Defining Boundaries in al-Andalus

Defining Boundaries in al-Andalus: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Islamic Iberia

Janina M. Safran
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Defining Boundaries in al-Andalus
    Book Description:

    Al-Andalus, the Arabic name for the medieval Islamic state in Iberia, endured for over 750 years following the Arab and Berber conquest of Hispania in 711. While the popular perception of al-Andalus is that of a land of religious tolerance and cultural cooperation, the fact is that we know relatively little about how Muslims governed Christians and Jews in al-Andalus and about social relations among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. InDefining Boundaries in al-Andalus, Janina M. Safran takes a close look at the structure and practice of Muslim political and legal-religious authority and offers a rare look at intercommunal life in Iberia during the first three centuries of Islamic rule.

    Safran makes creative use of a body of evidence that until now has gone largely untapped by historians-the writings and opinions of Andalusi and Maghribi jurists during the Umayyad dynasty. These sources enable her to bring to life a society undergoing dramatic transformation. Obvious differences between conquerors and conquered and Muslims and non-Muslims became blurred over time by transculturation, intermarriage, and conversion. Safran examines ample evidence of intimate contact between individuals of different religious communities and of legal-juridical accommodation to develop an argument about how legal-religious authorities interpreted the social contract between the Muslim regime and the Christian and Jewish populations. Providing a variety of examples of boundary-testing and negotiation and bringing judges, jurists, and their legal opinions and texts into the narrative of Andalusi history, Safran deepens our understanding of the politics of Umayyad rule, makes Islamic law tangibly social, and renders intercommunal relations vividly personal.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6801-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)

    In 711 Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Berber conqueror of al-Andalus, and his warriors landed at Gibraltar. Legend has it that the prophet Muhammad appeared to Tariq as he slept onboard the vessel that carried him across the straits from the northern tip of Africa to the southern promontory of the Iberian Peninsula. The Prophet, leading a ghostly host of his companions from Mecca and Medina, armed with swords and bows, greeted Tariq and enjoined him to go forward in his mission. At the end of the voyage Tariq awoke and told his men of the portentous dream that he believed...

  5. Chapter 1 The Structuring of Umayyad Rule
    (pp. 35-80)

    The words of warning in this chapter’s epigraph close a speech Mundhir ibn Sa˓id al-Balluti delivered in praise of the caliph ˓Abd al-Rahman III al-Nasir li-Din Allah during a reception for an embassy from Constantinople held in the palace (qaṣr) of Cordoba in 949. The thrust of the speech was to remind the audience of the obedience they owed to the Commander of the Faithful as defender of the community and of the faith, recalling the trials they had endured before the triumph of his rule and invoking God’s command: “O you who believe! Obey God, and obey the Messenger,...

  6. Chapter 2 Society in Transition
    (pp. 81-124)

    In the immediate postconquest era the divide between conquerors and conquered in al-Andalus was marked in a number of ways. The conquerors were distinct by virtue of their origins, religion, language, social organization, manners, and customs. However, with the establishment of Muslim rule, identity markers began to shift. Conquerors and conquered became Muslims anddhimmīs(“protected persons”). They inhabited the same polity and lived together in physical proximity in the towns and countryside of the peninsula, and original defining differences mutated. The gradual centralization of political power, changes in patterns of settlement and demography, economy, and culture, interfaith marriage, and...

  7. Chapter 3 Between Enemies and Friends
    (pp. 125-167)

    The father in the story related in this chapter’s epigraph, Ibn Waddah, was actively involved in protecting his community from innovation and heresy.¹ He compiled a collection of hadiths of the Prophet and reports from the early community of Muslims in hisKitab al-bidaʿ, the earliest extant Andalusi treatise dedicated to the subject of innovations. He and other Maghribi and Andalusifuqahāʾ(jurists) were concerned about the corruption of the faith by the insinuation of ideas and practices that deviated from the Qur’an and the sunna of the Prophet and the upright ancestors, as interpreted by Malik and his disciples...

  8. Chapter 4 Borders and Boundaries
    (pp. 168-208)

    The central question in themas’ala(legal question; pl.masāʾ il) of the epigraph is one of legal status (legal implications follow) complicated by the crossing of legal jurisdictions: Is the individual in this case to be treated as an apostate, aḥarbī(an individual from the Domain of War) or a Muslim?¹ The boundaries jurists discussed and defined to differentiate Muslims from Christians and Jews in al-Andalus could be complicated by the political and military “border” between Muslim and Christian territory. This “border” was imagined and was not a demarcated and mutually recognized, regulated, and controlled territorial limit. I...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 209-220)

    The title of this book,Defining Boundaries in al-Andalus, refers to the idea of definitive boundaries between Muslims and Christians and Jews—an idea rooted in the Qur’anic history of humankind and the sunna of the Prophet, embodied in Islamic law, and expressed in signs and acts integral to Islamic culture. The title also, more essentially, refers to the process of defining boundaries, boundaries that were mutable and negotiated at the margins of what distinguished “us” from “them” in a recursive engagement with social and cultural change. The focus of the book on law as a boundary-making mechanism offers a...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-236)
  11. Index
    (pp. 237-248)