The truth of Europe’s indebtedness to the Moors



The legacy of the Moors and their contribution to the development of European culture has been largely ignored, hidden, or denied. Western scholarship has generally obscured their significance and those who would expose the truth of Europe’s indebtedness to the Moors have been overlooked This weekend an event by the Windrush Foundation aims to change that.

Al-Andalus, it is a name that many Europeans tried to forget. It is the former name of Spain and Portugal when it was under Afro-Muslims rule. The image of the ‘Moors’ is similar to the image of other Euro-Muslim civilisation (the Ottoman Turks for example), which is one of dark-skinned savages who threatened Christendom (Europe). For Europeans the year 1492 is considered a glorious victory. It was the year that Euro-Christianity finally expelled the ‘Moors’ from Spain, and to make things even better, it was the same year that Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas (which Europeans then began to colonize).

However, to reduce the history of the ‘Moors’ to barbarism and militancy is to do a huge disservice to a civilisation, culture and a history steeped in intellectual, scientific, philosophical and political progress. The ‘Moors’ ruled Spain between 711 to 1492 and was made up of North and Sub-Saharan Africans, Middle Eastern Arabs and Spaniard Europeans. It was a civilisation famed for its tolerance. Despite being ruled by Muslims, Al-Andalus was overwhelming Christian with a large Jewish population.

The three faiths co-existed with one another and they together created a powerful civilisation. The influence of this hybrid civilisation is still with us today - the University of Oxford came into existence in order to emulate the Universities in ‘Moorish’ Spain. The Moors gave us the likes of Averroes (Ibn Rusd) who was an African philosopher, psychologist, theologian, astronomer, mathematician, physicist and medical doctor amongst other things. His legacy endures to this day and he is credited with being the ‘founding father of secular thought in Western Europe’, without which the enlightenment would not have been possible. 

Remembering the importance of the Moors is what the Windrush Foundation is presenting this Saturday. The Windrush Foundation was set-up in 1996 to promote good race and community relations. It aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote the heritage of African Caribbean and other minorities. The event includes a presentation from Author Robin Walker, who will speak about the legacy of the Moors and why they are important. The event will also include music from Audrey Scott, who used to be part of the ‘Lovers Rock Group’ and had hit with ‘Goodbye My Love’. There will also be comedy from Travis Jay as well as, a musical performance from Creative Unity Steel.

The event will take place at 7pm on Saturday 8th June 2013 at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Tottenham Green, London, N15 4RX.

For information or to buy tickets, contact the Box Office - 020 8365 5450.

Usman Butt