You Can Thank Muslim Spain for these Everyday Things

Muslim Spain

When (almost) all of Europe was in the dark ages, there was a part of the world that was in its heyday: Muslim Spain. These Muslims, known as Moors, were a hotbed for knowledge and discovery, bringing together peoples from all over Europe to investigate and learn the world. You’d be amazed at what we have today thanks to the Moors.

Oxford University

Muslim Spain was the height of knowledge in Medieval Europe. This was where people came to get educated. Toledo, a well-known city in Muslim Spain, was especially known for knowledge, and had libraries with more books than anywhere else in Europe. So, when Daniel of Morley went on the hunt for real academics, he made his way over to Toledo and stayed there for a few years, learning with and from the Moors. Eventually he returned to England, taking with him books of Moorish ideology and the spit to found today’s Oxford University.

Degree-Granting Universities

In 859 CE, the daughter of a wealthy Moorish merchant founded a mosque and university in Fes, Morocco – this is the world’s oldest university, and the mosque right next door is one of the largest in North Africa. The freedom and hunt for knowledge was a huge part of Spanish Islam, so it makes sense that this is where you can find the oldest university in the world.


Back before the intellectual explosion of Spanish Islam, everybody was still on Roman numerals. If you think about it, Roman numerals make it hard to do pretty well anything, considering you’d take up all your paper writing the numbers! While the Moors did not invent the digits we use now, the Moors are the reason we use them today. They were first officially developed in India, thrown into the intellectual mix of the Spanish Muslims, and eventually brought to Europe by Leonardo Fibonacci, the Middle Ages’ most famous mathematician.

Bulk Manufacturing of Paper

The Chinese invented paper, but Spanish Muslims made it readily available by refining the process of paper-making and inventing machines to make it in mass quantities. This meant Muslims could use paper regularly, motivating advances in book production and bookbinding. All in all, the Spanish Muslims loved books, as shown in the sheer quantity of books in Moorish libraries.


Spanish Muslims were the first to create what we know today as hospitals. Called bimaristans at the time, they were a place to hold the sick, no matter your sex, wealth, race, or religion. These Moorish hospitals functioned better than even some of today’s hospitals:

  • No patient was ever turned away
  • There was no limit for how long a patient could stay
  • The goal of the hospital was to work together to help the patients
  • Patients were required to stay until they were fully recovered
  • Men and women were kept in separate but identical wards
  • These wards were separated into wards like those for contagious diseases and mental diseases
  • Patients were attended to by a practitioner of the same sex
  • Music and recreation was available to cheer patients up
  • All patients received free treatment

What happened to Muslim Spain? Long story short, the Spanish Inquisition and the Catholics.


  1. Very informative! I like blog posts that are different such as this one. I didn’t know the facts you listed here and feel quite ignorant not having known these things. Thank you for raising my awareness! 🙂

  2. I love knowing more about history. I didn’t know that much about Muslim Spain so I found it a very interesting post to read. Waw, they really established some good things back then out of which we can still reap the benefits today!

  3. This is really an enlightening post. To think that some people hate Muslims! I would like to share this post to them. I’m sad that many young people these days do not appreciate learning the history of the world and instead based their arguments on what they see and read on social media.

  4. Jamie, I’m so glad to find your blog! This is a really hot topic right now – sadly. When are we EVER going to learn to appreciate each other and get along in the world. I found out about the Moors when I was researching a travel guide for kids before our trip to Spain. I was delighted and surprised with all that I found out. We especially love the Moorish design elements and once we realized what they were….we found them further away from Spain like in Morocco.

    I write about traveling with the kids and using travel to further their education. There is no better way to assimilate cultures and realize that YOUR way of doing things isn’t the ONLY way – sometimes THEIR way is even better. 🙂 We must fight hate with understanding. LOVE the post and will be tweeting it to my audience as well.

    • Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! It’s so important to be informed about the world and its history! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post and share this understanding. The only way to make the world a better place is to love!

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