Thursday, 4 July 2019

The Myth of The Andalusian Paradise

I am reading Darío Fernández-Morera’s The Myth of The Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain. This is a hard-hitting book, written with the purpose of refuting the belief that Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) was a land of peaceful coexistence under the benevolent supervision of enlightened Muslim rulers.

The existence of a Muslim kingdom in Medieval Spain where different races and religions lived harmoniously in multicultural tolerance is one of today’s most wide-spread beliefs. Fernández-Morera says that this belief is a myth originated by certain university professors. He writes, “University professors teach it. Journalists repeat it. Tourists visiting the Alhambra accept it.”

According to Fernández-Morera, the university professors have been extolling Al-Andalus as a paradise of coexistence because they want to favor multiculturalism and denigrate Christianity, which is one of the foundations of Western Civilization. He points out that by any objective standards Al-Andalus was not a model of multicultural harmony—it was beset by religious, political, and racial conflicts controlled in the best of times only by the application of tyrannical force.

Here’s an excerpt from the book’s Introduction:
“Professional self-preservation as well as political correctness and economics has affected academic research in certain fields of study, in contrast to the fearlessness demonstrated by professors when unmasking horrors in such dangerous areas of investigation as Christian Europe (the burning of witches! colonialism!) and Catholic Spain (the ubiquitous Spanish Inquisition!). Islamic Spain is no exception to the rule. University presses do not want to get in trouble presenting an Islamic domination of even centuries ago as anything but a positive event, and academic specialists would rather not portray negatively a subject that constitutes their bread and butter. In addition, fear of the accusation of ‘Islamophobia’ has paralyzed many academic researchers.”
The history of Al-Andalus began in 711 A.D. when Islamic warriors, taking advantage of the internal dissension among the Visigoths, entered Spain and defeated the Visigothic king Rodrigo. I will have more to say on Fernández-Morera's book in my subsequent posts.

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