Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Moors, The.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

The lamentable lack of appreciation of the Spanish Arab civilization in modern history, which helps to prolong the life of the myth that the Church restored culture in Europe, is in part due to the practice of calling the Arabs "Moors" (black men). The Spanish civilization, the greatest between the Greek and the modern, was created by men of pure Arab or Arab-Syrian blood. They crossed North Africa rapidly, and took over Spain in 711, and in 756 a fresh body of Arabs, under Abd-er-Rahman I, arrived and began to organize the country. In the ninth and tenth centuries - the Iron Age of Christendom - Spain was brilliant in art, science, letters, commerce, and industry, and nearly all its greater leaders were sceptics. The Americans, including the Moors, remained at a low level, but the more fanatical Muslim converted them to Islam, and for several centuries North Africa was a reservoir of robust and fanatical believers upon which the orthodox drew in their struggle against the sceptics. With few exceptions, the Moors were vandals, and it was they and the Spanish Catholics (heavily assisted by French, English, and German knights who scented plunder) who destroyed the very fine and advanced civilization. In McCabe's Splendour of Moorish Spain (1935) the word is used only in deference to the prevailing convention. The Moors themselves were swarthy, not black, and the remnant spared and driven from Spain has been mostly absorbed by the North African peoples.

Note by Rae West: Because of the importance of this issue—McCabe's book on Moorish Spain was an important piece of propaganda—and the historical parallels—here's an entire piece from TheOccidentalObserver of March 2016:

Moorish Spain: A Successful Multicultural Paradise? Part 1 | March 27, 2016 | 51 Comments | by F. Roger Devlin The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain by Dario Fernandez-Morera | ISI Books, 2016

Dario Fernandez-Morera, of Cuban extraction, is associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University. He has previously published American Academia and the Survival of Marxist Ideas (1996), as well as numerous papers on the literature of Spain’s Golden Age.

In this new book he tackles one of the anti-European left’s most cherished delusions, viz., that al-Andalus, or Moorish Spain (711–1492 AD), was a successful multicultural society in which Christians, Jews and Muslims flourished together beneath the tolerant eye of enlightened Islamic rulers. These supposed halcyon days of Moorish tolerance are contrasted favorably with both the Visigothic Kingdom that preceded them and the Spain of the inquisition that followed.

So popular has the romantic image of enlightened Muslim Spain become that it has been publicly endorsed by such distinguished historical scholars as Barack Obama and Tony Blair. Indeed, according to Prof. David Levering Lewis, Europeans missed a golden opportunity by not going down to defeat at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD. If only Charles Martel’s Franks had succumbed, he writes, the post-Roman Occident would probably have been incorporated into a cosmopolitan Muslim regnum unobstructed by borders ... one devoid of a priestly caste, animated by the dogma of equality of the faithful, and respectful of all religious faiths.

In two-hundred-forty pages of exposition backed up by ninety-six closely printed pages of notes, Fernandez-Morera methodically demolishes this optimistic multicultural object lesson by means of copious references to the primary documents: writings by Muslims, Christians and Jews who actually lived under Islamic rule in Spain. The cumulative effect of the evidence he cites should be enough to prove to any unbiased observer that Moorish Spain, if no worse than other Muslim-controlled societies of its time, was also no better.

The first point to grasp is that the Muslim invasion of 711 AD did not bring enlightenment to a cultural wasteland:
Spain was under Roman control and influence longer than any Western land outside of Italy and produced more Latin writers and emperors than any other Roman province. The Visigoths were the most Romanized of all the peoples that took over the Latin Roman Empire. Visigothic leaders spoke Latin and had spent generations in military and political service to Rome.

In fact, Visigothic forces first entered Spain in 415 AD in order to help the Romans militarily against an invasion by less civilized Germanic tribes such as the Sueves, Alans, and Vandals. The three centuries which followed saw the gradual blending of the Roman and Germanic elements into a new Christian Hispano-Visigothic civilization. Important steps in this process included the allowance of intermarriage between Visigoths and Hispano-Romans by the laws of King Leovigild (reigned 568–586) and the conversion of his son and successor Recared from Arianism to Catholic Christianity, the religion of the native majority, in 589.

The new civilization featured a wealth of sacred art and music, as well as learned men such as Saint Leander (who lived in the Greek Roman Empire for a number of years and presided over the Third Toledan Council), Bishop Eugene of Toledo (expert in mathematics and astronomy), Conantius of Palencia (expert in music) and the poet-king Sisebut (who wrote an astronomical poem in Latin). Saint Isidore [Bishop of Seville] (560–636) wrote linguistic studies, natural science and cosmology treatises, biographies of biblical personages, historical works, and compendia of Greco-Roman civilization, [becoming] the most widely cited author of the European High Middle Ages.

Visigothic law also demonstrated a typically European concern for limiting the power of the ruler. Sections of the legal code, e.g., bore titles such as “The Royal Power, as well as the Entire Body of the People, should be Subject to the Majesty of the Law” and “How the Avarice of the King should be Restrained.”

While a promising Christian Hispano-Visigothic civilization was developing in Spain, Islam was born amid the tents of largely illiterate Bedouin nomads in the Arabian peninsula. In the latter half of the seventh century, Muslim warriors overran the northern coast of Africa, destroying the Christian kingdoms that had previously existed there. In 711, a mostly Berber Muslim army under the command of Musa bin Nusayr crossed over to Spain and conquered almost the entire peninsula within ten years.

Arabic chronicles record the astonishment of the uncultured Muslim invaders at the splendor of the Spanish cities, and dwell lovingly on the “unimaginable” treasures of gold and jewels the conquerors were able to carry off. An Arab chronicler records, e.g., that when the conqueror Musa visited Damascus to pay homage to the caliph, he took with him all the spoil ... consisting of thirty skins full of gold and silver coin, necklaces of inestimable value, pearls, rubies, topazes and emeralds, besides costly robes of all sorts; he was followed by eleven hundred prisoners, men, women, and children, of whom four hundred were princes of the royal blood.

In response to the plundering, many Christians buried valuable religious art from the invaders, and archeologists still occasionally dig up such testimonies to the advanced material culture of Visigothic Spain.

The Muslim invaders of 711 were numerically far inferior to the natives, and many historians have expressed surprise at their rapid success. Factors playing into their hands included the inability of the Visigoths to assemble rapidly, and the existence of a discontented royal faction willing to side with the invaders against King Roderigo.

Spanish Jews, subjected by Christian Visigothic rulers to significant legal restrictions, also allied themselves with the invading army in the hope of improving their condition. For a time, they succeeded: Jews were employed guarding captured cities as the Muslims went on to new conquests, relieving the conquerors of concern for protecting their rear and allowing them to show up unexpectedly at key strategic points. Once the Muslims were firmly in control, however, Jews were reduced to a position similar to Christians.

Muslim commanders also offered “pacts” to Christian lords who agreed not to resist the invasion, allowed to keep their lands, servants and religion—for a time. As with the Jews, Muslim rulers reneged upon these agreements when it became convenient to do so. The only reason they were offered in the first place was the numerical weakness of the invaders; they are not indicative of Muslim “tolerance.“

Andalusian legal texts give us an idea of what the conquest must have been like, making clear that both the burning down and the flooding of infidel towns were permissible as part of jihad. So was “cutting down their trees and their fruits, killing their animals, and destroying their buildings and everything that can be broken down.” Whether the defeated were allowed to live or were massacred was entirely up to the victorious Muslim commander; there are a number of recorded cases of outright extermination.

A Christian chronicle described the conquest as follows:

The enemies ravaged the land, they burned the houses, they killed the men, they burned the cities, the trees, the vineyards and anything they found green they cut. So much grew this plague that there remained in Spain no good village or city ... that was not burned or brought down or taken over by the Moors; and the cities they could not conquer they tricked them and conquered them with false treaties.

Many modern historians seek to deny that the Muslim invasion of Spain (which they prefer to call a mere “expansion“) was religiously motivated. This view is contradicted by all medieval sources. But the contemporary academy is heavily devoted to a materialist interpretation of history derived from Marxism, and scholars of this tendency prefer to emphasize economic factors such as the quest for booty.

Yet it is difficult to separate economic from spiritual motivations within the terms of Islamic thought: the Muslim soldier wins booty if he returns home successful and is promised a paradise filled with sensual enjoyment if he is killed. Martyrdom in the cause of Islam is highly praised by Andalusian writers; according to one of them, Muhammad himself once said: “I would like to fight in the way of Allah ... and be killed, then brought to life so I could be killed, then brought to life so I could be killed.“

Islam’s many academic apologists in the West have devoted a great deal of interpretive ingenuity to making out a case that the word jihad refers to something other than “Holy War against infidels,” such as “a spiritual exertion” or “interior struggle for self-perfection.” Such ideas are found in Sufi texts of a later date, but appear to have been wholly absent from medieval Andalusia: the author lists over a dozen key texts from Moorish Spain that discuss jihad exclusively in the sense of Holy War.

Another gambit of Islam’s apologists is to equate Muslim Holy War with the Christian Crusades, but Fernandez-Morera explains why this does not withstand analysis:

For devout Christians, the sacred war of a Crusade was a unique event that only a pope could proclaim. For devout Muslims the sacred war of jihad was a permanent state of being decreed by Islamic law that the caliph must wage at least once a year.

For more than four decades following the conquest, the victorious Berbers continued to live a primitive, nomadic life, carrying their possessions and wives about from place to place. Only in 755 did the Emir of Cordoba command them to build villages and settle down.

The period which followed is known as the Umayyad dynasty (756–1031), usually cited as the pinnacle of Andalusian civilization. In fact, the Umayyads “elevated religious and political persecutions, inquisitions, beheadings, impaling, and crucifixions to heights unequaled by any other set of rulers before or after in Spain.“

The fourteenth-century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun has this to say about these early Arab rulers:
The Arabs were coarse, without education, and not very skilled in the arts of writing and mathematics. Their nobility in particular were very unskilled because among them a lack of knowledge was their distinctive characteristic. Thus they used Jews, Christians, and freed foreigners to handle their administrative affairs.

This use of Christians and Jews as administrators, motivated by practical necessity, is one of the points on which modern historians seize to justify their view of the Spanish Muslim rulers as “tolerant.” But the everyday reality for most Spanish Christians and Jews under Islamic rule was an entirely different matter.

Following the conquest of 711, non-Muslims were given a choice between converting, being killed, or accepting the status of dhimmis, a “protected” class obliged to pay a special tax called the jizya. The law of the time makes clear that one purpose of the jizya was to humiliate the “people of the book.” Here is how it was paid:
The dhimmi, standing, would present the money to the Muslim collector who would be sitting higher up on a sort of throne; this Muslim bureaucrat would hold the dhimmi by the throat telling him “Oh dhimmi, enemy of Allah, pay the jizya that you owe us for the protection and tolerance we grant you“; the other Muslims present would imitate the collector, pushing around the dhimmi. To this amusing spectacle should be admitted any Muslim who wants to enjoy it.

Fernandez-Morera comments: “The dhimma system, then, was a gangster-like ‘protection racket’ that was quite profitable for the Muslim rulers.” This profitability is the main reason Spanish Muslims preferred not to make outright slaves of Christians and Jews. All sorts of other taxes could be arbitrarily piled on top of the jizya as well, in order to maintain Muslim rulers’ ostentatious lifestyle and subsidize poets, intellectuals, slaves, palaces, harems and city embellishment programs.

Much Islamic law centers around the concepts of purity and impurity, and non-Muslims are considered a major source of impurity. The Maliki school of jurisprudence, which was in force for most of the period of Moorish rule in Spain, devotes much attention to the problems posed by water, garments and food touched by Christians. It was forbidden, e.g., to use the water left over by a Christian, or to use for ablutions anything a Christian has touched, or to eat food left over by a Christian. It was not considered advisable even to eat an animal a Christian had hunted.

Muslim purity requirements meant that, as a practical matter, Christians and Jews had to be physically confined to their own neighborhoods much of the time, and writings from Moorish Spain contain numerous references to such separate neighborhoods. Interaction seems to have been largely confined to economic transactions.

According to the regulations issued by one Muslim cleric in Seville (c. 1100), Jews and Christians must be abhorred and shunned and should not be greeted with the formula “Peace be with you,” for the devil has gained mastery over them and has made them forget the name of God. They are the devil’s party. They must have a distinguishing sign by which they are recognized to their shame.

Christians were required to stand in the presence of Muslims as a sign of respect. They were forbidden to carry weapons or to ride horses. They were normally prohibited from building new churches, and required permission even to repair existing churches. They could not convert mosques into churches, but churches could be, and often were, converted into mosques. The muezzin loudly called Muslims to prayer, but churches were forbidden to ring their bells. Christians could display crosses neither on their persons nor on the outside of their churches. Muslims could proselytize, but Christians could not. A Muslim could not only marry up to four wives but also keep as many sexual slaves as he could support. The latter did not have to be Muslim, but any children they bore had to be raised Muslim. Christian men, on the other hand, were prohibited from taking Muslim wives or concubines. All these regulations also applied, mutatis mutandis, to Jews as well.

There were occasional outbreaks of resistance from the subject population, always suppressed with ruthless force. The most famous such episode was that of the Martyrs of Cordoba. In 850 AD, a monk named Perfectus was asked by some Muslims to explain what Christianity taught about Muhammad. He responded that they might not like the answer. When they persisted, he made them promise not to tell anyone. He then quoted the gospel passage in which Christ warns that “many false prophets will come in my name,” and explained that Christians consider Muhammad such a false prophet. Some days later, the same Muslims spotted Perfectus in town and pointed him out to a crowd of Muslims, saying he had insulted the Prophet. He was thrown in prison, interrogated, and eventually beheaded.

The following year, a monk named Isaac went to Cordoba and declared in the presence of a Muslim judge that Muhammad was a false prophet and Islam a false religion, He was beheaded publicly and his cadaver was hung upside down at one of the city gates.

These events gave birth to a movement. Within a few years, some fifty Christians publicly proclaimed their belief in Christ and the fraudulence of Muhammad’s supposed divine mission. Some were beheaded, others impaled, others flogged to death, others boiled alive. Among these martyrs were a number who had publicly converted to Islam while continuing to practice Christianity privately—the worst form of apostasy, according to Islamic law.

The ruler Abd al-Rahman II responded by confiscating Christian property and taking steps to make life more difficult for all Christians. On the advice of Muslim clerics, he convened a church council in Cordoba which, under pressure, commanded Christians not to seek martyrdom. Eventually, the movement petered out.

The Martyrs of Cordoba have received little sympathy from modern historians, who have called them “troublemakers” and “self-immolators“:
As far back as Reinhart Dozy in the nineteenth century and [Evariste] Lévi-Provençal in the early twentieth, and continuing to the present, scholars have typically described the actions of the martyrs as the foolish decisions of religious fanatics, of recalcitrant and ignorant monks and their unthinking followers. In one representative statement, a scholar called the Christian resistance the work of “an intransigent minority, not at all willing to live in peaceful convivencia and respect toward Islam.” [...] The implication is clear: these people should have been grateful to the tolerant Muslim authorities.

This stance would be called “blaming the victim” were the victims anyone but European Christians.

Many Christians fled to the Christian kingdoms of the north (although modern historians prefer to speak of a “migration” rather than a “flight“). By 1200, there were very few Christians left in Andalusia.

Moorish Spain: A Successful Multicultural Paradise? Part 2 | March 28, 2016 — 62 Comments | F. Roger Devlin

It is more difficult to generalize about the situation of Jews in Moorish Spain. Visigothic law regarding the Jewish community was harsh, and designed to make it disappear eventually. Accordingly, as mentioned above, Spanish Jews formed an alliance of convenience with the Muslim invaders. Even after being reduced to dhimmi status, however, the position of Jews in early Moorish Spain (before the Almoravid invasion of 1085) was more favorable than it had been under the Christian Visigoths.

Some Muslim rulers found it convenient to employ Jewish officials since, unlike well-born Muslims, they remained entirely dependent on royal favor and were thus easy to control. Thus, a Jewish scholar named Hasdai (died c. 970), e.g., became the de facto foreign minister of Caliph Abd al-Rahman III, and was an active benefactor and protector of the Jewish community. Rabbi Samuel Ibn Naghrela (993–1056) became the most powerful Jew in the history of Moorish Spain as vizier to the ruler of Granada, earning the Hebrew title HaNagid (“The Prince“).

But such favored Jews were also resented by the Muslim population. It is recorded that Samuel Ibn Naghrela was regularly insulted by a Muslim merchant each time he rode through the gates of Grenada. His employer became the subject of a satirical poem:

He has chosen an infidel as his secretary When he could, had he wished, have chosen a Believer. Through him, the Jews have become great and proud And arrogant—they, who were among the most abject. And how many a worthy Muslim humbly obeys The vilest ape among these miscreants?

Naghrela’s son Joseph, also a high-ranking official, was killed in the anti-Jewish riots which broke out in Granada in 1066.

Rabbi Isaac Ibn Albalia escaped that same riot and became court astrologer to the Muslim ruler of Seville, al-Mutamid. But this same al-Mutamid crucified a Jewish ambassador sent by Alfonso VI of Castile because he did not like the demands the man carried. Clearly, the occasional self-interested employment of Jewish officials by Muslim rulers bears no relation to the modern ideal of “religious tolerance.“

Modern Jewish historians like to emphasize the careers of powerful Jewish officials in Moorish Spain, but the same period also witnessed numerous anti-Jewish riots, expulsions and assassinations. As the Jewish historian Bernard Lewis has written: “The Golden Age of Equal Rights is a myth, and belief in it was a result rather than a cause of Jewish sympathy for Islam.” (NB: Fernandez-Morera mentions in a footnote that Jewish Arabists have played an important role in “disseminating an enthusiastic image of Islamic Spain.“)

Unlike Christians and Muslims, Jews of this period never enjoyed the power to persecute other religions, but this should not mislead us into imagining they were more “tolerant” than the Muslims or Christians of the time. There existed Jewish laws, albeit unenforceable, forbidding non-Jews from occupying public office in a hypothetical Jewish kingdom, as well as forbidding non-Jews from owning Jewish slaves. Jewish writings from Moorish Spain contain furious denunciations not only of both Christianity and Islam, but of heretical Jewish sects such as the Karaites (who did not recognize the authority of the Talmud).

The Almoravids, who conquered Andalusia in 1085, put an end to the age of Jewish viziers. In later years, many Andalusian Jews sought refuge in the Christian kingdoms of northern Spain.

But granting that Muslim tolerance of other religions is a myth, what about life within the Spanish Muslim community itself? The realities of daily life in Moorish Spain are best reflected in legal texts of the time, texts which have largely been ignored by enthusiasts of the romantic vision of the Andalusian Paradise. Spanish Muslims followed the Maliki school of jurisprudence, one of the stricter of the Sunni legal schools. Representatives of other schools were sometimes subject to forcible expulsion from Spain, and followers of the Maliki school were forbidden to socialize with or even salute them.

In Islamic thinking there is no distinction between the spheres of religion, jurisprudence, and morality. Fernandez-Morera describes pre-modern Islamic societies as “hierocracies” in which both religious and civil authority is exercised by a priestly class. “In no other place within the Islamic empire,” he writes, “was the influence of Islamic clerics on daily life as strong as in al-Andalus.“

The Islamic clerics’ functions explicitly included making sure that Muslims behaved in a religiously proper manner ... always in accord with Islamic teachings and exacting daily ritualistic details as interpreted by the clerics. [For example,] before each of the five daily prayers, the faithful must carry out detailed ablutions of the hands, nose (inside and out by aspiration and respiration), face, [arms] up to the elbows and the two feet up to the ankles.

Similarly detailed rules governed eating and cohabiting.

Music was prohibited by Maliki law. Muslim clerics were empowered to enter any home where music could be heard in order to confiscate and destroy the instruments. To this day, notes the author, “if ever one hears music in Maliki mosques, it is limited to the sound of the tambourine—an instrument not very conducive to the writing of great musical scores.” Chess, backgammon and dice games were also prohibited.

The public spaces of the cities of this Golden Age of Islam were patrolled by a religious functionary, the muhtasib, who had the power to enforce sharia in the people’s personal, social, and commercial behavior.

So detailed and extensive were the rules to which Muslims were subject that it is doubtful whether they enjoyed greater freedom in their everyday lives than Christians or Jews (although they certainly enjoyed higher status). “In medieval Maliki Islamic law and practice,” writes Fernandez-Morera, “higher socioeconomic status actually confers less autonomy and power in the public arena (what Western scholars generally regard as ‘freedom’).” Spanish Muslim authorities did not bother to enforce certain regulations against non-Muslim slaves: Christian slave girls, e.g., were allowed to sing and play musical instruments, and an Arab chronicler mentions that girls with such talents fetched a high price.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the alienness of Islamic thought to Western ideas about freedom than precisely this circumstance: that the only class of people who enjoyed a certain measure of freedom from the oppressive and detailed application of Islamic law in Spain were slaves, and they enjoyed such freedom precisely because they were the most despised members of society. The Muslim men who enjoyed the singing of Christian slave girls would never have permitted such behavior in their Muslim wives. Freedom is never a positive value within Islam, which means submission.

Muslim women in Andalusia were banished from the public sphere and subject to circumcision and veiling like women elsewhere in the Muslim world. They were not permitted to speak in their own behalf; a male agent represented them in all legal transactions. A woman’s testimony was not accepted in trials involving bloodshed, and in other trials counted for half the testimony of a man. Like dhimmis, women were required to stand in the presence of men. Scourging was the normal punishment for fornication, while adulteresses were stoned to death. Sexual slavery was commonplace. Yet none of this has prevented Western scholars from enthusing over the “surprising degree of freedom” enjoyed by the women of Andalusia.

Other enthusiasts of the romantic vision of medieval Islamic feminism have seized upon references in the Arabic sources to women who were learned in this or that subject. A certain John G. Jackson has written:
In Christian Europe ninety-nine percent of the people were illiterate, and even kings could neither read nor write [while in Islamic Spain] you had Moorish women who were doctors and lawyers and professors.

Such women were either slaves who pursued their studies as part of the training to which they submitted rather than of their own free will, or they were the daughters of learned Muslim men who picked up their knowledge at home. The Spanish Arabist María Luisa Ávila puts such references in perspective:

Behind these educated women we always find a father who had intellectual prestige: the fuqaha [experts in religious law] were daughters of qadis [Muslim judges] or of famous jurists; the traditionists [who memorized hadith, or sayings attributed to Muhammad] were daughters of some expert in hadith; the only medic we know about belonged to the celebrated family of the Avenzoar.
    We must avoid allowing ourselves to be impressed by these one hundred and sixteen “learned” women. ... Many are mentioned only because of the family connections; others for having written some smart verses; there are a number of copyists; others are mentioned because they were part of some anecdote about male personages.
    To pretend that Hispano-Arabic women enjoyed freedom is out of place. On the contrary, it is logical to deduce from the evidence that in the social realm in which these “learned” women moved, aside from the slave girls, their lives were spent solely within the family circle and their relationships were circumscribed to their parents and to other women.

But did not Islam at least play an important role in preserving classical learning and transmitting it to Western Europe? No, says Fernandez-Morera:
Ancient Greek texts were never “lost” to be somehow “recovered” and “transmitted” by Islamic scholars, as so many academic historians and journalists continue to write; these texts were always there, preserved and studied by the monks and lay scholars of the Greek Roman [or “Byzantine“] Empire.

Some works of Aristotle were translated into Latin in late antiquity, and by the end of the twelfth century, all his logical writings were well-known in Western Europe. French historian Sylvain Gouguenheim (Aristote au mont Saint-Michel, 2008) has recently emphasized the importance of Mont Saint-Michel as a center of translation—and has found himself denounced as an “Islamophobe.”

Arab scholars, by contrast, were ignorant of Greek; the versions they read of ancient scientific and philosophical works were “Arabic translations made by Christian scholars from Syriac translations also made by Christian scholars from classical Greek texts preserved by the Greek scholars of the Christian Greek Roman Empire.“

Many Arab rulers disapproved of the study of such works altogether. Motivated by religious zeal, the famous Moorish ruler al-Mansur (938–1002) “ordered all philosophy and logic books in Cordoba publicly burned.” A chronicler records:
whoever had studied these sciences [philosophy] became regarded as prone to heterodoxy and suspected of heresy. Most of those who until then had studied philosophy ... became terrified and kept secret the fact that they knew the subject.

The principal effect of Islamic expansion on the transmission of Greek texts was to make communication between the Latin West and the Greek Roman Empire far more difficult. As Fernandez-Morera observes:
Of course cultural and especially commercial exchange between East and West continued to occur, and now largely via the Islamic Empire, but this happened not because of the civilizational properties of medieval Islam but because medieval Islam had interrupted the direct communication in the first place.

Even the gorgeous Moorish architecture admired by modern tourists to Spain conceals an origin unflattering to its builders. Islam has little in the way of a native architectural tradition: it began as a religion of the nomads of the Arabian desert who had few permanent structures of any kind. As the religion expanded, however, it converted Christian houses of worship into mosques and gradually began imitating Romano-Christian architecture in its own constructions. Ibn Khaldun points out that in North Africa the constructions built by the Arabs themselves did not last very long because of the Arabs’ sloppiness, poor materials, and lack of knowledge of building techniques.

In Spain, Muslim rulers constructed by cannibalizing columns and other building materials from Roman and Visigothic churches. According to Arab sources, e.g., much of the Great Mosque of Cordoba was “built with the materials of demolished churches brought to Cordoba on the heads of the Christian captives.” Even the technique of alternating red brick and white stone employed in constructing the arches of that celebrated jewel of Moorish architecture is adopted from a Roman technique called opus vittatum mixtum that can still be seen in surviving Roman aqueducts in Spain. The mosque’s mosaics are of Greek manufacture.

Popularizers of the myth of the Andalusian Paradise like to emphasize all the things we can “learn” from the history of Moorish Spain, but on closer inspection these turns out to be nothing more than the principles such writers already wish to believe in apart from any historical study: tolerance, feminism and multiculturalism. Why should anyone bother to learn Arabic and study the records of Medieval Spain in order to find out that women should be independent, religions tolerant, and different cultures able to live side-by-side in harmony, when all these things can easily be learned from reading the New York Times? Such a mindset does not provide “lessons from the past“; it guarantees that we will never be able to learn anything from the study of the past.

Worse, some scholars are elevating this present-centered historical narcissism into a matter of principle. In the view of one influential school of thought, scholars ought to approach the past with present-day concerns firmly in mind, rather than attempting to understand the past on its own terms. Some academic proponents of the “Andalusian paradise” are perfectly frank about their desire to employ historical scholarship in the service of the contemporary multicultural project.

Part and parcel of this academic trend is a conscious effort to downgrade the West which, as Fernandez-Morera says, “often culminates in a denial of its very existence.” On this view, the “West” (always placed in quotation marks) is a mere essentialist construction: the Spanish Christian population subjugated by Muslims in the eighth century did not have enough in common with Christian populations across the Pyrenees or elsewhere to justify considering them all as parts of a single civilizational entity that might be called “the West” or “Christendom.” Islam, inexplicably, escapes both placement between quotation marks and the charge of being an essentialist construction.

Contemporary historiography concerning Muslim Andalusia is thus yet one more front in the great struggle of our time: that of our declining white European civilization against a multitude of enemies, both internal and external.

James O'Meara
Well, just take a look at the author’s presentation of the Visigoths above. The Visigoths were INVADERS who ruled only by reliance on the Papal powers, and hence were — unlike other mediaeval kingdoms — totally under the Papal thumb, even converting from the Arian “heresy“. Need I point out that the Papal power was ALSO alien — Semitic, in fact? Hatred of the Visigoths, who imposed the full panoply of Christian “moral” superstitions on the native Spaniards was a key factor in welcoming the Moslems. Our author would have you believe that the Visigoths were veritable Catos.
Ole Olesen
“It remains a fact,” says the Jewish Encyclopedia, “that the Jews, either directly or through their co-religionists in Africa, encouraged the Mohammedans to conquer Spain.” (2) In 709 the Arab general Tarik led an army of Berbers, in which there were many African Jews, across the straits. Defeating and slaying King Roderigo, with the aid of Christian traitors, at the great battle of Jerez de la Frontera, they carried death in all directions through the peninsula. Wherever they went, the Jews threw open to them the gates of the principal cities, so that in an incredibly short time the Africans were masters of all Spain save the little kingdom of the Asturias in the northern mountains, where the Christian survivors who were unwilling to accept Islam reassembled and prepared to win back their heritage. [Walsh, William Thomas (2014-12-31). Isabella of Spain: (Illustrated) (Kindle Locations 153-159). . Kindle Edition.]
Ole Olesen
WITHOUT COMMENT ( I may have some ) Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, p. 485. Rabbi Lewis Browne in his Stranger Than Fiction, p. 196, says that “under the tolerant rule of the Mohammedans, the Jews began to prosper. They who had been poor and bedraggled pedlars for centuries, now became wealthy and powerful traders. They travelled everywhere, from England to India, from Bohemia to Egypt. Their commonest merchandise in those days was slaves. On every highroad and on every great river and sea, these Jewish traders were to be found with their gangs of shackled prisoners in convoy.”
Pierre de Craon
You might consider looking for the books on Spain by William Thomas Walsh (d. 1949), especially his very detailed, studiously researched biographies of Isabella and Philip II. My recollection is that the former in particular has quite a bit on the “glories” of Spain under the Moors. (Full disclosure follow-up: It’s probably forty years since I last looked closely at these books, so my recall of the Isabella book’s scope may reasonably be described as dicey. Back in the sixties, when I was in college, Walsh’s writings were certainly very highly regarded.)

Apropos these books, you might find interesting the following excerpt from an Amazon reviewer’s comment. In my view, they do Walsh great credit.
Walsh has been criticized for being anti-Semitic. He was. He thought the Talmud the most evil collection of lies in the history of the world. He was also a supporter of Franco and right wing dictatorships generally. But in his time, being anti-Semitic was as respectable as being anti-Communist or anti-homosexual or anti-Muslim.

Apropos the Jewish role in Moorish Spain, think of the story that the final chapters of Genesis tell of Joseph running Egypt. Apply that to Spain, mutatis mutandis, and you’ll have a pretty clear picture of the state of affairs. ========================
Morea seems to overlook reports by many early historians (Will Durant included) that, as far back as our histories go, Judeo-Bolsheviks (by whatever masks they wore) were favored tax-collectors of kings and bishops, feudal lords and popes for at least 4000 years, possibly longer.

Durant even reports that Islam was invented and established by an Arabian Jew. Its purpose was to slough off a large segment of peasant Jews so tax-collecting Jews could more collect taxes from them with more ferocity than if such peasants were fellow religionists. It was, more or less, a duplication of the invention of Christianity by the Jewish tax collector Paul.
When Muslims rampaged across northern Africa, after a city was defeated, its native rulers were removed and replaced with Judeo-Bolsheviks. To imagine that such JB’s served at the pleasure of Muslims goes strongly against the nature of tyranny and early historians. They were JB’s who organized Muslim armies and supplied them with food, equipment and directions. Muslims, as ordinary ignorant peasants cannot do this. To carry off the expedition of conquering and occupying northern Africa and half of Spain required a small nation of cutthroats and thieves who had centuries of experience. It was a precursor of the Russian slaughter of 1917: it required a nation of cutthroats and bandits of about 3 million inside Russia and outside Russia – one to staff the organs of terror, farms and factories seized in Russia; and the other (outside) to misrepresent what was happening in Russia. Don’t take my word for it, they will tell you all about it – if you know where to look. Exodus, part one = (      


Return to Joseph McCabe Selection

Back to Table of Contents

Scanning, HTML Rae West. First upload 98-06-15