A post from one of our Spanish readers, El Cid.
I truly believe that the questioning and discussing of Islam, as the brave Geert Wilders and the Motoons have done, is the key to victory.
The Martyrs can teach a lesson, too: how the truth sets us free.
The story of the Martyrs of Cordoba : a Triumph of Christian Resistance to Islam in Medieval Spain
When a monk named Isaac left his monastery in the year 851 AD and took the long road that led to the Roman bridge into Cordoba, he was preparing a public declaration of Christian faith. It would be an amazing defiance, one which would shake the landscape of Andalusia and help to alter the future of Spain. Isaac knew it would shock the Muslim authorities and that he would be punished for what he was about to do. He was never to know the true magnitude of his act or the far-reaching consequences of his words.
As he entered the Emir’s mighty palace, and went past the entrance of the harems (filled with captured Spanish women and slaves taken in the perpetual Jihad of the Christian north) the palace guards greeted him and let him pass. They had known him in his other life as grand secretary of the Caliph (katib adh-dhimam), the highest position held by any Christian. No one that day could have guessed this Spanish aristocrat was preparing himself to confront – in elegant court Arabic – the head of Andalusia’s revered Islamic judges. For this man that we know of only as Isaac, it would be the first time in his life that he would state his Christian beliefs publicly.
Isaac understood the Koran and Malikite jurisprudence as well as the legal discrimination of the Dhimma; he knew full well what to expect as a result of his Credo. There would follow a trial and swift death. Facing the assembled representatives of the Emir of Cordoba, he gathered his words, speaking calmly as he broke the most important commandment for survival as an infidel under Muslim rule: silence about your beliefs so as not to offend Muslims.
That encounter between infidel and master was the first chapter of the Martyrs of Cordoba. It proved to be merely the opening salvo of resistance. The subsequent struggle of wills between the subdued Christians of Spain and their Muslin conquerors launched ten years of trouble for the Muslims authorities of Spain. It also set the persecuted Europeans of the Iberian peninsula on the road to freedom. In spite of the renewed repression from the agents of the Emir, Andalusia would see a mass exodus of vast numbers of Christians. Escaping to the forested mountains of Asturias in the north, they deprived the Emir of his yearly revenue from the jizya, the life blood of the growing Muslim power in Andalucía.
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This story has resonance even today; it offers an answer to the present assault on the West from Muslims who still demand submission and silence, with not one utterance of criticism permitted towards Islam, Muslims, or their Koran.
After an absence of three years from the luxuries of the Emir’s court and living in retirement as a humble monk, Isaac had requested to speak with the Islamic qadi (judge) about the Koran. Upon seeing his old servant, the qadi perhaps expected him to recite the shahadah, as many others had done before him in order to recover their jobs and to prosper as muwallads (new Muslims) in the strengthening world of Arab Spain.
Instead of reciting “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet”, Isaac calmly declared in the language of the Koran his belief in the divinity of the Christian God and openly criticized Muhammad as a flawed man. By this declaration and criticism, Isaac had gone beyond the limits of the much vaunted convivencia. He was quickly condemned and beheaded; his headless body was suspended upside down on the edge of the river, near the bridge he had passed just the day before.
Thus ended the life of a Spanish Visigoth aristocrat who exposed the hypocrisy of the convivencia, a flawed peace which contained many limits and intolerance by Muslims toward the people of the book.
It is hard for modern day sensibilities to understand this dramatic choice by a man of privilege who would give up a comfortable life filled with Oriental luxuries. It may have been that in considering the future of his children, Isaac’s focus was on the altered cultural landscape of his beloved country. Although relatively peaceful and prosperous at the moment it was slowly being transformed by a rising alien culture. Church towers and their bells were being replaced by the call to prayer of the minarets; Christians were becoming a minority in their own land.
Apologists for Islam and promoters of the myth of the convivencia extol the Dhimma, the Islamic law that they claim allowed Christians to practice their faith in peace. This was far-sighted tolerance, they say. In reality Muslims demonstrated their prowess in dominating and co-opting conquered peoples. One must ask what kind of peace can a people under religious and legal bondage expect? Of what value is a tolerance which hinges on the moods of the masters? How free are those who live within the limits of a self-imposed submissiveness because of their fear of the ever-present Muslim sword? Such thinking is an illusion, a balm for those who are too weak to acquire real peace and security, the security which comes from raising your sword in righteous self-defense. True independence and its reward of freedom can only come through victory over these “masters”.
As the news of Isaac’s execution spread through Cordoba, the Emir’s men quickly took down his body and after cremation cast his ashes into the Guadalquivir. The name for this river still exists on Spain’s modern maps. It originates in the Arabic (al-wadi al kabir (الوادي الكبير) , reminding resentful Muslims that they were once masters in this land but are no more.
Eight new martyrs would come forth in the five days following Isaac’s execution. They declared their faith and died for their actions. This behavior baffled the Muslims and the people of city were perplexed as they tried to come to grips with what would become a growing phenomenon.
The Arab reaction was swift. The Emir ordered the arrest and detention of church leaders in cities across Andalusia. In the words of Eulogies, a lay person who would write down the details as they unfolded (and would later become a martyr himself), “the Muslims were dumbfounded with fear as a result of these events and thought the doom of their republic and the ruin of their kingdom to be at hand.” Though the truth was not quite as drastic as Eulogies said, and the Caliphate of Cordoba would not fall any time soon, from this moment forward the Emirs and qadis in the Arab-built palace, in a city founded by Claudius Merciless and known to the Romans as Corduba, would always be on the defensive.
In the second year of this continuing rebellion, word spread to all of Andalusia’s cities and to the free Kingdoms of the far north. What had begun as a seemingly suicidal act would evolve into military rebellions in Toledo and all the outlying cities which still had a Christian majority.
Even though the Emir would unleash his fierce Berber troops to quash the new resistance, he would never quite command the same level of tyrannical control as his ancestors had experienced in the years just after the Conquest. The steady flouting of the Emir’s authority was undeterred by ever more severe punishments. Year in and year out, more people would come forward openly declaring their faith and speaking the truth about Islam’s most perfect man, a man who knew no limits and used every method of conquest to subdue unbelievers.
This man whom Muslims considered their rôle model was beyond criticism. Yet now he was being openly criticized by the lowliest Spanish priest and peasant. In spite of ever-increasing repression the Muslims were unable to stop these manifestations of pacific resistance. Unlike an earlier wave of victims in Roman times, these martyrs sought out their masters. They openly confronted immutable Islam with the truths and beliefs that they had been forbidden to utter since the surrender of their ancestors in 711.
Bought by the terrible price of their deaths – forty-eight souls in total – the oppressed now wielded a mighty psychological weapon that the Emir was helpless to defeat or even to stop. Soon word would spread to much of Christian Europe. Resistance stiffened and small defeats of Muslim military power began along the bloody Muslim-Christian frontier.
This was not a shot heard ‘round the world; none of the Martyrs used violence. Instead their defiant stance of open opposition, much like the great figures of peaceful resistance from Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr., served as an example to others. These ultimate sacrifices would inspire future armies to fight until the last Moorish banner was taken down from al-Qal’at al-Hamra, the Red Fortress in Granada, some six hundred years in the future.
But it all began with the martyrs of Cordoba.