Moors of Spain Part I – The Spread of Islam to Spain in the 8th Century

Moors {{PD-1923}} – published anywhere before 1923 and public domain in the U.S

“Written” by Celeste McMillan

If you have already read The Vital Sacrifice, then you know that I am Teresa McMillan’s mother.  Back in college, I was very was very keen about social justice which lead me to my first career in law.  As an attorney, I passionately fought for my client’s rights.  Teresa’s friend, Tina, was fond of my passion in the legal world which led her to become the powerhouse attorney that she is.  However, that career is behind me now as you know and now I am an interior designer.

One thing that I have consistently been passionate about since college and all throughout law school and even until this day is history.  You have seen that I am passionate about our family history but I am also interested in history in general.  My family originally came from the Dominican Republic and moved to New York.  My mom and dad then moved us to Wisconsin when I was very young but I always yearned to go back to New York so when I had the opportunity to do so for college, I did.  After having Teresa, I became interested in my family bloodline and because I have a Spanish grandmother, I’ve always been fascinated with Spanish culture.

One particular part of Spanish history that has always intrigued me was that of the Moors in Spain.  I was first introduced to them while watching the film El Cid when I was young girl.  I always wondered who the dark villains were that Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, played by the gorgeous Charleston Heston, fought back in order to unify Spain.  I later found out that they were an invading Moorish army but I always wondered, who were the Moors?

What I discovered is that since antiquity, Spain had been ruled by various groups including the Celts, Iberians, Phoenicians, Romans and the Visigoths.  Spain experienced a great deal of civilization during its Roman presence in the region.  But, as you know, every great nation falls; thus, Romans were eventually overtaken by the Visigoths.  The Visigoth control of the region began to weaken when its king Wittiza passed away.  His son Agila was next in line to be his successor; however these plans were thwarted by a Duke named Roderick.  He usurped power and named himself king and there was nothing that Agila or the people of Spain could do about it.  This political move inevitably gained Roderick many internal enemies who were more than happy to do whatever they could to remove him from power.

Roderick, King of Spain {{PD-1923}} – published anywhere before 1923 and public domain in the U.S.

It was this factionalism that made Spain ripe for invaders.  Roderick was unaware of or at least unconcerned about the anger brewing in his country toward him as a result of his takeover.  As he was going about his usual tasks of trying to pacify Spain, particularly the remote northern regions, he was totally blind-sighted by the raiders coming in from the south.  In 711 A.D., Tangiers’ governor Tariq Ibn Ziyad raised a small army of Berbers who were recent converts to Islam over the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain.  His intention was to spread the growing Islamic Berber influence into the fertile lands of Spain extending the region known as the Magreb.  The Magreb primarily consisted of dry, harsh terrain that was hard to cultivate, so Spain’s fertile lands were very desirable.

Tariq Ibn Zayid, image courtesy of Creative Commons – Flickr

The success of Tariq’s campaign was made possible by exploiting the political unrest of the region.  One man in particular who despised King Roderick was Count Julian whose daughter was allegedly raped by the king.  Out of sheer revenge, it is believed that Julian helped Tariq’s soldiers safely enter the lands of Spain.   The Visigoths under King Roderick put up a fight against the invaders but to no avail.  Even though Roderick and his soldiers outnumbered the Moors, the lack of unity among them made them no match against Tariq and his united invading force.  From this point on, Tariq defeated King Roderick and his army and continued across the Iberian peninsula gaining momentum as his army grew from reinforcements from North Africa.  He took over lands of Spain from south to north, forcing its locals to accept the new religion of Islam or pay taxes if they remained loyal to their former religions.

 

Leave a reply below or join the private discussion by becoming a member on LE Blog’s Facebook group.  Don’t forget to check out upcoming series about the Moors which include the spread of their influence and their eventual fall during the Reconquista.

Click here, to follow Celeste McMillan on Pinterest.

 

 


 

Disclaimer:   These blog articles are attributed to characters found in the novel, The Vital Sacrifice, and this blog is a fictitious representation of the characters in the book speaking on what interests them based on their role in the novel.  These blog articles are post-publication characterizations and are meant to entertain niche audiences who may be interested in purchasing or have already purchased this novel.

The Vital Sacrifice Book Promotion

Images courtesy of Dreamstime and Shutterstock

A top member of a secret brotherhood becomes obsessed with a celebrity but his fellow members aren’t having it…

There is secret fraternal order that exists for the sole purpose of indulging in the greatest pleasures of life.

Chi Khan, Anwar Mamluk and Ali Rahman have traded in their humdrum past lives to join the Order of Legions of Solomon’s Temple.  Formed in the 12th century, men who become members of this fraternal order have the best of everything at their disposal including money, power and women galore.  The pretentiousness and braggadocio of these alpha males is over the top but it is justified because they are a superior group of men.

With such a lavish life guaranteed by membership to this secret society, why would one of its top members risk his power and prestige all because of his obsession with the famous singer, Teresa McMillan?  This relationship – which is forbidden in the first place – could unveil their secret existence and potentially leave them open to all out war with all of the military establishments of the world.

A fraternal order, hundreds of years in the making, is in jeopardy of crumbling at the foundation because of one member’s failure to maintain protocol in order to protect the egocentric desires of the entire brotherhood.

The Vital Sacrifice Front Cover

The Vital Sacrifice, an Alpha male paranormal romance

Click here to purchase a copy

 

Want a free copy?  Enter the Amazon sweepstakes for a chance to win by clicking the link below:

Amazon Paperback Book Giveaway

Amazon Paperback Book Giveaway

 

Hey fans!  I am currently running a promotion on Amazon for a chance to win a free paperback copy of my Alpha male paranormal romance novel,  The Vital Sacrifice.   If you want to enter to win, follow this link:

Amazon Paperback Giveaway

 

Want to purchase the book instead?

Buy your copy at one of these venues by clicking here now!

Amazon Book Giveaway for Kindle

Hey fans!  This weekend, I will be running a promotion on Amazon for a chance to win a free paperback copy of my Alpha male paranormal romance novel,  The Vital Sacrifice.  Right now, I am running a promotion for Kindle.  If you want to enter to win, follow this link:

Amazon Kindle Giveaway

 

Want to purchase the book instead?

Buy your copy at one of these venues by clicking here now!

Enslavement and Rebellion of Zanj People of Iraq

Zanj, Public Domain Image {{PD-1923}} – published anywhere before 1923 and public domain in the U.S.

‘Written’ by Ali Rahman, Blog Contributor

 

If you have already read The Vital Sacrifice, then you already know a bit about my lineage.  My mother, Fatimah, was Arab and my father, Malik, was a Zanj both of whom resided in Egypt.  As you may have read, my father, who was a statesman heavily involved in the politics of his day, taught me a lot when I was a youth; but, one thing that he did not discuss with me is our Zanj ancestry.  I later found out that it was because it was a part of his past that he wanted to forget because his people weren’t esteemed in East African or middle-eastern societies.  After the Zanj rebellion in Iraq and their diaspora throughout nearby lands, nations that they settled in often regarded them as second-class citizens.  Thus, this inferiority complex plagued my father and may have been why he kept this part of my past from me.  Therefore, I decided to learn more about this part of my ancestry for myself and share what I found with you.

For many centuries, this land now known as Iraq was referred to as Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers.  This area of the world has been known for many great civilizations that have arisen here including the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Persians.   This region is often referred to as the cradle of civilization because it is believed that this is where the original garden of Eden was and where agriculture and writing flourished. By the 7th century, Arabs defeated the Persians and established their rule under the Abbasid empire.  Their empire spread far and wide usually taking over by force or simply by conversion to the Islamic faith.

As this empire spread, it left much slave labor in its wake.  There were many nationalities of slaves taken under the Abbasid rule but one group of slaves in particular that were enslaved in the area now known as Iraq was Bantu-speaking people from East Africa which became known as the Zanj.  The Zanj were taken from various parts of East Africa to Iraq primarily to work in the salt mines but also performed many other roles which included growing cotton, ‘working’ in harems, and being for forcefully changed into eunuchs to protect harems.  Apparently this slave labor became too much for the Zanj people so they staged a series of rebellions in the region with the last one resulting in long-term success — a little over a decade — through the use of guerrilla warfare.  Ali ibn Muhammad, led the insurrection but he was eventually killed and the rebellion was eventually put down.  This rebellion crippled not only crippled the economy of the region but also was the beginning of the end for the Abbasid empire who became entrenched in civil war and infighting from that point on.

I’m not certain what happened to the enslaved after the insurrection because not much was recorded about the rebellion or its aftermath; but, at some point, my father’s people eventually made their way back to East Africa – Egypt to be precise.  Apparently my father felt like a second-class citizen due to his lineage and sought to pull himself up in Egyptian society by acquiring education and working as a top adviser for the Sultan.  Fortunately, he and his bloodline were able to move away from Iraq and make a new life for themselves in other nearby regions.  For those that remain in Iraq today, I can’t say the same.  There are many decedents of Zanj who reside there that are disgruntled with the discrimination in Iraq – the same type of discrimination that my father fought so hard to protect me from.

 

More links to this topic

Will Iraqi Blacks Win Justice?

Black Iraqis

Black Iraqis claim discrimination

Black Iraqis In Basra Face Racism

 

Are you familiar with the plight of former Zanj and present-day Black Iraqis in the region? Join the conversation by leaving a reply below or join the private discussion by becoming a member on LE Blog’s Facebook group.

Click here, to follow Ali Rahman on Pinterest.

 

 


 

Disclaimer:   These blog articles are attributed to characters found in the novel, The Vital Sacrifice, and this blog is a fictitious representation of the characters in the book speaking on what interests them based on their role in the novel.  These blog articles are post-publication characterizations and are meant to entertain niche audiences who may be interested in purchasing or have already purchased this novel.

Dim Mak – The Touch that Kills

Image courtesy of Dreamstime

 

“Written” by Chi Khan

If you have already read The Vital Sacrifice, then you already know that it mentions the concept of Dim Mak. But you may be wondering “what is Dim Mak?”  Well here, I will explain it to the best of my ability.

So a long, long, long time ago, in lands now known to us as Asia, masters created martial arts.  You have to keep in mind that mankind didn’t have a lot of protections against the forces of nature in the way that we do now, so fighting off a wild animal or even your neighbor who was trying to steal from you or kill you was a real threat, daily.  Of course there were rudimentary weapons and possibly even remarkable swords at the time but no one was always ready for sneak attacks.  Therefore, hand-to-hand combat was a real skill that could ward off an attacker at a moment’s notice.  This type of combat most certainly arose out of necessity but as time went on, like with all things, humans went on to perfect it into an art form.

Today, there are many forms of martial arts designed to kick your opponents ass at a moment’s notice.  I have witnessed many types and have even performed many of them myself over the years.  But many practitioners aren’t just concerned with the self-defense of martial arts.  Many, including myself, love to delve deeply into the spiritual essence of fighting that goes beyond the physical.

Some might disagree with me when I say that fighting goes beyond our physical interpretation and extends inwardly into our life force flowing within often known as Chi.  This word — which is my first name by the way — describes the energy that flows within.  You are not just a walking, living, breathing meat-suit.  There are two dimensions of the self and it is that inward energy that is often neglected even among us fighters.  The physical is slow, it is cumbersome; chi is quick, it is effortless.  Imagine the duality of the inner and the outer working together in harmony.  I tell you, you will witness an almost indestructible fighter.

I say all of this to lay the foundation for explaining Dim Mak.  It is described as a “touch of death” in which the fighter delivers a series of seemingly effortless blows to specific regions of the opponent’s body which are meant to kill.  You may have witnessed such a technique in the popular film Kill Bill 2.  They refer to it as the five point palm exploding heart technique in which is believed to be what legends are made of.  This Hollywood interpretation of the technique is over the top, but a simple explanation of Dim Mak is as follows:

 

“Dim Mak was developed from eastern medicine that is thought to heal the body, or specifically the organs, through manipulating acupoints along meridians on the body. The thought is, if manipulating these acupoints in a specific order can heal an organ, then doing the reverse order will harm the organ. That’s it, it was supposedly developed out of a theory that was never truly tested successfully.”

 

In essence, Dim Mak is the opposite of the healing technique of acupressure and in theory a combination of touch points will lead to death of the opponent.

I will admit that it is quite laughable to believe that poking people in certain areas of the body will kill them, but I will leave this for debate among the skeptics and the believers.  But chi or life force flowing through the body is a real thing and if you think its not, restrict any part of the body using a rubber band, something tight, or even laying improperly on a body part for a few hours and you will sense a numbing sensation and in some instances, that portion of the body may start turning blue or black.  This is an interruption of energy, or chi, in the body and whenever the flow of energy stops or is restricted, it will ultimately result in pain or even death.

So, Dim Mak may not cause instant death in the way that we see it portrayed in Hollywood films; but, there are pressure points that if hit with enough force can knock a person out for sure.  Keep in mind that just as a concussion can lead to death, it shouldn’t be to hard to believe that there is a martial arts technique that could possibly deliver a lethal blow to opponents. The good thing is that knowledge such as this is kept in the hands of a few or else people would run around killing each other on a regular basis.  This is part of the reason why the elders of our fraternity remained secretive about what we know because all chaos broke out when people freely had access to our books.  If you have read The Vital Sacrifice, then you know that these books are guarded by members of our Order and some of the knowledge contained within these books has only been passed down by word of mouth among us because written word can be deadly in the wrong hands.  Some knowledge is only known to me, Anwar, and Ali because even sharing sharing certain things among members of our fraternity is dangerous.

So is Dim Mak a real phenomenon?  I am a believer but some things are best left alone. If you want to know more about this concept, this video below that I discovered online is a good start.   Join the conversation on Facebook and don’t forget to follow my Pinterest page.

 

Leave a reply below or join the private discussion by becoming a member on LE Blog’s Facebook group.

Click here, to follow Chi Khan on Pinterest.

 

 


 

Disclaimer:   These blog articles are attributed to characters found in the novel, The Vital Sacrifice, and this blog is a fictitious representation of the characters in the book speaking on what interests them based on their role in the novel.  These blog articles are post-publication characterizations and are meant to entertain niche audiences who may be interested in purchasing or have already purchased this novel.

Picnic Basket Ideas – Spine-tingling Barbecue Chicken With Potato Salad and Banana Pudding Dessert

Image courtesy of Stocksnap

 

“Written” by Matthew Larken

If you have read The Vital Sacrifice, then you know that I am a caterer and I love to cook.  Not only do I love to cook, but I also love to share my recipe ideas with fans.

The summer is coming to an end but fun and great food doesn’t have to stop.  As a matter of fact, there are some great dishes that I have in store for you in the coming colder months, including Teresa’s favorite, seafood gumbo.  But, in the meantime, why not take your family or significant other on a picnic one last time before autumn settles in.  And, while you are at it, I have the perfect picnic foods that you can add to your basket.

For this article, I chose three very simple items to take with you for your picnic.  Grilled chicken: because it can be made at home and taken with you; or cooked while you are at the park.  Potato salad: because you can chill this and take it to the park.  Banana pudding: because it is such an easy and refreshing dessert to take along on a picnic.

 

Image courtesy of Stocksnap

Matthew’s Delicious Barbecue Chicken

The focus should be on the barbecue because this is the main dish.  You can use any part of the chicken you like for this recipe but I’m going to emphasize boneless, skinless chicken breast meat.  First, you un-package the meat.  There is a great debate about whether to wash the chicken or not; some do some don’t; so, I will leave that up to you. Then, you can lay the pieces out on a cutting board to season it (or you are free to use the counter if you like).   Sprinkle some salt and white pepper on both sides (use black pepper if you prefer).  Then, use a marinade to soak the meat in for about an hour before cooking.  Try to make or buy a marinade that won’t clash with the taste of the barbecue sauce like classic steak marinade or, if you want to get colorful, a pineapple marinade.  I’m old-fashioned so I like to take mustard and vinegar and mix it until it is incorporated well and pour it over the meat and let it sit.  While waiting for an hour, this would be the perfect time to start boiling the potatoes and preparing the potato salad.  You could also work on the banana pudding.  After the marinade has saturated the chicken, get the grill ready.  Either propane or charcoal grills are good but I love to grill with charcoal grills.  Grill the meat until done.  About 15 minutes before you pull the chicken from the grill, prepare the barbecue sauce.  I usually mix steak sauce or Worcestshire sauce, barbecue sauce, and a little bit of brown sugar together in a bowl.  After this, you can place it in a container to pour on later once you are ready to eat; or, you can let the chicken cool and then place the pieces directly into the sauce until you are ready to eat.

Matthew’s Slammin’ Potato Salad

Potato salad is a fantastic side to barbecue.  But making potato salad can be complicated for most.  One false move and you may have mashed potato and mayonnaise mush rather than potato salad.  I’ll let you decide on which potato to use because different people have different tastes.  Skin on skin off?  I’ll also leave that up to you.  I usually cook with gold or white potatoes skin off and cut up the potatoes into cubes.  I boil the potatoes until they are able to withstand a fork or sharp object piercing them without friction.  Any longer than that, then the potatoes will be too over cooked for the meal.  Once you test them and they are ready, turn them off immediately, drain the water from them and place them in a bowl.  Place this bowl into another larger bowl of ice to stop the cooking process.  Once the potatoes are cool, place them in the fridge for about an hour.  When the potato cubes are nice and cold, this is the best time to add the other ingredients.  Some do it before cooling them off but I find that mixing ingredients while it is still warm makes the salad too runny.  But if runny is your thing, go right ahead and add the other ingredients while the cubes are warm (not hot).  Pull out your mayo and your mustard and your relish.  By the way, if you like boiled eggs in your potato salad, this would be a good time to add those, too.  Do not boil the eggs for longer than 17 minutes on high in order to avoid the greenish, brownish color around the edge of the yolk.  Start by adding a very small teaspoon of mustard (skip it if you don’t like mustard).  Follow this with a tablespoon of relish.  Add more or less if you like.  Also, some like sweet tasting potato salad so opt for sweet relish.  If you like for it to be more savory, opt for dill relish.  Finally, add about a tablespoon of mayo to the salad.  Again if you like sweet tasting potato salad, then opt for a tablespoon of Miracle Whip or mayo with a little sugar added; but, if you like savory potato salad, just use regular mayo like Duke’s or Hellman’s.  If you like more than a tablespoon of mayo, then add more, but I start with a tablespoon so it won’t get too soggy.  Remember, if you start with a small amount of mayo, you can always add more mayo to your liking but if its over-saturated with mayo in the beginning, you can consider the dish a “total loss.”  Last, place the potato salad back in the fridge until you are ready to leave for the picnic.  Make sure it is cool as possible so that it can be nice and firm.  If you like, you can top it with a little paprika but it is not necessary.

Matthew’s Delectable Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is very easy to prepare because you won’t need to bake it.  I know I’m committing a sin by telling you this but first, we are going to start this recipe with boxed pudding.  I say use this because its just not worth the headache to try to make pudding from scratch when there are such good ones on the market.  I usually use French vanilla instead of banana-flavored pudding because it gives the dish a less intense banana flavor and gives the actual bananas an opportunity to dominate the palate rather than the banana-flavored pudding.  Pour the amount of milk in required for the dish and stir.  I usually add a little more milk than is required and use a mixer to make the pudding nice and fluffy.  At the bottom of your dish, place your cookies.  Traditional recipes call for Nilla wafers but I have found that Belgian waffle butter crisps make a magnificent alternative.  Follow with a layer of sliced bananas.  You can cut them in circles but I like to cut them at an angle similar to the way that plantains are cut.  This makes them a little longer so you don’t have to put so many in to the pudding.  Follow with a layer of the French vanilla pudding (or banana pudding if you if you prefer to stick to tradition).  Last you can add another layer of cookies and repeat if you like, but I usually stop with the top layer of cookies.  For the last layer, I usually crumble the cookies or Belgian waffle butter crisps and sprinkle them all around the top of the French Vanilla pudding.  Place the dish into the fridge and chill until it’s time for the picnic.  If you like for the cookies or butter crisps to be crunchy, then eat the pudding about an hour after chilling it.  If you like them to be much softer, then make the pudding several hours or a day in advance of the picnic.

Image courtesy of Stocksnap

 

Well I hope that you enjoy these ideas that I have shared with you!  Remember you can include more items such as soda, lemonade, chips, or other nick knacks in your picnic basket.  Have fun and look for my next article in which I will share with you how to prepare seafood gumbo.  Perhaps this dish will win Teresa back.  What do you think?

 

Leave a reply below or join the private discussion by becoming a member on LE Blog’s Facebook group.

Click here, to follow Matthew Larken on Pinterest.

 

 


 

Disclaimer:   These blog articles are attributed to characters found in the novel, The Vital Sacrifice, and this blog is a fictitious representation of the characters in the book speaking on what interests them based on their role in the novel.  These blog articles are post-publication characterizations and are meant to entertain niche audiences who may be interested in purchasing or have already purchased this novel.