The flourishing of Spain under Muslim rule

The contribution of Muslims to human civilisation is a fact of history that cannot be denied. Even the greatest non-Muslim scholars have stood as a testimony to this fact, in the numerous volumes they have produced over the centuries. It has been revealed that Muslims made cataclysmic and revolutionary additions and prognoses of the knowledge that existed then. Without mentioning them, we would be guilty of serious injustice, on our part, of our own civilisation and modern values. 

No discipline is devoid of their contribution: administration and agriculture, medicine and surgery, pharmacy and pharmacology, engineering and technology, astronomy and astrology, mathematics and physics, chemistry and geography, botany and zoology, philosophy and history, arts and culture. It is only ignominy that has become a part of our rich tradition; forgetting our transition from Greek to Western supremacy.

As soon as Muslims had set their foot in Spain, they began to focus their whole attention on building a civilisation there, far superior to anything Spain had ever known. Reigning with wisdom and justice, they treated Christians and Jews with tolerance, with the result that many embraced Islam. They also improved trade and agriculture, patronized 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 60,000 palaces, and 70 libraries - one reportedly housing 500,000 manuscripts and employing a staff of researchers, illuminators, and book binders. Cordoba also had some 900 public baths, Europe’s first street lighting and, five miles outside the city, the caliph residence, Madinat Az-Zahra. A complex of marble, stucco, ivory, and onyx, Madinat al-Zahra took forty years to build, costing close to one-third of Cordoba's revenue, and was, until destroyed in the eleventh century, one of the wonders of the age.

Excerpt from Muslim Civilisation in Spain, pp. 31–32, Al-Firdous Publications