Between Acculturation and Conversion in Islamic Spain The case of the Banū Ḥasday

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Sarah STROUMSA

Abstract

The High Middle Ages in Islamic Spain (al-Andalus) is often described as a golden age in which Jews, Christians and Muslims lived in harmony. The attested dynamics of conversions to Islam disturb this idyllic, static picture, revealing the religious and social pressures exerted on the religious minorities. The different reactions of the Jewish and Christian communities of al-Andalus to these pressures allow us to refine our understanding of conversion in the Medieval Islamic world. A close examination of the Jewish family of Banū Ḥasday shows more nuances and ambivalence than ‘conversion’ normally suggests.

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