The Defeat of Islam

Posted on June 25, 2016


In 1492 the last Moorish state of Islam in Spain—Granada– fell to a terrific siege laid by the combined Christian armies of Queen Isabela of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, the first monarchs of what we know as modern Spain.

Moors were what the Spanish called the Muslims who crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in 711 A.D. and overran the old Roman province of Iberia which today is Spain and Portugal.

In the far north of Spain on the remote mountainous coast facing the Bay of Biscay some small Christian kingdoms survived the Moorish invasion and occupation of Iberia. The Moors should have crushed them as well for it was from there, beginning in about 1000 A. D. that the Christians launched what came to be called the “Reconquest” in Spanish history.

The Reconquest see sawed back and forth across Spain for the next half millennium. The Christians slowly regained the momentum over the invaders from Africa. After a long period of intermittent warfare, marked, perhaps surprisingly, by long periods of peace or at the least toleration and co-existence between Christians and Moors, the last caliphate of the Moors in Granada capitulated to the Christians.

The Surrender of Granada

The Surrender of Granada by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz


The Moors had finally been defeated. Now, what to do with them?

It is a question not too unlike what Christian peoples face today.

I know the concept of Christendom and Islam at odds with each other sounds like a couple of troglodytes arguing in a Medieval age tavern over dragons and ogres. Modern people are far removed from these ancient feuds based on equally ancient principles and beliefs. We are after all modern, egalitarian, tolerant, just, and fair.

This is what most of the Western world thought about war just before World War One broke out in 1914. We are an advanced, scientific, rational people who would never plunge the world into something as old fashioned as war.

Today in the name of liberty and rationality and equality we tolerate all faiths and convictions, even those murdering Christians by the dozens, hundreds, and thousands around the world.

Some say ISIS/ISIL is just a radical expression of Islam that can be dealt with expeditiously by: you pick, 1. The U. S. Air Force, 2. The Russian Air Force 3. The Iraqi Army 4. U. S. Special Forces filled with Seals, Rangers, Delta Forces and other fighters, or 5. Any or all of the above, and add your own. Let’s throw in the Israeli Defense Force, or Army. They have yet to lose a modern war or throw in the towel at the combined hatred of virtually the entire Muslim world, but of course they are just Jewish zealots. However, and a big however, they must know something we are missing, or ignoring.

Even Isabela and Ferdinand in 1492, after drubbing the Moorish caliphate gave them good terms initially. You can continue to worship as you wish, even settle disputes in your courts (sharia), but just recognize that we now rule. The Moors objected to the imposition of Christian culture and law and rebellious sentiments quickly broke out in outright rebellion. In 1502 the Queen gave them a choice: convert to Christianity or exile.

That was the beginning of the end of Islam in historic Spain. Jews were also given the same terms in the spring of 1492: convert or leave.

Let’s be up front here. Spanish Catholicism was an immensely orthodox and intolerant expression of Christianity. But Spaniards were under the gun. In 1453 the last bastion of the old Roman empire, Constantinople, fell to the Ottoman Turks who were on the march into Europe. Only the great sea battle of Lepanto, led by the Spanish in league with other Christian princes, in 1571 stopped the Muslims from overrunning the Mediterranean and reaching up into Europe.

What are we to make of this? Were the Spanish crude and massively intolerant in the face of a rationale, peaceful Islam? Believe that and you have turned history on its head.

Who are the aggressive invaders coming into Europe today, and more and more into America, demanding concessions to their faith, their customs, and their laws? They are the heirs of those who crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 711 A.D.

Equally important, what have we learned from knowing all this?

One of the most important lessons is that the Spanish people had imbibed deeply at the well of Christianity. It arrived in Spain probably less than a century after Jesus Christ lived, and Spain’s great warrior saint, St. James, or Santiago, is remembered as one of Jesus’s twelve disciples.

The battle cry of medieval Spanish knights was nothing less than “Santiago y Matamoros,” or St. James and Kill Moors. Christianity need not bend the knee to radical Islam from some erroneously invoked principles of peace and justice and equality.

We are to love all people, indeed, even radical Muslims, and teach them the one true faith and how to convert and so be saved here and for eternity. ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” spoke Jesus very clearly (John 14:6).

If they persist in murdering Christians, then I think we should look to the spirit and actions of an Isabela the Catholic Queen of Castile. She knew her faith and defended it. Would that we do the same.

Published in The Tuscaloosa News as The Defeat of Islam on Sunday June 26, 2016.