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What did the Muslims do for the Jews?

What did the Muslims do for the Jews?

 

Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth. The argument for it is double. First, in 570 CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Jews and Judaism were on the way to oblivion. And second, the coming of Islam saved them, providing a new context in which they not only survived, but flourished, laying foundations for subsequent Jewish cultural prosperity – also in Christendom – through the medieval period into the modern world.

By the fourth century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the Roman empire. One aspect of this success was opposition to rival faiths, including Judaism, along with massive conversion of members of such faiths, sometimes by force, to Christianity. Much of our testimony about Jewish existence in the Roman empire from this time on consists of accounts of conversions.

Great and permanent reductions in numbers through conversion, between the fourth and the seventh centuries, brought with them a gradual but relentless whittling away of the status, rights, social and economic existence, and religious and cultural life of Jews all over the Roman empire.

A long series of enactments deprived Jewish people of their rights as citizens, prevented them from fulfilling their religious obligations, and excluded them from the society of their fellows.

This went along with the centuries-long military and political struggle with Persia. As a tiny element in the Christian world, the Jews should not have been affected much by this broad, political issue. Yet it affected them critically, because the Persian empire at this time included Babylon – now Iraq – at the time home to the world’s greatest concentration of Jews.

Had Islam not come along, Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance and Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult

Here also were the greatest centres of Jewish intellectual life. The most important single work of Jewish cultural creativity in over 3,000 years, apart from the Bible itself – the Talmud – came into being in Babylon. The struggle between Persia and Byzantium, in our period, led increasingly to a separation between Jews under Byzantine, Christian rule and Jews under Persian rule.

Beyond all this, the Jews who lived under Christian rule seemed to have lost the knowledge of their own culturally specific languages – Hebrew and Aramaic – and to have taken on the use of Latin or Greek or other non-Jewish, local, languages. This in turn must have meant that they also lost access to the central literary works of Jewish culture – the Torah, Mishnah, poetry, midrash, even liturgy.

The loss of the unifying force represented by language – and of the associated literature – was a major step towards assimilation and disappearance. In these circumstances, with contact with the one place where Jewish cultural life continued to prosper – Babylon – cut off by conflict with Persia, Jewish life in the Christian world of late antiquity was not simply a pale shadow of what it had been three or four centuries earlier. It was doomed.

Had Islam not come along, the conflict with Persia would have continued. The separation between western Judaism, that of Christendom, and Babylonian Judaism, that of Mesopotamia, would have intensified. Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance in many areas. And Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult.

But this was all prevented by the rise of Islam. The Islamic conquests of the seventh century changed the world, and did so with dramatic, wide-ranging and permanent effect for the Jews.

Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms – all for the better.

First, things improved politically. Almost everywhere in Christendom where Jews had lived now formed part of the same political space as Babylon – Cordoba and Basra lay in the same political world. The old frontier between the vital centre in Babylonia and the Jews of the Mediterranean basin was swept away, forever.

Political change was partnered by change in the legal status of the Jewish population: although it is not always clear what happened during the Muslim conquests, one thing is certain. The result of the conquests was, by and large, to make the Jews second-class citizens.

This should not be misunderstood: to be a second-class citizen was a far better thing to be than not to be a citizen at all. For most of these Jews, second-class citizenship represented a major advance. In Visigothic Spain, for example, shortly before the Muslim conquest in 711, the Jews had seen their children removed from them and forcibly converted to Christianity and had themselves been enslaved.

In the developing Islamic societies of the classical and medieval periods, being a Jew meant belonging to a category defined under law, enjoying certain rights and protections, alongside various obligations. These rights and protections were not as extensive or as generous as those enjoyed by Muslims, and the obligations were greater but, for the first few centuries, the Muslims themselves were a minority, and the practical differences were not all that great.

Along with legal near-equality came social and economic equality. Jews were not confined to ghettos, either literally or in terms of economic activity. The societies of Islam were, in effect, open societies. In religious terms, too, Jews enjoyed virtually full freedom. They might not build many new synagogues – in theory – and they might not make too public their profession of their faith, but there was no really significant restriction on the practice of their religion. Along with internal legal autonomy, they also enjoyed formal representation, through leaders of their own, before the authorities of the state. Imperfect and often not quite as rosy as this might sound, it was at least the broad norm.

The political unity brought by the new Islamic world-empire did not last, but it created a vast Islamic world civilisation, similar to the older Christian civilisation that it replaced. Within this huge area, Jews lived and enjoyed broadly similar status and rights everywhere. They could move around, maintain contacts, and develop their identity as Jews. A great new expansion of trade from the ninth century onwards brought the Spanish Jews – like the Muslims – into touch with the Jews and the Muslims even of India.

A ll this was encouraged by a further, critical development. Huge numbers of people in the new world of Islam adopted the language of the Muslim Arabs. Arabic gradually became the principal language of this vast area, excluding almost all the rest: Greek and Syriac, Aramaic and Coptic and Latin all died out, replaced by Arabic. Persian, too, went into a long retreat, to reappear later heavily influenced by Arabic.

The Jews moved over to Arabic very rapidly. By the early 10th century, only 300 years after the conquests, Sa’adya Gaon was translating the Bible into Arabic. Bible translation is a massive task – it is not undertaken unless there is a need for it. By about the year 900, the Jews had largely abandoned other languages and taken on Arabic.

The change of language in its turn brought the Jews into direct contact with broader cultural developments. The result from the 10th century on was a striking pairing of two cultures. The Jews of the Islamic world developed an entirely new culture, which differed from their culture before Islam in terms of language, cultural forms, influences, and uses. Instead of being concerned primarily with religion, the new Jewish culture of the Islamic world, like that of its neighbours, mixed the religious and the secular to a high degree. The contrast, both with the past and with medieval Christian Europe, was enormous.

Like their neighbours, these Jews wrote in Arabic in part, and in a Jewish form of that language. The use of Arabic brought them close to the Arabs. But the use of a specific Jewish form of that language maintained the barriers between Jew and Muslim. The subjects that Jews wrote about, and the literary forms in which they wrote about them, were largely new ones, borrowed from the Muslims and developed in tandem with developments in Arabic Islam.

Also at this time, Hebrew was revived as a language of high literature, parallel to the use among the Muslims of a high form of Arabic for similar purposes. Along with its use for poetry and artistic prose, secular writing of all forms in Hebrew and in (Judeo-)Arabic came into being, some of it of high quality.

Much of the greatest poetry in Hebrew written since the Bible comes from this period. Sa’adya Gaon, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Ibn Ezra (Moses and Abraham), Maimonides, Yehuda Halevi, Yehudah al-Harizi, Samuel ha-Nagid, and many more – all of these names, well known today, belong in the first rank of Jewish literary and cultural endeavour.

Where did these Jews produce all this? When did they and their neighbours achieve this symbiosis, this mode of living together? The Jews did it in a number of centres of excellence. The most outstanding of these was Islamic Spain, where there was a true Jewish Golden Age, alongside a wave of cultural achievement among the Muslim population. The Spanish case illustrates a more general pattern, too.

What happened in Islamic Spain – waves of Jewish cultural prosperity paralleling waves of cultural prosperity among the Muslims – exemplifies a larger pattern in Arab Islam. In Baghdad, between the ninth and the twelfth centuries; in Qayrawan (in north Africa), between the ninth and the 11th centuries; in Cairo, between the 10th and the 12th centuries, and elsewhere, the rise and fall of cultural centres of Islam tended to be reflected in the rise and fall of Jewish cultural activity in the same places.

This was not coincidence, and nor was it the product of particularly enlightened liberal patronage by Muslim rulers. It was the product of a number of deeper features of these societies, social and cultural, legal and economic, linguistic and political, which together enabled and indeed encouraged the Jews of the Islamic world to create a novel sub-culture within the high civilisation of the time.

This did not last for ever; the period of culturally successful symbiosis between Jew and Arab Muslim in the middle ages came to a close by about 1300. In reality, it had reached this point even earlier, with the overall relative decline in the importance and vitality of Arabic culture, both in relation to western European cultures and in relation to other cultural forms within Islam itself; Persian and Turkish.

Jewish cultural prosperity in the middle ages operated in large part as a function of Muslim, Arabic cultural (and to some degree political) prosperity: when Muslim Arabic culture thrived, so did that of the Jews; when Muslim Arabic culture declined, so did that of the Jews.

In the case of the Jews, however, the cultural capital thus created also served as the seed-bed of further growth elsewhere – in Christian Spain and in the Christian world more generally.

The Islamic world was not the only source of inspiration for the Jewish cultural revival that came later in Christian Europe, but it certainly was a major contributor to that development. Its significance cannot be overestimated.

David J Wasserstein is the Eugene Greener Jr Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. This article is adapted from last week’s Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Source: The Jewish Chronicle

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Posted by on June 6, 2018 in Relax

 

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French Anti-Islam Movement Has New Rallying Cry !

French Anti-Islam Movement Has New Rallying Cry !

Opinion – Mehdi Hasan

Consider: Successive French governments have criminalized the face veil and banned the headscarf in schools. French mayors have targeted Muslim women who want to cover up at the beach and Muslim school kids who try to have a pork-free lunch. The French president — and new liberal heartthrob — Emmanuel Macron has introduced draconian counterterror legislation that United Nations human rights experts have warned could have a discriminatory impact on Muslims in particular.

And the latest big idea? To go after the Quran. On April 21, the newspaper Le Parisien published a manifesto “against the new anti-Semitism,” signed by 300 public figures — ranging from former President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, to actor Gérard Depardieu and singer Charles Aznavour. According to The Atlantic, the manifesto states that “11 Jews have been assassinated — and some tortured — by radical Islamists” in France, and demands that “the verses of the Quran calling for murder and punishment of Jews, Christians, and nonbelievers be struck to obsolescence by religious authorities,” so that “no believer can refer to a sacred text to commit a crime.”

Such rhetoric is a reflection both of Gallic bigotry and sheer stupidity, a toxic combination of ignorance and privilege.

First, where are these Muslim “religious authorities” who would be willing to do to the Quran what Thomas Jefferson did to the Bible? Establishment-friendly French imams, such as Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, and Tareq Oubrou, imam of Bordeaux’s Grand Mosque, have denounced the manifesto as “unbelievable and unfair” and “nearly blasphemous.” And were such mainstream figures to even agree to edit the Quran — believed by Muslims to be the literal word of God! — does anyone really believe that the fanatics of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda would give a damn?

Second, violent extremism isn’t a product of scripture. Contrary to conventional wisdom, and as I have argued in the past while citing a raft of studies and experts, religious faith “isn’t a crucial factor” in terror attacks — or in the process of so-called radicalization. Why, then, obsess over Quranic verses? As the French journalist Didier Francois, who was held hostage by ISIS in Syria, told CNN in 2015: “There was never really discussion about texts or — it was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion. … Because it has nothing to do with the Quran.” Or, as his fellow former French hostage, Nicolas Henin, has said, “I noticed that these jihadists have little to do with … Arab or Muslim culture — they are children of our societies. … They are products of our culture, our world.”

Who do you take more seriously? Two former ISIS hostages? Or the guy from “Green Card“?

Third, how can the manifesto signatories be so sure that it is French Muslims who are behind the rise of this “new anti-Semitism”? As a 2016 study of anti-Semitic hate crimes in France by Human Rights First noted, “Perpetrators of most antisemitic violence are perceived to be of ‘Muslim culture or origin’ … although there is no data to substantiate this conclusion—in part because of the prohibition in France on collecting ‘ethnic’ statistics.” Yet in next-door Germany, where such statistics are collected by the police, nine out of 10 anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2017 were carried out not by radicalized Muslims, but by “members of far-right or neo-Nazi groups.”

Fourth, what evidence is there that the Quran itself is anti-Semitic? Or that Islam has a particular problem with Jews? Critics often point to verses of the Muslim holy book that express hostility towards Jews, while ignoring the specific historical and theological context for such verses, and also ignoring those many other Quranic verses which heap praise on Jewish people.

As the Princeton University historian Mark Cohen, an expert on Jewish-Muslim relations, points out: “Islam contains a nucleus of pluralism that gave the Jews in Muslim lands greater security than Jews had in Christian Europe,” and therefore, “Jews in the Islamic orbit were spared the damaging stigma of ‘otherness’ and anti-Semitism suffered by Jews in Europe.” Modern-day Muslim and Arab anti-Semitism is a consequence of colonialism, conflicting nationalisms, and the clash with Zionism, argues Cohen, and is neither “indigenous” to the Middle East, nor “inherent” in Islam.

Fifth, why single out Islamic scripture in this way? Why not Jewish or Christian scripture, too? Are we supposed to pretend that the Old Testament of the Bible doesn’t contain scores of verses that incite violence and hatred against nonbelievers? Or, that those verses haven’t been used to justify heinous crimes in recent years? Against Palestinians, Iraqis, Ugandans, Norwegian kids, and American abortion clinics, among others?

To avoid the charge of hypocrisy, therefore, will the signatories to this manifesto, who include France’s chief rabbi Haim Korsia, also call for verses of the Bible to be “struck to obsolescence by religious authorities”?

Sixth, whatever happened to the “liberté” part of “liberté, égalité, fraternité“? How is the insistence on removing verses from the Quran compatible with religious freedom (a crucial, if less discussed, part of the French secular tradition)? How is it compatible with freedom of speech or expression? Whatever happened to the land of “Je Suis Charlie“? Well, guess what? The manifesto was drafted by, of all people, Philippe Val, the former managing editor of Charlie Hebdo. Irony, it seems, may have died a quiet death in France.

“The manifesto is a farce written by imposters,” Yasser Louati, a French civil liberties campaigner, tells me. He argues that if the signatories were serious about addressing rising anti-Jewish bigotry in their country, they would have also stood “against traditional French anti-Semitism.”

He has a point. France has a long and shameful history of anti-Semitism, from the Dreyfus Affair in the late 19th century, to the collaborationist Vichy government’s complicity in the Holocaust. According to a recent survey of French public opinion, reported Karina Piser in The Atlantic, “35 percent of French people believe Jews ‘have a particular rapport with money;’ 40 percent think that ‘for French Jews, Israel counts more than France;’ and 22 percent think that ‘Jews have too much power.’”

Nevertheless, 300 French public figures want to only highlight the issue of “Muslim anti-Semitism” in order to only denounce the message of the Quran. Muslims, after all, make for useful scapegoats.

Source

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in News

 

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Sweden Team Goalie reverts to Islam

Sweden Team Goalie reverts to Islam

STOCKHOLM – The goalkeeper for Sweden national team under 19, Ronja Andersson, has converted to Islam, after years of studying the religion.

“I’m proud to be a Muslim,” she said in an interview with Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Expressen.se reported.

Andersson, a member of the Uppsala Women’s Football team, said she was first introduced to Islam when she was 15-year-old by her friend.

Later on, she began to read about religion and then felt that she saw Islam in another light.

“I discovered that there were so many nice things that addressed me. I then began to attend religious events. I went to the mosque,” she said.

“First of all, people said that I just wanted to convert because of my boyfriend, but it’s definitely not. I made this decision without him,” she added.

Nevertheless, Andersson’s decision to become Muslim has faced huge criticism from people around her, including her family.

“They are full of prejudice against me. I was also exposed to hatred,” she lamented.

Yet, Andersson stressed that she was happy to become a Muslim.

“After I became a Muslim, I realized that I had entered a very beautiful religion. I believe in all the contents of the Quran. I know God and I feel his help,” she said.

Now she is learning how to fulfill the Islamic rituals, saying she plans to fast this Ramadan, set to begin next Wednesay, May 16.

Muslims make up between 450,000 and 500,000 of Sweden’s nine million people, according to the US State Department report in 2011.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2018 in News

 

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Grandmother Accepted Islam & Is Now Sharing It !

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2018 in Relax, Video

 

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Almost 1,000 attacks on Muslims reported in Germany in 2017

German authorities registered at least 950 attacks on Muslims and their institutions, including 60 against mosques, in 2017, the Neue Osnabrueckner Zeitung reported on Saturday, citing data provided to lawmakers by the Interior Ministry.

The ministry said 33 people were injured in the attacks, some of which involved pig’s blood, the newspaper reported.

Nearly all those responsible for the attacks were right-wing activists, the data showed, according to the newspaper.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/almost-1000-attacks-muslims-reported-germany-2017-report-761148992

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2018 in News

 

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Marry a Drug Dealer, but Not a Muslim!

What will you do if your beloved mother tells you: “I don’t care if you marry a drug dealer, but don’t marry a Muslim?”
This is exactly what was told to Susan Carland when she was 17 years old after declaring that one of her New Year’s resolutions was “to investigate other religions.”

Of course, Islam was not in her priority list as she used to say “It looked violent, sexist and foreign.” Two years later, at the age of 19, Susan who has been raised as a Baptist became a Muslim without the influence of any man!
This was the same girl who at around 14 years of age had joined a “funky, happy, clappy church” that was part of the charismatic movement. Around her, people were claiming to speak in tongues and announcing that God had spoken to them in the night.

She talks about her conversion story:

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2018 in Video

 

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3 Stories of Prophet Muhammad’s Mercy After Battles

3 Stories of Prophet Muhammad’s Mercy After Battles

Prophet Muhammad was the most compassionate of human beings. His compassion was not only limited to those who accepted his message. It extended as far as those disbelievers who were enough opposed to Islam to go into battle with the believers.

This fact is clearly visible to any objective reader of the Prophet’s biography, especially in the accounts of the various wars he went into.

He never went to war unless it was unavoidable, unless there was a very strong reason to do so, such as blatant treachery, violation of an allegiance, or killing of innocent Muslims without any provocation.

And even when he encountered an obligation for going into battle, the compassionate way Prophet Muhammad dealt with his enemies in the aftermath of the battle was beyond anything any military leader in the world could achieve. He achieved this because of the innate mercifulness and humility which Allah had put into his blessed nature.

Let us take the examples of three expeditions of the Prophet to see how he dealt with the enemy army who had lost the war and were completely at his mercy.

The Battle of Badr

The Battle of Badr was the first expedition the Muslim nation went into, and so new issues arose from it which they had never dealt with before. One such issue was what to do with the prisoners of war.

The Prophet asked his two closest companions, Abu Bakr and Umar, for advice. The latter was all for executing the disbelievers who had persecuted the Muslims for a decade. But the former’s advice, that the POW shouldn’t be killed but rather be ransomed off, was more in line with the Prophet’s merciful nature, and he chose that opinion. (Mubarakpuri 179)

These people were not just POWs; they were cruel war criminals, and giving war-criminals capital punishment is justified in legal systems throughout the world.

But then Allah revealed verses of the Quran admonishing the Prophet for his decision, saying:

It is not for a prophet to have captives [of war] until he inflicts a massacre [upon Allah ‘s enemies] in the land. Some Muslims desire the commodities of this world, but Allah desires [for you] the Hereafter. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. If not for a decree from Allah that preceded, you would have been touched for what you took by a great punishment. (Quran 8:67-68)

The previous decree mentioned above was this verse:

… and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens…. (47:4)

It was a mistake to release the POWs, as Allah explained. And yet this incident shows the level of generosity which the Prophet displayed towards a group of people who had made the Muslims’ lives so unbearable in their homeland that they were forced to leave it.

Could you or I have done it?

Battle of Muraisi’

There were several Jewish tribes living in and around Madinah at the time of the Prophet. One of these tribes was Banu al-Mustaliq.

One day, in 5 AH, the Prophet got to know that Banu al-Mustaliq’s leader, Al-Harith ibn Dirar, was preparing to attack Madinah. Some Arabs had joined him too.

The Prophet decided that, before they came to attack the Muslims in Madinah, the Muslims should go out to attack them first. The Muslim army marched forward and surprise-attacked the enemy tribe. The latter surrendered without much fighting, and many were taken captives. (Mubarakpuri 249)

It so happened that one such captive was the daughter of the chief, al-Harith, who had fled from the battle with some others. Her name was Juwayriyah, and the Prophet freed her and married her. Her mahr (dowry) was her freedom. Immediately afterwards, the Muslims freed all the captives from the tribe, to honor the Prophet’s wife. (Yasir Qadhi)

Conquest of Makkah

As mentioned before, the Quraysh of Makkah had dealt very harshly with the Prophet and the early Muslims. Near the end of the Prophet’s life, he conquered Makkah without any major battle.

When he entered the Holy City, he found all those enemies of the Quraysh under his mercy. He could now take revenge and punish them for their misdeeds however he pleased.

But what did he do?

“O you people of Quraysh!”

He said to them.

“What do you think of the treatment that I am about to accord to you?”

They replied: “O noble brother and son of noble brother! We expect nothing but goodness”.

The Prophet said:

“I speak to you in the same words as Yusuf spoke to his brothers: ‘No reproach on you this day,’ go your way, for you are freed ones.” (Mubarakpuri 301)

And thus, except for a handful of the worst criminals, all of Quraysh was forgiven.

There is no wonder why Allah said about him:

And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds. (Quran, 21:107)

References:

Yasir Qadhi, “Seerah of Muhammad (sa)”, Episode 54

Mubarakpuri, Safi-ur-Rahman. The Sealed Nectar. Darussalam eLibrary

Source

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Know him !

 

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