Travel Guide to
Muslim Europe With travel writer and European Muslim heritage specialist Tharik Hussain
The Sons of Cordoba
he city of Cordoba in central Andalusia, Spain, was one of the most enlightened cities in the medieval world under the Muslim Umayyad rulers. Its streets had lighting, there were public baths and hospitals in every neighbourhood, and its libraries were stocked with more books than the whole of northern Europe. In fact,
Al Hakem II - Caliph
Cordoba remains the only caliphate city ever established in the western hemisphere - a place that was also home to some of the world’s great luminaries. A few of these ‘sons of Cordoba’ are celebrated today through a series of statues found scattered across the city.
Al Gafeqi - Doctor and Optician Studying the works of contemporary Muslim doctors as well as the works of Hippocrates, this 12th-century man of medicine was known for his expertise in optics, especially his skill in removing cataracts. Al Gafeqi was probably the first modern ‘optician’ to highlight the importance of diet in retaining good eyesight. His most famous work, Guide to the Oculist, was seen as an outstanding historical, scientific and literary achievement. A copy of it remains in the library of El Escorial Monastery near Madrid.
Location: Plaza del Cardenal Salazar Son of the first ever European Caliph, Al Hakem II was renowned in front of the Faculty of Philosophy for his love of knowledge and often bought books from places and Arts as far afield as Kufa and Constantinople. His reign saw one Where in the world: The statues are spread out through the of the first great translation movements in the Muslim world historic centre of Cordoba, the city in the Spanish region of as he commissioned the Arabisation of important Latin and Andalusia - derived from Al-Andalus, the historic Arabic name Greek works. Al Hakem’s library was reportedly better stocked for the Iberian peninsula under Umayyad rule. than the rest of the continent and he also employed one of Cordoba’s greatest female minds, Lubna of Cordoba, as his In and out: The best way to get to Cordoba is to fly into Malaga personal secretary. Blond haired and dark-eyed, he is said to airport and get the train north. The old town is a short walk have had a gentle nature and is also remembered for opening from Cordoba’s main train station. twenty schools for impoverished children, expanding the city’s Great Mosque and completing the fabled palatial city, Madinah Top tips: Take a trip out to the ruins of Madinah Az Zahra Az Zahra. He died in 976. completed by Al Hakem II, which is a short bus ride from Cordoba and appreciate the heights reached by the caliphs of Location: Plaza Campo Santo de los Martires Al Andalus. This palatial city, now in ruins was built when Al Andalus was arguably the most enlightened city in the world a story told through the site’s impressive museum. 22 islam August 2018 today