As-Salamu Alaykum, is the Muslim greeting and means peace be with you. In Ibiza there is a sizeable Islam community and recentlly I had the pleasure of welcoming a South African Muslim family to the island. Ibiza has a rich history and culture and Islam had a strong presence in the Balearic’s from 900AD, when they were conquered by the Moors. They brought prosperity and peace introducing new irrigation and agricultural farming techniques, which are still in operation today. The Moors ruled for over 300 years, until the Catalan Conquest in 1235. According to island legend the Moors were betrayed by a jealous brother of the King, who allowed the Catalans to sack the city by showing them a secret gate located where the tiny Chapel Of Saint Ciriac stands in Dalt Villa today.
Ibiza has a Mosque located at 36, Carrer De Navarra, in the Figueretas area of Ibiza town, where daily prayers are practiced. Muslims pray five times a day known as the Salah and this is obligatory for all Muslims. Set times for prayers are dictated by the movement of the sun and Friday prayer, the Jumu’ah, is considered a holy day, similar to Sundays for Christians. Muslims differ in how they interpret the Qur’an, some are very conservative with regards to alcohol and Halal food and others adopt a more liberal stance enjoying a drink or two and eating non Halal food called mashbooh, meaning questionable. As long as they stick to the five fundamental pillars of Islam, it is up to each Muslim how they live their life. Halal is a broad word describing any action or object that is permissible under Islamic Law. Halal ensures that animals are slaughtered with respect and mercy so that they do not suffer.
Contrary to popular belief, Muslims know how to party. They are fun loving and enjoy all aspects of modern day culture. Mannerly, respectful of different cultures and with a strong family ethos they are a content and self assured people. My Muslims guests were quiet happy to attend the David Guetta Opening party at Pacha (in Hijab) and the Space Opening party and really enjoyed the whole experience. They also enjoyed a cultural trip around the island, viewing sites with Muslim culture and background. We visited Balafia, a small hamlet of five houses just outside the tiny village of San Lorenc, where the islands oldest houses still exist today. The Muslim Houses at Balafia are living history, as all of them have people still using them as homes. There is an ancient Moorish water well still working and the whole area has a special atmosphere about it.
We also visited Dalt Villa where the narrow streets and organic urban layout are very similar to Islamic cities across the Mediterranean. Within the walls of Dalt Villa, can be found the Casa De La Curia, which houses the Madina Yasbisa, an impressive Museum that reflects Ibiza under Islamic rule.Intact remains of the old Muslim City wall of Ibiza, that were discovered in 2001, are displayed within the Museum. The wall is different from the brick renaissance walls of the Catalans, as it was made by compacting mud and clay in a technique known as matting. Ibiza has experienced many different cultures and religions invade its shores down through the centuries and Islam has contributed greatly to the islands personality.
Ibiza welcomes everybody as one, without bias or ignorance, it is what makes the island such a special place. My Muslim visitors had their eyes opened by Ibiza and its rich Islamic heritage and I was in turn impressed by the pleasant and good company of new friends. I hope that the Assalaam-O-Alaikum, which means goodbye in Islam, will not be the last time that I use the phrase.