Evidence exists that the first historically verifiable use of the term “West” as a self-ascriptive political construct occurred in the medieval Almohad Muslim empire that united al-Andalus (Iberia) and North Africa in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Known as the Maghrib in Arabic, this hegemonic label served successfully as a strategic synecdoche for the Almohads’ ideological reformulation of their African-European society. While surrounding polities admired and imitated the Almohad West, its philosophical underpinnings created an intellectual revolution that threatened both Islamic and Christian elites and ultimately undermined Islamic toleration of Christian and Jewish subjects. Comprehending the Maghrib’s complex role in the creation of Western civilization clarifies the dialectical relationship of its two political heirs, modern Islamic North Africa and Christian Europe.


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pp. 259-307
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