Saturday 27 October 2018

Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Gibraltar

Gibraltar is a small (just 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered in the north by Spain. The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Gibraltar and Peninsular Spain in Europe from Morocco and Spain in Africa. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated city area, home to over 30,000 people, primarily 

There is a very small population of Muslims living in Gibraltar, but am still sharing this because Gibraltar once assumed a critical importance in the Muslim rise in the Iberian Peninsula including Spain and Portugal.

Gibraltar was once known as Mons Calpe, a name of Phoenician origin and one of the Pillars of Hercules, till the time a strong Muslim army under Tariq Bin Ziyad landed here in 711 And thus this small place became the jumping pad for the rise of Islam in Spain and Portugal.

The Moorish Castle [Photo]
And this historical event changed the name Mons Calpe to its present name. In fact name "Gibraltar" is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Ṭāriq (جبل طارق), meaning "mountain of Ṭāriq." In 1160, the Muslim ruler Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu'min ordered that a permanent settlement, including a castle, be built. It received the name of Medinat al-Fath (City of the Victory). The Tower of Homage of the Moorish Castle remains standing today.

From 711 ADd onward the city and the rest of Spain and parts of Portugal remained under Muslim domination. But by and by the Muslim rule came to and end and in 1462, Gibraltar was finally captured by Juan Alonso de Guzmán, 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia. Today, Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, though its possession is often claimed by Spain from whom the territory was given to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

According to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, there are 1,000 Muslims in Gibraltar who constitute approximately 4% of the population. 
The majority of Moroccans arrived in Gibraltar after Franco closed the frontier in 1969, taking posts in public services that managed construction, property and service operations around the naval dockyard. Some established a number of interesting retail outlets which still sell Moroccan groceries and or handicrafts. Nowadays the Muslim population form part of Gibraltar’s diverse community. [1]
The Fortifications and some other Moorish architecture are still visible in Gibraltar today. Examples include Moorish baths, a mosque, which later converted into a Christian church, the Kasbah –  an area later called Villa Vieja old English town. Bab el-Granada became known as the Granada Gate, and the port area port which was built by the Moors was known by the Spanish as La Barca, but is believed to have derived from the Arabic word Sinha-Dar El. When the Spanish Castilians finally captured Gibraltar in 1462 the cities Muslim and Jewish cities population surrendered and was finally expelled and replaced by Spanish Christians. The Rock of Gibraltar had remained in Moorish control for over 751 years. [2]
Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque [Photo]

The presence of Muslims is felt in the southernmost mosque in Europe, and one of the largest outside a Muslim country, the Mosque of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques was built on Europa Point – right at the bottom of the peninsula – by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in 1997 to serve Gibraltar’s one thousand Muslims. Europa Point apparently has views of Morocco, a few miles away across the Strait of Gibraltar, but – thanks to some haze – “not when we were there”. Also called Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque, it is one of the most beautiful buildings in the territory.

During Ramadan, the doors of the mosque are opened to all communities living in the city to break fast at the time of sunset. This fosters inter communities harmony and understanding of each others' faith and beliefs.
While looking for photos of Gibraltar, I came across photos of monkeys and I wondered why these monkeys are so special to the territory. But then a bit searching the net came as a surprise: These monkeys were introduced by the Moors which is one of the only wild monkey populations in the whole of Europe. There are around 300 of North African descent currently occupy the peninsula.[2]

You may like t watch a video showing the rise and fall of Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula including Spain and Portugal:

Photos | References: | The Moorish Gibraltar (Wikipedia) | Tariq Bin Ziyad | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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