This contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium on xenophilia defines Islamophilia as expressed praise for or admiration of Muslims (and their accomplishments) by non-Muslims. The analysis underscores three indicators of Islamophilia: fascination with Muslim culture, awe regarding Muslim prosperity, and admiration of Muslim governance. The period from the invasion of the Iberian peninsula by Arab forces in 711 until the final expulsion of the “Moors” in 1492 marked the longest direct, daily contact between Muslims and Christians (and Jews) in the history of Europe. In large areas and for long periods, Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived side by side peacefully. Christians and Jews eventually adopted and admired aspects of the dominant Arab culture and lifestyle. Even after Muslim-controlled lands were retaken in the Reconquista, the conquering Christians often continued to explore and prize the many achievements of the vanquished Muslims. This article summarizes the development, during the medieval period, of such positive Christian attitudes toward Islam.

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