Ibn Hazm: Medieval Muslim Thinker, Activist, and Polemicist

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.

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Read more at Marginalia

More about: Andalusia, Arabic literature, Aristotle, Islam, Salafism

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship