A witness To the age of the Christian Inquisitions and their Persecution
A heart-rending tearful true story
I was still young at that time . I could not comprehend what was going on backstairs . Every time I came back from school -on seeing me- my father got embarrassed and turned white . I used to tell him what I learnt by heart from the Bible and what new Spanish lessons I learnt .On finishing talk with him , he left me and made his way to his room that was in the furthest part in my house – that room that no one was allowed to approach its door . He used to spend a lot of time in this room and go out with red eyes as if he sobbed long . For some days , he kept looking at me so passionately and sadly and muttered some words …….In case of standing listening to him , he would give me his back and went way uttering no single word . I always found my mother , in tears and overpowered by sadness every time she saw me to the school ,she never let me go without hugging and kissing me so warmly and passionately , on leaving her , she called me again to kiss me once more as if her love and passion had not been quenched yet . She would not leave me unless she cried and her eyes were filled with tears . All the day long , I felt the warmth of her tears on my cheek . I wondered why she did that and I found no reasons .On coming back home from school , she would receive me eagerly with a heart filled with yearning, as if I had been absent for ten years. Sometimes my parents would sit a side a little distance from me and talk in whisper in a language that I did not know . If I came close , they stopped talking and talked about something else in Spanish . I left them imagining various vain thoughts about myself to the extant that I thought that I was not their son and that I was a foundling that they found me in the street . So, Pain overwhelmed me and I would take a solitary corner in my house and stayed lonely crying bitterly . Many days passed as such till I had unusual mood that differed from that of the other fellow children . So I did not participate in their play and amusement and I turned away from them and sat lonely putting my head between the palms of my hands and then absorbed myself in contemplation in search of a solution to this problem , I would remain doing this till I felt the priest grabbing me by my shirt to go with him to the church to do the prayer.
One day , I was filled with happiness that my mother gave birth to a beautiful child and when I gave my father the glad tiding of this event , he did not rejoice and no smile was drawn on his lips but stood up dragging his leg and began to move with a heart filled with agony to the priest to invite him to baptize the baby .The priest came to our house and in his foot steps my father was walking and bending low his head in complete despair and extreme sadness .My father led him to the room where my mother was . When I looked at my mother's face , I found her face fading and turning pale and her eyes starring wide in terror . On seeing the priest ,she pushed the baby to the priest , her face was reflecting every meaning of fear and then she closed here eyes . I was deeply puzzled as I couldn't justify such incidents and my pains grew more and more .
It was the Easter day when Granada was submerged in lights and the Alhambra Palace was glittering with torches and lights and the crosses flashes with lights on the windows and minarets ( turned to be churches minarets ) when father called me at midnight while the members of my family were sleeping , he led me without uttering a word to his room –his sacred place . My heart trembled with fear and I was embarrassed but I succeeded to be firm and consistent .When he went inside the room he locked the door firmly and began to search for the lamp and I remained standing in the darkness of the room for moments that – to me- were longer than years .
He lighted the small lamp that was there in the room , When I turned a round I saw nothing but an empty room though I expected to see wonders , all I could see were a small piece of rug , a book on a shelf and a sword hung on the wall . He seated me on the rug and he remained silent staring at me . These looks , the awe of the place and the quietness of the darkness mixed up in my heart and my eyes that I felt my self segregated from the life that I left behind this door .I felt as if I had been moved to another life that I could not describe my feelings towards it . Then father took my hand with compassion and kindness and said to me in a low voice " My son , you are now ten years old , and you have become a man . I will tell you the secret that I concealed from you for a long time . Can you keep this secret in your heart ? can you conceal it from mother , your family , your friends and even from all the people?
My son " just a single fault from you would subject your father's body to torment and torture by the lacing men of Inquisition "
On hearing this word , I was completely overwhelmed by fear . Truly I was still young but I know what inquisition meant . On my way to the school and on my way home , I used to see its victims every day , men were either crucified or burnt alive , as to women they were either hung by hair till they died or their bellies were cut open, so I kept silent and uttered no word .
So father said to me " why don't you answer my question ? Can you conceal what I am going to tell you ?"
I answered saying :"yes"
"Can you conceal it even from your mother ?"
I said "yes"
Then he said " come a little closer , I can't raise my voice otherwise we are heard ,and then we are reported to the iniquities and burnt alive .
So I came close and said I am listening father.
Then he pointed to the book on the shelf and said
"Do you know this book, my son ?"
I said " No"
"This is God's Book!"
"Oh yes , that's the Bible of Jesus , the son of God." , I said.
He got confused and said " No , this is the Holy Quran, that God revealed ,God is the One and Only; the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him, That is the Book that God revealed to the Arab prophet Mohummed , peace be upon him , the best of His creatures and the master of His prophets."
I opened my eyes with astonishment , I could hardly understood anything
This is the Book of Islam , Islam is the religion that God sent Mohummed with to all the people .
So prophet Mohummed appeared there -overseas and beyond deserts . He appeared there in a far barren desert , in Meca , he appeared among the Bedouin ignorant polytheists, and he guided them to monotheism and he gave them unity, force , science and civilization , so they invaded countries lying between the east and the west to spread God's Word till they reached this island , till they reached Spain . They administered justice among people , and treated them well and made their life and wealth secure . They stayed is Spain for eight hundred years during that period they made Spain the most civilized and among the most beautiful countries all over the world .
"Yes , my son , we are the Arabs Moslem "
I couldn't contain my excitement ,I could not control my Tongue because of the surprise , the fear and the admiration , then I shouted " Secure you….? What …? We…? The Arab Moslems ?
Yes , "my son , we are the owners of these cities and towns , we built these palaces for ourselves but became our enemies' , we built these minarets where the call prayer used to echo but later became minarets where the bells ring , we built these mosques where Moslems used to stand arrayed before God , They used to stand arrayed and their imams standing before them reciting God's Word in the niche , these mosques became churches , where priest and clergymen recite the Bible ."
" Yes my son , we are The Arabs, who have remains under every spot in Spain and under every span of the hand , we have mortal remains of one of our grandfathers or a martyr ! yes my son , we did build these cities , we did construct these bridges , we did pave and prepare these roads , we did dig these canals , we did plant these trees."
"But forty years ago – are you listening – forty years ago, the miserable king Abo Abd Allah Al-Sageer ,the last of our kings was deceived by the promises and covenants of the Spanish people, so he gave them the keys of Granada and allowed them to take our fortresses and castles ,he deserted defending fortress of his nation, and the cemeteries of his forefathers and made his way to Morocco to die there lonely , expelled and fugitive , they took upon themselves to keep our freedom , justice and independence and when they owned our land they went back on their promises which they gave and betrayed us . They set up inquisitions (courts) and they forced us to embrace Christianity and leave our language forcedly . Moreover they took our children to bring them up on Christian tenet and that is why we worship God secretly . The contempt of our religion and bringing our children up on infidelity have inflicted us with sadness and distress "
"Forty years through which we have been enduring such torment that boulders could not bear , forty years , my son we have been waiting for God's relief , we have never been desperate because despair is forbidden in Islam – the religion of power , patience and striving in the way of Allah .
"This is the secret my son!! Do conceal it and be careful !! Your father's life is depending and connected with a word from your mouth , I swear by God , I don't fear death nor do I hate meeting God but I like to remain alive to teach you your language and your religion and take you from the darkness of fidelity to the light of belief . Now go to your bed."
Later on , every time I saw the window of Alhambra Palace or the minarets of Granada I felt shocked violently and I felt yearning and sadness , hatred and love overwhelming my heart. I often engross myself in deep contemplation forgetting my self and when I came to my sense, I circumambulated it and addressed it and blamed it saying "Oh my dear city , oh my ungrateful beloved !" Have you forgotten your daughters , have you forgotten your owners who fed you with their souls and their hearts , those who quench your thirst with their blood and tears –why then do you ignore their days and deny their love ?"
"Have you forgotten your brave kings , those who wandered about in your foyers , those who defended you , those who gave you overflowing glory , greatness , gaiety and beauty, Have you forgotten those generous noble kings ? Those who , whenever they speak , all peoples listened in submission, those who , whenever gave orders , the aeon , in submission will obey !! Have you got accustomed with the bells instead of the prayer calls ? Have you been satisfied with the priests instead of the Moslems Imams."
Then , I felt afraid and I ran home to learn the Arabic lessons that father gave me , and lest the spy's of the inquisition should hear me . Father's picture is still in my mind as yet asking me to write the foreign letter then he wrote by it the Arabic letter teaching me how to pronounce and write it saying "these are our letters" . Then he gave a lesson in religion and taught me how to perform ablution and prayer so that I could stand behind him praying secretly in this great room .
I was a afraid that I unbosom myself . The fear that I uttered a slip of tongue by which I revealed the secret that never parted with me .Father sometimes examined me and sent mother to say to me " What does father teach you ?" I answered saying " nothing ", she said " you know what he teaches you , don't conceal it from me ." ,I said " He does not teach me any thing " . Father had been teaching me till I perfected the Arabic language and understood the Holy Quran and knew the rules of religions . Later father introduced me to one of his brothers in God and we used to meet and to worship God and to recite Quran .
The inquisition cruelty aggravated and began to torture the rest of the rest of the Arabs ,No day was to pass without bad news , hundreds of people were tormented severely and horribly , their nails were taken out and they were made to drink water till they lose breath and they burnt their legs and flanks . Their fingers were cut and burnt and put in their mouths . they were lashed tell their flesh scattered.
These conditions had lasted for a long time . one day my father said to me " My son ,I feel that the moment I die is so near (that is his time to die) and I wish I could met my martyrdom at the hands of those people so that God bestows on me the paradise , I have no desire in this world after I take you out of the darkness of heathendom and after I entrust a big faithfulness to you that I could hardly bear." and continued to say " If adversities afflicted me , obey this generous man and don't disobey him." And days passed till the most doleful black night came , it was the night when this generous man asked me to go with him saying that God has facilitated for us a way to escape to Morocco . I replied what about father and mother ? He scolded me and grabbed my hand saying " Didn't your father command you to obey me ?" so I go with him abased though I hated that till we went a little further and till darkness covered us then he said to me " Be patient my son because God has bestowed happiness on your parent at the hands of the inquisition ."
This boy successfully reached the border of Morocco , This boy became the great scientist Mohummed Abd Al-Rafee Al-Andlosy , who wrote a lot of references and volumes , May God make us benefit by his writings .
Please send your remarks to the following e-mail
Translated by Mr : Magdy Abd AL-Shafy
Magdy _fighter@ hotmail.com
Stories from History by The late Sheik Aly Tantawy
The picture is taken from