Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain

Article excerpt

The Myth of the A ndalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians and Jew s under Islamic Rule in Medie val Spain. By Dario Fernández-Morera. Wilmington, Del.: IS I Books, 2016. 376 pp. $29.95.

The era of Muslim predominance in the Iberian Peninsula (eighth to thirteenth centuries) has long generated a historical narrative of a dynamic and brilliant civilization, contrasting sharply with a primitive if not brutish Western Europe apparently lacking in cultural instruments. In this reading, the "paradise" of convivencia (living together) was one of mutual tolerance with political, social, and religious harmony flourishing in al-Andalus between the followers of the three Abrahamic, monotheistic religions.

Through an examination of primary sources, Femández-Morera of Northwestern University has produced an intelligent reinterpretation that reconsiders the historiographic and intellectual vision of the superiority of this civilization as well as the myth of a peaceful tolerance and convivencia fostered by the Islamic conquerors with a look at the underside of Islamic civilization in medieval Spain.

In its seven chapters, the book undertakes a journey through the main paradigms of the peninsular encounter between Islamic and Christian civilizations. Beginning with the conquest of Hispania by Muslim armies in the early eighth century, it delves into the juridical status of Christians and Jews under Muslim rule as well as the condition of women in this idealized period. …

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