Islam's Enduring Influence on Spain

Besides the food crops, the Muslim brought to the Iberian Peninsula the cotton plant, which in Spanish is called algodon from the Arabic alqutn. They also developed the silk industry, to make Al-Andalus one of the major silk manufacturing countries of the medieval world. The fine fabrics of which Europe was to be proud in later centuries had their origin in this land of the Moors.


The wealth generated by agriculture would have been insignificant were it not for the excellent irrigation system the Muslim constructed throughout Al-Andalus. When these former sons of the desert first came to the peninsula, they found a primitive form of a Roman irrigation network. After making a scientific study of the land, they improved this network greatly, completing many hydraulic projects for irrigating their whole domain.


There is little doubt that the intricate canal network was responsible for producing the thriving crops in the Muslim era. The lush huerta surrounding Valencia has fascinated engineers and historians for centuries. The Moorish irrigation system, which made this garden full of orchards and rice fields possible, is still regulated by a thousand-year-old tribunal established by the Moorish khalifah Al-Hakam II. Every Thursday at midday it holds its sessions to adjudicate land disputes among the farmers. The code laid down by the Muslims is still the basis of judgement by this Tribunal of the Waters.

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