Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Al-Andalus

Gene Expression has some interesting observations on Islam and Spain:

"Today Islamic Spain is remembered as crucial interface between classical learning and the scholastic renaissance (see Aristotle's Children). I recall a moment years ago when my father was drinking tea with a few friends of his, all educated South Asian Muslims from the eastern edge of the Dar-al-Islam, and a cardiologist wondered out loud, "What happened to Islam that we must make our living here in the West?" The common answer was, "Ah, but we lost Spain!" There was little analysis of this reason given, these were chemists, doctors and engineers, who had no great interest in the details of Al-Andalus' intellectual life, the prominence of Jews, the relative marginality of figures such as Ibn Rushid (Averroes) in Muslim thought after the victory of Al-Ghazali. Al-Andalus is a magic word, a treasure of causative power that explains the great paradox, why does God give material prosperity to unbelievers? They stole it! The details, the realities, of Muslim Spain do not matter, it is rather a potent symbol in Islamic collective mythology on the popular level."

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