By Justin Stearns
Al-Qantara: Revista de Estudios Arabes, Vol.25:1 (2004)
Introduction: This article offers a reading of a fourteenth century account of the Christian kings of Iberia as found at the end of Kitàb a ‘mal a-la ‘lam, a history written in the late 8/14 century by the famed Granadan polymath and sometime vizier Ibn al-Khatïb (d.776/1374). In this brief account he described the history of Christian kings in the Iberian peninsula following the Muslim conquest. The text was first studied and translated into Spanish by Melchor Martínez Antuña in 1933, after which it seems to have remained for the most part uncommented upon. In recent years both the degree of Muslim interest in Europe and Christianity as well as the way in which Christians were described by Muslim historians have attracted interest in the works of such scholars as Bernard Lewis, Aziz al-Azmeh, Bettina Miinzel, and Maribel Fierro. The section of the Kitâb a ‘mal a-la ‘lam described above is of interest to a discussion of the arguments of all four scholars, for it is not remarked upon in the first two and offers an opportunity to expand upon the framework established by the latter two. Both Lewis and al-Azmeh argue, albeit with differing emphasis, that the Muslim world of the late Middle Ages displayed a great deal of indifference towards its Christian neighbors.