Thursday, November 5, 2009

Commentary 9

This week’s readings, from pages 101-200 of Leo Africanus, commenced with the death of Hasan’s grandmother. This event portrayed the ceremonial practices of funerals within the Muslim tradition. Hasan is now eight years old, and he better understands the world he lives in. He describes funerals to be a celebration of tradition within his culture. He says they are a “spectacle” (pg102). These “condolence ceremonies” (pg104) last for six days and forty days after death, they resume for another three days of mourning. This morbid reunion allowed Hasan’s uncle and father to argue. Within their quarrel, they decided Hasan should enter school, even if it was early within their society. School consisted solely for the memorization of the Qur’an, the Muslim’s religious text. Since Hasan was highly intelligent for his age, Hasan knew he could memorize the Qur’an at a faster average rate, in order to enter college sooner.
Meanwhile, a year later, the Castilians took over parts of Granada, instilling fear and worry into the people; although, Hasan was so focused on school that he was hardly affected. The party of inquisitors told all Muslims who had converted from Christianity to return to their former religion. Any man who refused was considered a traitor, and thus condemned for death. Many Muslim citizens of Granada began to leave. They escaped to Fez, or to the safety of the rural mountains. Muhammad began look for land of his own and Khali commenced on his own journey. This upset Hasan because he lacked purpose in his relative’s adventures, but soon was remedied by a job offered to him from Hamza, “the barber who had circumcised him” (pg118).
A summary of every event within these 100 pages is insightful, but I find a brief description of Muslim tradition and struggle to be more enlightening. I felt that Amin Maalouf gave readers immense knowledge on the lifestyle of Muslims in Grenada during the 15th century that I would not have gained from a textbook. Her fictional style adds validity to her description of non-fictional events. My question is, what information could I better attain from a historical analysis of 15th century Grenada that I have yet to gain through Maalouf’s literary style?

1 comment:

  1. I entirely agree with your questioning/analysis regarding the contrast between a textbook portrayal of the 15th century versus Malouf's literary style. I thought some of the same things while reading, and I think that the mico-perspective that was discussed in Wednesday's lecture speaks to this interpretation of the two portrayals. By noting and analyzing her literary style through Hasan's personal perspective, we can more easily gain a sociological perspective while also gaining important historical perspective of the situations that emerged within African trade and society in the 15th century.