Abdur Rahman I: The beginning of the glory of Muslim Spain

Al hambra gardens with reflection

Alhambra palace in Granada, the best symbol of Muslim Heritage in Spain.  We are the Mecca for interfaith tolerance.  The Muslim Times has the best collection on Muslim Heritage

Source: Daily Times

By Akbar Ahmed, who is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, Washington, DC, and author of Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity 

Let us look more closely at Abdur Rahman, the man whose dynasty more than any other came to represent the idea of pluralist society in Europe

The story of the origin of the greatest of the dynasties of Andalusia, Spain is as fantastic as if it were taken from the pages of The Thousand and One Nights. Abdur Rahman, a dashing young Arab prince, barely escapes with his life from Damascus following a palace coup and massacre, survives hair-raising adventures with a band of soldiers hard on his heels with orders to kill him, and after crossing many lands establishes his rule on another continent, in Cordoba, Spain. These events took place over a thousand years ago and throw light on the encounters between Islam and Christianity and between Europe, Africa, and Asia. There is courage, heartache, pain, defeat, and triumph here, and even in the darkest hours there are characters from all faiths who inspire us today.

When the youthful Abdur Rahman, the lone surviving member of the royal family following the overthrow of the Umayyad dynasty by the Abbasids in AD 750, arrived in al­Andalus, he would have recognised the tribal identity of the groups who dominated it. Indeed, the name al­Andalus—the Arabic name for Iberia—is traditionally thought to be derived from the name of the Germanic tribe, the Vandals, who occupied the region before the Visigoths.

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