In the current political climate it might be easy to assume that Muslims in the ‘West’ have always been viewed in a negative light....

In the current political climate it might be easy to assume that Muslims in the ‘West’ have always been viewed in a negative light. However, when we examine the historical relationship between Muslims and their non-Muslim neighbors we find a much more complicated picture. In Muslims of Medieval Latin Christendom, c.1050-1614 (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Brian A. Catlos, professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado, offers the first comprehensive overview of Muslim minorities in Latin Christian lands during the Middle Ages. The book provides a narrative history of regional Muslim subjects in the Latin west, including Islamic Sicily, Al-Andalus, expansion in the Near East, the Muslim communities of Medieval Hungary, and portraits of travelers, merchants, and slaves in Western Europe. Here we find that Muslims often had great deal of agency in structuring the subject/ruler relationship due to the material and economic contributions they made to local communities. The second half of the book explores thematic issues that were shared across Muslims communities of the Mediterranean world. Catlos surveys ideological, administrative, and practical matters, including Muslim concern about legitimacy and assimilation, legal culture, and everyday social life in these multi-confessional communities. In our conversation we discussed the reign of Christian Spains, Norman rule, the adoption of Arabo-Islamic culture, Morisco hybridity, Islam in Christian imagination, the role of Muslim women, and everyday public religious life.

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