Religious groups in Mediterranean in 900 a. d.

The representative sample is Spain, a Mediterranean country. Mediterranean World, by and large, had gone through many inter-religious wars and convulsions, until for a change a time of greatest glory arrived in the Middle Ages. During this period, the Muslims and Christians were able to live in peace and harmony. This resulted in the practice of cosmopolitan culture, and people of both the religions lived in mutual trust creating unique blend of Western Civilization, where in the contribution both the Christianity (Western) and Islam was more or less equal.

Notwithstanding the dominance of the Muslims (Islam), religious harmony was the hallmark of the era. But the peaceful situation did not last for long. Arabic (related to Islam) was the primary language of cultural preservation and socio-spiritual progress during 800 a. d. in the Mediterranean history. In the initial stages, the language and religion (Islam) were imposed on the people. The impact of Islam was greatest during this century. It remained so between the 7th and 13th centuries. Every religion is linked or associated with a particular language like Arabic to Islam!

The language prospers means the concerned religion thrives and vice versa. During the ascendance of Arabic language, Hebrew and Latin had also an important roles to play. They were clerical languages. At the same time, Arabic, apart from being the clerical language, was the language of poetry and prose as well . The califal library in Islamic Cordoba alone held 4000 books -the librarian’s catalog held information on some 600,000 volumes. The laymen of Spain do not have the knowledge of the immense contribution of the Muslim culture beyond the architectural remnants.

But they celebrate with great pomp and fanfare the festival of the rout of the Muslim pirates. Notwithstanding the dominance of the Muslims (Islam), religious harmony was the hallmark of the era. To the eighth century Muslims, Iberian Peninsula was the entry point. The emotional, physical and spiritual atmosphere was perfect. Cultural progress and constructive socio-spiritual activities were possible under such circumstances. Exquisite architectural masterpieces were built and scholarly writing was encouraged, and this had a profound influence on the life in Mediterranean area and many other parts of the world, for centuries to come.

This is the greatest contribution of Muslims to this region in 900 a. d. “The Muslims who entered Iberia through the Gibraltar Strait in 711 defeated the Visigoths and moved up to the Pyrenees and maintained their stay for several centuries. Finally, with the fall of Granada in 1492, the Muslim presence was ended by Christian forces from the north. The Muslim-led civilization of medieval Iberia, a. k. a. Al-Andalus made many noteworthy contributions to humanity. ” The influence of Islam that began in the early 7th Century continued till the 11thcentury.

The greatness of this civilization and the dominance of Arabic language have been highlighted by many scholars in their works. There were scholars who worked exclusively on copying Quran. That was not the era of the printing press. Book worship was the dominant quality of the Islamic polity. The Islamic Rulers encouraged building book-treasurers. So, Islam combined with Arabic language had profound influence in Spain and on the Mediterranean world during 900 a. d. It is pertinent to note here, what happened in 800 a. d. would contribute to the subsequent developments in 900 a. d. onwards. It was a period of positive and negative developments.

The constitution of the new Empire sealed the break between the West and the East. It perhaps gave the West a new Roman Empire. Muslims incursions began to take place with more intensity across the Mediterranean, and they did not hesitate to impose their language and religion on the populace of the conquered territory. Trade across the Mediterranean came to a standstill and the ports, through which the merchandise arrived, were deserted with no commercial activity. The sea was no longer a safe route for commerce, because chaos prevailed all over the interior Mediterranean region initially.

Due to the relentless pressure put by the invading Islamic outfits, Western Christian Civilization moved north. This resulted in the suspension of the contact with eastern, Byzantine Christianity. Over a period, they developed and formed into two distinct Christian groups. The common identity was lost. This situation worked to the advantage of Islam in the long run because their ‘religious enemies’ stood divided. Their hold and influence on the Mediterranean became even stronger. In this process, the replacement of Christianity of the southern and western Mediterranean areas by Islamic outfits had a catastrophic effect on Europe.

In certain areas, a biased tax system was introduced to promote Islam. Additional taxes were imposed on Christians, but those who embraced Islam, were exempted. The religious persecution became order of the day. So the factors that contributed to the Muslim ascendancy were: patronage by the rulers for this religion, religious persecution for subjects practicing other religions, encouragement to literature in Arabic language, relentless pressure of the invading Islamic outfits on the people of Spain and the Mediterranean region.