The history of Islam in Spain is a glorious one and one which saw its revival during the Khilafat of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru)
Islam first arrived in Spain when Spanish subjects requested the help of the Muslim general Musa ibn Nusair, to rid them from the cruelty of the tyrant Roderick. Musa bin Nasir despatched Tariq bin Ziyad at the head of an 8,000 strong military force, which swelled to 12,000 with reinforcements.
Tariq reached Gibraltar (Jabal at- Tariq) which was to bear his name forever, near the coast of Spain. That night, in the land of visions and dreams, it is reported that he had a dream in which he saw the Holy Prophet(saw) along with Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) and Hadhrat Umar(ra). The Holy Prophet(saw) told him: ‘Dear Tariq! Attack the enemy without fear. We will be with you in the battle. Victory is yours.’
Greatly encouraged by this dream, Tariq is said to have ordered all the vessels that had shipped him there to be burned and boosted the morale of his force by a heart-inspiring address which he concluded with these words: ‘The enemy lies in front of you and the sea behind you. The boats have been burnt. There is no way of escape save in valour and resolution. O ye brave Muslims, attack the enemy without fear as victory has been destined for you.’(1)
Tariq’s small force annihilated the enemy and established an Islamic state in Spain. For more than seven centuries Europe benefited from the universities and libraries of Qur’anic teachings, philosophy and science and from Islamic culture and from the sense of fairness and justice which have today become a legend as recalled by tourist guides who take you around Spain’s captivating historic past.
However, with Muslim rulers immersed in other pursuits, Christianity regained its dominance and Islam was reduced to extinction except for a few historic buildings. Nothing remained of the grand mosque at Cordoba, the capital, except for a few mounds and the glory of this Muslim city sank into oblivion only worthy of interest to the historians.
The tour of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) to Europe in 1970 included a trip to Spain. In a speech he gave to the Community he commented on how deeply anguished he had been at the pitiable condition of the Muslims under General Franco’s Spain and supplicated for the resurgence of Islam in Spain.
Speaking of that visit Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) said:
‘Muslims ruled there for seven hundred years. As a result of the conspiracies and perverse activities of some of the priests of the time, Muslims lost their sway over that land. Not one Muslim was left there… I suffered great mental torture when I visited there. Muslims were utterly wiped out from Granada, being the capital of the country; it had many libraries; it had a University where leading padres and bishops were enrolled as pupils of Muslim professors. All the glory and pomp of Islam, secular, spiritual and moral, was obliterated.
You have no idea of my agony. When I went to Granada what was upper-most in my mind was the thought that once prayers for the Holy Prophet(saw) echoed from its walls and portals and now there were curses instead. I felt terribly depressed.
Then I decided on invoking blessing on the Holy Prophet(saw) as a small atonement but the Wisdom of Allah, the Glorious, without a warning, changed the expression on my lips. When after quite a while I suddenly pondered the words I found that instead of invocation of blessings on the Holy Prophet(saw) I was reciting:
(There is none worthy of worship but Thee, there is none worthy of worship except Thee).
My tongue was reciting the credo of Divine Unity. Then, I concluded that the basic reality was the Divine Unity indeed and the advent of the Holy Prophet(saw) aimed at establishing it. My resolve that I should lay great stress on prayer was right, but I had personally chosen my words. The credo that Allah is One takes precedence over the invocation of prayers on the Holy Prophet(saw). I was very happy then since Allah, the Supreme, Himself gave the new direction to my tongue.
I could not sleep the whole of the night, wondering that we lack material resources and these nations are great powers and have made long strides in material advancement. We lacked wealth and means. How then are we going to convert them to Islam? The Promised Messiah’s(as) mission was to bring world nations to the fold of Islam as servants of the Holy Prophet(saw) and since this race also was one of the world nations how will they join Islam? In short, how was this going to happen.
This was the shape of the thoughts, around which my prayers revolved; that was the state of my mind the whole night. …
The day rises there early. I guess it was between 3 a.m. and 3.30 a.m., When I lay down after morning prayers and suddenly my eyes became heavy-lidded; and then this verse of the Holy Qur’an was on my lips. (The Holy Qur’an, Ch.65:V.4)
‘And will provide for him from where he expects not. And he who puts his trust in Allah – he is sufficient for him. Verily, Allah will accomplish His purpose. For everything has Allah appointed a measure.’
Here was the answer to the question how would all this take place in the absence of resources. Allah, the Magnificent said: ‘One who puts his trust in Allah need not concern himself about any other means. He is sufficient for him.’ When Allah, the Glorious, sets an objective before Him, He always achieves it. You should therefore neither bother nor worry how all this will come about. This must happen and shall transpire. For, Allah, the Supreme, says that the very mission of the Promised Messiah(as) is aimed at rolling all mankind into the fold of Islamic unity under the feet of the Holy Prophet(saw).
The second thought that was in my mind and my prayers was when will it happen? There was the answer to it too. Allah, the Illustrious, has fixed a measure and an estimate for everything; when its hour strikes, it will come into shape; you should therefore not worry on that score. If there are no material resources you should not bother; for, Allah is sufficient. I had then a feeling of great tranquillity in my heart. I have therefore placed no scheme before you in this behalf, for, I do not know the plan of Allah, the Sublime, in this respect.’(2)
Laying of the Foundation Stone
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III’s(ru) total submission to the Will of God and total reliance on His help was rewarded. The community found a plot of land in Pedrobad a few miles from the cultural city of Cordoba, an imposing site near the busy motorway from the north. After a lapse of more than 700 years, at 3.40 p.m. (local time) on 9 October, 1980, he laid the Foundation Stone of the first mosque in Pedroabad in Spain.
Addressing the congregation Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) said:
‘Erecting a mosque is a matter of great importance, and it is always built with the aim that Allah alone be worshipped there. The lesson that it imparts is that all human beings, in the eye of Allah, are one whether they may be rich or poor; whether they may be learned or illiterate; whether they may be residents of Pedroabad or come from a distance of 1,000 miles or more and may be residing in Pakistan; as human beings they are all equal. Islam teaches us to live with mutual love and affection and with humility. It teaches us no distinction between a Muslim or a non-Muslim. My message to everyone is that you must have ‘Love for all, Hatred for none!(3)’
This drew huge applause from the people of Pedroabad. It was in this background that the spontaneous words uttered by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) became the unique slogan of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. It was repeated again at a press conference and at the Cafe Royale in Piccadilly in London at another press conference.
During this trip Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) commented that it was a matter of great satisfaction and joy that the first mosque of the fourteenth century Hijra would be erected in Spain for which God Almighty should be thanked. He added further that people should be told that the coming of the Mahdi was predicted to be in the fourteenth century and that the fifteenth century has just arrived with only one claimant to Mahdi and Messiah in whose support God Almighty has manifested a great number of Signs in the earth as well as in the heaven.
1. Muslim Herald, September, 1982.
2. Al Fazl, 15 July, 1970, p.13
3. M.A.Saqi: Laying the foundation of the Pedrobad Mosque. The Muslim Herald, 1982.