David Levering Lewis, Julius Silver Professor of History, New York University
In the long history of Islam and the West, no story is more important than the first contact that occurred when 8th-century Muslim adventurers landed in present-day Spain. Within three years, Muslims controlled much of the Iberian Peninsula, forging a "proto-modern" society - a religiously tolerant, intellectually sophisticated, socially diverse and economically dynamic culture whose achievements would eventually seed the European Renaissance. The rise and decline of this singular society - and of many others before and since - hinged on the fragile and unexpected virtue of religious toleration. Steven Lagerfeld, Editor of the Wilson Quarterly speaks with David Levering Lewis, Julius Silver Professor of History, New York University on how the al-Andalus period gives insight into the continuing encounter between Islam and the West.