On January, 2, 1492 the stage was set. For the last time the Muezzin called for the morning (Fajr) prayers. With that last prayer in Alhambra palace the royalty and the elite of Muslim Spain start their journey towards the valley of Bashara in Granada, Andalusia. The lawn and grounds of the Grand Mosques of Granada were occupied by the soldiers and their horses of the victorious army of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Surrounding air around and inside the mosques was filled with the smell of urine and wastes of the occupied army horses loaded with food and weapons. Same evening instead of the Muezzin calling for Isha prayer, the cries of the Muslims mixed with laughter of drunken soldiers filled the air. Everywhere in the city were bonfires made up of burning the Quran and 500,000 other books from the city library providing warmth to the soldier busy merry making.
While the common Muslim of Granada, Andalusia were paying for the sin to be a Muslim through their honor and life, the ameer of Granada Abu-Abdullah and his royalty were preparing to sign the instrument of surrender. Air on that day was filled with grief and smoke from burning books. Moaning of Muslim women and children was heart wrenching as if the dooms day arrived. Darkness of night and the human suffering and agony that covered Andalusia that evening on January 2nd, 1492 continue to cover the whole ummah till this day. This unstoppable, unbearable, paralyzing torment and laceration for more than 500 years has traumatized the Muslim ummah, robbed its integrity and deformed its thinking ability. Onslaught of indignation continues one wound does not heal completely that another severe gash appears on the body of Muslim ummah.
As beautiful, prosperous and unique the palace of Alhambra appears to be, the fact was that this was the last night, last breath and final blow to the Muslim rule in Spain. When one cannot control the moments, they also forfeit the right and power to make decisions. So Queen Isabella rejecting Abu Abdallah’s request to surrender in Alhambra, ordered Abu Abdullah to surrender outside the palace where she is joined by her husband king Ferdinand, son Dan Ferdinand and the special guest, Christopher Columbus. While handing over the keys of Alhambra, Abu Abdullah was overwhelmed with sorrow, emotions
and thought of losing everything brought tears to his eyes. Seeing Abu Abdallah’s condition and tears in his eyes, out of sympathy King Ferdinand iterated his promises by stating: “do not doubt us or our promises. We will honor all we have promised.” Fast forward 500 years later, George W Bush repeated the same words at the invasion of Iraq.
With the fall of Andalusia, Queen Isabella wasted little time to fulfill her dream of reaching out the undiscovered world to fill her royal treasury with gold through her crusades. So the same year of 1492 Queen Isabella on April 7th asked Christopher Columbus to appear in her court. Columbus was already denied support for his sea expeditions from the kings of Portugal, England and France was expecting to exploit the religious fervor of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Upon asking what are his expectations, Columbus demands were:
“- Title and powers of admiral to be the viceroy of all newly discovered land.
– Ten percent of all the wealth acquired of these new lands.
– Any land that I discover and occupy will be converted to Christianity.
– I want to be the representative of the church at these unknown lands.
– I am willing to spend fair amount of money to restore and maintain churches in Jerusalem.
– From the newly discovered land will send crusaders to other part of the world to spread Christianity. ”
American History, vol. 1, 1800
Queen was pleased with the response and ordered an agreement to be prepared sanctioning Columbus sea expeditions. On April 17, 1492 Queen Isabella ordained Admiralship on Christopher Columbus and appointed him as her viceroy of all to be discovered lands. According to this agreement Columbus received three ships, 2000 gold coins, and 100 skilled sailors along with military, political and legal protection. In return Columbus is to provide the much needed wealth acquired from the new world to replenish the empty coffers of the new government of Spain.
When Christopher Columbus first set foot on the white sands of Guanahani island, he performed a ceremony to “take possession” of the land for the king and queen of Spain, acting under the international laws of western Christendom. Few people are aware that his act of “possession” was based on a religious doctrine now known as the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’. Even fewer people realize today – five centuries later – that the United States government
still uses this archaic Judeo-Christian doctrine to deny the rights of Native American Indians (Newcomb Steve, 1992. P 18-20). Under this doctrine non-Christians are considered enemies of the Catholic faith and, as such, less than human. Accordingly, in the bull of 1452, Pope Nicholas directed King Alfonso to “capture, vanquish, and subdue the non-Christians, pagans, and other perceived enemies of Christ,” to “put them into perpetual slavery,” and “to take all their possessions and property”, if not then to kill all. [Davenport: 20-26] Acting on this papal privilege, Portugal continue to traffic in African slaves, and expanded its royal dominions by making “discoveries” along the western coast of Africa, claiming those lands as Portuguese territory. Thus, Columbus sailed west across the Sea of Darkness in 1492 – with the express understanding that he was authorized to “take possession” of any lands he “discover” that were “not under the dominion of any Christian rulers” (Thatcher, 1903).
During this quincentennial of Columbus’ journey to the Americas, it is important to recognize that the grim acts of genocide and conquest committed by Columbus and his men against the peaceful native people of the Caribbean were sanctioned by the above mentioned documents of the Catholic Church. Indeed, these papal documents were frequently used by Christian European conquerors in the Americas to justify an incredibly brutal system of colonization – which dehumanized the indigenous people by regarding their territories as being “inhabited only by brute animals.” [Story: 135-6]
To develop the new land manpower was needed. The law of ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ was used by Columbus as he sailed back to Spain with 700 native Indian kidnapped on Nov. 3, 1493 (Luis, 1991). For some natural reason these native Indians did not work out as good slaves. So the king of Portugal who was busy invoking the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ on the coast of Africa, and making a fortune of off newly kidnapped African slaves granted a gift of nine newly captured Africans to Columbus as a brotherly gesture, to test their performance. That was the beginning of slavery in newly established colony of America. During 1502, first African slave with his hands tied to his neck landed in America. Rest is history………..or is it? ——– dare to ask. Yesterday America needed able bodied slaves but today skilled slaves are being acquired from around the world. Corporate America and other western countries fulfill their skilled labor needs through more civilized slavery.
The Doctrine of Discovery is in constant use within US judicial system and was used by US courts as recent as 2005 in a federal case involving native Indians. Sons and daughters of African slaves are still looking for their identity and freedom. Recent spate of shooting and killing of black African youth is a step backwards to ‘Doctrine of Discovery” by white dominated police force —- dare to ask? Acquittal of white police officers in every single case also is an application of ‘doctrine of discovery? —— dare to ask. Is fortifying of police stations with weapons discarded in Iraq and Afghanistan war can be considered a precursor of what to expect in future?
Note: I had to pause here due to my travels hoping to complete this blog soon after returning home, but all changed by
Peshawar tragedy – While getting ready for meeting, in a hotel room, CNN reported the tragedy of Peshawar. It was hard to look picture after picture of beautiful small boys and girls in school uniform who were the target of terrorism or revenge – both abhorred by Allah and His prophet (S.A.W). I could hear the heart wrenching moaning of moms and dads, brothers and sisters, of the whole nation of Pakistan along with the world. This is a tragedy I pray that Allah keep every mother and father safe from. It is just too much pain to bear for human being. These Shaheed children were not the joy of their parents only but the joy of Pakistan – they were the children of Pakistan. May Allah bless their souls and give strength and patience to loved ones to bear this burden of grief and tragedy that they have to live with forever.
Almost two weeks passed by with painful anger, I finally brought myself to complete this blog. However outpouring of grief from around the world was heartening and surprising. Media exposure of the tragedy was massive. Social media and civil societies around the globe appeared to be grieving together by staging rallies and holding candle light vigils. Even the UN chief and president of the lone superpower, the land of Columbus declared to stand with Pakistan during this moment of grief. I thought that for a change the world finally understands the sacrifices of Pakistan in ‘war of terror’ – crusade imposed upon Pakistan from the land of Columbus. I wondered if the world has comes together in support of Pakistan and its struggle in post 9/11 era… or did it?
In my opinion this cycle of violence could have been stopped in its track if the very same media, the civil society and social media along with TV and news outlet would have protested vigorously on the first attack that obliterated 69 children of Pakistan at Bajaur Madrassa in 2006. If only Pakistani authorities
and media would have guarded the sovereignty of Pakistan and displayed the same courage and sensitivity to the death and destruction by first drone strikes as they are doing now, present tragedy of Peshawar would not have happened. Pakistani nation could have stopped the Peshawar incidence if they have not discriminated the drone victims from the first strike. Dare to ask why COAS at the time did not go to Washington to demand answers as the current COAS demanded from Kabul? Is it because the lives of madrassa students were worth less than the students of Army school —— Dare to Ask?
I dare to ask the Pakistani PM, the COAS and the Pakistani nation: are the children shown in the photographs below not sons and daughters of Pakistan? Are they different from the boys and girls martyred in the school of Peshawar?
They are all children of Pakistan and we must share the grief of their parents together without making any difference. I wish that hands holding candles in memory of young victims martyred in Peshawar should also have been raised for prayers and repentance. As nation we are in it together and should feel pain for the loss of all citizens of Pakistan without any distinction. Remember the hadith where Prophet Mohammad (saw) admonished Muslims to be only concerned of elites and royalty but ignoring the weak and peasants’. He reminded that such nations are to be replaced by others if they do not change and repent. Mr. Prime Minister any new legislation must treat all citizens of Pakistan equally otherwise consider your time is over Inshallah.
While the government of Pakistan struggle for action, NGOs and civil society with the help of social media took over the grieving process. It was the Australian media and BBC who first tried to connect the Peshawar tragedy with the case of Malala. Then civil society of Pakistan tried to connect it to the tragic incidence of Lal Masjid where many daughters of Pakistan were burned to ashes by the use of phosphorus bombs. Finally the newspaper Dawn demanded ban on Madrassas. I wondered where the connection lies and whose interest is being served by the civil society and social media of Pakistan? During these ten days, after the grief settled in, mind started working, thought process begin and I went back writing researching part of history that I narrated at the beginning of this blog. Researching Columbus promises to Queen Isabella:
I wondered and dare to ask myself?
– Are the crusades Columbus promised to Queen Isabella ceased?
– Have crusaders stopped attacking the lands apparently different to Columbus’s new found land?
Not according to presidential statement- “I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one” – President Theodore Roosevelt, at the turn of the century (Howard Zinn). US is at war for 214 years with one nation or another out of 238 years of its independence, probably fulfilling Columbus promise to Queen Isabella! However during 214 years of war, crusaders have changed their shape and form, technology and methodology. Pope Nicholas’s ‘doctrine of discovery’, has taken the numerous shape and form. Modern day crusaders are now recognized as ‘Raymond Davis’ the operative groups of ‘CIA and Black Water’ or soft images of NGOs, the social media & civil societies, foreign aid and coalition forces. However NGOs remain the most lethal weapon of modern day crusade from the land of Columbus, specifically educational NGOs.
Note: More on NGOs their history and objectives later in separate article.
Dr. Kausar Talat
Davenport, Frances Gardiner, 19l7, European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Vol. 1, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Damios, 2011. “We’re at War!” — And We Have Been Since 1776: 214 Years of American War-Making, in Loon Politics, Dec. 20.
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States, p.297
Newcomb, Steve. “Five Hundred Years of Injustice.” Shaman’s Drum. Fall 1992, p. 18-20
Rivera-Pagan, Luis N., 1991, “Cross Preceded Sword in ‘Discovery’ of the Americas,” in Yakima Nation Review, 1991, Oct. 4.
Story, Joseph, 1833, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States Vol. 1 Boston: Little, Brown & Co
Thatcher, John Boyd, 1903, Christopher Columbus Vol. 11, New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons
Note: Al-Rasub is not responsible for the writer personal opinion…