The First Renaissance in Arab Cordoba / Khurtuba
Cordoba or Khurtuba is a city located in Andalusia in southern Spain, and is the capital of the province of Cordoba. It lies upon the river Guadalquivir. It has human history tracing back to the Neanderthal man of nearly 32000 BC. It was an Iberian and Roman city in the ancient times. In 206 BC it was conquered by the Romans and at its time of Julius Caesar, it was the capital of the Roman province of Hispania. From 552 to 572 BC, it occupied an important place in the Byzantine Empire. In the Middle Ages it became the capital of an Islamic caliphate. In 711 an Arab or Berber Muslim army captured it and soon in 716 it became a provincial capital in subordinate to the Caliphate of Damascus. By 766 it was made the capital of the Independent Arab Muslim emirate of al-Andalus which later became the Caliphate itself.
The term Caliphate or Khilafah refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the entire Muslim community. It is an aristocratic and constitutional republic and its Constitution is derived from the Constitution of Medina. It was initially led by the disciples as a continuation of the religious, political and social system that was established by Islam. The first four rightly guided Caliphs were Abu Bakr, Osman, Omar and Ali (R.As).
But after the first four of them, the Caliphate was claimed by some dynasties named, Umayyads, Abbasids, Ottomans and Al-Andalus. Under the Umayyads, the Caliphate grew rapidly in territory. Islamic rule expanded westward across North Africa and into Hispania and eastward through Persia and ultimately to the ancient lands of Indus Valley, in modern day Pakistan. This made it one of the largest unitary states ever in history and one of the few states to ever extend direct rule over three continents (Africa, Europe, and Asia).
During the Ummayad dynasty, Hispania was an integral province of the Ummayad Caliphate ruled from Damascus, Syria. When the Caliphate was seized by the Abbasids, Al-Andalus (the Arab name for Hispania) split from the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad to form their own caliphate. The Caliphate of Córdoba ruled most of the Iberian Peninsula from the city of Cordoba from 929 to 1031. This period was characterized by remarkable flourishing in technology, trade and culture. Many of the masterpieces of Spain were constructed in this period, including the famous Great Mosque of Cordoba which still stands there. It has been estimated that in the 10th and the beginning of the 11th century, Cordoba was the most populous city in the world and during these centuries, it became the intellectual center of Europe. The population is guessed to have always been in between 5,00,000 to 10,00,000.
It was one of the most advanced cities in the world as well as a great cultural, political, financial and economic centre. It had 3,000 mosques, splendid palaces and 300 public baths, and received what was then the largest library in the world, housing from 400,000 to 1,000,000 volumes. It was example of the Golden Age of Islamic history period. During this time, philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world are credited with a period of contribution to scientific knowledge, cultural arts, civilization and architecture, either by developing earlier traditions or by innovation. A substantial degree of historic Islamic intellectual innovation occurred in this Islamic Golden age, and it was this which helped to bring Europe out of the dark ages and brought about the resonance (rebirth) of Europe, Islam brought the light back into a world of darkness. But general history books hid or rarely confessed the Muslim part of Europe in details or neither showed any sense of gratitude to the Cordoba-origin of the famous Renaissance movement which left the entire world changed forever. It is impossible to logically agree that the Renaissance sprung suddenly without any core origin. Cordoba was the largest city in the world at that time and people would travel from all over the world to study in its Universities. The city was considered the center of learning. Renaissance meant rebirth but rebirth could not take place suddenly in Europe from nothing. It was Cordoba which lit the first powerful spark. The others were just modifiers. An example is of the Italian arts which clearly showed Muslim influence. And by making some changes they called it their artisans. In the most common book for beginners for students of English (Page91-92 English Literature William J. Long, Kalyan Publishers, New Delhi, 2002) there is just a slight mention of the Arab scientific invention. The Greeks get over-importance. In other books, there might be famous lines in the introductory paragraphs of the chapters related to Renaissance literature, that suddenly the grass started to look greener on the other side of the fence. This clever and confusing sentence is just hiding the truth of Cordoba. The meaning of Andalusia is ‘green’ and the sentence just hedges Cordoba’s truth.