Macalester Islam Journal


A historical examination of the interactions between Islam and the West during the early medieval period leads one to Spain. Muslim groups began invading southern Spain as early as the eighth century and by the ninth century they had established military and political control over many formerly Christian communities. The Christian individuals living in these newly conquered regions had options; they could accept Islam on any number of different levels or they could resist it completely, engaging in dangerous and often futile conflict with Muslim authority. For the sake of this paper I am solely concerned with the various ways in which Christians assimilated under Muslim rule. In the following pages I attempt to understand the behavior of ninth century Christians using a modern, if uncommon, sociological and legal theory. I approach this interaction of Islam and Christianity through a modern framework because recognizing different forms of assimilation allows one to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the psychological and social climate which may have existed during the Christian re-conquest of southern Spain in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.