The History of Islam in Sicily
Channel: Yasir Qadhi
File Size: 20.92MB
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shallow let's do something interesting easy insha Allah and also very fascinating actually I will be traveling to the province of Sicily in a few weeks for an academic conference. And so this got me thinking about the history of Islam in Sicily. So today we'll just summarize a bit of that and inshallah hope it will be sparking a curiosity and you to read more about this WHERE IS Sicily? Sicily is an island that is literally off the coast of Italy, and is also close to North Africa. So Algeria, Tunisia, between Tunisia and Italy, there is an island called Sicily, and there are other islands as well. Muslims ruled Sicily for almost 300 years, almost 300 years. This is one of those
chapters that most people are not aware of. We're all aware of underdose but Underoos is not the only European land that we lost. In fact there are others as well most prominent is Sicily. So very briefly some tidbits are that inshallah we what's our appetite and curiosity and as usual, these hotter as I'm not preparing and I don't have my notes or something is just literally general knowledge. So if I make a mistake in a name or a date in sha Allah, please over look at the concept is what I'm trying to present to you. We're all aware, we should be all aware that it wasn't recommended, but I found out the Allah one who first instituted a Muslim Navy, and then under the
early OMA years, they expanded those first fleets of Muslim ships. They landed on Sicily during the lifetime of the sahaba. We had ships on Sicily, but no conquest could occur. They weren't able to expel the Byzantines or the Christians over there. So they didn't conquer Sicily at that timeframe. What happened fast forward 150 years around 830 ce roughly 830 C. In the time of the Abbas is the glory period of the Abbasids.
A general of Sicily was made a criminal by the pope, the pope said he should be punished for whatever reason he should be executed or punished or whatnot. This general instead of facing up to the punishment, decided to flee to Muslim lands. The Atilla bit dynasty, the outlet bid dynasty, Ira Juan, Tunisia, Libya, this is the Avila bid dynasty. So, he flees to the Avila bids, and he goes to the Emir of the Olympus and he says, I'll help you come invade my land. I'm the general I know everything inside out. I have you know, everything civil war, people want power. He says pointing to your governor and I will help you rule this land. So the me initially goes no, we don't it's you
guys are an island. We have enough problems in this land, etc. One of the scholars, one of the greatest scholars of that land, his name is Asad had been fraught. And he was the last remnants of the student of Imam Malik Ibn Anas, very old man at this time, and he was the one upon whose hands the Maliki madhhab spread in this region, that region is Maliki to this day because of the scholar right. This scholar stood up and said, No, it is obligatory, he's come to you. He's offering you Allah has blessed you with this. How can you refuse In fact, I insist I want to go as well. He was the quality of the upper limits. He was the judge and the senior Mufti of the outer limits a lot of
popularity. So when he insisted the Emir had no choice but to say Allah, Okay, you go with them. So I said they've been fraught, was one of the leaders of the expedition, despite the fact he was very old. And he passed away in Sicily, where his cupboard is to this day in the famous city of Palermo, which is the largest city of Sicily. If you land in Sicily, you're going to be landing in Palermo, and his opera is over there. So around 830 or so the Muslims start their invasion under this general who knew knew the insides out long story short in a few decades, they under they conquer all of Sicily, Sicily comes under the Muslim rule, and series of Muslim rules come as was always the case,
the Ebola bits had an immune over there. Eventually, the Fatimids take over. Eventually, a new dynasty called the COVID dynasty takes over so around 300 years of Muslim rule in Sicily. In this timeframe, they conquered a number of other regions around Sicily, most prominently the island of Malta. Malta was under Muslim rule for a similar timeframe when they come back to Malta. They also launched expeditions up north. They even attacked Rome because Sicily is connected
Almost to the to the, you know, Italian mainland and they had small ports, the ports of Barrie be AR ri, they actually conquered this port on mainland Italy. And they had settlements on the mainland of Italy, not permanent. It's temporary, but they were expelled and so they always retreated to Sicily. So Muslims were never able to establish a permanent presence on the mainland of Italy. They had expeditions and whatnot. It was always in Sicily, in this timeframe, as is the case of Andalus. Slowly but surely, organic conversions, marriages children, eventually the bulk of the island becomes Muslim. Sicily is now majority Muslim, Malta majority Muslim under us eventually majority
Muslim, but the largest concentration of Jews and Christians and Muslim lands is found in Sicily and in Andorra, obviously, because not everybody converts. And this shows us the freedom that the Muslims gave the people that you don't have to convert. So a large population remains upon Christianity and Judaism. Eventually, the rise of Europe, Western Europe now kicks the Muslims out, around what 1230 1240 1250 Around this time anyway, basically 280 years from the beginning of the conquests to 70 years. Now, why would the Muslims kicked out the same reason as Andalus. These are realities that we need to be aware of, we have a very romanticized version of Islamic history, a
very mythologized a very unreal fact to the matter. We have a lot of good, but there's also negatives. There's also things that show us the human nature of our history. The number one reason why the Muslims of those regions lost was because of internal bickering and power fighting assassinations, rulers tried to kill other rulers, you know, coup d'etat was just the standard drama that happens in politics. And I say this because if you have an unrealistic understanding of history, it's going to be harmful in your understanding of the Muslim world. We have lot of ups, but we also have a lot of downs. The number one reason if you read the history of Sicily, just like if
you read the end days of Andalus, your mind just begins to implode what is going on. Everybody's killing everybody else, everybody. This is what happening in Sicily. Number two reason why Muslims lost Sicily is because they are disconnected from the central caliphate. They're in the small island, you're not going to have the troops and the forces that you're going to have in Baghdad that you're going to have an in Damascus that you're going to have in Arabia, it's a small island. So when Western Europe invades, then they don't have the necessary troops. Number three is an internal politics between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity. Again, this is I don't want to get
too confusing. But when Islam was on the rise, when the Prophet system was alive, there was no Western Christianity. There was no Europe, there was no London, Paris, this is all nothing. What you had was Eastern Christianity. What you had was what is now the Eastern torches, the earth, Orthodox churches, slowly but surely, Muslims conquered Eastern Christianity, the Byzantine Empire, and the Western Christianity began to rise up in the vacuum. Europe as we know, it was unknown to the Muslims of the Prophet systems time, but by 901,000 CE, Byzantine Empire is on the down, and Europe is on the rise. So you have European Christianity, the Western version of Christianity, Catholics,
basically because this was a war between the Catholics and the eastern version. There was no Protestants up until 1600s 1550. So Catholics are on the rise and they're a new power, a new force, a new language, they are coming in, eventually they overcome and they take over Sicily. But here's the interesting point. Around 12. What 1250 12 Six years so I have a post yesterday on my Facebook, the first king of Sicily after the Muslims, the Norman king of Sicily is King Roger, King Roger, King, Roger grew up in Muslim Sicily. His teachers were out robes and Muslims, he spoke fluent Arabic. And when he becomes the king, yes, he is a Christian. Yes, he wants to rule like every
politician, and he does become the ruler. When he becomes the ruler. He becomes the most tolerant ruler in all of Europe, to the Muslims. In fact, not just tolerant. Add my admiration. Arabic is an official language of Sicily. Every court edict is read not only in Latin, but in Arabic. The Madeira says the old order that the field schools all allowed to flourish for another unbelievably around, what 180 years or so, almost 200 years. So the Muslims of Sicily under Christian rule are allowed complete freedoms that are unprecedented in any other Christian land. Now, the Muslims of Sicily, by the way, it was in the time of King Roger as well. King Roger was a great patron of the arts and of
science and whatnot, again, coming from the Muslims. And so he was the one who commissioned
In the greatest scholar of the Muslim world at the time, the greatest geographer and historian al eddc, to live in Palermo in his palace, he paid him a stipend for a staggering 15 years for one book. See, this is what happens when you have money. This what happens when you have the power behind you. Money Talks, right? He paid this guy 15 years, the chef and alum to write one book. What was that book, the book of the world, also known as kita, Boo Raja kita. Boo Raja Rogers book is called Rogers book. It was the first Atlas ever done in the history of mankind. That was somewhat accurate. And DDC has a map of the world that is still considered to be the most accurate map for
400 years. Of course, eventually it is supplanted may better are the three C's map, it is called you can google it today. Go back home. Or if you want you online Google right now I'll add C's map you will find it his world is upside down. He has north down here and South up here, but you will recognize it as the world and of course he is a Muslim. So where do you think is the center of the map?
Maka, maka is dead center of the map. So when you see a lady sees map Maccha is dead center. And you can recognize Arabia and we have to look upside down it actually if you turn the idrisi map upside down, you see it he also calculated the circumference of the earth to like 5% precision nobody had calculated, he basically beat lb Rooney. If you listen to my lecture, he made it more accurate than it would be it'd be far more celebratory, then he comes along makes even more accurate. This is keytab Orajel. That is done in Arabic commissioned by King Roger and other books, translations of whatnot are done. What happened to the Muslims of Sicily, obviously politics is going to come into
play Fast forward four or five generations 150 years later, and politics happened between the Muslim world or crusades, this and that internal issues, grumbling between the Christians and Muslims. So a later King says Call us all you Muslims. I will kick you out. He didn't kill them. Because again, they were intertwined in the fabric of society. He couldn't it was not possible to just master and execute. There was still sympathy and whatnot. I will kick you out. But where will you go? Who's going to take you Subhanallah This is one of the most bizarre episodes of Islamic history hardly anybody studies this one knows about it, but you should is very interesting. Where did they go? A
neighboring province in mainland Italy said give them to us. This is the province of Lucero Luc e r e r a Lucero the governor, the king of that province, the ruler of that province wanted the Muslims to all migrate to mainland Italy. lucetta is close to Naples, Naples. The major city is on the other side of Naples right now. It's an abandoned town, very small village. It flourished back then why did it flourish because of the Muslims? Why did this king Governor want the Muslims to come because of the skill set of the Muslims, the Muslims when they came to Sicily, Sicily they transformed Sicily into an agrarian society. They brought their oranges the Buddha to Oz, they brought their
grapes they brought all of these fruits and Sicily was nothing before Islam. During the reign of the Muslims. It became a powerful mighty empire of GDPs so that when King Roger came, King Rogers kingdom became the strongest kingdom of Europe because he's on the back of the Muslims. So the Muslims had talent. The Muslims knew how to
mine the fields and take care of the agriculture. So Lucero has had come to us. So the Muslims 10s of 1000s of them migrated from Sicily to where to mainland Italy. This is around 1200 C 800 years ago. So you had an entire village constructed, it is still around to this day. If you ever go there. One day, I plan to take a trip just for myself. You will see some remnants of the madrasahs and the messages and the tie field schools built by the Muslims of Italy in mainland Italy. And the Muslims were allowed complete independence there were pulled out over there judges they had their own land. They farmed, they made Lucero very powerful then another political issue to generation so you had
two or three generations of Muslims living in mainland Italy, descendants of Sicilian Muslims, then, as you would expect around what 13 Something 13 or 14 or some 1320 I'd forgot exact date around 1300 or so another tyrant comes along and he goes Hollis, and there was some civil war would not call us we're gonna kill or enslave all of you. And so 10s of 1000s of Muslims were either killed or sent to slavery or a third group they managed to negotiate and they fled to Muslim lands are in the neighboring region and those are other places. And so that was the end of Islam in Sicily. Malta was the same. Malta also expelled
of Muslims, but there was one major difference. As for Sicily, the Norman King adopted Latin he allowed Arabic. Eventually when they kicked the Muslims out, Arabic disappeared. As for Malta, they did not change the language. And so the language that was spoken by the Muslims remained in Malta, and it is still spoken to this day. Maltese, not the chocolate candy Maltese the language of Malta unbel unbelievably, is a dialect of Arabic. And it is a European language spoken in Europe. Only people in Malta speak it. It is a dialect of Arabic, but it is obviously unrecognizable to many of us. However, anybody from North Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, if they listen to Maltese, they
will understand 3040 50% of it. And last year or two years ago, I showed a post in Maltese that is written in English script, but it is Maltese. And anybody can understand. I forgot, I don't want to say but either customers do judge to gag if the if the window breaks, right then do such and such, you can actually understand Maltese if you speak North African Arabic, it is the only European country that has that way. Point being okay with this, we conclude. So hello, these are anecdotes that episode was in a history that very interesting for us. But it's not just interesting. It's not just things of the past. These societies impacted Europe as a whole. Europe would not be Europe if
it hadn't interacted with andalas If it hadn't interacted with Sicily and Malta, many things from these societies, many books, much knowledge was transferred over. And much can be said. But for the purposes of this lecture, I'll mention one or two or three things that were many come to my mind, the first of them, which is truly phenomenal. The notion of living with other faiths and tolerance, you guys have to understand.
Christians did not know the meaning of tolerance, forget tolerating Muslims, they would kill and burn fellow Christians who had a slight difference in aqidah, like we're talking shot, very Hanafy type of difference. We're talking within Satanism, two main streams strands, they would kill and persecute fellow Christians. If you study anybody studies, basic European history. You all know this for hundreds of years. That's why they were forced to invent liberalism and secularism because they could not live together as faith based community, this country. How was it founded Christians fleeing from other Christians, Christians who don't have the exact same version of Christianity as
England, they come to this land, the 13 states of the colonies, everyone has a slightly different Christian sect. Why? Because Christians couldn't live together. They saw from Muslims, that Muslims have no problem living with all types of faith communities. And for around two 300 years, Muslim societies were used as role models to preach to fellow Europeans. Hey guys, it is possible. Look at the Muslims. John Locke, the founder of liberalism, as it exists in this country. John Locke read, he has a letter concerning tolerance, read what he has written about Muslims and Islam. He quotes the Muslim societies and he says, Look at Muslim lands, look at the Ottoman Muslims, Mohammed dens
over there. They live in peace with all societies, and there's no problem there. Why can't we do the same? So this notion of tolerance of Lacan de Docomo, Leah Deen, they took it up from the Muslims, they also took many other things. Apricots, Sicilian cuisine by the way, it's very out of apparently, Inshallah, I'll find out a few weeks and I'll sacrifice and taste a few and I'll come back and update you but But I understand what I've been told. Sicilian cuisine is very much influenced by Arabic. The city's names as well color others many color over the color others many cities there's many names like this Sicilian, Italian has many words in Arabic as well. Unlike you
know, Maltese, which is almost fully made from Arabic, Sicilian Italian has some as well. And the final point and I know this is gonna get me to a little bit of trouble but it is funny. One of the things the Muslims left from Sicily is the mafia.
I kid you not? I kid you not. When the Normans came and took over. Groups of Muslims rebelled.
Those groups were given a title. Eventually that title is now known as mafia. Now what is the origin of the word mafia? It's a mystery. Four or five Arabic words are given but pretty much there's unanimous consensus that amongst linguists that the origin of the word mafia is Sicilian Arabic. It is the
Arabic something of the Sicilian What is it some say it is from McAfee which is they are forgiven ie they're not going to obey the laws of King Roger so they're in the in the hills and they're fighting the people some say from min fee they have been exiled okay some have other one of them is from motor fooled which becomes MRP EU which becomes mafioso so they have different theories out there that where does the term mafia come from? So we can say whether we like it or not one of the remnants of Muslim rule in Sicily was the existence of the mafia which of course back in those days the mafia was a rebel group against King Roger against the kingdom of Christianity that they wanted
to fight against. Eventually it became what it became that and the Godfather has no influence on Arabic culture there's nothing to do there. We don't have to worry about that. In any case, it was an interesting historical lesson for all of us and I hope inshallah either with this you will study a little bit more and realize Islam has an amazing heritage and culture there's a lot of good some negatives as well. We benefit from the good we also benefit from the negatives to not repeat it Sharla will continue other times duck McLaughlin said I'm wondering what happens with all your water costume
me Ms. De Heaton doll Seanie when she
told me what to feed them.