Sunday, 2 November 2008

Book Recommendation: Moorish Spain

“Andalus: Unlocking the Secrets
of Moorish Spain”

Jason Webster

Food, architecture, life style: A lot of modern day’s Spain actually stems from the Arab presence in the peninsula that lasted for over seven centuries. “The Caliphate” – as the period between the 8th and the 14th century is commonly referred to – was a time of unprecedented heyday of creativity, uniting Christian, Jewish and Arab culture.

While the South of Spain, particularly the autonomous community of Andalusia, shows a considerable degree of consciousness of its legacy, large parts of the country seem to have forgotten about one of the main cultural root. Or who is still actively aware of the fact that the capital Madrid was named after the Arabic al-majrit (= source of water), that the typical Spanish name Carmen derives from classical Arabic al-karm (= wine yard) or that the name of the highest point of mainland Spain, Mulhacén, comes actually from a 15th century Sultan of Granada?

Inspired by the hidden secrets of modern Spain, the Englishman Jason Webster undertakes a journey to investigate into a neglected subject. Being married to a Spanish woman as well as a ten-year resident in the country, he believes there is much more Moorish heritages still alive than commonly acknowledged. And he does not only discover it in the language: habits, customs, styles of living and even religious issues do seem to find their root back to the times of The Caliphate.

© "Andalus" by Jason Webster

With the illegal Moroccan immigrant Zine, a modern Moor having traversed the Strait of Gibraltar to earn a living, the author embarks on a trip to the heart of the Arab legacy. His trips takes him along the Mediterranean coast over the hinterland of Andalusia on the Portugal. Wherever he goes, he meets people with distinct character and personality, giving him a kaleidoscope of viewpoints on the subject.

Witty, funning, even shocking sometimes: Jason Webster has a gripping way of narrating his “Tour of Moorish Spain” and shines a light on cultural links that seem to be either simply forgotten or deliberately devalued. The trip is lively and varied, never boring, and taken straight from a day-to-day life experience.

A must for all those that seek the connecting between the Arab World and Europe in its cultural and historical sense!

Jason Webster
“Andalus: Unlocking the Secrets of Moorish Spain”
ISBN 0552771244

Andreas Hauser

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