This week we come to the end of the story of Hasan, of Leo Africanus. In the year of the Conversa, we learn that the Pope wishes for Hasan to take another wife, Maddalena. He does not particularly want another woman in his life, but Hasan succeeds to the Pope’s will. Something that I found very interesting in this chapter was the character of Julius, the Pope’s cousin. He is the one who introduces the girl, however, he also has a great appreciation for Hasan’s travels. As Hasan recounts, “He[Julius] made me swear that one day I should commit an account of my travels to paper, promising to be my most eager reader”(304). I think it is fascinating that people then and now realized the special quality in Hasan’s experiences and travels. The Pope dies, Hasan leaves Rome and has some more adventurous travels, but the most interesting thing to me was the end of the book, again going back to the idea of family. Sociologically speaking, we see here that the family unit was the most important thing in life. After forty years of exciting travel, all Hasan has the desire to do is to “live long peaceful days in the bosom of my family.”(360). We also see in the end, the emphasis on religion. The last line, “towards the final place where no man is a stranger before the face of the Creator”, solidifies Leo Africanus as above all, a man of faith.
One of the questions I have about this book is the idea that Leo Africanus was truly a convert to Christianity. I believe he converted in order to explore and be able to get into the inner workings of Rome. For example, he refused to shave his beard, which is innately an Islamic tradition. Furthermore, he himself seems to never shake off his Islamic education and is remembered throughout history as an “Islamic scholar”.
The other reading for this week was the article “Global Order and the Historical Structures of Dar Al-Islam” by Bamyeh. This focuses on modernization and colonialism, however, Bamyeh uses the principles of previous Islamic “global structures” to demonstrate how globalized Islamic civilization actually was and to hypothesize if this type of system could be used today in the age of globalization. Bamyeh stresses three principles of Islamic civilization that maintained the vitality of the Muslim world: partial control, free movement, and heteroglossia. Throughout the article, he emphasizes the idea that for these principles to function properly and thrive, the authorities of the system should not have enough power to impose “orthodoxies” on the people. Lastly, he supports the claim that current authoritarian states in the Middle East would not be possible if the Islamic system was not weakened by the effects of Western colonialism.
I found Bamyeh’s reading interesting because I had never read anything about the structure of historical Islamic civilization being used as a model for current global systems. Furthermore, I had never come across the term heteroglossia before and found the explanation fascinating. I also thought the concept of the state being just one aspect of the governing system of society was very logical.