Published: Article on Analusi Intellectuals in AL-RAWI Magazine

A few months ago, an article of mine about prominent intellectuals of al-Andalus in Egypt was published in Al-Rawi (Egypt’s Heritage Review), a wonderful quarterly magazine concerned with Egypt’s heritage in its different forms.

You can read the full article in the images attached, and I strongly recommend my friends in Egypt to follow the magazine and actually buy it in order to support this great initiative and to keep it running.

Magazine Cover
Pages 1&2
Pages 3&4
Pages 5&6

Published: al-Andalus at the heart of Islamic Cairo

The term ‘al-Andalus’ never fails to evoke nostalgia in the Arab World. More than anything, people long for a golden age marked by a cultural renaissance that was made possible thanks to enlightened rulers and exceptional intellectuals in the cities of Cordoba, Granada, Seville, Toledo and others.

In the case of al-Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria), the Andalusi imprint is clearly visible in cities like Tetuan, Kairouan and Oran. When it comes to Egypt, it takes a little scratching beneath the surface to see this imprint in the mosques of Islamic Cairo. Here is my latest article published in Ahram Online:

Published: The Fate of Timbuktu’s Andalusi Manuscripts

“The last city of al-Andalus is neither Malaga nor Algeciras, it is Timbuktu” –Ismael Diadie Kati, Malian library owner of Andalusi origin.

This is the story of one of history’s most interesting (and least known) odysseys: that of the Kati Family Manuscripts. From al-Andalus (medieval Spain) to the Niger River Basin, few manuscripts in history have a story as interesting as these ones.
Threatened by the political upheaval in Mali, the fate of these manuscripts remains to be a question mark.

What is the story of these manuscripts? How did the story start in Toledo and end in Timbuktu? How did they survive the Inquisition in Spain and successive wars and cultural holocausts in Western Africa? Why are they important and where are they now? Here is the full story in my latest article, published today by Ahram Online:

The Islamic Capitals of al-Andalus: Cordoba – Seville – Granada

Al-Andalus is a term that the Muslims used to refer to the territory that they conquered and ruled in the Iberian Peninsula. Obviously, this territory changed over time under the pressure of the Reconquista (The Reconquest Battles), until –by the XIII century- it was limited only to the Kingdom of Granada, the Last Kingdom.

The Islamic rule in al-Andalus spanned some eight centuries (711 – 1492), and left a lasting legacy in science and humanities, in art and culture, and obviously, in the memory of stone. From the splendor of the Mezquita (Great Mosque) of Cordoba (the jewel of the Umayyad architecture) to the spectacular palaces and gardens of the Alhambra (the Nasrid art at its best), I was fortunate enough to live and study in Andalusia for a year, visiting every single monument from the al-Andalus era and traveling extensively to visit one site after another.

In this post, I will not be talking about XI century taifa capitals like Zaragoza, Toledo or Denia. Also, another post will be dedicated solely to the Alhambra. Here I focus only on the three major Islamic capitals in al-Andalus:

I. Cordoba

Capital of the Umayyad Emirate and Caliphate (756 – 1030).
The city that gave birth to Averroes (Ibn Rushd), Maimonides (Ibn Maymoun), Ibn Zaydun, Ibn Hazm and many other great figures. In the X century, it had the world’s second largest library in the whole world (after Baghdad), had hundreds of public hamams and mosques, tens of hospitals, and had its streets paved, lit and guarded at night. A century earlier, Ziryab had founded its conservatoire, the first in Europe.

II. Seville
Capital of the Almohads (1170 – 1232).
The hometown of Ibn Sahl, Avenzoar (Ibn Zuhr), Ibn al-Awwam and others. It was the seat of a strong taifa led by the poet-king Ibn Abbada, whose court was the closest thing to a cultural salon. Later on under the Almohad rule (a Berber dynasty), it flourished as the capital of a strong dynasty that adorned the city with splendid monuments. It fell to Fernando III in 1248, twelve years after he had conquered Cordoba.

III. Granada

Capital of the Nasrids (1232 – 1492).
The province of Ibn al-Khatib, Ibn Tufail, Ibn Zamraq, Abu Hayyan, etc. The city preserves tens of Islamic monuments, mostly from the Zirid Taifa era and the Nasrid era, and is famous world wide for the Alhambra and the gardens of the Generalife. The Albaycín neighbourhood is a living testament of the Islamic urban fabric and is dotted with houses and palaces that date from the Andalusi times. All 27 minarets of the mosques of Albaycín are now church towers, with some of them conserving the Andalusi structure and decorations in part or in full (like the Minaret of San Jose, the Minaret-Tower of San Juan de los Reyes and the Minaret-Tower of Santa Ana).

I am sharing photos of mine that cover the entire spectrum of Andalusi Art (mainly architecture) in these three cities:
Umayyad Art, 756 – 1030 (e.g. Medina Azahra and the minaret of San Juan in Cordoba);
Taifa Art, XI century (e.g. Hammam al-Jawza and the Gate of Elvira in Granada);
Almoravid & Almohad Art, 1090 – 1236 (e.g. The Giralda & the Gold Tower, Seville);
Nasrid Art, 1232 – 1492 (e.g. Corral del Carbon and Vase of the Gazelles);
Mudejar Art, XII – XVI century (e.g. Alcázar of Seville).

All photos are copyrighted.

My 8th Article in El Legado Andalusí: Tetuan, the Sister of Granada

Today, my eighth article for the El Legado Andalusí (the Andalusi Legacy) has been published in the Foundation’s magazine. It’s about Tetuan, a UNESCO World Heritage medina founded in Morocco by Andalusi immigrants from Granada and bearing the imprint of al-Andalus.

You can read the whole magazine (including my article) in Spanish at:

You can read an Arabic translation for some parts of the article at:

My 7th Article in El Legado Andalusí: The Almatà Plain of Balaguer

Today, my seventh article for the El Legado Andalusí (the Andalusi Legacy) has been published by the Foundation’s magazine. It’s about the relics of an ancient Islamic medina / military camp in Catalonia, one of the oldest from the Andalusi era in all the Iberian Peninsula (VIII c.).

You can read the whole magazine (including my article) in Spanish at:

You can read an Arabic translation for some parts of the article at:

My 6th Article in El Legado Andalusí: Lisbon, Chasing Phantom Poets

Today, my sixth article for the El Legado Andalusí (the Andalusi Legacy) has been published by the Foundation’s magazine. It’s about Lisbon, with a focus on the Andalusi imprint manifested in the ‘Alfama’ neighborhood, the Fado music, the Arab city walls, and the city’s gastronomy. The article also tackles the many marvels of the city and its culture, from the solidity of the Manueline Gothic style in the Belem Tower to the light elegance of the Chiado’s world-renowned cafés, with a special tribute to the city’s great literary figueres like Pessoa and Saramago.

You can read the whole magazine (including my article) in Spanish at:

You can read an Arabic translation for some parts of the article at: