Islamic America

I just this morning received a notice encouraging me to encourage students to sign up for a graduate-level course called “Islamic America,” which will be offered this fall by the English Department at this university.  I should actually say that it may be offered, since the course is presently under-enrolled, and will be cancelled if this notice fails to have its desired effect.  “Islamic America” is, I should add, the title of the “topic” that will (or may) be treated in a course officially known as “Topics in American Literature and Culture to 1900.” Continue reading

Of Possible Interest: The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise

ZZZ Myth of the Andalusian Paradise

At The Gates of Vienna, I review The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise by Dario Fernandez-Morera.  One of the indispensable resources of advocacy for multiculturalism and diversity is the fairy-story of the Muslim-Spanish utopia, a religiously pluralistic, philosophically open-minded, and creatively rich society that prevailed in the Spanish Peninsula for eight hundred years until the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella completed the Reconquest at the end of the Fifteenth Century.  Fernandez-Morera has appropriated the scholarly equivalent of the main, sixteen-inch, nine-gun battery of an Iowa-class battleship to demolish this fairy tale.  The demolition is a joy to behold.  I urge all readers of The Orthosphere to buy Fernandez-Morera’s book, and indeed to buy multiple copies to distribute to their friends.

I offer an excerpt:

The basic vocabulary of the Andalusian Myth reflects a mendacious agenda, as Fernández-Morera takes care to point out in his opening chapter, on ‘Conquest and Reconquest.’  In modern accounts of Spain under the Muslims, scholars of the departments invariably refer to a geographical entity called Iberia.  In a detailed summary of the historical background to the centuries of Muslim hegemony, Fernández-Morera reminds his readers that the Romans, who were active in the peninsula from the time of the First Punic War, never named it by any other name than Hispania.  That same Hispania became a province of the Roman Empire, providing it with emperors and artists over the centuries, and playing a role within the imperial structure in the west only second to Italy.  When the imperial administrative structure in the west broke down in the Fourth Century, and the Visigoths inherited the Roman mantle south of the Pyrenees, they too still called the region Hispania.  Spain had thus been Spain to its inhabitants for nearly a thousand years before the Muslim invasion.  After the invasion, Spain remained Spain to its Spanish-Christian inhabitants, as Fernández-Morera demonstrates by bringing into evidence documents from the period in question.  The academic use of the term Iberia conveniently deletes these facts, just as it deletes the spiritual resistance of the actual Spaniards (the Spanish-Roman-Christian-Gothic people of Spain) during the relevant centuries to their militant overlords of another religion.  Fernández-Morera therefore prefers the terms ‘Spain, medieval Spain, and Islamic Spain’ to Iberia.  Indeed, Fernández-Morera characterizes both the Muslim attempt, beginning already in the Eighth Century, to replace standing Latin toponyms with Arabic labels and the modern recursion to that replacement-nomenclature as imperialistic gestures.  He writes that medieval Spaniards ‘considered the lands conquered by Islam to be part of Spain, not part of Islam, and therefore they did not use the term Al-Andalus, the Muslim name for the subdued region.