How would you characterize relations between Muslims, on one hand, and Christians and Jews on the other in Al Andalus (Arabic Spain

Topics: Islam, Al-Andalus, Berber people Pages: 5 (1634 words) Published: December 4, 2013

How would you characterize relations between Muslims, on one hand, and Christians and Jews on the other in Al Andalus (Arabic Spain)

The Muslims continued to expand territory relentlessly, throughout the sixth and the seventh century, the century of the prophet Muhammad’s death. In 711 the Islamic armies led by Berber (north African Muslim tribesmen) Tariq ibn-Ziyad crossed the straight of (Gibraltar) from Maghreb (Morocco) and rapidly advanced north conquering Visigoth Spain (Germanic Christian rulers) within seven years. In establishing an Islamic state throughout the Iberian peninsula,(todays Spain and Portugal combined), which centered in Cordoba in the heart of the peninsula. In the seventh century Spain influenced by the Roman Empire prior to the rule of the Christian Visigoths was primarily a multi-cultured society with inhabitants of different faiths mainly Christians and minority Jews. This essay will examine and identify the relationship between the Muslim rulers after the conquest on one hand and the Christians and Jews on the other and describe the social, political and cultural changes that were to follow in the coming years and centuries.

As its written in Quran(the sacred book of Islamic faith), Muslims acknowledge the fact that elsewhere in the Islamic world, Jews, along with other religious minorities holding sacred books, such as Christians, were to be considered Ahl al-Kitab (people of the book), and their religion to be tolerated. In view of this fact Jews and Christians living in the Iberian Peninsula were given special legal status that allowed them to practice their religions providing they adhered to certain Islamic social restrictions. Although documentary evidence on the state of the Jewish communities prior to 711AD is not readily available, yet what evidence there are shows that during the rule of Christian Visigoth in Spain, there were hostilities towards the Jews, their numbers had visibly declined and was not far from extinction. In contrast, at the beginning of the eighth century the Islamic legal system provided an opportunity for re-establishment of their culture and revival of their numbers.1

The Muslims conquered large areas of land, with large populations of Christians and Jews.2 There was a lot that was attractive about Islam that the Christians and especially the Jews liked; given the treatment they had received under the rule of the Visigoths. It is important to state that the embracement of Muslim rule happened after the arrival of Abdul Rahman 1st (a prince of the Umayyed dynasty ruling in Damascus) who escaped a bloody coup against his family, carried out by Abbasid caliphate and arrived in Al Andalus in 755AD. At that time there had been tensions growing within the different factions of the Berbers(conquering north African nomads) and splinters had begun. The Berbers resented both the Arab aristocracy and being treated as Second class citizens. Abdul Rahman was able to unite some of the Berber factions and led a decisive uprising against the corrupt governor Yusuf. He founded the Umayyed dynasty in Al Andalus, declared himself The Emir (leader), made Cordoba his capital and ordered the construction of the magnificent Cordoba mosque which rivaled the beautiful buildings and architecture of his native Damascus.

For the next two centuries Spain along with its population of Muslims, Christians and Jews flourished under the Islamic rule and rivaled Damascus and Baghdad both culturally and economically. The ninth and tenth centuries were defining periods, in which the social fabric of Al Andalus was changed/developed. Scores of Christians and Jews converted to Islam and embraced the Islamic culture. Interfaith marriages and integration into the Islamic society enabled the followers of other religions,(Christians and Jews) To move up the social ladder, particularly during the rein of, Abdul Rahman 3rd(r.912-961) in the tenth century. It brought civilization of the...

Bibliography: BBC – Religions – “Muslim Spain (711-1492)”, accessed November 15th 2013,
C. Lowney, A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 14.
E. Alfonso, Islamic Culture Through Jewish Eyes: Al-Andalus from the tenth to twelfth century (New York: Routledge, 2008), 3.
J. Lassner, Jews, Christians, and the Adobe of Islam: Modern Scholarship, Medieval Realities (Chicago: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data), 202.
N. Davies, Europe (London, Pimlico, 1997), 257.
N. Roth, Jews, Visigoths & Muslims in Medieval Spain Cooperation and Conflict (New York: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, 1994), 1.
S.K. Jayyusi, The Legacy of Muslim Spain (Boston and London: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, 1992), 188.
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