Monday 16 September 2013

Talk on Al Andalus by Fulbright Scholar

Al Qamar Academy students and some of the moms were very privileged to hear a superb talk on Al Andalus by Deirdre Dlugoleski on Saturday.

The talk started with an exciting account of how Abdurrahman I, the hunted Ummayyad prince, fled across North Africa in 750 CE, seeking refuge with the Berbers, kins of his princess mother to cross into Spain. "What is the name of this strait" Ms. Dlugoleski asked pointing to the map. "Jebel Tariq" came the response. "Yes, Gibraltar or Jebel Tariq". "In a few years,", she continued, "Abdurrahman managed to unite the Muslim forces in Spain and conquer a major part of Spain. That was the beginning of the Muslim rule in Spain which lasted almost 800 years.

The students saw the Great Mosque of Cordoba built by Abdurrahman - with its signature arches and magnificent hall. They heard how Abdurrahman and his descendants established a unique ethos of cultural and religious tolerance, of intellectual pursuit and of modernity. Spain became the conduit for the discoveries and inventions from the East to the West along with precious items for trade and a significant contributor to the body of human knowledge. "The Renaissance in Europe had its roots in the contributions of Andulus" said Ms. Dlugoleski. And towards the end in the 1400's, when Muslim rule shrank to Granada, was built the beautiful Palace of Alhambra. "Its walls are built with words" said Deirdre, showing pictures of exquisite Quranic calligraphy and typical Islamic sculpture.

An exciting part of the lecture was a short quiz, where the audience were shown Spanish words and asked to guess the Arabic origin. Arroz, Azucar, Azafran were easy, while others had the children smacking themselves with "I should have guessed!"

The "short" question session extended to an hour, with children asking their particular queries and receiving patient replies from Ms. Dlugoleski. This was a wonderful presentation. We hope for more such talks which are enlightening, challenging and a source of discovery of our roots.

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