Muslim Women in Medieval Spain

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The first three hundred years of the Muslim conquest gave Spain a unique character among west European countries. Save for the Pyrenean regions and the territory to the north of the River Duero, the entire land mass was subjected by and received the imprint of Islamic civilization.


A wholly foreign race professing a strongly hostile religion took over the country, a totally alien language became the official tongue, a completely novel culture was imposed on the population. Entire sections of the peasantry and the urban lite deserted their Catholic faith and embraced Islam. By the tenth century the territory called Al-Andalus was a country with a solid Muslim majority, and had become the single most powerful and civilized state in western Europe. The Moorish state was never so integrated or unified that it crushed out the cultures that had preceded it (Collins 43). None the less, Islamic culture itself became so imbedded in the Hispanic mentality that it ceased to be alien and became an ineffaceable and authentic part of peninsular history. In Medieval Spain women obtained an important role and had more rights and freedoms in contrast to Christian women and their position in society.
In Medieval Spain, the subjected Christian population was usually treated with the limited religious tolerance customary to Islam. Occasional persecution was matched by outbreaks of religious zeal on the part of the conquered. Those who held fast to their faith were called Mozarabs, Christian in belief but Arabized in culture and language. Their numbers, however, shrank, and their faith itself became diluted with novel beliefs and heresies. Many were attracted by the higher quality of Islamic culture. ...
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