Spain & the Joint Heirs of Abraham

Original photo of the inside of the Mezquita-Catedral, December 2019

We arrived in Cordoba after sunset. It was December, so we had layered in anticipation of the cool Spanish evenings. Our Airbnb host prearranged transportation for us to our flat. The driver was a handsome local, who spoke very little English. Aidah and I had enough high school Spanish to make out what he was saying. When we couldn’t make out something, he would sprinkle in English words to aid our comprehension.

After about a fifteen-minute drive, we parked in a garage not far from the flat and unloaded our bags. As we approached the elevator, our driver directed our attention to an overlook. There was a discolored wall and, below, a patch of grass — unremarkable upon first glance. Then, in English, our driver explained the layers of history in the wall. The bottom part of the wall was from Roman times. Right above it was where the Moors had built on top of what the Romans established, then above that was Christian architecture. That wall representing over a thousand years of religious history. He spoke almost nostalgically about the role of Islam, specifically, in Spanish culture. He said that the Spanish people do not look back at this history with derision nor do they try to hide it. It is a proud part of their complex cultural identity…

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