Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Leo Africanus- Blog 2

This weeks reading started with The Year of the Mourners. Hasan's (Leo) grandfather died after Hasan went to live with Kahli. Hasan's father decided it was time for Hasan to start school. Hasan, a very intelligent boy, could recite the Fatiha perfectly and was considered an exceptional student. In school, Hasan met a boy named Harun who was called Harun the Ferret because of his mischievous ways. The two boys became inseparable friends.
During the Year of Harun the Ferret, Melilla was conquered but the Castilians and the Christians began to fortify the city. The refugees at Fez who came from Granada were afraid of what was happening. One day, Harun and Hasan went to explore throughout the streets and they came across the taverns. They were spying in each one until Hasan found his father in one. Scarred, Hasan ran away and did not confront his father.
In the Year of the Inquisitors, many people in the dungeons of the Alhambra were being tortured. If one refused conversion to Christianity, they would be condemned to death. Many thought the entire Muslim community would be executed for rebellion, but if they accepted Christianity, they could live. Kahli was about to go on a trip in the caravan and Hasan took on a job so he could be paid.
During the Year of the Hammam, Hasan took a job with Harun. Their job dealt with the manure used to heat the water in the Hammam. One day, Harun came up with an idea that they should dress like women and go into the Hammam when the women are allowed so they can spy. Hasan never went, but Harun refused to tell him what was going on inside. Hasan's uncle came back from his trip, with tales of pirates, their shipwreck, etc.
The Year of the Raging Lions was a time when Hasan and his family went on a tour of the countryside. Hasan bonded with his sister, whom he considered beautiful and arousing. The family stopped at a village called Ar, Shame. The people who lived here were considered very greedy. That night, two lions attacked the house where Hasan's family slept. The lions did no damage but frightened the entire family.
Miriam, Hasan's sister, was about to marry the Zarwali during the Year of the Great Recitation. Many people envied the Zarwali because of his wealth. Hasan's father was very pleased with the decision because his dream of being wealthy would finally come true. Hasan was displeased with the decision for Miriam to marry the Zarwali because he heard bad gossip about him. Hasan confronted his father who wanted nothing to do with Hasan. Hasan became very angry and told his father he saw him in a tavern. This launched the two into bad terms and they stopped talking. Instead of asking for his father's help, Hasan went to get the help of Astaghfirullah.
Hasan's father fled to the top of a mountain in Fez to live and harvest while Hasan attended the most famous college in Fez. Miriam put a knotted blade of grass in the crack of a wall when their father went to the countryside. However, when the knotted blade of grass appeared, Miriam was about to be taken to the Leper community because she was suspected of being sick. All Hasan wanted to do was get his sister out of the community so she would be safe again.

Will Miriam be considered healthy once again? It seems that she has many misfortunes because she was taken away as a Leper, almost attacked by lions, and about to marry the Zarwali who had a history of violence. It also is depressing to hear that there was so much violence and people were being killed because they refused to convert to Christianity. I would find it extremely hard to give something up that I believe in and would not want to die because I went against someone else's belief. Growing up today, I find it weird that people can't just respect others beliefs as well as their own which most do today, although there are some people who will never do this.


  1. Good job summarizing, Gabby. That was pretty thorough. Just a minor thing I noticed -- wasn't it Hasan's grandmother that died? I sympathize with Miriam, as well. One of the things I have been thinking about while reading, in addition to the horrifying intolerance and cruelty of the Christian Church during 15th century, has been the limitations of women's rights. Poor Miriam! It's not as difficult for me to imagine religious intolerance as it is for me to imagine gender inequality, though both are still rampant in the world despite the general "progress" we have made.

  2. It definitely seems that people today are more tolerant of other people having different opinions. I think governments and societies are less paranoid today about the repercussions that could manifest from varying beliefs, especially religious beliefs. The 15th century is a foremost example of religious intolerance in Africa/Europe/Middle East. I think people find the simplification of beliefs less threatening and more manageable within society.