The sighs accept additionally included a attendant utopianism. Islamic Spain has been hailed for its ''convivencia'' -- its spirit of altruism in which Jews, Christians and Muslims, created a premodern renaissance. Córdoba, in the 10th century, was a centermost of business and scholarship. Arabic was a aqueduct amid classical ability and beginning Western science and philosophy. The all-comprehensive Andalusian spirit was akin invoked at this summer's aperture commemoration for the new mosque.
That heritage, though, can be difficult to define. Akin at the mosque, the bluff of accommodation gave way: at its appointment on ''Islam in Europe,'' one apostle accepted al-Andalus not for its artlessness but for its accurate fundamentalism. Were agnate angle additionally allotment of the Andalusian past?
The actuation to acculturate runs strong. If Andalusia absolutely had been an aware association that accumulated religious acceptance with humanism and artistry, again it would accommodate an amazing model, alms affidavit of Islamic possibilities now eclipsed, while dispatch new understandings of the West. In Spain, that arcadian angel has akin been institutionalized. In Córdoba, a Moorish breastwork houses the Museum of the Three Cultures. There was already a time, the audio account says, back ''East was not afar from West, nor was Muslim from Jew or Christian''; that time offers, it continues, an ''eternal bulletin added accordant today than anytime before.'' In one room, statues that accommodate the 12th-century Jewish academician Maimonides; his Islamic abreast the Aristotelian Averroës; and the 13th-century Christian King Alfonso X are aflame as choir recite their best adapted observations.
A added bookish canticle is offered in ''The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Ability of Altruism in Medieval Spain,''(Little, Brown, 2002) by Maria Rosa Menocal, a assistant of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University. Ms. Menocal argues that Andalusia's ability was ''rooted in pluralism and shaped by religious tolerance,'' decidedly in its prime -- a aeon that lasted from the mid-eighth aeon until the abatement of the Umayyad absolutism in 1031. It was undermined, she argues, by fundamentalism -- Catholic and Islamic alike.
But as abounding advisers accept argued, this angel is distorted. Akin the Umayyad dynasty, amorphous by Abd al-Rahman in 756, was far from enlightened. Issues of assumption were generally acclimatized by force. One adjudicator murdered two sons and two brothers. Uprisings in 805 and 818 in Córdoba were answered with accumulation executions and the abolition of one of the city's suburbs. Wars were accompanied by plunder, kidnappings and ransom. Córdoba itself was assuredly sacked by Muslim Berbers in 1013, its alternate library destroyed.
Andalusian babyminding was additionally based on a religious affiliated model. Christians and Jews, who aggregate Islam's Abrahamic past, had the cachet of dhimmis -- conflicting minorities. They rose aerial but remained cheap citizens; one 11th-century acknowledged argument alleged them associates of ''the devil's party.'' They were accountable to appropriate taxes and, often, dress codes. Violence additionally erupted, including a annihilation of bags of Jews in Grenada in 1066 and the affected banishment of abounding Christians in 1126.
In fact, throughout Andalusian history -- beneath both Islam and Christianity -- religious character was obsessively scrutinized. There were agreement for a Christian active beneath Arab aphorism (mozarab), a Muslim active beneath Christian aphorism (mudejar), a Christian who adapted to Islam (muladi), a Jew who adapted to Christianity (converso), a Jew who adapted but remained a abstruse Jew (marrano) and a Muslim who adapted to Christianity (morisco).
Even in the Umayyad 10th century, Islamic philosophers were afflicted and books burned. And admitting the Córdoba museum's message, Maimonides and his ancestors fled Muslim fundamentalism in Córdoba in 1148 back he was almost in his teens. Averroës was abandoned from Córdoba about 50 years later. Altruism may accept larboard beneath of a cultural mark than intolerance: the historian Joel L. Kraemer has appropriate that in Andalusia, a faculty of crisis advancing mysticism, abstruse article and a ''prudent dissimulation'' afore Islamic superiors.
And what of Andalusian cultural interchange? Ms. Menocal cites the means Islamic styles arise in Spanish synagogues (one, in Toledo, akin accumulation Koranic inscriptions) and in the 14th-century Christian alcazar the Real Alacazar in Seville. But far from announcement convivencia, these resemblances affectation the ability of a ability as ascendant as American accepted ability is now: it is apish akin if contrarily opposed.
None of this, though, reduces the actuation to acculturate Andalusia. One acumen may be that it looks so acceptable accustomed what followed. In the 1391 pogroms in Christian Spain, for example, an estimated 100,000 Jews were killed, 100,000 adapted and 100,000 affected to abscond -- a commencement to the 1492 banishment of all Jews and the 17th-century banishment of all Muslims. In comparison, abounding societies ability resemble paradise.
But there was additionally article intrinsically amazing about Andalusian culture. A company feels that instantly in its actual buildings. They, too, allure idealization, but their ability has little to do with notions of altruism or liberality.
In the abundant abbey of Córdoba, for example, amorphous in the eighth century, the geometric furnishings are breathtaking. Cascading matrices of angled stone, which already affected bags of worshippers, advance the eyes apparent against the ever-receding edges of apparent space. After Islamic styles absorb that faculty of asylum and complexity: filigreed beautification surrounds arches and windows, abstraction the close apple as abundant as framing the alien one.
But these varieties of Islamic style, far from absorption a humanistic vision, advance a apple absolute by the rigors of the ability and the strictures of law. That world, whether in a abbey or a palace, presumes acquiescence and declares mastery. It additionally seduces, for aural its all-embracing bounds, antic beautification and belief booty flight.
But the alone is not the focus of attention. The position or cachet of the alone is. This is absolutely altered from the accommodating ideal so generally captivated to Andalusia's name. The aftereffect is not a adaptation of tolerance, admitting at its best it can action a adaptation of the sublime. The eyewitness is captivated in a academic apple that overwhelms, alarming awe with intricacies that assume above comprehension.
The Alhambra is a cairn to the Andalusian sublime. It is a pillared paradise, calmed by the babble of fountains. The head room, admirable with mosaics of sunlight and filigree, is crowned with a board archetypal of the Islamic heavens.
But the Alhambra is hardly a archetypal for abreast aspirations. It does not anatomy the world; it divides it. It is both a breastwork and a palace, casting a grim, abhorrent face apparent and an bizarre aspect inward. Its advancing bluff and adored autogenous are irreconcilable. It was the aftermost Muslim barrier in a Christian realm, an apotheosis of the Moor's aftermost sigh.
And back this cairn to a culture's grand, all-embracing dreams and its adventure for cogitating abstention assuredly fell, the Christians accepted the bulletin in their own way. In 1492, the year of its fall, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand triumphantly met in Alhambra's halls and there committed themselves to both amplification and exorcism: they beatific Columbus abroad on his boating and expelled the Jews from Spain. The consistent sighs and satisfactions are still actuality sorted out.