Christians, Jews and the Dhimma Status

Authored by: David J. Wasserstein

The Routledge Handbook Of Muslim Iberia

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138649149
eBook ISBN: 9781315625959
Adobe ISBN:


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Christians and Jews in al-Andalus had different fates. Christians, isolated from Christian Europe and deprived of their leadership cadres by the conquest and its aftermath, largely converted to Islam, becoming Arabized in the process, with Christianity, Latin language, and Christian culture largely dying out by the end of the eleventh century. Jews by contrast entered upon what was to become a Golden Age of cultural revival, nourished by broad (if limited) legal tolerance, a new common language shared with their Muslim neighbours, consequent participation in the world culture of Arab Islam, revival of Hebrew and contact with Jews everywhere brought about by involvement in the world economy of Islam. The Almohads did much damage to both Christians and Jews, but rump communities survived under the Nasrids until the end of Islamic rule in 1492. In modern times polemicists and propagandists have used the experiences of both groups to feed a wide variety of interpretations of the past and policies for the present.

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