The Andalusian Illusion – Book Review

By Anne Barbeau Gardiner
Source: New Oxford Review

The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain. By Darío Fernández-Morera. ISI Books. 358 pages. $29.95.

American universities with departments of Islamic Studies or Middle Eastern Studies often receive funding from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Turkey. Critics have documented the way this funding has served the political agendas of those nations by inducing scholars in the field to teach blatant myths. For example, it is now common for such scholars to claim that Spain was conquered peacefully in A.D. 711 by treaties with the Moors, who then lifted Islamic Spain, or al-Andalus, out of the so-called Dark Ages and contributed significantly to the development of European civilization. These same scholars can be found postulating that Islamic Spain was an exemplar of religious tolerance and diversity, and that women there had a surprising degree of freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this well-documented book, Darío Fernández-Morera, an associate professor in the departments of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University, shows how Spain was, in fact, conquered in the most barbaric manner and ruled for centuries under an intolerant legal system called Malikism, a form of Sharia. Continue reading at the New Oxford Review.