This week’s readings of Leo Africanus took us further into Hasan’s travels and radically different society that he was living in as compared with today’s. Hasan was a Muslim so he and his family fled Spain to Fez, Morocco as a sanctuary from the Inquisition. There, Hasan began school and proved to be a very bright student, later going on to the most prestigious university in Fez. During his years at school, Hasan became close friends with another boy named Harun, nicknamed ‘the Ferret’ because of his mischievous ways.
Continuing Ferdinand and Isabella’s Inquisition, Castilians and Christians conquered the Spanish city of Melilla on the Northern coast of Morocco. All the refugees in Fez grew worried of the fate of Fez. Harun and Hasan decided to explore Fez, but noticed Hasan’s father in a tavern which prompted Hasan to run away and keep quiet about. I didn’t really understand why this was such a shame. Was it wrong for a married man to be in a tavern or something?
Hasan and his family toured the Moroccan countryside. On this trip, Hasan bonded with his sister whom he had a very close attraction to. Later she was about to marry Zarwali, a wealthy man notorious for violence towards women. Hasan’s father was very supportive because that way he’d be able to reach his dream of being rich but Hasan was not pleased due to the rumors, he wanted to protect his sister. Hasan decided to confront his father and it turned into a large argument in which Hasan also addressed spotting him in the tavern and they ended up off of speaking terms. Hasan’s father fled to a mountaintop as Hassan studied at the university in Fez as his sister eventually fell sick and was moved to a leper community.
What startled me the most about this text was the treatment of women in the society. Yes women have come a long way and aren’t even there in all societies, but being raised in America at this time is making it really hard for me to grasp what life would have been like having such minimal rights as Miriam and other women. I was just reading someone else’s posting and it mentioned how she tutored a 17 year old Somali refugee who was just in an arranged marriage, so women in many areas still do have very limited freedoms. Is it still this way for women in this area of Morocco? Is it due to their religious beliefs? Or is it something political? I don’t understand why an entire gender would ever be so downgraded, especially today.