Art Essays on The Integration of Muslims, Jews and Christians
This book is written in light with the conditions of the individuals who lived in Spain in the middle era. The picture of the integration of Muslims, Jews and Christians in the time is emphasized. Integration of all the religious beliefs, politics and social life to create a more secular societal setting is seen to create immense peace and discipline in the peninsular. This however does not last long as the Christian community forcefully execute, convert or expel those opposed to them in an aim to overthrow the domineering Muslim culture. In a nut shell, they advocate the idea of pure blood and religion leading to the renaissance.
In the first phase a prince, Abd al- Rahman who has been captured to slavery after his Muslim parents die tries to find a place to start over a new life. He gets lucky enough to get friendly hosts in North Africa who even offer their daughter for a hand in marriage as a sign of strengthening ties within the Muslim dynasty. With his hidden agenda, he is however able to overthrow his father in law to start his own dynasty – the Andalusia. In my school of thought, this is a sign of disloyalty which could be attributed to the preceding events that made him get in his current situation (the ruling Umayyad’s, his family, was slaughtered in Damascus by their rivals) (Menocal 28). Altogether, he has the best of intentions to unite the whole region under common beliefs and harmony. His intentions to integrate all the dwellers into one front and restore sanity among people.
During the period of integration at medieval, there were several activities that symbolized the tolerance with the dwellers. They built monuments that contained Islam, Christian church and Roman temple parts to show solidarity of the fact that they all served one God (Menocal 56). The cultures blended together with an aspect of tolerance where it was expected that a more neutral setting that picked the best of what the three religions contained was to be followed. However short-lived the middle era was, the harmony that existed was unfathomable and admirable.
This organization however had been Islam dominated where many aspects were borrowed from. It was however not easy to clearly distinguish it with the Arabian culture. Christianity on the other hand was only meant to survive under strict sacrifice of many aspects of their religion which obviously created resistance given that human beings are always seeking domination over the rest of the people (Menocal 81). It is with much concern that the question of how coexistence among people with different points of view can be maintained without compromising any aspect of individual constituents.
When Abd al- Rahman is tired of being in exile with a mere position in the province, he decides to go back to Damascus and reclaim his throne that had been overtaken in a harsh way of massacre of his family. He is a threat to the rivals as they thought he was long dead and his reappearance would revive the past that had been buried.
The medieval period was characterized by a phase of economic revival, population growth and the spring of cosmopolitan cities. Through irrigation new crops and farming techniques were developed therefore bounty harvests. This facilitated the pan Mediterranean trade and guaranteed easy passages through the travel routes (Menocal 59). These are some of the positive effects from the middle age that are experienced up to date. Other aspects that are evident of the time are the Altamira cave paintings, she ancient Greek and roman art and science translations to Latin which brought about the modern world.
The rule by the last Mayyann, Abd al –Raman, had great influences. Translations t plate and Aristotle’s to different convenient languages was a sign that the rule had no discriminatory intentions. Traditions of love songs and composition of secular poetry thrived which was an altogether new concept that represent a willingness to learn new ideas. There were also some advances in mathematics and feats in architecture and technology all aiming at the betterment of the human race (Menocal 72).
The culture of tolerance however fell apart slowly but gradually and all that is left s a misty picture of what it was like. Tolerance that then existed has been difficult to restore since the rediscovery of Hebrew, when the Andalusia’s found by Abd al Rahman laid ground for renaissance (Menocal 81). This is the start of a forgotten heritage undoubtedly started due to greed for power and misconceptions for superiority. This book shows that even as the world continues to celebrate Spain as a home of multiculturalism and diversity, it was once all about the harsh realities of medieval Spanish.
Cordoba the capital of Andalus was named the ornament of the world and it was an illustration of a perfect community set to be an example to all the followers. The Andalusian culture believed in the power of the contradictions with oneself. In this the different aspects like language, race and religion with potential of prosperity and productivity. The golden age was marked by redemption of the Hebrew language which had almost been forgotten. This was because it was no longer seen to spread the intended emotions and feelings, erotic, love, kindness and tolerance. Through this, they believed that a language to communicate to God was needed leading to the rise of English language to facilitate the same. English was to be a language of love that was accepted even to write the prayers in King James Bible and Shakespeare’s poetry (Menocal 121).
The will of the people formed a basis for the vision of integration of totally different people in terms of ideas, beliefs, race and religion contributed a great deal to the success while it lasted. Rosa, in her book, makes it clear that the prince although living clinging to his past, he was able to overcome his anger and settle the differences with his enemies (Menocal 45).
This whole idea is interpreted as a myth trying to advocate for the idea that the Islam prophet Muhammad (featured as the book starts) left before he died that Islam was the way. The story is not based on the life or death of the prophet but on the transition after he died. The ability to stay between two falling out ideologies is a key theme to the whole book. The good days are over now and in today’s reality, the Muslim and Christian fraternities rarely agree on anything. Time to snap back to reality, tolerance is not for selfish people.
Menocal, Maria R. The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain. New York, NY: Warner Books/Hachette Book Group, 2009. Internet resource.