Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflection 2

As a philosophy student, I have wanted to visit Athens, as it was once the intellectual center of the western world. It would be an incredible experience to walk where Plato and Socrates did and sit where they established the first known academy! After Dr. Deveny’s lecture today, I have added yet another great city of antiquity to that list: Cordoba. Since I left the lecture for my ride home, I imagined all of the things that Arab society contributed to Spain (and therefore Europe), that would be missing from my daily life had they not made it to Spain. Among the things that I had not imagined would be included in that list are agricultural items; many of which I buy at my local grocery store on a regular bases. This is one of hundreds of examples of the mixture of cultures present due to periods of migration such as the invasion of Spain. Also in common with the great ancient city of Athens is the ruins of the small city that once stood just outside of Cordoba which held the grand palace of the Caliph of Al-Andalus (a region in Spain often called Andalusia), Abd ar-Rahman III: Medina Azahara. Though it is no longer possible due to the re-conquest of Spain that began in 720, it would have been an amazing sight to see these great sites prior to their destruction or the building of other building on the foundations of the originals.
Thankfully, the great mosque of Cordoba lies protected within the Basilica to this very day. On can still go to Cordoba and see the traditional Muslim architecture such as the arches within the mosque and the Alfiz above the entrance to the mosque. Also, mentioned in Islam: An Empire of Faith, are the gold-adorned words of the Qur’an written in Arabic (as this is a sacred language to Islam). Also, as one who has studied very little Spanish, it is incredible to see the code switching that is present within the Spanish language today as a result of the influence of Arab culture in Spain. All of the words in the language beginning with the prefix “al” are absolutely words of such influence and I am certain that there are many other examples. Another excellent example of code switching was in the poetic example given to us by Dr. Deveny in the form of a song. Not only was this a linguistic example but also an example of the ways that art was effected by the cultural mix. The song (and therefore poem) is known as "Jarcha de la Moaxaha". "Jarcha", being a short Spanish poem (probably about 4 lines) and "moaxaha" being a term for a longer Arabic poem. And all of this being written by Jehuda Halevi: a Jewish author! This shows that this region was not only influenced by Spanish and Arab culture, but also Hebrew culture. Therefore, yet again, the three Abrahamic faiths find themselves in (often) successful coexistence.  Had I the time to have asked a question of Dr. Deveny withing the class period, it would have been one of Greek influence in Arab architecture and . I can see parallels visually that the Arab people seemed to have improved on as many of their structures from this period still stand in excellent condition today.
Also, a thought on Abd ar-Rahman: I feel as though the acceptance of a Caliph (formerly called the Umayyad Emirate) that was said to have had red hair and blue eyes is yet another example of the acceptance of Islam, regardless of the background of the individual; perhaps very like the example of Ishmael being the son of a handmaiden rather than the wife of Abraham. It is very interesting that all of these major cultural events having to do with the re-conquest of Spain came to its end in what would be known as perhaps the biggest year for Spain in terms of conquest: 1492. How much of Latin American countries and cultures have similar Arab influence (beyond language)? 
  This lecture will provide food for thought for quite some time, I am sure!

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