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Captives, Children and Conversion: A Case from Late Naṣrid Granada

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Around 894/1488-89, a legal opinion on the case of a child living in the Naṣrid Kingdom of Granada, who came under the double threat of captivity and forced conversion to Christianity, was demanded by its father from jurists in Tlemcen. The text of this case is presented here and analysed from two points of view: the historical context of Muslim captives in Christian Spain, and the legal theory applied in the North African answer to the question posed by the Andalusi father. In the historical part of the article, cases of Andalusi Muslim captives (from the 6th/12th century to the 9th/15th century) are examined. Special attention is given to the possible ways used to put an end to captivity: ransoms and those who paid for them, bequests and pious fundations, etc., as well as tales of escape from Christians. Finally, the Muslim religious view of captivity is considered. In the second part, the case posed to the North African jurists is reviewed in detail. The two responses given by Ibn Zakarīyāʾ (d. 899/1493) and al-Sanūsī (d. 895/1490) both agree that the child could be separated from its mother and removed to a safe country. The motives given by both jurists to justify their opinions differ, but they follow the Mālikite school of law and reflect the historical and social developments of their time.

Affiliations: 1: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid


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