You might ask why I am including a book on Sephardic Jews in a bookstore that focuses on Sufi literature. While this book covers the complete history of Sephardic Jews on the Iberian Peninsula continuing on after their expulsion by the Catholic Monarchs and persecution by the inquisition, up to the present day, I am specifically interested in the time of Muslim rule when Al-Andalus was a multi-faith society and intellectual and spiritual exchange between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity was vibrant and highly productive. One expression of this was the work of the philosopher-mystics of Judaism and Islam who drew on Sufi ideas and methods in their writing and spiritual practice and who were highly influential in their respective faiths down to the present day. There are several books devoted to this period and its literature which I will show here in future posts or which you can find by going here to browse. Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience provides an excellent overall history in which this period is set.
“The history of the Jews of Spain is a remarkable story that begins in the remote past and continues today. For more than a thousand years, Sepharad (the Hebrew word for Spain) was home to a large Jewish community noted for its richness and virtuosity. Summarily expelled in 1492 and forced into exile, their tragedy of expulsion marked the end of one critical phase of their history and the beginning of another. Indeed, in defiance of all logic and expectation, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain became an occasion for renewed creativity. Nor have five hundred years of wandering extinguished the identity of the Sephardic Jews, or diminished the proud memory of the dazzling civilization which they created on Spanish soil.This book is intended to serve as an introduction and scholarly guide to that history.”