The Religious Polemics of the Muslims of Late Medieval Christian Iberia. Identity and Religious Authority in Mudejar Islam

The Religious Polemics of the Muslims of Late Medieval Christian Iberia. Identity and Religious Authority in Mudejar Islam
  • Book Title:
 The Religious Polemics Of The Muslims Of Late Medieval Christian Iberia
  • Book Author:
Mònica Colominas Aparicio
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  • Mudejar Polemics 9
  • Scholarship on the Mudejars and Their Literature 13 Main Questions and Chapter Overview 16
  • The Connection between Religious Polemics and Notions of Identity and Religious Authority among the Mudejars  22
  • Introduction 22
  • The Sacred Law, or Sharīʿa 26
  • The Relationship of the Mudejars with Jews and Christians 30
  • The Mudejar Aljamas 33
    • Christian Proselytism and Restrictions on the Mudejars 34
    • Religious Authority and Polemics in the Mudejar Aljamas 39 Conclusions 45
  • Concepts and Methods for the Study of Religious Authority and Identity in the Religious Polemics of the Mudejars  47
  • Introduction 47
  • Recent Approaches to Religious Polemics 48
  • Towards a Definition of Mudejar Polemics 54
  • Theoretical Framework and Methods 61
    • Baumann’s “Grammars of Identity/Alterity” 61
    • Social Identity Theory 63
    • Critical Discourse Analysis 67 Conclusions 68
  • Previous Research and Identification of the Mudejar Polemical Sources to be Discussed in the Present Study  70
    • Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Scholarly Views on Mudejar Manuscripts of Religious Polemics 70
      • Scholarship before 1950: Miguel Asín Palacios 70
      • ip after 1950: Leonard Patrick Harvey, Leon Jacob Kassin
  • nd Louis Cardaillac 72
  •  viii contents
  • 3.1.3 Recent Scholarship: Pieter Sjoerd Van Koningsveld and Gerard Albert Wiegers 73
  • Mudejar Polemical Sources 76
    • The Kitāb Miftā ad-Dīn 78
    • The “demandas de los judíos” [Questions [Asked] by the Jews] 79
    • The Taʾyīd al-Milla 82
    • The Kitāb al-Mujādala maʿa-l-Yahūd wa-n-Naārā 93
  • The Sources of the Kitāb al-Mujādala 105
    • The Muslim Sources of the Kitāb al-Mujādala: The maqālāt of the qāī al-Sharafī 105
    • The Christian Sources of the Kitāb al-Mujādala 111
  • The Place of the Copying of the Kitāb al-Mujādala: The Geographical Location of Piṭrūla 121
    • The Orthography of Pirūla 123
    • The Socio-Historical and Intellectual Milieu of Pétrola and Pedrola during the Late Middle Ages  124
      • The Mudejar Aljamas 124
      • The Intellectual Activity 126
      • The Christian Missionary Activities 128
    • The Internal Evidence in ms önb af 58 129 Evaluation 130
  • Conclusions 131
  • Muslim Literature of Religious Polemics 133 Introduction 133
    • al-Andalus 134
      • Ibn azm 134
      • al-Khazrajī 141
      • al-Qurubī 142
      • Ibn Sabʿīn 144
      • Qamʿ al-Yahūd 145
    • Christian Iberia 146
      • Muammad al-Qaysī 146
    • The Maghreb 146
      • ʿAbd al-aqq al-Islāmī 146
    • The Mashriq 147
      • Samawʾal al-Maghribī 147
      • Abū Bakr al-Fihrī al-urushī 148
      • Najm al-Dīn al-ūfī 149 Conclusions 150
  •  contents ix
  • Mudejar Polemics with the Jews 152
  • Introduction 152
  • The Taʾyīd 159
    • The Level of the Knowledge of Arabic and Hebrew of the Author of the Taʾyīd 163
    • The Knowledge of the Torah among the Mudejars 164
    • The Knowledge of Judaism of the Author of the Taʾyīd 167
    • Jewish Polemics against Islam in the Christian Territories 169
    • Jewish-Christian Polemics in the Christian Territories 172
    • The Use of the Torah in Anti-Jewish Polemics by Oriental Muslim Authors 176
  • Concluding Remarks 180
  • The Kitāb al-Mujādala 181
  • The “demandas” [Questions] 186
  • Conclusions 196
  • Mudejar Polemics with the Christians 199
  • Introduction 199
  • The Kitāb al-Mujādala 204
    • The Claims Made by the Christians against Muslims and Islam 204
    • The Claims of the Author against the Christians 207
  • Religious Authority in the Kitāb al-Mujādala 210
    • The Author’s Defence of Philosophy 210
    • The Objections of the Author on the ʿUlamāʾ 217
      • Science and Qurʾānic Interpretation 217
      • Philosophy and Logic 218
    • The Use of Philosophy in the Kitāb al-Mujādala: An Example 219
  • An Ethical-Centred Model for Islam in the Kitāb al-Mujādala 222
  • Political Philosophy in the Kitāb al-Mujādala 228
    • The Powers and Duties of the Sulān 230
    • The Limits of the Authority of the Sulān and of the Church 232
  • Conclusions 236
  • Mudejar Polemics as a Discursive Tradition 240
  • Introduction 240
  • Mudejar Identity in Polemics 241
  • Religious Leadership 247
  •  x contents
  • 7.3 Notions of Minority Identity and Government among the Mudejars 250
  • Conclusions 253
  • Conclusions 256
  • Manuscript Description of the Kitāb al-Mujādala (ms önb af 58) 262 Codicological Description 262
  • Bibliography 264
  • Source Overview 264

The Connection between Religious Polemics and Notions of Identity and Religious Authority among the Mudejars

The religious treatises which are the basis of this study belong to the vast literature of Muslim polemics with the Christians and the Jews. The Qurʾān and the sources about the life and acts of Muḥammad (Sunna) record the earli-est confrontations between Muslims and the members of other religions; later accounts provide evidence of a prolific literature of polemics which appeared in the first centuries of Muslim history and developed throughout the Middle Ages.1

The public sessions or majlis held in some eastern cities such as Baghdād or Cairo served as important platforms for the debate of religious matters, and seem to have fostered the production of written polemics, known as munāẓara, mufākhara, muḥāwara and mujādala.2

These sessions were eventually followed by the conversion of the Muslims’ religious opponents.3 Nevertheless, certain scholars, among them the Andalusī traveller Abū ʿUmar Aḥmad ibn Muḥam-mad ibn Saʿdī, voiced their strong disapproval of the contacts between Mus lims, Christians and Jews and of the use of ratio in the discussion with unbe-lievers, as illustrated in the biographical report by al-Ḥumaydī.4

Some authors have sought an explanation for Ibn Saʿdī’s negative attitude in the fact that he belonged to the Mālikī School of Law, which rejected the exclusive use of rational methods in exegesis. The pre-eminence of Mālikism in al-Andalus in the eleventh century could have contributed to a religious climate in the Mus-lim West which was unpropitious to polemical activities. Such debates seem to have been virtually non-existent until the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031ce.5

However, Ibn Saʿdī’s distaste for the use of ratio in inter-religious polemics should also be explained in the light of the broader discussion among Chris-tians, Jews and Muslims about the religious authority granted to philosophy, logic and natural philosophy in the Medieval Iberian Peninsula.

While some claimed that Revelation alone served to approach God and to understand how He created the world, others argued that sciences based on human knowl-edge were in harmony with the divine and essential in the search to under-stand these issues.

From their introduction in the twelfth century, rationalistic-philosophical sources in the exploration of theological matters shook the foun-dations of Iberian Christianity.6 Within the Jewish communities, Moses ben Maimon’s (Maimonides, 1135–1204ce) Dalālat al-ḥāʾirīn, or Moreh Nevukhim in Hebrew [The Guide of the Perplexed], turned philosophy into a matter of polemics and spawned a long-lasting confrontation between those who sup-ported and those who opposed its use, arousing occasional heated debates until the early fourteenth century.7

In al-Andalus, in his Ṭabaqāt al-Umam [The Generations of Nations] Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī records how al-Manṣūr (368 h/938ce–392 h/1002ce) burned a large number of books of logic, astrology and other ancient sciences from the library of his predecessor “in order to gain the sympathy of the general population of al-Andalus and to denounce the attitude of the Caliph al-Ḥakam towards these sciences as shameful, because they used to be obsolete among their ancestors […]

Whosoever studied them was suspected of apostasy and rejection of the Holy Law”.8 At a later period, the religious reform of Ibn Tūmart and the subsequent Almohad policies emphasized rational reasoning as opposed to tradition (taqlīd).9 During the apogee of philosophical inquiry in al-Andalus, Caliph Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf (558 h/1163–579 h/1184ce) commissioned Ibn Ṭufayl to comment on the treatises of Aristotle and to make them more accessible to him. Given his advanced age, Ibn Ṭufayl handed this huge task over to his young friend Ibn Rushd (Averroes, 520 h/1126ce–595 h/1198ce).

 The latter fell into disgrace when the new Almohad Caliph, Yaʿqūb al-Manṣūr (580 h/1184ce–595 h/1199ce), launched a campaign against philosophers, presumably with the purpose of gaining the support of the Andalusī scholars, the ṭalaba, in his war against the Christians.10 However, the Caliph changed his mind as soon as he returned to his court in Morocco and Ibn Rushd was restored to favour.

These events show that attitudes towards philosophy changed over time and that the terms of discussion in the Iberian Peninsula were not set by inter-nal disputes alone but could also be influenced by political circumstances and intercommunity dynamics. Szpiech convincingly shows that, in the case of the Christian territories, the change in the attitudes of Christians towards the authority of sources based on human knowledge such as philosophy was stimu-lated by conversions (mainly of Jews) to the dominant religion.

He speaks about a crisis of auctoritas, the latter being the Latin term for what Szpiech defines as the capacity of an author to create—although God is always seen as ulti-mately responsible for human actions. Auctoritas also refers to that author’s legacy as it is passed on to future generations. Szpiech argues that before the twelfth-century auctoritas was derived almost exclusively from divine sources such as the Bible, and the individual author remained in the shadows. Slowly but steadily, however, such approaches were challenged by reason (ratio) and auctoritas needed to be supported by rational proof.

The crisis of auctoritas prompted the use of biographies of converts in polemical literature and placed the question of whether or not reason rather than scripture was the most suitable way to preach, teach and convert in the foreground of Christian con-cerns about religion.11 In light of these considerations, the religious authority attributed to texts emerges as an important tool in inter-religious debate. This seems to provide significant insights into the negotiation of religious identities in the Christian territories of the Iberian Peninsula.

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