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    Treatment of Jews in Islam - By Habib Siddiqui - Al-Jazeerah Peace Information Center

    Report bad ads?

    - Al-Jazeerah, May 27, 2006

    To prove Islam’s alleged mistreatment of Jews, I was recently provided a link to Spencer’s hate literature. As have been repeatedly demonstrated by many
    scholars he simply cannot be relied upon to provide the truth on anything pertaining to Islam and Muslims. [1]
    He is a merchant of hatred – an Islamophobic maniac. Period! Scores of Jewish scholars and historians can be cited, including Ben-Sasson [2] and Abba Eban, [3] to prove him unreliable, hostile and lying.

    Let me quote from the scholarly work,
    A History of the Jewish People, [http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674397312/qid=1038905535/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/103-1543975-4239815]
    edited by Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson (Harvard University Press, 1976), an Israeli historian:

    “The height of magnificence and luxury was reached by the wealthy Jews in the lands of Islam, particularly in Moslem Spain. We know that the court bankers
    of Baghdad in the tenth century kept open house for numerous guests and for the poor. Similarly, the ceremonies of the Jewish leaders in Babylonia [Iraq]
    and the patronage of the leading Jews in Moslem Spain, indicate conditions of ease and plenty.

    “The attitude toward these non-Moslems in the Islamic territories was shaped in principle in accordance with the concept of dhimma, meaning protection granted
    to them by agreement or treaty… In return, their lives and property were protected and, in accordance with the general attitude of Islam to infidels, they
    were assured liberty of faith and worship. They were also permitted to organize themselves as they wished, and the Jews fully availed themselves of that
    permission.

    “From the Jewish viewpoint, this conglomerate of Moslem attitudes to infidels was easier to live with than the one that had been established by Christianity,
    particularly in the Byzantine Empire. As we have noted above, for hundreds of years the overwhelming majority of Jews lived in the Islamic territories.
    Although it is possible to perceive some Christian impact on the Moslem attitude towards non-believers and even towards the Christians themselves, the
    moderation with which the Moslems applied this influence proved to be of great importance to the majority of Jewry over a long period. Unlike the masses
    of Christians and pagans who joined the Moslems over the first half century or so, the overwhelming majority of the Jews under Moslem rule held firmly
    to their own faith.” [4]

    As to the settlement and economic activity in the 16th and 17th centuries and the establishment of the Sephardic Diaspora in the Ottoman Empire, the above
    book states: “A considerable stream of exiles from Spain overflowed into the Ottoman Empire. Once the latter had annexed Erez Yisrael, it became a lodestone
    for Marranos who wished to repent and return to their former faith…. The sultan at the time of the expulsion, Bayezid, welcomed the refugees fleeing from
    the fanatical Christians. As recorded by a Jewish contemporary ‘the Sultan sent men ahead, and spread the word through his kingdom in writing as well,
    declaring that none of his officers in any of his cities dare to drive the Jews out or expel them, but all of them were to welcome the Jews cordially.’
    It can be assumed that this imperial protection and the order granting right of domicile were issued through the influence of the leaders of the long-established
    Jewish community in the Ottoman Empire… Success was not restricted exclusively to medical and court circles. It seems that in the Ottoman Empire it was
    felt that the absorption of the exiles from the West provided social, cultural and even military advantages… The exiles gradually dispersed throughout
    the main cities of the Empire. Many synagogues were to be found in Constantinople during the sixteenth century. In this city they settled in quarters where
    Jews had not formerly resided. Salonika also became one of their main centres, and similarly Adrianople and Smyrna (Izmir). The exiles also established
    themselves in smaller cities. Expulsions from southern Italy helped to diversify the Jewish community and increase the various congregations in the Empire.” [5]

    What is clear is that historically the relationship between Jews and Muslims living under Muslim Sultans was rather amicable and, that even in places like
    Palestine, Muslim people did not have any problem with Jews living there. The relationship soured only after the Balfour Declaration (1917) when the British
    allowed European Jews to colonize Palestine.
    [6]

    As to the matter of jizya imposed on Jews, one simply has to read European history about what had happened to the European Jewry who sought protection from
    the Christian royalty in the medieval times. In return for royal protection during the first two Crusades, German Jews were made ‘serfs of the Imperial
    Chamber’ and were required to pay vast sums of ‘protection money’ for this privilege. Those Jews eventually became a very real source of royal revenue.
    As the king’s property, they could be – and were – bought, loaned and sold, to pay off creditors. The custom spread to other European countries. Church
    leaders justified this status theologically on the basis of earlier Church teaching that the Jews were doomed to eternal servitude for having crucified
    their lord – Jesus Christ.
    [7]

    Unfortunately, the protection for which the Jews paid such a hefty price in Europe did not always materialize. For instance, before setting out for the
    3rd Crusade the Crusaders plundered the possessions of the Jews, who had fled into the royal castle where they were besieged by the warriors – many of
    whom were deeply in debt to their quarry. In York, England, the climax was reached when a stone, thrown from the castle, killed a Christian monk. A battle
    cry was raised urging the people to “destroy the enemies of Christ.” When the Jews saw the fury of the besiegers and felt their fate to be sealed, they
    took their own lives, cutting one another’s throats. When the mobs gained access to the tower, the few Jews left, who begged for baptism and deliverance,
    were slaughtered. The total casualties have been estimated variously from 500 to 1500. From this scene of carnage, the attackers converged on the cathedral
    and burned all the records of financial obligations to the Jews kept in its archives.
    [8]

    Writing in 1135, the French scholar Pierre Abelard has a European Jew in “Dialogue between a Philosopher, a Jew, and a Christian” speak these words: “No
    nation has ever suffered so much for God. Dispersed among all nations, without king or secular ruler, the Jews are oppressed with heavy taxes as if they
    had to repurchase their very lives every day. To mistreat the Jews is considered a deed pleasing to God. Such imprisonment as is endured by the Jews can
    be conceived by the Christians only as a sign of God’s utter wrath. The life of the Jews is in the hands of their worst enemies. Even in their sleep they
    are plagued by nightmares. Heaven is their only place of refuge. If they want to travel to the nearest town, they have to buy protection with the high
    sums of money from the Christian rulers who actually wish for their death so that they can confiscate their possessions. The Jews cannot own land or vineyards
    because there is nobody to vouch for their safekeeping. Thus, all that is left them as a means of livelihood is the business of money-lending, and this
    in turn brings the hatred of Christians upon them.”
    [9]

    Bottom line: the status of a dhimmi in a Muslim-run state was much better compared to that of a Jew living in Christian-run Europe.

    There is no denying that the Jewish tribe of Bani Quraiza was punished by the Prophet of Islam. But can Muhammad (S) be blamed for their treason? They were
    punished not for rejecting Muhammad (S) as the last Prophet (nabi) of Allah, but for their confessed crime against the nascent Islamic state, and judged
    by their own laws, by their appointed judge. My question is: was Musa [Moses] (AS) more merciful to the Jews when he and his faithful disciples killed
    3000 misguided Children of Israel (Exodus 32:28)? [See Md. Saidul Islam’s “Were the Jews maltreated by Prophet Muhammad, or vice-versa?” for a good analysis.]

    A closer scrutiny will show that the verses in the Qur’an that castigated Jews of Madinah for their nefarious activities were comparatively milder than
    those found in the Bible (see, e.g., the Books of Isaiah, Micah, Hosea and Ezekiel, and especially those of Jesus in the so-called NT).
    [10]

    NOTES

    [1]
    See, e.g., Choose: Islam Scary, Lite or Dry? by David Need for a review on Spencer’s book.

    [2]
    A History of the Jewish People, [http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674397312/qid=1038905535/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/103-1543975-4239815]
    edited by Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson.

    [3]
    Heritage: Civilization and the Jews by Abba Eban.

    [4]
    For a brief review of the book, see: http://www.muhajabah.com/jewsofislam.htm

    [5]
    Op. cit., pp. 631-3

    [6]
    See this author’s article: The Case of Jerusalem – for a detailed treatment of the holy city.

    [7]
    Edward H. Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism, Paulist Press, New York/Mahwah, 1985; Michael L. Brown, Our Hands
    Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the "Church" and the Jewish People, Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, 1992.

    [8]
    Flannery, op. cit.

    [9]
    ibid.

    [10]
    See this author’s article: Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi: Why a different yardstick for Muslims? – for detailed analysis.

    Dr. Habib Siddiqui, (saeva@aol.com)

    Earth, a planet hungry for peace

    Source URL:
    http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion editorials/2006 Opinion Editorials/May/27 o/Treatment of Jews in Islam By Habib Siddiqui.htm
    Last edited by babagrr; 05-28-2006 at 02:03 PM.

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