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Daily Archives: February 20, 2014

Reconquista Mythology in 21st-Century Iberia

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the Spanish government seeking to make amends for the expulsion of the Sephardic Jewish community in 1492. One of the ways in which it has sought to do so is by extending Spanish citizenship to any living descendant of the Sephardim. Of course, the manner and parameters of this offer (which still has not been approved by Spanish parliament) remain unclear, but it appears that the Spanish state is attempting to rectify one of the darkest chapters of its history. However, some people have rightly pointed to a clear double-standard of the Spanish state since it has failed to either discuss or even contemplate a similar offer in the case of the descendants of the Iberian Muslims forcibly Christianized in 1502 and expelled in 1609-1614, the so-called Moriscos, of whom at least 1-3 million reside in North Africa.Worse, certain Spanish politicians have not only ruled out the possibility of doing so, but have also gone out of their way to justify the murder, systematic torture, forcible conversion, mass expulsions of the Iberian Muslim community that took place between 1502 and 1614. They have also sought to deny that the treatment of the Hispano-Muslims during the 15th, 16th and 17th century constituted persecution, preferring instead to reaffirm old myths and emphasize that the expulsions were simply security measures taken during a time of war. This refusal to consider the atrocities committed against Iberian Muslims certainly needs to be questioned.

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Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) on Specialization of Knowledge

“He who limits himself to one science and does not acquaint himself with the others will be a laughingstock and will be missing more from his own specialty than what he knows of it. For the sciences are all connected with one another. On the other hand, he who seeks to encompass all the sciences is almost detruncated, removed from knowledge, and unable to achieve anything; he is like a buyer with no fixed goal: a lifetime falls short of attaining that. Rather, the student should take up a little of each science if only to the extent of knowing the objective of each one. Afterwards, he should take up what is most indispensable, as we said above. It is only then that he should devote himself to the science in which he excels with all his natural inclinations, and all means at his disposal, and should master it to the best of his ability. This may mean two, three, or fewer sciences, depending on the degree of his natural sagacity, his power of understanding, his persistent inclination, and his devotion to study.”—Ibn Hazm (d. 1064), Maratib al-‘Ulum

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