This introductory chapter argues that despite the numerous accounts of the political history of Umayyad al-Andalus, its relationship to the Jewish and Christian communities under its rule can be viewed only from scattered evidence in the Arabic–Islamic literary sources. Given the limitations of literary sources, the book turns to early Andalusi and Maghribi Maliki legal texts for evidence that could contribute to a deeper understanding of life in al-Andalus. It presents an examination of Islamic legal texts as sources for understanding intercommunal relations in a legal and historical context. The chapter discusses the conceptualization, expression, and imposition of boundaries by rulers, judges, and jurists, and looks at boundary testing as a mechanism for the transmutation and the continuity of regular social practices.
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