“They will know our hearts”: Practicing the Art of Dissimulation on the Islamic Periphery

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Journal of Early Modern History


From the early sixteenth century, religious and legal authorities provided Spanish crypto-Muslims with guidelines for practicing taqiyya, the Islamic art of dissimulation. As theory collided with local realities, however, local actors innovated practice in the face of the continued divergence between an internal desire to practice Islam and external pressures to conform to Christianity. This article explores these tensions by analyzing the posthumous endowments of two wealthy Morisco brothers from the Castilian town of Deza who succeeded in convincing both Christian neighbors and the Inquisition of their sincere conversion to Christianity. The town’s Morisco community, however, viewed the brothers’ bequests as secret acts of Islamic charity. Such perceived efforts to enact taqiyya not only eroded Christian confidence that true converts could be discerned from false ones but also threatened to destabilize the Moriscos’ own religious identity and their relationship to both Christianity and Islam.



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