THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RIHLA FOR THE ISLAMIZATION OF SPAIN
This thesis examines Muslim education in Spain from the viewpoint of its significance for the preservation of Islamic civilization in the Iberian peninsula. It is based on an extensive analysis of Islamic biographical literature and other primary sources.
It begins with an examination of the claims that there were strong secular tendencies in the education of Spanish Muslims in all its stages. This claim is disproved completely: the educational system of Muslim Spain was thoroughly Islamic at all its levels. It did not show substantial differences as compared to the learning in the Islamic East. It did, however, rely heavily on communication with the intellectual elite in the heartlands of Islam.
Contacts with the central Islamic lands started at the same time as the conquest of Spain in 92/711. Visitors from the East played an important role in the successful Islamization of Spain. Extensive travel from Spain to the East developed in the middle of the second/eighth century with study and pilgrimage being the two most important motives for these trips. The fourth/tenth century was by far the most active period.
Studies in the Islamic East became an essential part of education in Muslim Spain and were considered its culmination. In the caliphal period (317/929-423/1031), the entire educational process consisted of four distinct phases: study in the student's hometown, in Cordoba, in other Spanish cities and in the Eastern Islamic lands.
The completion of the trip to the East for the sake of study (the rihla) meant significant practical advantages. It enhanced tremendously the popularity of the teachers and it became almost a pre-requisite for potential office-holders. Men who did not study in the East often tried to make up for this shortcoming. They did it mainly in two ways: by extended studies in Spain and/or correspondence with outstanding Islamic scholars abroad. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of school.) UMI