Vanished Gates


 

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Ah,
I long for the vanished gardens of Cordoba, where no thing
hangs or rises up desirous to be sucked in or forced out,
where all beings are sublime, tasting only the nectar of
Love-Bliss in their mouths, their tongues clinging to the
roof of their tooth-hood only for Happiness, without the
slightest thought of self, without the slightest thought of
clinging to another. Such Bliss is not heaven! It is
nowhere, nowhere at all, not then, not now, not in the
future. Such Bliss has never been experienced by beings at
all except in their moment of vanishing when they slide upon
the Light from which forms are made. .

When nothing even in the slightest
is experienced or known or presumed, then there is only the
Infinite Light of Bliss, the same state in which you now
exist but without the compartments of your atrocious
thought, without even a parcel of it hanging out. Now we are
free. Then we are free. Then we were free. Then we will be
free. This space of time is only a figment of your
imagination. This body here is the lie by which you are
bound. Be willing to give up your body, even now, even now,
even now. And your mind, which is your body. Let it go.. Let
it go. Cling to nothing. Let it go. This is my
recommendation

Da Free John

watch/listen
Ray Lynch – Vanished Gardens of Cordoba (Cordova)

Córdoba (Spanish pronunciation:
[‘korðoßa]; also Cordova)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
is the film retelling of T. E. Lawrence’s heroic,
autobiographical account of his own Arabian
adventure, published in “The Seven Pillars of
Wisdom” (originally published with the title Revolt
in the Desert). The cinematic “men’s film” (with
first-time screenwriter Robert Bolt’s screenplay)
is a superb character study of a compelling cult
hero

Lawrence: Yes, you were
great.

Feisal: ..nine centuries
ago…

Lawrence: Time to be great
again, my Lord.

Feisal: …which is why my
father made this war upon the Turks. My father, Mr.
Lawrence, not the English. Now my father is old.
And I, I long for the vanished gardens of
Cordova
. However, before the gardens must come
fighting. To be great again, it seems that we need
the English or…

Lawrence:
…or?…

Feisal: …what no man can
provide, Mr. Lawrence. We need a
miracle!

In the ninth century the court of
Haroun al Raschid, was a free academy in which all the arts
were cultivated and enJoyed. Under the Moors, Cordova
surpassed Bagdad.

In the tenth century it was the most
beautiful and most civilized city of Europe. Concerning it
Burke, in his “History of Spain”–a work to which we are
much indebted–writes as follows:

There was the Caliph’s Palace of
Flowers, his Palace of Contentment, his Palace of Lovers,
and, most beautiful of all, the Palace of Damascus. Rich and
poor met in the Mezquita, the noblest place of worship then
standing in Europe, with its twelve hundred marble columns,
and its twenty brazen doors; the vast interior resplendent
with porphyry and jasper and many colored precious stones,
the walls glittering with harmonious mosaics, the air
perfumed with incense, the courtyards leafy with groves of
orange trees–showing apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Throughout the city, there were fountains, basins, baths,
with cold water brought from the neighboring mountains,
already carried in the leaden pipes that are the highest
triumph of the modern plumber.

But more wonderful even than Cordova
itself was the suburb and palace of Az Zahra. lRor
five-and-twesty years the Caliph Abdur Rahman devoted to the
building of this royal fancy one-third of the revenues of
the State; and the work, on his death, was piously continued
by his son, who devoted the first fifteen years of his reign
to its completion. For forty years ten thousand workmen are
said to have toiled day by day, and the record of the
refinement as well as the magnificence of the structure, as
it approached completion, almost passes belief. It is said
that in a moment of exaltation the Caliph gave orders for
the removal of the great mountain at whose foot the fairy
city was built, as the dark shade of the forests that
covered its sides overshadowed the gilded palace of his
creation.


THE CALIPHATE OF
CORDOVA

[Archibald Wilberforce, Spain
and Her Colonies (New York: Peter Fenelon Collier, 1898),
14-27]

It was in 712 that Spain, after
remaining for nearly three centuries in the possession of
the Visigoths, fell under the yoke of the Saracens. For some
time past, from a palace at Tandjah (Tangiers), a Mussulman
emir had been eying the strip of blue water which alone
separated him from that Andalusia which, like the other
parts of this world and all of the next, had been promised
to the followers of Muhammad. The invasion that ensued was
singularly pacific. The enthusiasm which distinguished the
youthful period of Muhammadism might account for the
conquest which followed, even if we could not assign
additional causes–the factions into which the Goths had
become divided, the resentment of disappointed pretenders to
the throne, the provocations of one Count Julian, whose
daughter, seduced by Roderic, the last of the Gothic kings,
caused him, it is said, to urge the Moors to come over. It
is more surprising that a remnant of this ancient monarchy
should not only have preserved its national liberty and name
in the northern mountains, but waged for some centuries a
successful, and generally an offensive, warfare against the
conquerors, till the balance was completely turned in its
favor and the Moors were compelled to maintain almost afi
obey stinate and protracted a contest for a small portion of
the peninsula. But the Arabian monarchs of Cordova found in
their success and imagined security a pretext for indolence;
even in the cultivation of science and contemplation of the
magnificent architecture of their mosques and palaces they
forgot their poor but daring enemies in the Asturias; while,
according to the nature of despotism, the fruits of wisdom
or bravery in one generation were lost in the follies and
effeminacy of the next. Their kingdom was dismembered by
successful rebels, who formed the states of Toledo, Huesca,
Saragossa, and others less eminent; and these, in their own
mutual contests, not only relaxed their natural enmity
toward the Christian princes, but sometimes sought their
alliance.

Be that as it may, of all who had
entered Spain, whether Greek, Phoenician, Vandal or Goth,
the Moors were the most tolerant. The worship of God was
undisturbed. The temples were not only preserved, new ones
were built. In every town they entered, presto ! a mosque
and a school, and mosques and schools that were entrancing
as song. On the banks of the Betis, renamed the Great River,
Al-Ouad-al-Kebyr (Guadalquivir), twelve hundred villages
bloomed like roses in June. From three hundred thousand
filigreed pulpits the glory of Allah, and of Muhammad his
prophet, was daily proclaimed.

They were superb fellows, these
Moors. In earlier ages the restless Bedouins, their
ancestors, were rather fierce, and when the degenerate
Sabaism they professed was put aside for the lessons of
Muhammad, they were not only fierce, they were fanatic as
well. A drop ofblood shed for Allah, equaled, they were
taught, whole months of fasting and of prayer. Thereafter,
they preached with the scimiter. But in time, that great
emollient, they grew less dogmatic. In the ninth century the
court of Haroun al Raschid, was a free academy in which all
the arts were cultivated and enJoyed. Under the Moors,
Cordova surpassed Bagdad.

In the tenth century it was the most
beautiful and most civilized city of Europe. Concerning it
Burke, in his “History of Spain”–a work to which we are
much indebted–writes as follows:

There was the Caliph’s Palace of
Flowers, his Palace of Contentment, his Palace of Lovers,
and, most beautiful of all, the Palace of Damascus. Rich and
poor met in the Mezquita, the noblest place of worship then
standing in Europe, with its twelve hundred marble columns,
and its twenty brazen doors; the vast interior resplendent
with porphyry and jasper and many colored precious stones,
the walls glittering with harmonious mosaics, the air
perfumed with incense, the courtyards leafy with groves of
orange trees–showing apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Throughout the city, there were fountains, basins, baths,
with cold water brought from the neighboring mountains,
already carried in the leaden pipes that are the highest
triumph of the modern plumber.

But more wonderful even than Cordova
itself was the suburb and palace of Az Zahra. lRor
five-and-twesty years the Caliph Abdur Rahman devoted to the
building of this royal fancy one-third of the revenues of
the State; and the work, on his death, was piously continued
by his son, who devoted the first fifteen years of his reign
to its completion. For forty years ten thousand workmen are
said to have toiled day by day, and the record of the
refinement as well as the magnificence of the structure, as
it approached completion, almost passes belief. It is said
that in a moment of exaltation the Caliph gave orders for
the removal of the great mountain at whose foot the fairy
city was built, as the dark shade of the forests that
covered its sides overshadowed the gilded palace of his
creation.

Convinced of the impossibility of
his enterprise, An Nasir was content that all the oaks and
beech trees that grew on the mountain side should be rooted
up; and that fig trees, and almonds, and pomegranates should
be planted in their place; and thus the very hills and
forests of Az Zahra were decked with blossom and
beauty.

Travelers from distant lands, men of
all ranks and professions, princes, embassadors, merchants,
pilgrims, theologians and poets, all agreed that they had
never seen in the course of their travels anything that
could be compared with Az Zahra, and that no imagination,
however fertile, could have formed an idea of its beauties.
Of this marvelous creation of Art and Fancy not one stone
remains upon another–not a vestige to mark the spot on
which it stood; and it is hard to reconstruct from the dry
records of Arab historians the fairy edifice of which we are
told no words could paint the magnificence. According to
these authors the inclosing wall of the palace was four
thousand feet in length from east to west, and two thousand
two hundred feet from north to south. The greater part of
this space wars occupied by gardens, with their marble
fountains, kiosks and ornaments of various kinds, not
inferior in beauty to the more strictly architectural parts
of the building.

 

Four thousand three hundred columns
of the rarer,t and most precious marbles supported the roof
of the palace; of these some were brought from Africa, come
from Rome, and many were presented by the Emperor at
Constantinople to Abdur Rahman. The halls were paved with
marble, disposed in a thousand varied patterns. The walls
were of the same material;, and ornamented with friezes of
the most brilliant colors. The ceilings, constructed of
cedar, were enriched with gilding on an azure ground, with
damasked work and interlacing designs. Everything, in short,
that the wealth and ret sources of the Caliphcould command
was lavished on this favorite retreat, and all that the art
of Constantinople and Bagdad could contribute to aid the
taste and executive skill of the Spanish Arabs was enlisted
to make it the most perfect work of its age. Did this,
palace of Zahra now remain to us, says Mr. Fergusson, we
could afford to despise the Alhambra and all the other
works, of the declining ages of Moorish art.

It was here that Abdur Rahman an
Nasir received Sancho the Fat, and Theuda, queen of Navarre,
the envoys from Charles the Simple of P’rance, and the
embassadors from the Emperor Constantine at Constantinople.
The reception of these imperial visitors is said to have
been one of the most magnificent ceremonies of that
magnificent court. The orator who had been at first
intrusted with the speech of ceremonial greeting, was
actually struck dumb by the grandeur of the scene, and his
place was taken by a less impressionable
rhetorician.

Nor was it only material splendor
that was to be found at Cordova. At a time when Christian
Europe was steeped in ignorance and barbarism, in
superstition and prejudice, every branch of science was
studied under the favor and protection of the Ommeyad
Caliphs. Medicine, surgery, botany, chemistry, poetry, the
arts, philosophy, literature, all flourished at the court
and city of Cordova. Agriculture was cultivated with a
perfection, both theoretical and practical, which is
apparent from the works of contemporary Arab writers. The
Silo, so lately introduced into England as a valuable
agricultural novelty, is not only the invention of the
Arabs, but the very name is Arabic, as is that of the
Azequia and of the Noria of modern Spain. Both the second
and the third Abdur Rahman were passionately fond of
gardening and tree-p]anting; and seeds, roots and
cuttings were brought from all parts of the world and
acclimatized in the gardens at Cordova. A pomegranate of
peculiar excellence, the Safari, which was introduced by the
second Abdur Rahman from Damascus, still maintains its
superiority, and is known in Spain to the present day as the
Granada Zafari.

Thus, in small things as in great,
the Arabs of Cordova stood immeasurably above everv other
people or any other government in Europe. Yet their
influence unhappily was but small. They surpassed, but they
did not lead. The very greatness of their superiority
rendered their example fruitless. Medieval chivalry, indeed,
was largely the result of their influence in Spain. But
chivalry as an institution had itself decayed long before a
new-born Europe had attained to the material and moral
perfection of the great Emirs of Cordova. Their political
organization was unadapted to the needs or the aspirations
of Western Europe, and contained within itself the elements,
not of develops ment, but of decay. Their civilization
perished, and left no heirs behind it–and its place knows
it no more.

The reign of Hakam II., the son and
successor of the great Caliph, was tranquil, prosperous and
honorable, the golden age of Arab literature in Spain. The
king was above all things a student, living the life almost
of a rec]usXe in his splendid retreat at A% Zahra, and
concerning himself rather with the collection of books for
his celebrated library at Cordova than with the cares of
State and the excitements of war. He sent agents to every
city in the East to buy rare manuscripts and bring them back
to Cordova. When he could not acquire originals he procured
copies, and every book was carefully eatalogued and worthily
lodged. Hakam not only built libraries, but, unlike many
modern collectors, he is said to have read and even to have
annotated the books that they contained; but as their number
exceeded four hundred thousand, he must have been a
remarkably rapid student.

The peaceful disposition of the new
Caliph emboldened his Christian neighbors and tributaries to
disregard the old treaties and to assert their independence
of Cordova. But the armies of Hakam were able to make his
rights respected, and the treaties were reaffirmed and
observed. Many were the embassies that were received at
Cordova from rival Christian chiefs; and Sancho of Leon,
Fernan Gonzalez of Castile, Garcia of Navarre, Rodrigo
Velasquez of Glallicia, and finally Ordoto the Bad,
Pretender to the crown of Leony were all represented at the
court of Az Zahra.

The reign of this royal scholar was
peaceful and prosperous; but kingly power tends to decline
in libraries, and when Hakam ceased to build and to
annotate, and his kingdom devolved upon his son, the royal
authority passed not into the hands of the young Eisham, who
was only nine years of age at the time of his father’s
death, but into those of the Sultana Sobeyra and of her
favorite, Ibn-abu-amir, who is known to later generations by
the proud title of Almanzor. [Al Manzor al Allah: “The
Victor of God; or, Victorious by the Grace of
God.”]

Ibn-abu-amir began his career as a
poor student at the University of Cordova. Of respectable
birth and parentage, filled with noble ambition, born for
empire and command, the youth became a court scribe, and,
attracting the attention of the all-powerful Sobeyra by the
charm of his manner and his nobility of bearing, he soon
rose to power and distinction in the palace; and as Master
of the Mint, and afterward as Commander of the City Guard,
he found means to render himself indispensable, as he had
akvays been agreeable, to the harem. Nor was the young
courtier less aceeptable to the (:aliph. Intrusted by him on
a critical occasion with the supremely difficult mission of
comptrolling the expenditure of the army in Africa, where
the general-inehief had proved over-prodigal or
over-rapacious, Ibn-abuamir acquitted himself with such
extraordinary skill and tact that he won the respect and
admiration, not only of the Caliph whose treasury he
protected, but of the general whose extravagance he checked,
and even of the common soldiers of the army, who are not
usually drawn to a civilian superintendent, or to a
reforming treasury official from headquarters. The expenses
were curtailed; but the campaagn was successful, and the
victorious general and the yet more victorious Cadi shared
on equal terms the honor of a triumphal entry into the
capital.

On the death of Hakam, in September,
976, Ibn-abuamir showed no less than his usual tact and
vigor in sup pressing a palace intrigue, and placing the
young Hisham on the throne of his father. The Caliph was but
twelve years of age, and his powerful guardian, supported by
the harem, beloved by the people, and feared by the
vanquished conspirators, took upon himself the entire
administration of the kingdom, repealed some obnoxious
taxes, reformed the organization of the army, and sought to
confirm and establish his power by a war against his
neighbors in the north. The peace which had so long
prevailed between Moor and Christian was thus rudely broken,
and the Moslem once more carried his arms across the
northern frontier. The campaign was eminently successful.
Ibn-abu-amir, who contrived not only to vanquish his enemies
but to please his friends, became at once the master of the
palace and of the army. The inevitable critic was found to
say that the victor was a diplomatist and a lawyer rather
than a great general; but he was certainly a great leader of
men, and if he was at any time unskilled in the conduct of a
battle, he owned from the first that higher skill of knowing
whom to trust with command. Nor was he less remarkable for
his true military virtue of constant clemency to the
vanquished.

In two years after the death of
Hakam, Almanzor had attained the position of the greatest of
the maires du palais of early France, and he ruled all
Mohammedan Spain in the name of young Hisham, whose throne
he forbore to occupy and whose person was safe in his
custody. But if Almanzor was not a dilettante like Abdur
Rahman II., nor a collector of MSS. like Hakam, he was no
vulgar fighter like the early kings of Leon or of Navarre. A
library of books accompanied him in all his campaigns;
literature, science, and the arts were munificently
patronized at court; a university or high school was
established at Cordova, where the great mosque was enlarged
for the accommodation of an increasing number of worshipers.
Yet in one thing did he show his weakness. He could afford
to have no enemies. The idol of the army, the lover of the
queen, the prefect of the city, the guardian of the person
of the Caliph, Almanzor yet found it necessary to conciliate
the theologians; and the theologians were only conciliated
by the delivery of the great library of Hakam into the hands
of the Ulema. The shelves were ransacked for works on
astrology and magic, on natural philosophy, and the
forbidden sciences, and after an inquisition as formal and
as thorough and probably no more intelligent than that which
was conducted by the curate and the barber in the house of
Don Quixote, tens of thousands of priceless volumes were
publicly committed to the flames.

Nor did Almanzor neglect the more
practical or more direct means of maintaining his power. The
army was filled with bold recruits from Africa, and
renegades from the Christian provinces of the north. The
organization and equipment of the regiments was constantly
improved; add the troops were ever loyal to their civilian
bevefactor Ghalib, the commander-in-chief, having sought bo
overthrow the supreme administrator of the kingdom, was
vanquished and slain in battle (981). The Caliph was
practically a prisoner in his own palace, and was encouraged
by his guardian and his friends, both in the harem and in
the mosque, to devote himself entirely to a religious life,
and abandon the administration of his kingdom to the Hajib,
who now, feeling himself entirely secure at home, turned his
arms once more against the Christians on the northern
frontiers; and it was on his return to Cordova, after his
victories at Simancas and Zamora in 981, that he was greeted
with the well-known title of Almanzor.

In 984 he compelled Bermudo II. of
Leon to become his tributary. In 985 he turned his attention
to Catalonia, and after a brief but brilliant campaign he
made himself master of Barcelona. Two years later (987),
Bermudo having dismissed his Moslem guards and thrown off
his allegiance to Cordova, Almanzor marched into the
northwest, and after sacking Coimbra, overran Leon, entirely
destroyed the capital city, and compelled the Christian king
to take refuge in the wild fastnesses of the
Asturias.

Meanwhile, at Cordova, the power of
Almanzor became year by year more complete. Victorious in
Africa as well as in Spain, this heaven-born general was as
skillful in the council chamber as he was in the field. The
iron hand was ever clad in a silken glove. His ambition was
content with the substance of power, and with the gradual
assumption of any external show of supreme authority in the
State. In 991 he abandoned the office and title of Hajib to
his son, Abdul Malik. In 992 his seal took the place of that
of the monarch on all documents of State. In 993 he assumed
the royal cognomen of Mowayad. Two years later he arrogated
to himself alone the title of Said; and in 996 he ventured a
step further, and assumed the title of Malik lCarim, or
king.

But in 996 Almanzor was at length
confronted by a rival. Sobeyra, the Navarrese Sultana, once
his mistress, was now his deadly enemy, and she had
determined that the queen, and not the minister, should
reign supreme in the palace. Almanzor was to be destroyed.
Hakam, a feeble and effeminate youth, was easily won over by
the harem, who urged him to show the strength that he was so
far from possessing, by espousing the cause of his mother
against his guardian. The queen was assured of victory. The
treasury was at the disposal of the conspirators. A military
rival was secretly summoned from Africa. The minister was
banished from the royal presence. The palace was already
jubilant.

But the palace reckoned without
Almanzor. Making his way into Hakam’s chamber, more
charming, more persuasive, more resolute than ever, Almanzor
prevailed upon the Caliph not only to restore him to his
confidence, but to empower him, by a solemn instrument under
the royal sign-manual, to assume the government of the
kingdom. Sobeyra, defeated but unharmed by her victorious
and generous rival, retired to a cloister; and Almanzor,
contemptuously leaving to one of his lieutenants the task of
vanquishing his subsidized rival in Africa, set forth upon
the most memorable of all his many expeditions against
C!hristian Spain.

Making his way, at the head of an
army, through Lusitania into far away Gallicia, he took
Corunna, and destroyed the great Christian church and city
of Santiago de Compostella, the most sacred spot in all
Spain, and sent the famous bells which had called so many
Christian pilgrims to prayer and praise to be converted into
lamps to illuminate the Moslem worshipers in the mosque at
Cordova.

Five years later, in 1002, after an
uncertain battle, Almanzor died in harness, if not actually
in the ranks, bowed down by mortal disease, unhurt by the
arm of the enemy. The relief of the Christians at his death
was unspeakable; and is well expressed, says Mr. Poole, in
the simple comment of the Monkish annalist, “In 1002 died
Almanzor, and was buried in Hell.”

In force of character, in power of
persuasion, in tact, in vigor, in that capacity for command
that is only found in noble natures, Almanzor has no rival
among the Regents of Spain. His rise is a romance; his power
a marvel; his justice a proverb. He was a brilliant
financier; a successful favorite; a liberal patron; a stern
disciplinarian; a heaven-born courtier; an accomplished
general; and no one of the great commanders of Spain, not
Gonsalvo de Aguilar himself, was more uniformly successful
in the field than this lawyer’s clerk of Cordova.

Hisham, in confinement at Az Zahra,
was still the titular Caliph of the West, but Almanzor was
succeeded as commander-in-chief and virtual ruler of the
country by his favorite son, his companion-in-arms, and the
hero of an African campaign, Abdul Malik Almudaffar, the
Hajib of 991. But the glory of Cordova had departed. Abdul
Malik indeed ruled in his father’s place for six years. But
on his death, in 10029, he was succeeded by his
half-brother, Abdur Rahman, who, as the son of a Christian
princess, was mistrusted both by the palace and by the
people; and the country became a prey to anarchy.

Cordova was sacked. The Caliph was
imprisoned; rebellions, poisonings, crucifixions, civil war,
bigotry and skepticism, the insolence of wealth, the
insolence of power, a Mahdi and a Wahdi, Christian alliance,
Berber domination, Slav mutineers5 African interference,
puppet princes, all these things vexed the Spanish BIoslems
for thirty disastrous years; while a number of weak but
independent sovereignties arose on the ruins of the great
Caliphate of the West.

The confused annals of the last
thirty years of the rule of the Ommeyades are mere records
of blood and of shame, a pitiful story of departed
greatness.

On the death of Hisham II., the
Romulus Augustulus of Imperial Cordova, Moslem Spain was
divided into a number of petty kingdoms, Malaga, Algeciras,
Cordova, Seville, Toledo, Badajoz, Saragossa, the Balearic
Islands, Valencia, Murcia, Almeria, and Granada. And each of
these cities and kingdoms made unceasing war one upon
another.

From the death of Hisham, if not
from the death of Almanzor, the center of interest in the
history of Spain is shifted from Cordova to
Castile.

 

See more: Caliph
of Cordoba (Cordova
)