This introductory chapter provides a background of al-Andalus. Within the Islamic world, “al-Andalus” (Islamic Spain) constituted a distinct cultural unit with its own unique characteristics. The borders of this territory changed over time, following the advance of the Christian conquests. Toward the end of the second/eighth century, al-Andalus covered most of the peninsula (today's Spain as well as Portugal), while in the eighth/fifteenth century, the shrunken Emirate of Granada alone, at the southernmost tip of the peninsula, remained in Muslim hands. This book's period of interest extends mainly from the tenth to the sixth/twelfth century, when Jews living under Islam in the Iberian Peninsula played a significant cultural role, and when philosophy flourished in al-Andalus. The philosophy and theology that were produced in this cultural unit developed as a continuation of speculative thought in the Islamic East and remained in constant dialogue with it. Yet the philosophical and theological works of Andalusian authors are not servile replicas of Maghreban or Eastern sources. They have a distinctive character that, while showing their different sources, displays their originality and their Andalusian provenance.
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