science to Europe. “For seven centuries the medical schools of Europe owed everything they knew to Moorish research. Vivisection as well as dissection of dead bodies was practiced in their anatomical schools, and women as well as men were trained to perform some of the most delicate surgical operations.” (Chandler)
Chandler continues, “Cordova had 417 mosques and 300 public baths. The number of houses of the great and noble were 63,000 and 200,077 of the common people. There were upwards of 80,000 shops. Water from the mountains was distributed through every corner and quarter of the city by means of leaden pipes into basins of different shapes, made of the purest gold, the finest silver, or plated brass as well into vast lakes, curious tanks, amazing reservoirs and fountains of Grecian marble.” This was accomplished no where else in Europe.
During their leisure time, the Moors introduced the intellectual game of chess to the Europeans, the guitar, the classical style of guitar playing, flamenco dancing, added an extra string to the lute giving it a more vibrant sound and changed fashion from two seasons to four seasons. Miles Davis, in his autobiography, comments on the music. “The Black Moors were over there in Spain because Africans had conquered Spain a long time a go. In the Andalusian area you have a lot of African influence in the music, architecture and in the whole culture and a lot of blood in the people. So you had a black African thing up in the feeling of the music in the bag pipes and trumpets and drums.” (See Miles: The Autobiography).
As an aside, William Shakespeare wrote an ode to his Moorish mistress, Lucy Morgan of Clerkenwell. (See “African Women in Early Europe” by Edward Scobie in African Presence in Early Europe)
The Moors advanced medicine to its highest form. “Moorish physicians used drugs, surgery, and cauterization; medicine was a highly techn ical profession complete with extensive training and a code of conduct. European healing practices at the time still largely relied upon charms and amulets; socially and politically powerful clergy frowned upon and repressed medicine, thereby leaving the field in the hands of quacks and barbers.” (See Muslim Spain by Anwar Chejne) “The Moor s were the first to trace ‘the curvilinear path of rays of light through air,’ this discovery in about 1100 is a prerequisite to the design of corrective eyeglasses.” (Chandler) For centuries the mastery of Moorish medical works was required for obtaining medical degrees at Europe’s most prestigious universities. They also brought quadratic equations, geometry and trigonometry to Europe. Their architecture and interior decoration of houses and palaces was of the highest standard in the world. (Pimienta-Bey)
When the Moors were defeated in 1492 A.D., the Christian Europeans, who resented the threat of the Moors advanced civilization, plundered most of the progress the Moors had established. For instance, when the Moors were driven out of Europe, they left 70 libraries in Spain alone. The European Christians destroyed everything, burning thousands of books and decades of knowledge. The same as when they destroyed the great library, with thousands of volumes, in Alexandria, Kemet (Egypt). But even in defeat, it was the Moors who sparked European exploration in the world by bringing them the compass, astrolabe, rudders and sails of the large ships.
Europe and the world are supremely indebted to the contributions the Moors have made. Unfortunately, this is not reflected in the history books or classrooms. It is a history that cannot be denied.