Excerpt: Book Review of The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise

In her book review of Darío Fernández-Morera’s The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise, Sarah J. Pearce stresses the need for expertise and engagement with primary sources when analyzing topics such as Islamic law and its history. Read her entire review here.


“A scholar cannot write about texts he cannot read in the original and cannot rely on the discretion of translators to choose the objects of his study for him. The fact that he seemingly consulted no sources in the original Arabic makes, for example, his attempt at a fine parsing of the term jihād in theory and practice an exercise in futility…

…When he does deal with primary sources (always in translation), he does not do it well or with methodological awareness or skill. He selects verses from the Qur’ān that support his argument and ignore those that cut against it (178). And despite his obsession with Malikī law, he reads them in isolation and not with any of the interpretive or analytical tradition that governed how Andalusi Muslims understood those verses; at various points in the book he claims that practical or applied religion and law don’t matter in the face of what is written in text.”