Absurd Lies about Cordoba (updated)

Readers of the American Thinker have no doubt heard numerous instances of the following disinformation about Cordoba, this version coming from Whitney S. Bowman in the Austin American-Statesman

"The name 'Cordoba House' is significant.  It is named after the famed medieval Spanish city of Cordoba where philosophers, mystics, artisans and poets--Muslim, Christian and Jewish--lived and shared together.

"Its libraries were vast, and the translations of Arabic works into Latin changed Europe and Christianity forever.  Among the resident luminaries were Maimonides, a noted Jewish intellectual, the poet Ibn Hazm, and Averroes, the Muslim philosopher and mystic.  A Saxon nun of the time called Cordoba 'the brilliant ornament of the world.'  With the coming of the Inquisition and Christian exclusivism, the brilliance of Cordoba faded, but its significance endures as a vibrant, inter-religious community."

The idea that Muslims, Christians, and Jews "lived and shared together" in medieval Cordoba could perhaps be dismissed as a rhetorical flight of fancy, but the idea that Christianity and the Inquisition ended the brilliance of Cordoba is a deliberate lie.

According to The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, "the fundamentalist Almohad movement," which "fought to restore the pristine faith of Islam, based on the Quran and the Sunna, and to enforce the precepts of the sacred law" (sound familiar?), conquered Cordoba in 1148 and drove out the ten-year-old Moses Maimonides and his family.  They hid from the Almohads in Andalusia for ten years, then emigrated to Morocco, where Maimonides wrote his Epistle on Forced Conversion to console his Jewish brethren forced to choose between conversion to Islam and death.  Later he moved to Cairo, where he achieved safety by acting as a physician to the Muslim rulers.  Obviously, the great works of Moses Maimonides were not written in Cordoba, and Christian exclusivism and the Inquisition had nothing to do with his departure.

Though born in Cordoba and not a Jew, Averroes also suffered Almohad oppression, and "his teachings [were] condemned and his philosophical works torched as dangerous to religious faith," according to the Cambridge Companion.  

For the record, Averroes died in 1198, Maimonides died in 1204, and Cordoba was conquered by Christians in 1236.  As for the translations, more hokum  has been said on that subject than just about any other.

Update. Andrew Bostom adds:

More on Cordoban "Ecumenism"

Reinhart Dozy  (1820-1883), the great Orientalist scholar and Islamophile, wrote a four volume magnum opus (published in 1861 and translated into English by Francis Griffin Stokes in 1913), Histoire des Musselmans d'Espagne (A History of the Muslims in Spain). Here is Dozy's historical account of the mid-8th century "conversion" of a Cordovan cathedral to a mosque:

All the churches in that city [Cordova] had been destroyed except the cathedral, dedicated to Saint Vincent, but the possession of this fane [church or temple] had been guaranteed by treaty. For several years the treaty was observed; but when the population of Cordova was increased by the arrival of Syrian Arabs [i.e., Muslims], the mosques did not provide sufficient accommodation for the newcomers, and the Syrians considered it would be well for them to adopt the plan which had been carried out at Damascus, Emesa [Homs], and other towns in their own country, of appropriating half of the cathedral and using it as a mosque. The [Muslim] Government having approved of the scheme, the Christians were compelled to hand over half of the edifice. This was clearly an act of spoliation, as well as an infraction of the treaty. Some years later, Abd-er Rahman I requested the Christians to sell him the other half. This they firmly refused to do, pointing out that if they did so they would not possess a single place of worship. Abd-er Rahman, however, insisted, and a bargain was struck by which the Christians ceded their cathedral....

Indeed by the end of the eighth century, the brutal Muslim jihad conquest of North Africa and of Andalusia had imposed rigorous Maliki jurisprudence as the predominant school of Muslim law. Thus, as Evariste Lévi-Provençal (1894-1956)-the greatest modern scholar of Muslim Spain whose Histoire de l'Espagne Musulmane remains a defining work-observed three quarters of a century ago:

The Muslim Andalusian state thus appears from its earliest origins as the defender and champion of a jealous orthodoxy, more and more ossified in a blind respect for a rigid doctrine, suspecting and condemning in advance the least effort of rational speculation.

For example, the contemporary scholar J.M. Safran discusses an early codification of the rules of the marketplace (where Muslims and non-Muslims would be most likely to interact), written by al-Kinani (d. 901), a student of the Cordovan jurist Ibn Habib (d. 853), "...known as the scholar of Spain par excellence," who was also one of the most ardent proponents of Maliki doctrine in Muslim Spain:

...the problem arises of "the Jew or Christian who is discovered trying to blend with the Muslims by not wearing the riqā [cloth patch, which might be required to have an emblem of an ape for a Jew, or a pig for a Christian] or zunnār [belt]." Kinani's insistence that Jews and Christians wear the distinguishing piece of cloth or belt required of them is an instance of a legally defined sartorial differentiation being reconfirmed...His insistence may have had as much to do with concerns for ritual purity and food prohibitions as for the visible representation of social and political hierarchy, and it reinforced limits of intercommunal relations

Moroever Ibn Hazm was not merely a Muslim "poet," and hardly a paragon of ecumenism. He was a viciously bigoted Antisemitic Muslim theologian, whose inflammatory writings helped incite the massive pogrom against the Jews of Granada which killed 4000, and destroyed the entire community in 1066. And Averroes, despite his "philosophical studies," was also a traditionally bigoted Maliki jurist who rendered strong anti-infidel Sharia- rulings and endorsed classical jihadism for the very same Almohads who eventually turned upon him. 

Finally, what Maimonides escaped in the 12th century-disguised as a Muslim-was nothing less than a full-blown Muslim Inquisition under the Almohads. The jihad depredations of the Almohads (1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. This devastation-massacre, captivity, and forced conversion-was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim "inquisitors", i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries, removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. Ibn Aqnin (d. 1220), a renowned philosopher and commentator, who was born in Barcelona in 1150, also fled the Almohad persecutions with his family, escaping, like Maimonides, to Fez. Living there as a crypto-Jew, he met Maimonides and recorded his own poignant writings about the sufferings of the Jews under Almohad rule. Ibn Aqnin wrote during the reign of Abu Yusuf al-Mansur (r. 1184-1199), four decades after the onset of the Almohad persecutions in 1140. Thus the Jews forcibly converted to Islam were already third generation Muslims. Despite this, al-Mansur continued to impose restrictions upon them, which Ibn Aqnin chronicles.
Readers of the American Thinker have no doubt heard numerous instances of the following disinformation about Cordoba, this version coming from Whitney S. Bowman in the Austin American-Statesman

"The name 'Cordoba House' is significant.  It is named after the famed medieval Spanish city of Cordoba where philosophers, mystics, artisans and poets--Muslim, Christian and Jewish--lived and shared together.

"Its libraries were vast, and the translations of Arabic works into Latin changed Europe and Christianity forever.  Among the resident luminaries were Maimonides, a noted Jewish intellectual, the poet Ibn Hazm, and Averroes, the Muslim philosopher and mystic.  A Saxon nun of the time called Cordoba 'the brilliant ornament of the world.'  With the coming of the Inquisition and Christian exclusivism, the brilliance of Cordoba faded, but its significance endures as a vibrant, inter-religious community."

The idea that Muslims, Christians, and Jews "lived and shared together" in medieval Cordoba could perhaps be dismissed as a rhetorical flight of fancy, but the idea that Christianity and the Inquisition ended the brilliance of Cordoba is a deliberate lie.

According to The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, "the fundamentalist Almohad movement," which "fought to restore the pristine faith of Islam, based on the Quran and the Sunna, and to enforce the precepts of the sacred law" (sound familiar?), conquered Cordoba in 1148 and drove out the ten-year-old Moses Maimonides and his family.  They hid from the Almohads in Andalusia for ten years, then emigrated to Morocco, where Maimonides wrote his Epistle on Forced Conversion to console his Jewish brethren forced to choose between conversion to Islam and death.  Later he moved to Cairo, where he achieved safety by acting as a physician to the Muslim rulers.  Obviously, the great works of Moses Maimonides were not written in Cordoba, and Christian exclusivism and the Inquisition had nothing to do with his departure.

Though born in Cordoba and not a Jew, Averroes also suffered Almohad oppression, and "his teachings [were] condemned and his philosophical works torched as dangerous to religious faith," according to the Cambridge Companion.  

For the record, Averroes died in 1198, Maimonides died in 1204, and Cordoba was conquered by Christians in 1236.  As for the translations, more hokum  has been said on that subject than just about any other.

Update. Andrew Bostom adds:

More on Cordoban "Ecumenism"

Reinhart Dozy  (1820-1883), the great Orientalist scholar and Islamophile, wrote a four volume magnum opus (published in 1861 and translated into English by Francis Griffin Stokes in 1913), Histoire des Musselmans d'Espagne (A History of the Muslims in Spain). Here is Dozy's historical account of the mid-8th century "conversion" of a Cordovan cathedral to a mosque:

All the churches in that city [Cordova] had been destroyed except the cathedral, dedicated to Saint Vincent, but the possession of this fane [church or temple] had been guaranteed by treaty. For several years the treaty was observed; but when the population of Cordova was increased by the arrival of Syrian Arabs [i.e., Muslims], the mosques did not provide sufficient accommodation for the newcomers, and the Syrians considered it would be well for them to adopt the plan which had been carried out at Damascus, Emesa [Homs], and other towns in their own country, of appropriating half of the cathedral and using it as a mosque. The [Muslim] Government having approved of the scheme, the Christians were compelled to hand over half of the edifice. This was clearly an act of spoliation, as well as an infraction of the treaty. Some years later, Abd-er Rahman I requested the Christians to sell him the other half. This they firmly refused to do, pointing out that if they did so they would not possess a single place of worship. Abd-er Rahman, however, insisted, and a bargain was struck by which the Christians ceded their cathedral....

Indeed by the end of the eighth century, the brutal Muslim jihad conquest of North Africa and of Andalusia had imposed rigorous Maliki jurisprudence as the predominant school of Muslim law. Thus, as Evariste Lévi-Provençal (1894-1956)-the greatest modern scholar of Muslim Spain whose Histoire de l'Espagne Musulmane remains a defining work-observed three quarters of a century ago:

The Muslim Andalusian state thus appears from its earliest origins as the defender and champion of a jealous orthodoxy, more and more ossified in a blind respect for a rigid doctrine, suspecting and condemning in advance the least effort of rational speculation.

For example, the contemporary scholar J.M. Safran discusses an early codification of the rules of the marketplace (where Muslims and non-Muslims would be most likely to interact), written by al-Kinani (d. 901), a student of the Cordovan jurist Ibn Habib (d. 853), "...known as the scholar of Spain par excellence," who was also one of the most ardent proponents of Maliki doctrine in Muslim Spain:

...the problem arises of "the Jew or Christian who is discovered trying to blend with the Muslims by not wearing the riqā [cloth patch, which might be required to have an emblem of an ape for a Jew, or a pig for a Christian] or zunnār [belt]." Kinani's insistence that Jews and Christians wear the distinguishing piece of cloth or belt required of them is an instance of a legally defined sartorial differentiation being reconfirmed...His insistence may have had as much to do with concerns for ritual purity and food prohibitions as for the visible representation of social and political hierarchy, and it reinforced limits of intercommunal relations

Moroever Ibn Hazm was not merely a Muslim "poet," and hardly a paragon of ecumenism. He was a viciously bigoted Antisemitic Muslim theologian, whose inflammatory writings helped incite the massive pogrom against the Jews of Granada which killed 4000, and destroyed the entire community in 1066. And Averroes, despite his "philosophical studies," was also a traditionally bigoted Maliki jurist who rendered strong anti-infidel Sharia- rulings and endorsed classical jihadism for the very same Almohads who eventually turned upon him. 

Finally, what Maimonides escaped in the 12th century-disguised as a Muslim-was nothing less than a full-blown Muslim Inquisition under the Almohads. The jihad depredations of the Almohads (1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. This devastation-massacre, captivity, and forced conversion-was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim "inquisitors", i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries, removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. Ibn Aqnin (d. 1220), a renowned philosopher and commentator, who was born in Barcelona in 1150, also fled the Almohad persecutions with his family, escaping, like Maimonides, to Fez. Living there as a crypto-Jew, he met Maimonides and recorded his own poignant writings about the sufferings of the Jews under Almohad rule. Ibn Aqnin wrote during the reign of Abu Yusuf al-Mansur (r. 1184-1199), four decades after the onset of the Almohad persecutions in 1140. Thus the Jews forcibly converted to Islam were already third generation Muslims. Despite this, al-Mansur continued to impose restrictions upon them, which Ibn Aqnin chronicles.

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