WONDERS OF AZ-ZAHRA
OTHER ANDALUSIAN PALACES
A description by Al-Makin of the famous pleasure palace, az-Zahra', which was built at the height of the Muslims' extravagance in the tenth century (Andalusia or Muslim Spain) illustrates the extent of the wealth around which such discord grew:
An-Nasir began the construction of the palace and the city of az-Zahra' in the year three hundred and twenty-five of the Hijra (936 CE), and the building was continued for forty consecutive years, that it is to say twenty-five years of the life of An-Nasir and fifteen of that of his son and successor Al-Hakam; for although the palace was completed long before the death of An-Nasir considerable additions were made to it by his son, and the buildings for the reception of the court, the barracks for the troops, the pleasure-gardens, baths, fountains, and so forth, were never completed until the days of Al-Hakam.
During the reign of 'Abdu'r-Rahman III six thousand blocks of stone, great and small, cut into various shapes, and either polished or smoothed, were used every day exclusive of the uncut stones used for paving and the like. The number of beasts of burden daily employed to convey the materials of construction was fourteen hundred, some say more, besides four hundred camels belonging to the Sultan, and one thousand mules hired for the occasion at the rate of three mithqals a month, making the total expense of hiring amount to three thousand mithqals monthly. In the building eleven hundred burdens of lime and gypsum were used every third day.
The number of columns, great and small, supporters or supported, employed in the building amounted to four thousand; others exceed that number by three hundred and sixteen. Of these some came from Rome, nineteen from the country of the Franks, one hundred and forty were presented by the Emperor of Constantinople, one thousand and thirteen, mostly of green and rose colored marble, were brought from Carthage, Tunis, Sfax, and other places in Africa; the remainder were extracted from quarried in his Andalusian dominions, as for instance the white marble from Tarragons and Almeria, the streaked marble from Raya, and so forth...
Ibn Hayyan says that the wonders of az-Zahra' included two fountains, with their basins, so extraordinary in their shape, and so valuable for their exquisite workmanship...The smaller one, above all, appears to have been a real wonder of art...When the Khalif received it he ordered it to be placed in the dormitory of the eastern hall called Al-Munis, and he fixed on it twelve figures made of red gold, and set with pearls and other precious stones. The figures, which were all made in the arsenal of Cordoba, represented various animals; as for instance one was the likeness of a lion, having on one side an antelope, and on the other a crocodile; opposite to these stood an eagle and a dragon; and on the two wings of the group a pigeon, a falcon, a peacock, a hen, a cock, a kite, and a vulture. They moreover were all ornamented with jewels, and the water poured out from their mouths....
Allah: Allah is the proper name in Arabic for The One and Only God, The Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It is used by the Arab Christians and Jews for the God (Eloh-im in Hebrew; 'Allaha' in Aramaic, the mother tongue of Jesus, pbuh). The word Allah does not have a plural or gender. Allah does not have any associate or partner, and He does not beget nor was He begotten.
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Copyright © 1996, 1997 Dr. A. Zahoor
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Excerpts from Ahmad Thomson's book on the subject of Islam in Spain, 1989.
"Islam in Andalus," Revised Edition by A. Thomson and M. Ata'ur-Rahim, Ta-Ha Publishers, London, 1996.