By Maria Rosa Menocal
Undoing the commonplace proposal of the center a long time as a interval of non secular persecution and highbrow stagnation, María Menocal now brings us a portrait of a medieval tradition the place literature, technological know-how, and tolerance flourished for 500 years.
The tale starts as a tender prince in exile--the final inheritor to an Islamic dynasty--founds a brand new state at the Iberian peninsula: al-Andalus. Combining the easiest of what Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures needed to provide, al-Andalus and its successors stimulated the remainder of Europe in dramatic methods, from the loss of life of liturgical Latin and the unfold of secular poetry, to outstanding feats in structure, technology, and know-how. the dignity of the Andalusian kingdoms continued until eventually the Renaissance, whilst Christian monarchs forcibly switched over, finished, or expelled non-Catholics from Spain. during this exceptional publication, we will be able to eventually discover the misplaced historical past whose legacy continues to be with us in numerous methods.
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Extra resources for The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain
The other foundation of Andalusian culture, the Arabic language, spilled over the banks of its original religious riverbed and roamed beyond the exclusively religious needs of the Muslim community. This was, after all, the esteemed and powerful language of an empire, and was marked by its vital links to the rest of civilization. As far as the eye could see, and beyond, Arabic was the lingua franca of all save the barbarians—if not the native tongue, at least the pidgin of traders and travelers.
On the other hand, not only conserved but fully appropriated from the culture whose ritual center was Mecca was the loving cultivation—some would say adoration—of language, and of poetry as the best that men did with the gift of language. Muhammad’s revelation, preserved in the Quran, embraced the poetry-besotted universe of his ancestors and contemporaries, and thus ensured the survival of the pre-Islamic poetic universe, with its many blatant contradictions of what would become normative Islamic belief.
But there were no clear guidelines for how that empire should be organized or ruled, and Muhammad’s death left an inevitable vacuum. No question in Islam is more fundamental and shaping than this one, a source of political instability and violent dispute from the beginning, as it remains to this day. Who could, after all, succeed a prophet who was also a dominant statesman? In that highly contested succession lie the origins of many of the major shapes and terms of Islam that are mostly unknown or puzzling to non-Muslims: Shiites and Sunnis, caliphs and emirs, Umayyads and Abbasids, all of these crucial internal divisions.
The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by Maria Rosa Menocal