Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Lessons of History

I managed to dig up this interesting article about an Egyptian tourist's travels through Spain. I have never read an account about Andalusia that was not laced with lament and sorrow at the loss of such a jewel. That makes me wonder how I will feel should I ever decide to visit the Alhambra, Cordoba and other such sites. The pictures are breathtaking and any history buff would recognise that feel of pining to see what it would have been like in it's heyday.

What the Arabs of today should recognise, is that the people who lived in the Andalus and made it what it was are long dead, their bones ground to dust. They were different people and thought differently, and any arrogant claim of some lineage that has come down through the ages is misguided. What we can do however, is learn from them. Their splintering into "Tawa'if" and constant infighting had made them easy prey for invasion and subsequently, ethnic cleansing. History tells us that the rest of the Arab world, apart from Palestine, has managed to largely avoid that fate, yet still, the trademark bickering and conspiring of our present governments remains hardly different to the chieftains who ran the Tawa'if over 1000 years ago. Should we the Arabs still lament the Andalus? Perhaps, but one thing is for certain, we must continue to take heed of the lessons those Andalusians left us so long ago. They may be long gone, but those who replaced them in many ways are still with us, and continue to see the Arab world and culture as a rival to be eliminated or assimilated.

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