Africa’s Conquest and Civilization of Europe

The widely dispersed story that you are most conversant with, about Euro African relationship is the story of how Europe came on civilizing missions, spearheaded by the Portuguese which paved way later for future incursions into the African territory by Europeans of various nationalities for different purposes. In fact, you have been made to believe that the Europeans brought civilization into the African continent. This narrative can be largely discredited through an in-depth study, which reveals that Africa had in earlier times conquered parts of Europe and refined the continent with cultural, academic and technological practices which culminated into an advanced civilization that had never beforehand been witnessed in any part of Europe.

The narrative goes thus. The Moors, a word derived from the Latin word Mauri (dark), a group of nomadic tribes in North Africa who occupy the present day Algeria and Morocco. The Moors were religious fanatics who arrived in Spain in the year 711 and thus began a period of history which would shape Iberia differently and the rest of Europe. Although generation of Spanish rulers and European historians have tried to erase this era from historical record, recent archaeological discovery reveals that the Moors flourished in the areas they dominated known as Al Andalus for more than 700 years 711 to 1492. They were not a unified entity and thus established caliphates which included the Umayyad Emirate rule, Caliphate of Cordoba, Almoravids, Almohads and the Marinids. But none the less, they had a major influence on European society and culture.

The invasion of the Iberian Peninsula was spearheaded by Tariq Ibn Ziyad. 

Tariq Ibn Ziyad

This invasion, from the point of view of the Christians in Europe, was seen as an act of aggression, and part of the outward expansion of the Islamic world that was informed by the conviction that the whole world should be subject to Islamic rule and divine law of Islam. This view clearly reveals a biased view, while the actual cause is a more complex story. During this period, Spain was under the rule of the Visigoths (a German gothic tribe who invaded Spain, France, and Italy). The Visigoth king Roderick had inappropriate sexual relations with the daughter of one of his Counts, Julian who secretly approached the Moors and pledged support in the event of an invasion. Tariq ibn Zyyad, therefore, crossed from Tangier to the straits of Gibraltar (named after him) to defeat the Visigoth king. His invasion was with about 7000 armies who moved on Calvary. With this invasion and successful conquest, Europe was to witness a change in entirety.

A fascinating feature of this conquest when compared with that of Europeans in Africa was that they did not destroy the local people they met who were Christians. Despite their political authority, they allowed them to thrive and neither did they impose their language. More importantly was that Moorish white and black women enjoyed a total complete freedom and the Europeans did not suffer under African occupation. The remaining Christians were pushed to the North and Northwest of the peninsula where they established small kingdoms. The rest of Spain became part of the Umayyad caliphate which at its height spread from Spain into central Asia. Spain was dominated by the Emirate Cordoba from 756 to 929 the court grew in power and wealth and expanded their influence over Toledo, Granada and Seville.

It is worthy to note 6 leading figures of the conquest and civilization. As mentioned earlier, Tariq Ibn Ziyad the conqueror, Abdul Rahaman who started the Moorish civilization, the greatest king Yusuf Ibn Tachfin, the founder of the last dynasty Yakub Al Mansour, the most emblematic scholar Ziryab and the last king Abu Abdi Ilah these personalities played enormous roles in the civilization of Spain in particular and Europe in general

Yusuf Ibn Tachfin

Yusuf Ibn Tachfin

Ziryab introduced to the Europe the art of the 3 course meal the first course, main meal and desert. He is also responsible for the categorization of weather into spring, summer, autumn and winter.  He was well known in Spain throughout his life time and brought revolutions in western lifestyle. He created a musical conservatory in Europe while introducing the earliest version of the lute and guitar. He further introduced to Europe, toothpaste, democratization of hair removal cream for women, use of crystal dishes at meal instead of steel, clothing for fashion purposes and different weather seasons. Ziryab was the innovator of hygienic practices which were alien in Europe before the arrival of the Moors.

The Moors advanced greatly in hydraulic engineering and by the 10th century they had paved roads, street lightning, running water, long before it appeared in the streets of London and Paris. At its heights, Cordova was the heart of the Moorsih territory in Spain and had over 900 public baths and well stocked libraries. Education was universal in Moorish Spain, and available to all. When the rest of Europe had only 2 universities, the Moors had established 17 great universities which were located in Almeria, Cordova, Granada, Juen, Malaga, Seville, and Toledo. They also introduced paper to Europe and Arabic numerals which replaced the clumsy Roman numeral system. It was through the Moors that the new knowledge of china, India and Arabia reached Europe. The moors brought compass from china into Europe.

Another worthy contribution of the Moors to Europe, the Jewish founders of the oxford university in England were taught in Moorish universities they democratized education and founded advanced medical practices. The Europeans translated all the knowledge they received from the Arabic world and exported it beyond Spain. Over 4000 Arabic words have been absorbed into Spanish languages; words beginning from AL for example are derived from Arabic. Words such as algebra, alcohol, chemistry, nadir, alkaline,, cipher, influenza, typhoon, and many more can be traced back to Arabic origins

The Moors mastered several methods of survival that vastly contributed to European society from the 10th to the 12th century. During this time, the Moors introduced multiple scientific techniques to European astronomy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, geography, philosophy. Abass Ibn Firnas constructed the first planetarium and evolved a formula for manufacturing artificial crystals, AL khawrizmi a mathematician and author of calculation of integration and equation, Ibn Nafis discovered lesser circulation of blood in the body. The Moors in Spain set the tone for the future escape of Europe from the black ages into the period of enlightenment

With these stated facts, it can be clearly seen that Africa contributed immensely to the growth and advancement of Europe which they in turn used to discredit our intellectual sagacity. Every notable accomplishment they achieved had African influence which they did greatly to undermine so as to continue to downplay our prowess

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