Ibn Hazm, who lived in Muslim Spain in the 11th century, is best known today for his literary achievements. But like many Jewish and Muslim writers of his day, he was also a scholar of Aristotelian science, a theorist of religious law, an interpreter of sacred texts, and a political activist. His thinking led him to a literalist, exclusionary interpretation of Islam that inspired the persecution of Jews and Christians in 12th- and 13th-century Spain, and for this he is much admired by Salafists today. Reviewing a new collection of essays, Paul Heck writes:
The studies in this volume illustrate the close connection between Ibn Hazm’s writings and his politics. While one did not flow automatically from the other, his life was one of earnest—even zealous—activism, both political and intellectual. One could characterize his activities on the whole as a twofold struggle for the rule of Islam over Andalusia and for the truth of its beliefs over all other religions. He lived during the twilight of the Umayyad Caliphate and the beginnings of its fragmentation into city-states. He was also disturbed at the presence of Jews and Christians in well-placed positions in Muslim Spain and the willful neglect of its rulers to enforce God’s decree, revealed in the Quran, that the people of the book occupy a place of lowliness in the Abode of Islam. The image we have of [medieval] Andalusia today is one of interreligious harmony, but the picture painted here is rather different.