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DUBLIN, IRELAND — Despite the current state of tension that exists between them, Muslims and Jews have a long history of tolerance and mutual admiration. Perhaps this is no more obvious than in the life of Moses Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher who flourished intellectually and professional under Muslim rule. Born in 1138, Maimonides was raised in the city of Córdoba, Spain, one of the greatest intellectual and spiritual havens of its time. Córdoba is the setting for one of history's most important examples of interfaith tolerance. Between 711 and 1085, Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in Andalucía -- the name given to Muslim Spain -- in a relative state of harmony, which was utterly unthinkable in other European cities such as London or Paris. This state of tolerance even has its own name -- convívencía -- which can literally be translated as "living with-ness," or "requiring tolerance." In Andalucía, Jews were not only able to keep their ways, but they found a secure home after years of persecution under Christian rule. They called their Spanish home "Sefarad," the name which they gave to the Iberian peninsula. Some scholars describe this period as the "Jewish Golden Age." From an early age Maimonides learned Arabic and the doctrines of Aristotle and Plato. In doing so he was able to merge different cultures into his understanding of the Hebrew humanities and Jewish theology, which were his main disciplinary interests. Through cross-cultural learning, Maimonides was able to translate Muslim and Greek knowledge into Jewish life, marking one of the greatest transmissions of ideas the world had ever seen. His life, however, changed drastically in 1147 when the Almohads, a radical Muslim sect from North Africa, invaded Córdoba to conquer and convert all non-Muslims to Islam. Maimonides fled Córdoba for the city of Granada where he and his family lived until 1150. Eventually they settled in Fez, Morocco, where he studied at the University of Al-Qarawiyyin, reportedly the world's first university. Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, a 14-volume text on halaqa, or Jewish law, which he composed in Fez, firmly established him as the leading rabbinical thinker of his day. ...      Read more

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