This week’s reading of Leo Africanus, I felt the story actually pick up quite a bit for me. Hasan has been exiled from his community because he was defending his brother-in-law, who was being accused of committing a murder. This allegiance led to his dismissal from his community, landing him in Egypt. With him he took his slave, Hiba and several other guards.
While in Constantinople Hasan serves as a diplomat. The Ottoman Empire, currently being run by the Turkish were beginning to take over the country. In the midst of turmoil between the Mamlukes and the Ottomans fighting for authority, Hasan’s wife, Nur, gives birth to a baby girl. Almost immediately following the birth of his daughter, Hasan is captured by Italian pirates because of his position as a diplomat. He is then brought to the Pope (Leo X), where he forms a very unusual (but positive) relationship. They shared many of the same opinions, ideals, and even religious perspectives. He ends up being baptized, there in Italy, and undergoes a name change from Hasan to Leo Africanus.
My question for this week would be - what was it about Hasan/Leo Africanus that attracted Pope Leo X so much? Why do you think he and Hasan were so quick to build a friendship/relationship that would lead to a baptismal? Giving the circumstances that Hasan was kidnapped, taken away from his wife and newborn – don’t you think Hasan would’ve desired more to be released to return to Egypt?