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Jocelyn Hendrickson: Leaving Iberia. Islamic Law and Christian Conquest in North West Africa, Cambridge, MA / London: Harvard University Press 2021, XII + 417 S., ISBN 978-0-674-24820-5, USD 50,00
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Rezension von:
Mònica Colominas Aparicio
Groningen University
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Javier Albarrán Iruela
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Mònica Colominas Aparicio: Rezension von: Jocelyn Hendrickson: Leaving Iberia. Islamic Law and Christian Conquest in North West Africa, Cambridge, MA / London: Harvard University Press 2021, in: sehepunkte 22 (2022), Nr. 10 [15.10.2022], URL:

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Jocelyn Hendrickson: Leaving Iberia

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In his Tabula Rogeriana, al-Idrīsī (d. 559/1166) placed the African continent in the north and the European continent in the south. Leaving Iberia recenters the Maghreb and takes a critical look at Iberocentric readings of Muslim-Christian relations by focusing on the period around the Christian conquest of Granada. This thought-provoking monograph on Islamic legal history addresses the Islamic obligation to emigrate to Muslim territories and how this links to the questions posed by Muslims residing among Christians (Mudejars) and who ultimately convert to Christianity (Moriscos). Hendrickson argues that the answers of jurists - in particular, those of al-Wansharīsī (d. 914/1508) - should be read primarily in light of the fifteenth and sixteenth century Castilian and Portuguese occupation of the Maghreb. A second argument concerns the jurists' discretion in using earlier authorities and the long-term impact of their considered opinions (fatwās). Hendrickson aims to qualify scholarly understandings of al-Wansharīsī as the most uncompromising exponent of the legal tradition on emigration. She supports her claims by drawing on a hitherto unstudied corpus of fatwās about the Portuguese occupation, preserved in al-Zayyātī's al-Jawāhir ("Jewels") (d. 1055/1645), and on indigenous legal opinions on the French occupation of Algeria and Mauritania (nineteenth and twentieth centuries).

Hendrickson weaves her argument through the book's four parts, which are subdivided into chapters, engaging the reader with her fresh take on the subject. Part 1 is devoted to the Iberian occupation of the Maghreb and the responses of Maghrebi jurists. Among these is a lesser-known fatwā by al-Wansharīsī, the Berber fatwā, which Hendrickson claims served as a draft for Asnā al-matājir. Along with the Marbella fatwā, this is one of al-Wansharīsī's two best-known fatwās on emigration. Hendrickson argues that, like the Marbella fatwā, the Asnā al-matājir was not only well adapted to the Maghrebi context but also designed to harshly condemn the residence of Muslims in Portuguese-occupied enclaves (126). Thus, the Mudejar case to which these fatwās formally responds is arguably only a cautionary precedent that fit the circumstances, presented in a simple and memorable narrative that offered al-Wansharīsī an outlet for disguised criticism of Maghrebi politics. The critical reassessment of the Asnā al-matājir and the Marbella fatwā (Part 2) shows her Maghreb-centred perspective fully deployed. This part also deals with puzzling materials in the Asnā, such as Māzarī's (d. 536/1141) acceptance of the attestations of Muslim judges under Christian rule. These quotations, according to Hendrickson, may have served the practical purpose of not overburdening the Maghrebi legal apparatus with a reassessment of documents from the Portuguese territories. They would thus qualify the perception of al-Wansharī as a hard-line thinker, while also showing his discretion as a jurist. The latter also becomes apparent in his unacknowledged use of Ibn Rabī͑as a source. Part 3 is a new reading of a text traditionally considered more lenient than those of al-Wansharīsī: the address of al-Wahrānī (d. 917/1511) to the Moriscos. Part 4 clarifies the views of Algerian and Mauritanian jurists and considers whether al-Wansharīsī's perspective on emigration can be considered normative - with al-Buṣādī (b. 1933/4) providing the most extensive critique.

Muslim legal responses to emigration are shown to be embedded in discourses beyond Iberia, and Hendrickson also gives a detailed analysis of al-Wansharīsī's strategies for disguising innovation, as well as of his late reception. She provides a suggestive explanation of how and why al-Wansharīsī actively used the sources but finds it more difficult to qualify his views as most rigorous. This is especially true when she talks about what he did not do, for example cite the fatwā of al- ͑Abdūsī (d. 849/1446). Here, the claim that al- ͑Abdūsī was as strict as al-Wansharīsī only holds up because the author does not address conditions in al- ͑Abdūsī that are important for the Mudejar case, such as the fact that the obligation to emigrate and leave behind one's possessions only applied "on condition that (the Polytheists) allow(ed) them [a sufficient amount] to reach Muslim territory" (138, note 49, Wiegers, Islamic Literature, here under 86). Besides, the proof for the central claim of the Berber fatwā as a draft of Asnā does not go beyond some general considerations (101). By comparison, the author pays more attention to differences between these two fatwās (Chapter 5).

As for the alternative reading of the address of al Wahrānī (d. 917/1511) to the Moriscos as "unsolicited advice", it requires working with a good number of assumptions. The crux of the matter remains its "unsolicited" nature, an assessment that seems to fit well with Hendrickson's claim that Iberian Muslims had been "weighting the established doctrine of hijra alongside other considerations for generations" (106), and with the elements of which a fatwā consists (156, here following Cheddadi). But being "unsolicited" is not unproblematic in light of Hendrickson's suggestion that the Asnā was a response to the concerns of unknown North African authorities and that the questioner, Ibn Qaṭiyya, may have been merely instrumental in the response elaborated by al-Wansharīsī. This is striking because a mufti may formulate or reformulate a question, or leave it out altogether, but he rarely puts it in the mouth of a fictitious individual. This makes al-Wansharīsī's advice equally "unsolicited" if we stick to form in the strict sense, as she does with Wahrānī. Such a reading does not shed any more light on the nature of this text with an unknown original, but it conveniently contributes to diluting al-Wansharīsī's rigour by placing Wahrānī outside the comparative equation. Even accepting that Wahrānī knew of the Moriscos' earlier appeal to Bāyazīd II (1501) and responded to it, this does not necessarily preclude him responding to a concern or question raised by these groups (since such an appeal could have accompanied the question). An additional note to Chapter 6 is addressed to "cautivos y peregrinos", since it does not seem likely that "peregrinos" can be understood as "pilgrims" and therefore used in a sense "meant to elevate the Moriscos' status as devout Muslims" (172). Rather, the term is faithful to its primary meaning in Spanish, possibly also as used by Marcos Dobelio, meaning those "who wander in foreign lands" (DRAE; translation mine). The Arabic ghurabā' is translated and adds an aspect of its meaning, as pointed out by some hadith commentators (171). On the other hand, we cannot entirely rule out that "captives" might carry a polemical sense that does not imply actual captivity, but suffering, a meaning that appears frequently in Mudejar and Morisco texts (for example to refer to the conditions of the Jews). This possibility, which is not contemplated by Hendrickson, makes the term less puzzling, although it also weakens the likelihood that Wahrānī used it in a "rejoinder to the appeal" of 1501 (172).

Leaving Iberia is a significant contribution to the subject of emigration to Muslim countries, setting the tone for a revision of the working hypotheses and sources of scholarship used to discuss the place of North African and Iberian Muslim minorities in the debate. The proposed reading, according to which Mudejars and Moriscos are either appropriate instruments or have no role in the formulation of the questions, or both, when taken seriously, has implications that are not addressed here. Despite a long history of residence among Christians, the known data show that the members of these communities remained concerned about their status, their present, and their future, and that questions were reframed against the backdrop of changing contexts in Iberia and beyond. Hendrickson sufficiently explains why al-Wansharīsī did not include his Berber fatwā in this collection (Mi'yār). She does not talk about why, if the Asnā and the Marbella fatwā are to be read primarily in a Maghrebi key, a jurist like al-Zayyātī missed their purpose and veiled social and political critique and did not include them in his "Jewels" along with the responses to the Portuguese occupation.

Mònica Colominas Aparicio