Friday, November 20, 2009

Leo Africanus Part 1

In the first section of the book, a Muslim couple living in Grenada in December, 1489 is introduced. Salma and Muhammed were cousins engaged to be wed. But after discovering Salma's unfertility, Muhammed goes on a trip and finds Warda through a soldier and bringing her back. Salma and Warda lead two very different lives as a wife and mistress respectively. Wives were expected to take care of their husband, children, and the house. Mistresses had much more freedom and were permitted to sing and dance. Salma denounces her infertility and finds Sarah Goudy to help her by giving her an elixir that helps her get pregnant after enticing Muhammed. The two women, both pregnant at the same time, compete their way to childbirth. Warda gives birth first, but to a baby girl. Salma has a boy and pleases Muhammed once again.

One thing I found interesting in this section was that only from reading the beginning of a story, I could learn a lot about the history of a culture. It's wild that I can read a book about one person to find out about parts of a culture I never knew. I was confused about whether or not women wanted to get married and would like to learn more about that. Also, did women enjoy polygamy?

I also found it interesting that at first, the three major religious groups (Jews, Christians, Muslims) were able to live together peacefully until the fall of Grenada. All three religions were considered religions of the book.

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