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How did Muslims affect European (especially Spanish) Literature

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This is because after the Abbasids took power and established the Abbasid caliphate, the Umayyad dynasty had no choice but to flee. His only option was for this dynasty to move to Córdoba, now Spain. There they defeated the Visigothic king Don Rodrigo in the battle of Guadalete, thus began the Arab domination of the Iberian Peninsula that would last eight centuries, until 1492 (and more attenuated until 1608). And thanks to that they managed to form their own caliphate in Spain. This would initiate a period of Muslim partial control in the Iberian Peninsula, this caused that Spain was Islamized and its name happened to be Al-Andalus. In its heyday, the Umayyad Caliphate would control the entire peninsula, except the small Catholic kingdom of Asturia. Although the Umayyad Caliphate would be dissolved in several kingdoms, the Muslim influence would persist in this region until the conquest of the last Muslim fortress in Iberia by the Catholic kings in 1492.

After the Islamic conquest,Hispania adopted a large extent of the customs, the culture and the language of the invader and that influence played an important role in its historical evolution. The Andalusian society that populated it, was composed of Arabs and Berbers, who mixed in fertile mestization with the Hispanic Romans and Visigoths, already settled in the Peninsula. But the historical and social transcendence that it had, and the importance of the magnificent cultural legacy left to Europe, both in the arts, as in the sciences, in the language and in the traditions.

Nowadays the influence of the Muslims in the literature of Europe is evident but more specifically in Spain where it obtained the influence in the toponymy (etymological study of the proper names of a place) and the general lexicon (due to the prolonged Arabic presence), as well as in the culture in general, its way of doing and telling things, reciting poems, writing them and feeling them. Since Arabic was imposed as the main language, although most of the population used Romance languages ​​(derived from Latin) many used both languages. That bilingualism reflected in literature.It is about this topic which will be talked about on this essay.We will discuss the effects of Muslim presence in Spain and how it helped formed the modern day spanish language,directly affecting literature.We will also talk about how muslims stories helped inspire authors and not only spanish ones but also European ones. Lastly we will discuss how through an unfortunate accident involving religious warfare,one of the most famous pieces of world literature was written.

The most notable impact Muslims had on Spanish literature was on the language itself.The prolonged stay of Muslims in the peninsula made them have a large contribution to the second most spoken language in the world. With over 4000 spanish words deriving from Arab,one can realize the vast influence the arabic language had on its western counterpart.Vast quantities of this words are due from the cultural innovations the muslims created such as the words:”Ajedrez”(chess),”quimica”(chemistry) and “Algebra”(Algebra).The influence does not stop in the words originating from the arabic language but also in grammatical and lexical rules posed by the arabic language,directly influencing Spanish literature.This makes the Arabic language along with others such as some pre-roman languages,Latin and visigothic,one of the languages that formed modern day Spanish.

It is also in the muslim occupied lands of Iberia where poems called “moarcas” were written. “Moarcas” were poems that ended with “Jarchas” a smaller type of poem.They were written in either arab or mezoarabe(the language spoken in muslim occupied hispana).This poems were written by the diverse population the caliphate possessed(more on that later).The “Moarcas” and “Jarchas” were one of the first pieces of poetry written and serve as an example of medieval literature.

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Oriental books also served as a sort of guidelines for many Spanish writers in writing their books.An example of the impact of occidental book on Spanish literature can be found by seeing the certain parallels drawn upon from “the one thousand and one nights” on books such as “Milagros” by Gonzalo de Berceo and “La doncella de Teodor” by Lope de vega.Another example worth mentioning is the translation to Spanish by one of Alfonso X brothers of the “Sendebar”,one of the most popular parts of “the one thousand and one nights” .

Another curious way that Muslims influenced Spanish literature was by allowing other cultures,such as the Jewish one,to have an impact in it.The areas controlled by Muslims in Hispana were very diverse and the coexistence between persons of difference believes was achieved.A result of this was,along with the creations of institutes such as the “academy of translators of Toledo” by Alfonso X was the collaboration between christians, muslims and Jewish people in not only creating but also translating many works.The works translated were mostly Roman and Greek philosophy which were brought to Europe by the Muslims.Unlike medieval Europe that was controlled by the church not to look at literary pieces like philosophies,the muslims were not deterred from acquiring knowledge.Not only did they bring pieces of philosophy to Spanish literature but also more practical knowledge such as medicine or mathematics that were no achieved in Europe due to the aforementioned stagnation.This knowledge would enrich the literature of the era,as the muslims were able to bring back pieces of information,long forgotten.

Looking away from Spain and focusing more on Europe as a whole,one can still see many examples of Muslim influence in Europe.Miguel Asin Palacios was a Spanish priest and Scholar who studied Muslim influence in Spanish literature.His works is one of the many ways to see and understand the impacts muslims had on this literary field.He is most famously known for suggesting the possible influence of Islam in the creation of one of the most well known book of all time,Dantes Alighieri “The Divine Comedy”.The priest draws parallels between the “Night journey” and the aforementioned book. The “Night Journey” also called “isra and Mi’raj” is a part of the Quran that refers to the one day trip Muhammad took from Mecca to Jerusalem in a horse like creature and the eventual ascension of Muhammad to heaven.Once in heaven Muhammad would meet with many important religious figures of the Abrahamic religions.This list of people included:Jesus,Moses,John the Baptist,Idris,etc.In his stay there he would not only meet but also debate with them,as he did with Moses to reduce the numbers of daily prayers.Palacios advocates that this Theological trip taken by Muhammad is eerily similar to the one embarked by Dantes in his book as in it not only does he go on a spiritual trip but he also interacts with famous people from history,just like Muhammad.Muslim influence was definitely not the only inspiration Alligheris book drew from as it is also undoubtedly based on Virgil’s poem “Aeneid” as it is the aforementioned author who guides Dante through his spiritual journey.While not taking away credit from neither Virgil or Dante,Palacios indicates that muslim presence was present in the writing of this book.This signifies the influence muslims possessed outside of the boundaries of the Iberian peninsula.

The “Divine comedy” is not the only popular western book to originate in part due to Muslim influence.The creation of the most popular book in the hispanic world, “Don Quixote” is a result of an engagement between christian and Islamic forces.In 1571,the Holy league would face the Ottoman empire in the decisive battle of Lepanto.The leagues fleet would defeat its muslims opponent,making them suffer over 40 thousand casualties.The league would only suffer 10 thousand casualties and some injured men.One of this injured men was Miguel de Cervantes who after suffering injuries in the battle and being imprisoned in Argel,returned to Spain and dedicated his life to writing.

What has been mentioned here are just a few examples of how muslims have affected western literature.Though there are plenty of more examples one can see,the ones presented here were chosen due to the large impacts this pieces of literature had. Both the divine comedy and Don Quixote are internationally recognized and it was because of this that both were chosen as an example.We also choose to include this books as an example because of the circumstances in which the muslims affected the writing of both of this literary pieces.We wanted to make it clear that not all of this contributions were done positively such as Don Quixote which took a man to lose his hand for it to be written;but a lot of their contributions were done with no bloodshed such as the inspiration for the divine comedy in which muslims simply served as a inspiration for it.This topic was chosen not only because of its interesting background but also because it can serve a purpose nowadays.. In this essay we hope we were able to achieve to bring a broader knowledge of the impact of Muslims and therefore Islam to reader. Recently Islam has been classified as a highly controversial topic,with a lot of people having very negative views towards it and believing that they have apported nothing to the western world. This is why this essay has such a big importance for us as it is an statement on the benefits of multiculturalism. The impact muslims have left to the entire world is vast and just by looking at a single factor it contributed to,such as literature and the spanish language which is what was talked about in this essay,one can realize this. Either serving as inspiration as was the case for Dante,forcing Servants to retire to a live of writing or even by helping create a language which is spoken by millions today,muslims have affected literature in a large scale. As mentioned previously,Islam is filled with prejudice from a lot of people that are against it,this leads us who know about history to serve as defenders to those who are being wronged by incorrect assumptions.The same ways values such as tolerance can be used to face this topic,we believe that so can history. We hope this essay has served as a small example of this by showing how connected things are and how things you thought came strictly from one place,might have a more diverse origin.

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How did Muslims affect European (especially Spanish) Literature. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/how-did-muslims-affect-european-especially-spanish-literature/
“How did Muslims affect European (especially Spanish) Literature.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/how-did-muslims-affect-european-especially-spanish-literature/
How did Muslims affect European (especially Spanish) Literature. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/how-did-muslims-affect-european-especially-spanish-literature/> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
How did Muslims affect European (especially Spanish) Literature [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/how-did-muslims-affect-european-especially-spanish-literature/
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