U.S. Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month Which Abounds with Islamic Culture

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A pavilion in the restorated Courtyard of the Lions at Alhambra in Granada, Spain

The National Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15 through October 15 in the United States this year, 2023. The U.S. government website for the event states, “We celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries.” That’s great because Latin American heritage is, in many ways, synonymous with Islamic heritage. 

Yet, there is no mention of this on hispanic heritage month.gov, although there is a gallery link to imperial Spain. This, while Muslims ruled Spain for so many hundreds of centuries, almost a millennium. And because there is no racism in Islam, Muslims married and mixed with the locals until there was no separation between the two cultural identities. Spain was essentially an Islamic culture, and because of that, you could say Hispanic Heritage Month is actually Islamic Heritage Month.

To understand more, leave off the bodegas and the plantains, and go back to Spanish culture before the Spaniards retook Spain, before the Spanish started enslaving people in the Americas, and before the U.S. pronounced a new, sweeping race encompassing North, Central, and South America: Hispanics.

Islamic Cultural Legacy of Spain Spills into Hispanic Heritage Month

The Ministry of Culture in Spain, says “The Andalusian [Muslim] legacy had great significance in Europe both for the transmission of classical texts and for its contribution in various fields of knowledge (medicine, botany and pharmacology, astronomy, mathematics), technology (silk, glass, ceramics) or leisure (chess).”

Because Muslims were the ones to export architecture and agriculture to the Spanish peninsula, today Spanish is dominated by Arabic terms in those fields.

The Ministry of Culture goes so far as to explain Islamic influence in Spanish culture that they said, “The proclamation of the Caliphate of Córdoba (929) marked the cultural scientific takeoff…”

It’s difficult to separate the contributions of Muslims from the heritage of Spanish speakers. But some still manage to do so.

Spanish Denial of Islamic Contributions

Some Spanish ministries are overtly racist, like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It reduces the influence of the Muslims in Spain to a “historical discourse of loss and recovery,” skipping over 800 years of cultural elevation!

Professor Eduardo Mandano, who wrote the paper included in the educational section of Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, continues that the Muslims should have “found an appropriate response in the military resistance of the people of the north [Castellanos], whose final victory after centuries of fierce fights would have come to demonstrate the historical justice of their cause; a cause considered as ours, insofar as that discourse always insists that we, as the Spanish nation, are heirs of those who had lost and recovered the country.” 

His view is the same view of many Spaniards who work avidly to delete centuries of Islamic contributions to Spanish culture by promoting the idea that Spanish culture is an isolated one.

One contribution that can’t be erased, however, is the language. 

The Legacy of Language in Hispanic Heritage Month

Most of the cultural heritage of Islam in Latin America is found in the language.  As noted by the Institute of Martin Hattala and republished on Spain’s Ministry of Education website, “The existence of the Arabs can be noted in the culture, the science and especially in language.” 

Most words that start with A or Al are derived from Arabic, like aceituna (olive) which is zaytoon in Arabic. Arroz (rice) is Arz. (There was no Spanish rice until the Arabs arrived.) 

There are other words that don’t start with A, like camisa (shirt), which is qamis and ojala which is similar to the sound of “Oh Allah” and is used as a form of prayer in Spanish. 

But the phenomenon goes deeper. Arabic is the foundation of the very morphology of Spanish. The Ministry of Education notes, “The Muslims had an influence on the formation of vocabulary, morphology, syntax, and proverbs. The proverbs prove the existence of Muslims for a long time [in Spain]. It is interesting that they have not disappeared and are still used today.”

An example of such proverbs are:  

“Le herida causada por una lanza puede curar, pero la causada por las lenguas es incurable.”

““The wound caused by a spear can heal, but that caused by tongues is incurable.”

“Los que de veras buscan a Dios, dentro de los santuarios se ahogan.”

“Those who truly seek God drown within the sanctuaries.”

“El silencio es el muro que rodea la sabiduría.”

“Silence is the wall that surrounds wisdom.”

Most notable are the common phrases in Spanish that were taken directly from Islamic usage:

“Que Dios guarde,” is a translated version of “fi amaan illah,” which is said when wishing a person farewell “be under the protection of God.” There is also “si Dios quiere” or “Dios mediante” which both mean insha Allah – if God wills. These expressions are not found in unIslamic cultures. They are used in Latin America daily.

When the Muslims in Spain departed from religion and introduced dancing, this became embedded in Spanish culture as well. In fact, according to El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Gilani, imam of The Muslims of the Americas, the Muslims didn’t lose the Spanish empire until they were weakened by degenerate practices between men and women.  

IP Correspondent