Maimonides’ Letter on Martyrdom

More on Al-Andalus here from another interesting blogger. As I mentioned in the last blog post, Al-Andalus did achieve a level of co-existence between Muslims, Jews and Christians for a period but this broke down in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Under sustained pressure from new Christian kingdoms which formed in the north of the Iberian peninsula (Aragon, Castile, Leon, Portugal), the Islamic caliphate was rolled back. So…some on the Muslim side decided that a little theological strictness was required and under first the Almoravids and then the Almohads, the caliphate became a far less tolerant place. The gist of their argument was that if Muslims hadn’t been so lax – then Allah would have favoured them more in their fight with the new crusader kingdoms. Maimonides was a Jewish thinker in Al-Andalus and his essay covers the bleak prospect of being forced to convert against his will from his own faith. Interestingly, Maimonides didn’t escape from the Islamic world in to the Christian world to get away from this situation but ended up in Egypt where his genius was highly appreciated by Jews and Muslims alike.