Islam’s influence and presence in Spain dates back to the 9th century, when Muslims emigrated to the west. In 1492, most Muslims were expelled and the few who managed to stay back publicly proclaimed Catholicism to avoid expulsion. (Spain, Demographics, Euro-Islam info. Country profiles, euro-islam.info/pages/spain.html)
The powerful Muslim armies in their quest for expansion began invading countries that stretched from the Western borders of India, across Persia and Northern Africa, to Spain and Southern France. In order to establish their faith in these countries, they constructed Mosques and prayer halls of architectural brilliance. They remained for 800 years in Europe until in 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella over-rode them.
During their reign, the Muslims perceived the need to establish artistically styled monuments to help expand their faith and compete with other religions. Their success in this endeavor led to the presence of today’s remarkable Arts & Architectures (The development of Islamic art: Graeco-Roman, Lesson 5 Art part: Islamic art, www.dartmouth.edu)
2.0 Executive Summary
Art was predominant during the 7th to 13th century Europe. With the arrival of the Muslims, art was not just artistic, but it was purposeful as well. However, not all Islamic art had a specific religious purpose, unique to the Islamic faith. One of the most distinguishing features of Islamic art is the absence of an image of religious context. Idolatry is considered a grave sin. It is believed that any form of human worship is profane to the idea of Allah as the only God. This clearly distinguishes Islamic art from Christian and/or other religious arts.
In architecture, painting, and carpet-weaving, Muslims limit their portrayals of humans or animals. To Muslims, decoration meant use of calligraphy, flowers and leaves. Geometrical and floral patterns also adorned Islamic art and architecture (The Islamic World to 1600, www.ucalgary.ca)3.
This research paper will strive to identify the influences and brilliance of different Muslim art and architectural in Spain, and its impact on non-Muslim Spanish people. The paper also looks at the various centers of art in Spain.
3.0 Islamic Art and Architecture
With the use of colors and balance between design and form, Islamic art creates a visual impact. Such is its artistic appeal that it transcends distance in time and space, as well as differences in language, culture, and creed. Islamic art not only invites a closer look but also beckons the viewer to learn more. Spain, along with other European countries like France, Germany, and Austria became targets for Muslim expansionism. The army brought with them their cultural and spiritual ideology. Their most important building was the mosque, followed by the royal palace. Early mosques were square in shape. Gradually with expansion in size and strength, this requirement led to larger and more elaborate prayer halls. In the late 8th century, Spain saw the construction of the Mosque of Cordoba, with a courtyard in the centre, roofed arcades, and minarets; towers that extend vertically. This mosque had a spacious hall to accommodate more worshippers, a definite move to encourage more and more worshippers and spread Islam. They were built solid to withstand external influences, a contrast to their palaces, which were built from unbaked bricks and/or plaster. The Muslim rulers were not too keen on permanent structures, preferring to abandon them later. The purpose to spread their religion led them to construct significant architectural marvels that would leave a lasting impression on the people. A few of these are mentioned herein: