Who were the Morisco and their link behind Arabic manuscript of the Virgin Mary?

The Moorish Proselytes of Archbishop Ximenes, Granada, 1500. (Edwin Long (1829–1891) Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum)

In 1588, during the building of the Cathedral of the city of Granada – which still stands to this day –in the place of a mosque, construction workers found a box containing a parchment, cloth, a finger bone and a picture of the Virgin Mary.

The Raseef22 website monitored the circumstances relating to the Morisco, adding that the parchment included written religious texts in Latin, Arabic and Spanish, reading that St. Caecilius, who was then the first to introduce Christianity to Granada, gave orders to bury these items in the first century AD.

The church in Spain and Rome received the news with celebration and ordered all the specialists, including a group of Morisco translators, to verify these findings. They found that the parchment, which was allegedly part of the Virgin's veil, was not an original.

But this discovery was an introduction to the most important discovery in 1595, in a mountain cave of the area known today as Sacromonte, where four sheets of lead were found with texts written in a Latin-like language.

These texts referred to the box found in the Granada Mosque, which also mentioned the Saint himself and referred to the presence of other texts in Arabic in nearby places.

Granada cathedral viewed from Alcazaba in Alhambra palace. (Shutterstock)

Granada cathedral viewed from Alcazaba in Alhambra palace. (Shutterstock)

For years afterward, people were preoccupied with finding it. Indeed, gradually, several small lead plaques were found, some of which were perforated and connected together with a metal wire. Other antiquities were also found to suggest that the saint and his companions passed away in that place.

These texts also mentioned a book containing a unique divine epiphany written in Arabic by the Virgin Mary. This claim made the Arabic language, which was threatened in that Christian land at the time, the only mediator to reach the Book of Revelation and the last traces of the Virgin.

All these discoveries were received positively by the Christians and the Morisco, but how can we understand them? How can we fathom the history of the last days of the people of the island of Muslims?

Who were the Morisco?

The Morisco were Muslims who converted to Christianity, voluntarily or forcibly, after the fall of Andalusia by the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula.

They have suffered the tragedy of the arbitrary Inquisition, which observed the signs of their adherence to the Islamic religion and Arab culture, until a royal order was declared to exile them from Spanish territory at the beginning of the seventeenth century (1609).

Despite the fact that the Morisco gradually forgot the Arabic language since they didn’t have the opportunity to use it, they have preserved their cultural heritage by writing in the Spanish language using the remaining Arabic letters of their Andalusian past to hide the religious contents prohibited from the Inquisition courts, and there are those who believe that they used these letters for their sense of sanctity since it is the language of the Koran; this language was called "(Aljamía).

Indeed, their Arabic and Islamic identity were marginalized to the extent that the word Morisco itself was a kind of a pejorative expression, the origin of the word is "Moro" which is still used today in Spain within the context of a specific slang expression to distinguish the immigrants coming from North Africa.

The Morisco were secretly learning to read the Arabic alphabet in Spanish, to keep their Islamic faith, even though they were pretending to be Christians in public.

The city of Granada was the last time the Morisco attempted to confirm the legitimacy of their presence in this land, where these discoveries were to be found.

From the analysis of the parchment, the cloth, the texts and others, it turned out that they were all the work of the Morisco who tried to strengthen the status of the Arabic language as part of the history of the old city.

But it also employs, as confirmed by Andalusian cultural studies that people often seek coexistence and peace, and in some cases ideological differences are used to reach this goal.

It should be noted that many Christians tried to defend the religious theory presented in these texts because it presented the history of the adoption of the city of Granada to the Christian religion.

What this common history of the two cultures in the identity of the Morisco suggests to us is that their attempt to reach a solution to the historical crisis they have undergone which made the Christian and Islamic religion a brotherly religion, not an enmity on the Iberian Peninsula.

We wonder today: Who are the 21st century Morisco who were able to carry in their hearts both East and West?

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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