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December 29, 2007

Comments

N. Friedman

Irene,

Islam has many accomplishments - no doubt about that. But this comment by yours requires further examination and should, I think, be re-written. You write:

That Islam will revert to its intellectual greatness of the 9th to 12th centuries (especially in Spain and Persia) and start interpreting the Qu’ran metaphorically, as they used to, as well as develop a theology of diaspora, as others have learned to do.

That is a real exaggeration. The 9th Century was the period in which the Shari'a law was crystallized including rules for warfare based on the Jihad ideology and the Fatah strategy. It was also the period where the dhimmi institution crystallized in Islamic law, absorbing not only what was set forth in the Koran but, in addition, major aspects of Byzantine law about the treatment of infidel subjects.

There were periods where Jews and Christians were treated comparatively well, most particularly under the Fatimids. Treatment in Andalusia was, for the most part, atrocious, although there were, in some years, serious accomplishments by a small number of Jews and Christians. But for most, Andalusia was a classic dhimmi society. This point requires emphasis because there is a tendency to imagine a tolerant past which did not exist.

The age in question knew no tolerance as we understand it. So, what might be said is that there were periods that were not quite as horrible. But, in nearly all quarters of the Muslim empires of that time, Jews and Christians wore special clothing, could not give testimony against Muslims, were forced to move to the side of the road when a Muslim passed by, could not defend themselves from attacks by Muslims, etc., etc.

That was true even in Andalusia.


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