Project (2017-)

Natural Philosophy in Medieval Muslim Polemics

The project studies the role of natural philosophy in the religious polemics of the medieval Muslims of Spain who were subjected to Christian rule, in particular, the role of scientific knowledge within the processes of identity construction and transmission of knowledge of the Mudejars in competition with the Christian majority and the other important religious minority in the Christian territories of the Iberian Peninsula, the Jews.

The project explores how the main outlines of the Mudejars’ natural philosophy intertwines with and departs from the conceptualizations of the Christians and the Jews on the same issues. One source in particular could be identified: a treatise relying on the authority of a judge from Alcalá (Castile), who was also doctor of the Aragonese King, that is to say, a member of the elite engaged in the refutation of Christianity but at the same time in charge of the Christian king’s health. This identification gives us further insight into the uses of religious polemics grounded in natural philosophy by a minority in close contact with the dominant Christian elite. The source provides further evidence of the fact that some of its members were professionals in various fields—in this case health (regardless of the patient’s religion) and the implementation of the Islamic law—and that they succeeded in integrating both and in transferring their knowledge not only across religious borders but also across political ones (Castile-Aragon). These new insights are presented in the volume: The Religious Polemics of the Muslims of Late Medieval Christian Iberia: Identity and Religious Authority in Mudejar Islam (Brill, 2017).