Monday, 26 February 2018

“There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” and Anti-semitism !

Disclaimer: The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. 

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Grantor of Mercy

Explanation of the misquoted hadith

A story about a supernatural apocalyptic battle between good and evil

When we look up different narrations of the hadith in question, we find out that the phrase being quoted is actually part of a larger narrative in the genre of eschatology (the part of theology dealing with the end times and the Day of Judgment), describing the return of Jesus and the apocalyptic battle between Jesus and the Dajjal (Antichrist).[1] In this battle that will take place between the armies of Jesus and the Dajjal, several miracles are said to occur including that the Dajjal will melt when Jesus sees him, and that inanimate rocks and trees will speak and identify soldiers of the Dajjal (Sunan Ibn Majah 4077).
This is a story about a battle between two groups of soldiers involved in war, one side of which is clearly unjust; it does not refer to innocent civilians. And it’s not actually a battle of one religious group against another! As a matter of fact, Muslims believe that all righteous Christians, Jews, and Muslims will be following Jesus after he returns (Qur’an 4:159) united under one creed of monotheism and belief in all of God’s messengers. Meanwhile, misguided Christians, Jews, and Muslims will be following the Dajjal. Indeed, other hadith demonstrate that many of the Dajjal’s forces will actually be deviant Muslims (Sunan Ibn Majah 179).[2]

Jews are amongst the good guys in the Muslim apocalypse

The hadith describing the soldiers of Dajjal who happen to be Jewish are in fact referring to a specific cult of 70 000 that takes Dajjal to be their messiah and follows him in his tyrannical actions (Sahih Muslim 2944). Hadith commentary states that those who will become Dajjal’s followers will represent only a small fraction of the global population of Jews (Fayd al-Bari, Anwar Shah Kashmiri, 4/197). In fact, most Jews will be righteous folk amongst the forces of good uniting with virtuous Christians and Muslims, embracing the message of all the Prophets, and fighting against the Dajjal.[3] After all, the Dajjal will be a murderous dictator who claims to be God, an anathema to all followers of the Abrahamic tradition as well as to all people of conscience.
Muslims do not believe that rocks and trees will be pointing out random innocent bystanders, but rather soldiers of the Dajjalcombatants who are themselves involved in killing innocent people. It is about these specific combatants in the Antichrist’s army that rocks and trees will say, “There is one hiding behind me, come and slay him!” The religious identity of the Dajjal’s soldiers includes evildoers from all backgrounds (including misguided Muslims). Other variants of the hadith state that the rocks and trees will simply say, “Here is a rejector of truth hiding behind me!” (Musnad Ahmad 3546) or “Here is a soldier of Dajjal!” (al-Buhur al-Zakhirah 1/493) and do not focus on the religious identity.
Therefore, this hadith describes a future battle between warriors and can only occur after the return of Jesus; in no way can it be interpreted as a prescription to go out and harm civilians or peaceful members of any faith community. The Qur’an explicitly condemns violence against civilians and noncombatants, stating “Whoever kills a soul it is as if he has slain all humanity,” (5:32) and, “So if they withdraw and do not fight you, and offer you peace, then God gives you no way against them,” (4:90). War is only permitted in defense against aggression or to aid the oppressed, as in the case of Jesus fighting against the Dajjal’s forces.

The question of Anti-Semitism and the Armageddon

All three Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) have well-established traditions about a prophesied Messiah who will engage in a battle against the forces of evil in the end times, whether it be the return of Christ who will battle all the nations of the earth, or the coming of the Masiach ben Yossef who will destroy the Edomites and enemies of Israel.[4] All three groups have had to explicate these esoteric eschatological passages in order to steer clear of antagonism towards other communities. In 2012, A DNC County Chairman resigned after he said, “The Christians just want us to be there so we can be slaughtered and converted and bring on the second coming of Jesus Christ.”[5] The Bible describes the Armageddon in painful terms regarding the enemies of Christ/Israel (See: Zechariah 14:12).[6] It’s necessary for people of all faiths to not allow their texts about the end times to be hijacked in a way that validates hateful speech or actions in the present. All Abrahamic faiths have eschatological teachings that are esoteric and require careful critical interpretation. The mainstream leaders of all faith communities have consistently emphasized tolerance and respect for others.

Islam denounces all forms of racism

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught his companions to respect people of all faith backgrounds and to care for everyone. He said, “Donate in charity to people of all faiths” (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 3/177)[7] and he personally used to donate money regularly to sponsor a Jewish family in his community.[8] When the Prophet ﷺ saw the funeral procession of a Jew passing by, he stood up out of respect. When some companions pointed out that the deceased was not Muslim, he rebuked them stating, “Is it not a human soul?” (Sahih Bukhari 1250). The lesson here is to respect all humanity. Some Jews converted to Islam and yet others, like the Rabbi Mukhayriq, continued to practice Judaism and still remained on good terms with the Prophet ﷺ (Seerah Ibn Hisham 1/518). Even when the Prophet ﷺ passed away, he had his armor mortgaged to a Jewish person (Sahih Bukhari 2759), a narration that shows he maintained good relations with Jews until his death. As the Qur’an says, “God instructs you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just,” (60:8). According to Al-Tabari, one of the earliest commentators, this verse encourages good relations with “all the sects, creeds, and religions,” (Tafsir al-Tabari 60:8). These Qur’anic teachings have inspired Muslims throughout the ages. During World War II, the Grand Mosque in Paris rescued Jews fleeing the Nazis and provided them with a safe haven and means of escape. This is the legacy that Muslims must recall and revive.
In addition to respecting other faiths, Islam prohibits harming others and places great emphasis on Muslims maintaining positive relationships with those outside the faith. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ issued a stark warning about persecuting others, “Whoever harms a non-Muslim at peace with us will never smell the fragrance of paradise, although its fragrance can be found a distance of forty years of travel,” (Sahih Bukhari 6516). On the Day of Judgment, the Prophet himself ﷺwill argue on behalf of persecuted non-Muslims and against the Muslims who persecuted them, “If anyone wrongs a non-Muslim at peace with us, violates his rights, burdens him with more work than he is able to do, or takes something from him without his consent, then I will be his advocate on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sunan Abi Dawud 3052). This stunning indictment should make any Muslim think twice before hurting anyone.

[1] Fath al-Bari by Ibn Hajar al-’Aqsalani, Sharh Sahih Muslim by al-Nawawi, Umdatul-Qari by Badr al-Deen al-’Ayni
[2] T his narration states that he will emerge from the deviant group known as the Khawarij (Sunan Ibn Majah 179), and according to commentaries on Ibn Majah, he will emerge at the head of a great army (“jaysh al-adheem”) of Khawarij (Shuruh Sunan Ibn Majah, edited by Raed Sabri Ibn Abi Ulfah). Another narration (Sahih Bukhari 1881) states that he will be joined by the inhabitants of Makkah and Madinah who are munafiqeenthose who outwardly claim to be Muslim but whose insincerity in faith will be evident once they join forces with the Dajjal.
[3] Fayd al-Bari explains, “This is only about the Jews whom Jesus is fighting against, namely those in the armies of Dajjal, not all Jews around the world.” In fact, if Dajjal is followed by a cult of seventy thousand wearing green shawls and crowns—as the hadith states—this number amounts to less than 0.5% of the global population, a tiny fraction. As an aside, though not a hadith nor theologically reliable narration of any sort, there is an interesting comment recorded in Kitab al-Fitan by Nu’aym ibn Hammad (d.228H), the teacher of Imam al-Bukhari (d. 256H), which states that after al-Mahdi (another Islamic eschatological figure) recovers the Ark of the Covenant, most Jews will join the Muslims except for a few. And in the Rabbinical literature, the staff of Aaron—one of the items in the Ark of the Covenant—will be recovered by the Messiah, as a token of his authority (Midrash Yelamdenu).
[4] “Appendix II – Mashiach in Jewish Law by Rabbi Dr. J. Immanuel Schochet, from his book Mashiach— the Messianic Era in Jewish Law on Dr. Schochet writes, “Interestingly enough, according to Pirkei deR. Eliezer ch. 28 (in non-censored versions), the Ishmaelites (Arabs) will be the final kingdom to be defeated by Mashiach.”
[7] Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, and Silsilah al-Saheehah vol 6, p. 628. Arabic: (تصدقوا على أهل الأديان كلها)
[8] Kitab al-Amwal, Abu Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam d224H, pp. 727-728, Dar alShuruq 1989 . Arabic: (عن سعيد بن المسيب أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم تصدق على أهل بيت من اليهود بصدقة ، فهي تجري عليهم ).

Medical benefits of circumcision !

Circumcision of newborn boys (I.e., within the first month of life) brings numerous health benefits, according to Dr. Muhammad Al-Baar ( Royal College of Surgeons in the UK), including:

1 – Protection against local infection in the penis, which may result from the presence of the foreskin, causing tightening of the foreskin, which may lead to retention of urine or infections of the glans (tip) of the penis – which require circumcision in order to treat these problems. In chronic cases, the child may be exposed to numerous diseases in the future, the most serious of which is cancer of the penis.
2 – Infections of the urethra. Many studies have proven that uncircumcised boys are more exposed to infection of the urethra. In some studies the rate was 39 times more among uncircumcised boys. In other studies the rate was ten times more. Other studies showed that 95% of children who suffered from infections of the urethra were uncircumcised, whereas the rate among circumcised children did not exceed 5%.
In children, infection of the urethra is serious in some cases. In the study by Wisewell on 88 children who suffered infections of the urethra, in 36 % of them, the same bacteria was found in the blood also. Three of them contracted meningitis, and two suffered renal failure. Two others died as a result of the spread of the micro-organisms throughout the body.
3 – Protection against cancer of the penis: the studies agree that cancer of the penis is almost non-existent among circumcised men, whereas the rate among uncircumcised men is not insignificant. In the US the rate of penile cancer among circumcised men is zero, whilst among uncircumcised men it is 2.2 in every 100,000 of the uncircumcised population. As most of the inhabitants of the US are circumcised, the cases of this cancer there are between 750 and 1000 per year. If the population were not circumcised, the number of cases would reach 3000. In countries where boys are not circumcised, such as China, Uganda and Puerto Rico, penile cancer represents between 12-22 % of all cancers found in men; this is a very high percentage.
4 – Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Researchers found that the STDs which are transmitted via sexual contact (usually because of fornication/adultery and homosexuality) spread more among those who are not circumcised, especially herpes, soft chancres, syphilis, candida, gonorrhea and genital warts.
There are numerous modern studies which confirm that circumcision reduces the possibility of contracting AIDS when compared to their uncircumcised counterparts. But that does not rule out the possibility of a circumcised man contracting AIDS as the result of sexual contact with a person who has AIDS. Circumcision is not a protection against it, and there is no real way of protecting oneself against the many sexually transmitted diseases apart from avoiding fornication/adultery, promiscuity, homosexuality and other repugnant practices. (From this we can see the wisdom of Islamic sharee'ah in forbidding fornication/adultery and homosexuality).
5 – Protection of wives against cervical cancer.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Can Women Trust Classical Islamic Scholarship to Have Been Free From Patriarchal Influence?

Bassam Zawadi explains why the feminist claim that the Islamic tradition has been influenced by patriarchy (in the negative sense of that word) is so confused.
***Can We Trust Classical Islamic Scholarship to Have Been Free From Patriarchal Influence?***

There is a difference between:
- Worrying about “patriarchal” influences affecting some scholars some times, and…
- Worrying about “patriarchal” influences affecting ALL classical scholars during ALL times
The first is a possibility. The second is not. The reason why it’s not is for a number of theological, historical, and rational reasons.

1) Historical Reasons
Muslim scholars have the ability to trace many the rulings we have today concerning women back to the Sahabah and the earliest subsequent generations. Unless modernists today are willing to bite the bullet (which some do, more on this below) and claim that the Sahabah and the subsequent generations were patriarchal societies who’s cultures and customs tainted their interpretation of Islam, then they must be hard pressed to formulate a historical argument demonstrating when exactly Islam’s scriptures fell prey to patriarchal exegetes and jurists. They need to pinpoint for us (even if roughly) during which point in Islamic history this supposed intellectual catastrophe started to take form.
The reality of the matter is that they will not be able to do so.

2) Rational Reasons
Islamic scholarship HAS ALWAYS AND NEVER STOPPED studying the role of custom (‘urf) in Islamic jurisprudence. Much ink has been spilled by the scholars of Islam who discussed in intricate detail the role of custom on Islamic rulings. They strived extremely hard in their attempts to distinguish which rulings are fixed or variable to differing conditions or customs.
To claim that all of these tens of thousands of experts over the course of over a millennium from dozens of various geographical locations failed to identify that patriarchal customs have influenced much of what Islamic scholarship has to say on women’s Islamic issues is a very heavy loaded statement. In fact, it amounts to a very sexist and spiteful stance against male scholars and questions their scholarship and sincerity for seeking the truth. This is nothing but sheer ad hominem and misandry (i.e. hatred of men) at display here.
This is also keeping aside the fact that many of the classical scholars were taught by women scholars.

3) Theological Reasons
If modernists do bite the bullet and claim that the Sahabah’s community is a “patriarchal” society which had tainted understandings of scripture, then what do we make of Allah’s statement in the Qur’an “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind.” [3:110]. What do we do with all those ahadith where the Prophet (peace be upon him) praised his companions and said “[Those who follow] the path which I and my companions follow.” when he spoke about the saved sect?

Furthermore, why didn’t the Prophet teach his companions to overcome “patriarchy” and do away with it? He already asked them to change their minds on the most important thing… their polytheistic religion! He taught them that Arabs aren’t superior to non-Arabs. He taught them that tribalism is wrong. He taught them that blindly believing what your forefathers taught is wrong. Etc. etc. He taught them to abandon so many things WHICH WERE DEEPLY ENTRENCHED into their beliefs and culture. Things WAY MORE important TO THEM than their views on gender roles. So why not? Why not also educate them on gender roles and do away with “patriarchy”? If the Prophet truly was a “gender egalitarian” according to the modernist standards of today, why didn’t he give it any serious attention? Attention serious enough to have sought to eradicate its supposed evil and not permit it’s effects to spread to the bulk of Muslims for a millennium to come? Was it short-sightedness of the Prophet not to do so? (istighfirullah)

Furthermore, how could Allah allow such a deviant notion of “patriarchy” that is supposedly oppressive to women to take hold over the entire Ummah for such a long time? Isn’t this extremely theologically problematic? Why on earth would Allah allow all Muslim scholars to be duped like that for so long?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that Allah will send a mujaddid every century to revitalize the correct understanding of Islam. How come all the mujaddids we could think of in classical Islamic history never spoke out against “patriarchy” as the modernists would claim have existed? Isn’t it even worse that Allah would choose the 20th century, and in particular allow kuffar who are antagonistic to Islam to enlighten us on how to hermeneutically approach the Islamic scriptures properly? Why would Allah give the blessed role of “mujaddid” to kafir secular liberals? Isn’t that strange and odd on a theological level?

So much more could be said, however in summary….
- What classical Islamic scholarship claims to be “fixed” stances on women rulings in Islam (e.g. Muslim women cannot marry kuffar, authority of husband over wife, etc.), yet are rejected by modernists today as “sexist”, could historically be traced back to the time of the Prophet and his companions.
- To discount as unreliable the bulk of classical scholarship simply because they are male, is sexist and irrational hatred and spite of men.
- The notion that the Muslim ummah had to wait to be enlightened by kuffar to have a correct understanding of gender roles in Islam is very theologically problematic. This also questions the reliability of the Qur’an’s and Prophet Muhammad’s vouching for the Sahabah as the best pious generation.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Islam: Guidance to the Straight Path

Muslims plead to be guided to the straight path at least seventeen times a day while reciting Surat Al-Fatihah (the first chapter of the Qur’an) in the five daily prayers. How many of us have reflected on the nature of this guidance and the path that we are supposed to be upon?
“Guide us” (Ihdina)
In Arabic the word hidayah does not simply mean guidance, but it means to guide gently. The word “gift” (hadiyyah) in Arabic also comes from the same root letters as the word for guidance (hidayah). Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is also something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us in an act of infinite mercy and grace of Allah (Exalted is He).
Notice how it is in the plural- not ‘guide me’ but “guide us”. This instills in us a sense of brotherhood by making this request on behalf of fellow Muslims, especially as we stand in prayer as a group.

Types of Hidayah Mentioned in the Qur’an

There are four types of hidayah mentioned in the Qur’an, according to (Ibn Al-Qayyim).

1- General hidayah that is given to all creation. This type of guidance and knowledge is given by Allah to all created things. By this guidance, animals, plants and even inanimate objects fulfill the purpose for which they were created. This also includes the general intellect, wits and inherent intuitive knowledge given to all responsible beings regardless of their faith. This is referred to in the following verse:
He said, “Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its form and then guided (it)”. (Ta-Ha 20:50)

2- Hidayah that is in the form of explanation and education by way of defining the two paths of good and evil. It is when someone guides you by explaining that which is good and warns you from that which is evil according to Islam. This is the type of hidayah referred to in this verse::
And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

3- Hidayah that is tawfiq (a specific type of divine guidance) and inspiration (ilham) from Allah to be guided to the truth of iman (faith), Islam (submission), etc. The following verses refer to this type.
…Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. (Al-Muddaththir 74:31)
No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. (At-Taghabun 64:11)

4- Hidayah that is in the next life, by which one shall be guided to Paradise.
And We will have removed whatever is within their breasts of resentment, (while) flowing beneath them are rivers. And they will say, “Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this”. (Al-A`raf 7:43)

Each one of the above types of hidayah has a sequential connection and relationship. Without the first level of guidance you will not have the capacity to attain the second and without the second you cannot attain the third and fourth levels.

We have absolutely no power to guide anyone using any of the above types of guidance except for the second type of hidayah that is explanation and education.  This type of guidance is what is referred to in the following verses.
And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)
You are only a warner, and for every people is a guide. (Ar-Ra`d 13:7)
The remaining types of guidance, particularly the third type which is tawfiq from Allah to have iman, are what are referred to in the following verse of the Qur’an, again addressing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):
Indeed, (O Muhammad), you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the (rightly) guided. (Al-Qasas 28:56)

In other words even the Prophets cannot guide whom they choose to become believers in the sense of actually putting faith in a person’s heart.  They can only guide in terms of explanation, exhortation, clarification and instruction regarding the truth.

The first lesson here is that we should seek guidance in every matter with Allah first and foremost before turning to others. Secondly, it should humble those of us who are inviting or ‘guiding’ others to Islam to acknowledge and internalize the fact that we have no real power over this matter, and that true guidance is the sole dominion of Allah, the ‘turner of the hearts’.
However, that should not make us despair of the work we do, for which our reward is with Allah. But rather it should increase our confidence in inviting others knowing that the result is not dependent on ‘my da`wah’ or speech, which is full of weakness and defects, but is in the hands of Allah Who can instantly change the hearts of the most wicked and tyrannical into the most pure and righteous.

The Ten Levels of Guidance

A Muslim may question why he or she has to ask for guidance at least seventeen times a day whilst they have already been guided to Islam. Scholars have explained that it is because firstly we ask for constancy (thabat) on guidance and secondly because there are so many levels and aspects of guidance that we are in need of in every detail of our daily life.
The following will help to clarify. For example, there are a further ten levels of guidance that need to be attained for one to be truly guided. (Ibn Al-Qayyim)
Therefore one should bear in mind when asking for guidance that one is asking Allah to:
1- Be granted guidance of knowledge and clarity, in order for one to know and reach the truth.
2- For the capacity to be guided
3- Make one desirous of guidance
4- Make one act upon the guidance
5- Make one remain steadfast on guidance
6- Remove all barriers and obstructions that impede guidance
7- Be granted a distinctive and detailed level of guidance on the path itself and its stations
8- Be granted sight of one’s ultimate goal along the path, to be alerted to it so that one can perceive it on the journey, catching sight of it without being blocked from seeing it.
9- Make one aware of one’s own destitution and desperate need for guidance (from Allah) over and above all other necessities.
10- Make one see the two misguided paths that veer off from the path of guidance; firstly the path of the people of wrath- those who intentionally, out of rebellion, turned away from following the truth; secondly the path of the people of misguidance- those who turned away out of ignorance and misguidance. One then sees the straight path upon which are all the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them) along with their followers from the truthful (siddiqeen), the martyrs and the righteous.
We are instructed by Allah to ask for guidance to the straight path (as-sirat al-mustaqim). What then is the nature of this path?

Description of the Straight Path

In the language of the Arabs a path (sirat) needs to possess five qualities for it to be called a sirat. The path needs to be:
1- Straight
2- Easy to travel upon
3- A familiar well-trodden path
4- Wide and spacious
5- Leading one to the desired destination
Since the path that we are asking guidance to is Islam itself, notice and reflect on how these qualities apply to Islam. Islam is straight in that it is a correct and firmly established way, pure and protected from any crookedness or deviation from the truth.  Allah describes those who want to block people on the path of Allah:
…Who averted (people) from the way of Allah and sought to make it (seem) deviant while they were, concerning the Hereafter, disbelievers. (Al-A`raf 7:45)
Islam is also easy as Allah has said:
Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you, (Al-Baqarah 2:185))
and as the Prophet said, “The deen (Islam/religion) is easy…” (Al-Bukhari).
Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. There will be challenges, temptations and difficulties in living as a Muslim but they are things that we ultimately have the capacity to bear. Everything in Shari`ah (Islamic law) benefits us or wards off harm for us in this world and/or the next.
Islam, which is submission to the commands of Allah, is also a familiar and well-trodden path, the path of all the Prophets and their followers. As Allah says:
And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favour of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions. (An-Nisaa’ 4:69)
The final, universal revelation of Islam is wide and spacious and accommodates all, regardless of color, race or social status. It is us with our parochial attitudes that restrict the vastness of this path to our favorite ‘saved’ group, way of thinking, sheikh or a specific allegiance that excludes others that Islam hasn’t excluded.
Ibn Majah records that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I have left you on a (wide, spacious) clear (white) path, its night is like its day, whoever deviates from this after me will be destroyed….”
Indeed, the path of Islam leads to the desired destination, which is Allah’s Pleasure gained by obeying Him. Allah says:
So those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him – He will admit them to mercy from Himself and bounty and guide them to Himself on a straight path. (An-Nisaa’ 4:175)
You will also notice that the word as-sirat (path) in the surah (chapter) has the definite article “Al”. The definite article is close to the meaning of ‘the’ which renders it ‘the straight path’ in English and has several possible meanings in Arabic. Here it is said that it denotes something definite which is in the mind as well as in reality.
For example, when students waiting for their teacher to arrive say ‘the teacher is late.’ The teacher they are referring to is known amongst them and in their minds they know exactly who they are referring to. In that sense, grammatically, ‘the teacher’ is a definite noun phrase and not an indefinite one. They would not say a teacher is late in this case.
Similarly, in this case, it is a specific and definite known path that we are seeking guidance to. It is the path that Allah has ordained for the people that He has favored, the path that leads to His Pleasure and His Paradise, which is in fact His deen (religion) – besides which nothing is acceptable to Him.
It is said that it is also the path that we intuitively know in the deepest core of our hearts that must exist because as human beings we were affirmed, when we were created, that Allah is our Rabb (Lord).
All praise is to Allah Who has gently guided us to the straight path, described to us with crystal clarity its features and guided us to pray for it every day of our lives.

*Comment by Fex:

I'd rather break down the 1st type of Hidaya into another 2 types, so in my humble opinion Hidaya can be broken down into 5 types and not 4 types.
1. General or Universal Hidaya
2. Specific and special Hidaya
3. Hidaya of irshad (i.e. explanation, exhortation and education)
4. Hidaya of tawfiq (i.e. divinely inspried)
5. Hidaya in next life.

1. General or Universal Hidaya

As said, it is a type of Hidaya that is granted to all created beings. For example, a baby, based on this type of Hidaya, knows how to drink milk from his/her mother's breast.
"He said, “Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its form and then guided (it)”"
----- Qur'an, 20:50
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
No babe is born but upon Fitra. It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.
------- Sahih Muslim 2658

2. Specific and special Hidaya

It is a type of Hidaya given to responsible creature like human beings and Jinns.
"And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it, and inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness, he has succeeded who purifies it, and he has failed who instills it [with corruption]. "
----- Qur'an, 91:7-10
These creatures [1] have been guided to sort good out from evil so they are moral beings, [2] endowed with intellect and [3] have been given free will and discretion to do good or commit evil.
The other 3 types of Hidaya have been explained in the article.
And, the main thing to realize is that the 4th type of Hidaya i.e. Hidaya of tawfiq is given to those who possess or develop certain qualities.
In Qur'an, Alalh tells us about those to whom this type of Hidaya is given:
"And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and Allah is most surely with the doers of good."
----- Qur'an, 29:69
A person must be willing to obtain truth, seek truth and srtrive for it.
Note: This verse shows us that in order to get Hidaya of tawfiq, one must be willing to get the Hidaya of irshad (i.e. explanation, exhortation and education).
"Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him)."
----- Qur'an, 42:13
A person must be willing to turn to His Creator and submit his/her will to Him.
"There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book, Wherewith Allah guideth all who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace and safety, and leadeth them out of darkness, by His will, unto the light,- guideth them to a path that is straight."
----- Qur'an, 5:15-16
A person must seek the pleasure of his Creator.
And, one can carry on making mention of the characteristics and qualities of those whom Alalh blesses with Hidaya of tawfiq.
And, we most also notice that this type of Hidaya can be withdrawn from those who develop or possess the follwing characteristics:
"... and Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people."
----- Qur'an, 2:258
Those who are wrongdoing and oppressor.
"... and Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people."
----- Qur'an, 5:108
Those who are defiantly disobedient and froward.
"Lo! Allah guideth not one who is a prodigal, a liar."
----- Qur'an, 40:28
Those who are prodigal, extravagant and liar.

And, one can carry on making mention of the characteristics and qualities of those whom Alalh deprives from Hidaya of tawfiq.
Therefore, internalization of good qualities and attributes is the main key in attaining the Hidaya of tawfiq and internalization of bad qualities and attributes is the main key in depriving oneself from the Hidaya of tawfiq.

The Church’s Doctrine of “Perpetual Servitude” and “Dhimmitude”

Claim: The idea that Jews fared better in Islamic lands than in Christian Europe is false.


Ahl al-Dhimma (dhimmi for short) translates to “the protected people” and was the historical word used to refer to non-Muslim peoples (such as Jews and Christians) living under Islamic rule.

Anti-Islam ideologues argue that not only did Muslims historically persecute dhimmis, but that nonbelievers in the Islamic Orient were treated much worse than their counterparts were in the contemporaneous Christian Europe of the Middle Ages. To bolster this claim, one anti-Islam “researcher” by the pseudonym of Bat Ye’or coined the concept of “dhimmitude.” A counter-myth is now propagated on various websites, blogs and forums, namely that Islamic rule over non-Muslims had been characterized by an unparalleled brutality and wickedness. The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies calls out Bat Ye’or by name:
[One must] explain acts of Islamic oppression that did occur, without exaggerating them selectively into a ‘countermyth of Islamic persecution,’ as recent revisionism has done (e.g. Bat Ye’or 1985).
The similarity of the words “dhimmitude” and “servitude” is no accident. Bat Ye’or, the anti-Islam ideologue who introduced the myth of dhimmitude to the West–and who is the god of “scholarship” for such demagogues –specifically uses the word “servitude” juxtaposed with “dhimmi”: “Dhimmitude,” as Ye’or makes clear, is a status that results in a profound psychosocial adjustment in some ways akin to servitude.
They, selectively quoting from various sources in order to “prove” their side. , the counter-myth is dishonest and fails to contextualize the situation of dhimmis in the Islamic Orient with that of their counterparts in Christian Europe. We are always reminded by anti-Islam ideologues of the dhimmitude, a catch-all phrase which has caught on very well in recent times; the term is used as a stick to beat Muslims over the head with, as well as one to incite feelings of paranoia and xenophobia. This article will however recount what they–perhaps in their ignorance and zeal–have neglected to mention: there was in fact a direct corollary to the dhimmitude in the Christian West. It too has a catchy name: the Christian belief in the Perpetual Servitude of infidels, a concept which was in fact much more oppressive than the so-called dhimmitude.

Mark R. Cohen, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, is arguably considered to be the world’s leading scholar of Jews living in the Middle Ages under Islamic rule. He decided to write a book that contrasted the treatment of Jews living in the Islamic Orient with their counterparts in the Christian West. This book, Under Crescent and Cross, is the first of its kind, as it analytically compares the treatment of Jewish dhimmis (pejoratively called dhimmitude by ideologues) with that of the Perpetua Servitudo (Perpetual Servitude) of Jewish infidels. Cohen’s magnum opus is remarkably balanced, neutral, and analytical: it concludes that while dhimmis were certainly not living under any sort of interfaith utopia, they did have better living conditions than nonbelievers in the Christian West. This article will use Professor Cohen’s book as a general template, but will cite other sources as well in order to cater to the online environment, taking into consideration the “internet chatter” and tailoring the arguments accordingly.


In Arab lands, the “minority communities” (so to speak) consisted primarily of Jews and Christians. In Europe, it was Jews alone. Hence, the Jewish population is the common denominator and remains the best population to study; how then did their lot differ in the Christian West and the Islamic East?

Professor Cohen opens his book by saying:
When I began studying medieval Jewish history thirty years ago, conventional wisdom held that Jews living “under the crescent” enjoyed substantially greater security and a higher level of political and cultural integration than did Jews living “under the cross.” This was especially true of the persecuted Ashkenazic Jews of northern Europe. The fruitful Jewish-Muslim interfaith “symbiosis”… contrasted sharply with the sorrowful record of Jewish-Christian conflict in the Ashkenazic lands…[There was a] lachrymose conception of [European] Jewish history…

Recent decades have witnessed an effort to alter this picture. Toward the end of the 1960s–or, or more precisely, following the Six-Day War of June 1967–factors stemming from the Arab-Israeli conflict gave birth in some quarters to a radical revision of Jewish-Arab history. The new notion first appeared mainly in the writings of nonspecialists publishing in popular forums…[5]

I interject just to point out the keywords “nonspecialists” and “forums.” This drive to radically revise history is clearly an ideologically driven endeavor, devoid of academic integrity. Going on, Cohen says:
According to this [revised] view, the “Golden Age” was actually an era of hardship and oppression… [characterized by] discrimination and persecution. Some went so far as to suggest that the fate of Jews of Islam was at times as doleful as the lot of the Jews in Europe. I have chosen to call this view “the neo-lachrymose conception of Jewish-Arab history.”[6]

Notice that Professor Cohen considers it a stretch to say that the Jews of Islam were treated as poorly as they were in Europe (hence his usage of the phrase “some went so far as to suggest…”). Imagine his surprise if Cohen were to read the works of populist nonspecialists who go even farther and argue that not only was it equally bad, but far worse. Such is the profound degree of revisionism inherent in the writings of these two anti-Islam ideologues, and those with similar ideological bents.

Cohen concludes:
The polarization of views that has thus dominated discussion of medieval Islamic-Jewish relations in recent years has made it increasingly difficult to write on the subject without getting involved in apologetics and polemics. I remain convinced that the “myth of the Islamic-Jewish interfaith utopia” and the “countermyth of Islamic persecution of Jews” equally distort the past. How might we address the underlying historical question in a way that avoids both extremes and, at the same time, deepens understanding of why, as most reasonable observers will agree, the Islamic-Jewish relationship bred so much less violence and persecution than relations between Christians and Jews [in Europe]? The comparative approach has seemed the most useful one…

When all is said and done, however, the historical evidence indicates that the Jews of Islam, especially during the formative and classical centuries (up to the thirteenth century), experienced much less persecution than did the Jews of Christendom. [8]


The word “dhimmi” refers to non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state. Dhimmi means “protected,” which is based on the idea that a Muslim state must guarantee the safety of non-Muslim citizens within its borders. Dhimmis were required to pay Jizya but were exempt from Zakat [charity tax] which Muslims are required to pay [2.5% of their savings, each year] as well as from military service. However, if Dhimmis agreed to serve in the armed forces, they were not required to pay Jizya, since Jizya was only taken from able-bodied men who could serve in the military.

Statements of Prophet Muhammad on Dhimmis:

1. “He who hurts a dhimmi [a member of a minority living in a Muslim state] I am his adversary, and I shall be an adversary to him on the Day of Judgement.”
2. “He who hurts a dhimmi hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God.”
3. “On the Day of Resurrection I shall dispute with anyone who oppresses a person from among the People of the Covenant [Jews and Christians], or infringes on his right, or puts a responsibility on him which is beyond his strength, or takes something from him against his will.”

The rights of Christian minorities are well established in Islamic theology.

Muslim jurist Saha al-Deen al-Qarafi has stated:

“The covenant of protection imposes upon us certain obligations towards the “ahl al-dhimmah,” [members of Christian and Jewish minority]. They are our neighbors, under our shelter and protection upon the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him), and the religion of Islam. Whoever violates these obligations against any one of them by so much as an abusive word, by slandering his reputation, or by doing him some injury or assisting in it, has breached the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him), and the religion of Islam.” (from the book Al-furuq” by al-Qarafi.)

Another Muslim jurist Ibn Hazm has stated:

“If one is a dhimmi, and the enemy comes with his forces to take him, it is our obligation to fight the enemy with our soldiers and weapons and to give our lives for him, thus honoring the guarantee of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). To hand him over to the enemy would mean to dishonor this guarantee.” (From the book, “Maratib al-jima” by Ibn Hazam.

What was the amount of Jizya paid bu Dhimmis?

Imam Abu Hanifa ‘s pupil Imam Abu Yousuf in his book “Kitab al-Kharaj” clarified that Jizya is to be paid by males only, and women and children were exempt from it. [See also al-Mawardi’s al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyah]. That makes sense because only men could serve in the army and they could avoid military service by paying Jizya (See Tarikh by Tabari). Abu Yousuf also exempted the poor, sick, crippled, the insane, monks, the blind, and the very old people from paying Jizya. His reasoning was this Hadith: “Whoever oppresses a non-Muslim subject or taxes him beyond his capacity, then I shall be the opposite party to him in the litigation.” {See Kitab al-Kharaj, pp. 69-72.)

As far as the amount of Jizya is concerned, during the time of Prophet Muhammad it amounted to 10 dirhams per year (which represented the expenses of an average family for ten days). Caliph Uthman fixed the amount to an equivalent of about 20 cents per month for the rich, 10 cents for the middle class, and about 5 cents for the ordinary people. Destitutes were exempted from the tax. Imam Shafi’I suggests one dinar per year but “adds that it would differ according to the time of ease or difficulty and the capacity of those on whom it is imposed.” (See Non-Muslims Under Shari’ah Law by A. Rahman I. Doi).

How Much Tax Muslims Paid?

Normally, 2.5% on surplus property and savings at the end of the year. Unlike Jizya, Muslim women, children were not excluded and they too paid taxes. Muslims were also required to pay taxes on farm animals such as cows, camels, sheep and goats. Non-Muslims were excluded from paying those taxes. (for reference see al-Sarakhsi’s Sharh Siyar al-Kabir, Vol. IV, p. 293). In addition, Muslims are required to pay ‘fitrah’ for each individual family member. So, in a way, non Muslims were much better off.

Was the Jazia tax a voluntary tax?

Jizya can be waived whenever it is necessary. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) himself expressed a wish that he would have waived Jizya on Copts had his son Ibrahim survived, who was born to Maria, a Copt. That means that Jizya is not mandatory under all circumstances. Muslims also returned Jizya when they were unable to protect non-Muslims. Khalid bin Walid returned all the taxes collected to Christians of Homs when he was not able to repel the attack of the Christian Byzantine Emperor Heraclous on Homs. He said to them : “We accepted (the Jizyah) as a token of your good will and in return for defending you, but (in this), we have failed (you.)” {See Abd al-Rahman Azzam’s “The Eternal Message of Muhammad” ; ‘Mabsut, Vol. 10, pp. 78-79; Fath al-Qadir, Vol. 4; and A. Rahman I. Doi’s “Non-Muslims Under Shariah Law.”} Saladin also returned the Jizya when he was compelled to withdraw from Syria. {See A. Rahman I. Doi’s “Non-Muslims Under Shariah Law.”)

Did any Christians join Muslim armies?

As far as I know Christian tribe of Bani Taghlib, the Christians of Najran, and Armenian chief Shahbaraz decided to fight alongside Muslims.

Why and when was the Jezia tax abolished?

It was abolished in the Ottoman Empire under European pressure but the fact is that Europeans never understood the principles behind “jizya.” And as I have stated above, there were many occasions in history when Muslims exempted non-Muslims from paying Jizya anyway. Muslims, on the other hand, continued to pay Zakat.

The Perpetual Servitude of Infidels

Professor Cohen notes that whereas the Islamic Orient was pluralistic (with many different minority faiths, including a large proportion of Jews and Christians), Christian Europe was more monolithic, with only one significant minority group: the Jews. (The pagans had largely been converted to Christianity.) The rules that dictated the lives of Jews were then applied to the few remaining pagans (which included Muslims) and heretics; indeed, the Christians considered it to be the Jewish-pagan-heretic axis. We will thus study how the rules came about for Jews, and then see how they were extended to other groups.

The position of the Jews in Christian society was based on the Doctrine of the Witness. This belief stipulated that Jews ought not to be killed but allowed to live in a state of “Perpetual Servitude” to Christians; their continued existence as dejected serfs served as a continual proof of the triumph of Christianity over those who rejected the Messiah:
Augustine and the other Church Fathers wrestled with this question of why Judaism continued if it had apparently lost its purpose? Augustine’s answer lay in the “Doctrine of the Witness.” This Doctrine suggested that the continuing physical presence of the Jews was desirable because the Jews themselves provided testimony to the truth of Christianity in two ways: First, the Jews possessed Scriptures, thereby proving that Scriptures were no means invented retrospectively by Christians to predict the coming of Jesus…

Secondly, the physical status of the Jews provided testimony to the truth of Christianity. The Jews existed in a subjugated, second-class status as a defeated people…The perpetual servitude of the Jews reminded the world that the Jews are being punished for their rejection of Jesus. Therefore it was desirable that the Jew remain in Christian society. As long as Jews retained their second-class status, they would remind the world of their crime in rejecting Jesus and their validity of Jesus’s teachings…

Although the Jews’ status would always be second-class, the Church Fathers decreed that the Jews must be protected and not eliminated. In this context medieval Christian anti-Semitism provided a protective mechanism against the elimination of the Jews. Or, as Duns Scotus, a thirteenth century Christian theologian, put it, the Jews could be persecuted and virtually eliminated, but some of them would have to be kept alive on a deserted island until the Second Coming.
This attitude towards Jews–of not slaying them but subjugating them to Perpetual Servitude–prevailed in Europe from the seventh century up until “the modern period”:

The official church position on the Jews guaranteed their existence, but as a pariah people…The concept of a “witness people” received its clearest and most influential expression in the writings of Augustine, one of Christianity’s foremost theologians. He wrote that the Jews were dispersed over the world to bear witness through their Scriptures, as proof “that we have not fabricated the prophecies about Christ…the Jews are our attendant slaves, who carry, as it were, our satchels…” The Augustinian witness-people formula, which prevailed in Christendom up until the modern period, allowed the Jews to survive but never to thrive, since their misery was to serve as proof of the truth of Christianity. Like Cain, they were to carry a sign signifying their damnation, but they were not to be killed.

Over the centuries, the teaching of contempt of the Jews as a reprobate people knew no pause, and continued to be taught and preached in mainland Christendom, in Catholic as well as Protestant churches. Leading theologians continued to castigate the Jews…The principal Catholic theologian of the medieval period, Thomas Aquinas, wrote that it was permissible “to hold the Jews in perpetual servitude because of their crime…with the sole proviso that they do not deprive them of all that is necessary to sustain life.” …The French Catholic theologian Jacques Bossuet allowed the Jews to continue to exist, but denounced them as “stamped by their reprobation…slaves everywhere they are, without honor, without freedom…” [49]
The belief of Perpetual Servitude was not limited to the Catholic Church, but was adopted by the Protestant movement from the very beginning of its existence. Martin Luther, whose antisemitic work was touted by the Nazis centuries later, was an ardent believer in this degrading position for Jews; indeed, Lutheran Germany outdid their Catholic brethren in their institutionalized oppression of the Jews.

Jewry laws (discriminatory rules) were applied in such a way as to reduce Jews to a life of Perpetual Servitude in order that they may be a Witness People to the triumph of Christ:

The Jews, said the popes, were to live in a state of Perpetual Servitude (Perpetua servitudo), a term first enunciated in the bull Etsi iudaeos.[50]

The Jews were to be punished with a life of misery in order that they confess Christianity:
St. Jerome warned, “Jews are congenital liars who lure Christians to heresy. They should therefore be punished until they confess.” [51]

The concept of Perpetual Servitude led the state to claim ownership of the Jews, taking away their freedom and declaring them servi camerae nostrae (serfs of our royal chamber):
[The] monarchy took the final–in a sense, regressive–step. It declared Jews servi camerae nostrae, terminology which was inspired by the recently revived papal Doctrine of servitus Judeorum (servitude of the Jews). Kisch believes that this church-inspired idea marked the beginning of Jewish unfreedom. From then on, he says, Jews were no longer part of the organic legal structure…Henceforth, the legal status of Jews was governed by special legislation designed specifically for them, a jus singulare…The honor of the Jews fell to a new low…reflected in the large-scale persecution of the Jews…Jewish “serfdom of the chamber” constituted an abasement of the legal status of the Jews. [52]

Jews became the property of the Church and/or the state:
The Siete Partidas offers the best glimpse we have of consolidated Jewry law as it was envisioned by a learned Christian monarch at the height of the Middle Ages…Jews are permitted by church and state to live among Christians, but only “that they might live forever as in captivity and serve as a reminder to mankind that they are descended from those who Crucified Our Lord Jesus Christ.” [53]
In the words of the “influential abbot of the time, [the] Venerable Peter of Cluny,” the Jews should be punished but not killed:
They should not be killed, but “like Cain, the fratricide, they should be made to suffer fearful torments and prepared for greater ignominy, for an existence worse than death.”[54]

The Church and state competed with each other over ownership of the Jews:
This happened, for instance, when the papacy exerted its own “ownership” of the Jews, under the cover of the old church Doctrine of the “Perpetual servitude of the Jews” and in competition with secular rulers, who asserted that the Jews were “serfs of the royal chamber.”[55]

Jews were traded as chattel:
The crown laid claim to them as serfs of “the imperial chamber,” servi camerae…The attachment to the imperial chamber reduced Jews to the status of pieces of property that could be–and were–bought, loaned, and sold as any other merchandise. Kings paid off barons and barons paid off creditors with Jews. Kings would, for a consideration, transfer to nobles or townships the right to possess “his” Jews. [56]
The concept of the Perpetual Servitude of Jews was extended to other religious groups. Following the Crusades, the number of Muslims (called “Saracens”) under Christian rule increased, thereby prompting jurists to pass legislation specific to them. Despite being considered “worse than Jews,” the Saracens were placed in the same legal category:
The doctrine, therefore, was one of long standing: if Saracens living among us conform as do the Jews, they are to be treated in the same way…There were large numbers of Muslims in the West–in Sicily, for example, where despite mass emigration and slaughter there were many sunk in a life of servitude…In brief, the Muslim who accepted the position of the Jew, who gave no trouble, caused no scandal, and was “prepared to serve everywhere,” could enjoy the same legal protection. [57]
Muslims, as Jews, were subject to the same discriminatory legislation:
Accompanying the polemical association between Jews and Muslims was an increasing judicial association. There was indeed, from the thirteenth century onward, a growing volume of law restricting the legal status of Jews and Muslims and limiting the “polluting” contacts between Catholics and infidels. Over the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Church legislation and legal commentaries tended to confirm this trend: for judicial purposes, Muslims were treated as Jews (rather than as pagans or heretics). The principle aim of this legislation was to prevent “contamination” of Christendom through contact with the infidel: sexual contact, social ties, religious contamination…and so on. The Muslim or Jew, like the leper, needed to be marked, isolated, quarantined, in order to protect the Christian. [58]
David Abulafia’s The Servitude of Jews and Muslims in the Medieval Mediterranean: Origins and Diffusion describes how the Muslims, like the Jews, became “serfs of the royal chamber,” owned as chattel by the Christian monarchs.

Muslims, like Jews, were royal property:

The [Muslim] Lucerine colonists, like other Muslims and Jews living in Christendom, had a protected status under canon laws long as they did not pose a threat to Christians, they were to be allowed to live in peace. Defining them as servi camerae [serfs of the royal chamber], [Christian] rulers considered the Muslims of Lucera to be royal property. [59]


The Muslims were in certain important respects in a similar position [to the Jews]. Their status as royal servi [serfs] was ruthlessly exploited by a government anxious to possess their goods. Islam was suppressed, in the sense that those who survived in southern Italy were denied the use of mosques; but forcible conversion seems not to have occurred. The crown sought the conversion of the Muslim leaders, and generally did not release from slavery those who converted after their capture…Enslavement was a punishment for generations of obstinate commitment to Islam, just as expulsion and the threat of massacre was a punishment against Jews who for centuries had supposedly maligned Christ…The royal court harnessed Roman law to argue the state had the power and right to enslave its Muslim subjects. Indeed, they were already slaves before they were sent into slavery. The importance of the literal interpretation of the term servus, in servus camere regie, to mean “slave” in the sense understood by Roman law, cannot be underestimated. [60]

in 1452, the Pope gave a carte blanche to Christians to conquer the infidels of the world and reduce them to Perpetual Servitude:

The papal grants of the fifteenth century…bestow[ed] upon the named Christian monarchs the right to conquer non-Christian lands…[as] is reflected in the language of the Bull of Nicholas V, issued in 1452…which accorded to Alphonse of Portugal the right to ‘invade, conquer, storm, attack and subjugate’ and ‘reduce into perpetual servitude [perpetuam servitute] the Saracens [Muslims], pagans, and other enemies of Christ.’ [61]

This infallible papal bull gave the King

the full and free capacity to invade, conquer, take by storm, defeat, and subjugate any Saracens and other Pagans as well as whatever dominions, possessions, movable and immovable property are detained or possessed by them: and to seize and appropriate for himself and for his successors their own persons in perpetual servitude, as well as their kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and property, and to convert these to his own use and utility and to that of his successors. [62]

In contrast to the unfree Perpetual Servitude operative in the Christian West, the dhimmis were considered free citizens. According to Islamic law, it was forbidden to enslave them or to reduce them to servitude of any kind. Professor Cohen cites a hadith from the Prophet Muhammad, who said:

If you take the poll tax from them, you have no claim on them or rights over them…[D]o not enslave them and do not let the Muslims oppress them or harm them or devour their property except as permitted [kharaj, i.e. land tax], but faithfully observe the conditions which you have accorded to them and all that you have allowed to them. 

Forced Ghettoization and Freedom of Movement

Another fundamental difference between Christendom and the Islamic realm was the residential status of the infidels. In Europe, the Jews of Europe were forced to live in ghettos, with laws emerging that forbade Jews from living in certain towns and cities, or placing quotas on the number of Jews allowed.

Meanwhile, Jews of Islam (and dhimmis in general) were free to live wherever they wished. They lived in the same apartment buildings as Muslims and in Muslim dominated areas. Admittedly, there were distinctly Jewish, Christian, and Muslim dominated neighborhoods (key word here being “dominated” and not “exclusive”), but this were based on the normal tendency for people of similar backgrounds to congregate, not unlike the preponderance of Jews in New York, of Afghans in Fremont (”Little Kabul”), of Arabs in Detroit, etc. Indeed, this self-segregation in medieval Islamic lands was not only upon religious grounds, but on ethnic and tribal divisions, as well as occupational vocations.

Naturally, the forced ghettoization of the Jews of Europe–and the freedom to live anywhere in the realm of Islam–created a dramatic difference between the two respective sets of infidels:

By and large, Jews in European cities lived separate from Christians, usually in a street or section called a “Jewry,” “Judengasse,” or “rue des Juifs.” …Residential seclusion began to impinge on Christian-Jewish relations, when the church, wishing to prevent contact between Christians and Jews, especially after the thirteenth century, legislated restrictions on where Jews were allowed to live. Especially during the later Middle Ages, when popular fear and hatred of the Jews grew in intensity and popular antisemitic stereotypes proliferated, the Jewish quarter became a mysterious, frightful place, increasingly the target of terrified, antisemitic Christian mobs. As a sign of the estrangement of Jews from Christian burghers, some towns in the High and later Middle Ages sought from their overlords–and were granted–the privilege of not tolerating Jews. In short, Christian townspeople were allowed to exclude or expel Jews…

[In contrast, there was a] relatively more comfortable pattern of Muslim-Jewish relations…Quite the antithesis of the northern European city, the topography of residence in a Muslim town lent the Jew an aura of inclusion, of normalcy. As a matter of course, residential patterns in a Muslim town set religious and ethnic groups apart. This had already begun with the garrison towns, in which tribal constituents of the Arab armies lived in separate quarters…

Almost universally, Muslim cities contained socially homogeneous quarters. Such quarters were found in cities created by a coalescence of villagers, by the settlement of different tribes, or by the founding of new ethnic or governmental districts. Quarters based on the clienteles of important political or religious leaders, religious sects, Muslim and non-Muslim ethnic minorities, and specialized crafts, were also found in cities throughout the Muslim world.

It was no aberration then, if a town in the Arab world of the Middle Ages had a separate street or quarter inhabited primarily by Jews. In that world, residential separation of ethnic and religious groups was normal–voluntary and generalized throughout society. Thus, no stigma attached to to neighborhoods housing predominantly Jews. This contrasts with the Christian town of the north. There, segregation of Jews into separate streets, or “Jewries,” accorded with theological and social concerns expressed with renewed vigor during the thirteenth century by instilling suspicion and dread in the popular imagination.

The Geniza provides an even more impressive indicator of Jewish inclusion in Islamic society. In most cities of the Islamic Mediterranean represented in the Geniza, Jewish quarters, in the sense of exclusive Jewish districts, hardly existed. Rather, as Goitein has discovered, most Jews lived in their towns in noncontiguous clusters, such that “there were many neighborhoods predominantly Jewish, but hardly any that were exclusively so.” Christians or Muslims often dwelled in apartments in the same compound as Jews, and Jews, Muslims, and Christians sometimes held properties in partnership. Islamic law, for its part, permits dhimmis to dwell among Muslims, the rationale being that the latter might thereby reveal the beauties of Islam to their non-Muslim neighbors. [135]

Along with the forced ghettoization, Europeans enacted strict travel restrictions upon Jews, lest the latter try to evade apartheid. Jews found guilty of “illegal movement” were heavily punished. It was argued that their status as perpetual serfs made them the property of the royals; hence, they could not simply up and walk away. This too contrasted with the Islamic world, where Jews were free to travel wherever they wished:

The liberal Jewish privileges of the Carolingian era began to give way in the twelfth century to restriction on movement, to tightening of control over the Jews (the beginnings of “Jewish serfdom”), to unprecedented violence, and to incipient expulsions. The Christian polemical theme of divine rejection and Jewish inferiority assumed new momentum…[leading to] the deterioration in Jewish status, [and] the restriction on movement…

The Jews of Islam in the classical period seem not to have felt the need to protest oppression in the same way…After all, they mingled more freely than their Ashkenazic brethren with merchants, courtiers, scholars, and physicians from the dominant religious group. They did not suffer restrictions on their freedom of movement. And they did not experience a degradation in legal status similar to the Jewish serfdom of Latin Europe. [136]

Although this forced ghettoization took place throughout much of Europe, we see particularly harsh implementations in Central Europe and Russia. In Russia, for example, Jews were expelled and forced to live in “the Pale”:

The government apparently took steps to maintain Jewish (target) visibility–that is, enabling them to maintain a certain autonomy in practing their religion while systematically pauperizing them by discriminatory laws and severely limiting their freedom fo movement within the country.

This was crystallized in a series of “Jewish statutes” under Tsar Alexander I and the establishment of the Pale of Settlement, a region of 286,000 square miles and twenty-five provinces which encompassed the western flank of European Russia…During th ereigns of subsequent tsars, the Pale became a significant means of dealing with the “Jewish problem,” a term which has reverbated with chilling significance to the present day. However, it should be noted that tsars, church, and aristocracy attempted to solve this so-called problem by the triune method of progressive assimilation of the Jews into Russian culture, expulsion, and blaming them for almost every conceivable problem…Jewish freedom of movement became even more restricted and was strictly limited to the Pale, although there was a slight relaxation of these laws toward the end fo the nineteenth century under Nicholas II.

The Russian census of 1897…shows that there were almost 5,000,000 Jews living in the Pale, comprising approximately 94 percent of the total Jewish population of the Russian Empire. [137]

Expulsion, Forced Conversions, and Massacres

Professor Cohen makes an important differentiation between discrimination and persecution. Although it could be argued that discrimination leads to persecution and there is overlap, it suffices for our understanding here. Christian realm was affected by not only a higher degree of discrimination but outright persecution. The persecution of the infidels under Christendom–in terms of expulsions, forced conversions, and massacres–far outsurpassed that of those under the Islamic sphere.

This is not to say that such persecution was alien to the Islamic world; anti-Islam ideologues point to a handful of instances in which this indeed did happen, but it must be understood that this was the exception, not the rule–unlike in Christendom where persecution was widespread in scale. Professor Cohen writes:

Finally, it is important to state what is meant by persecution. As employed in the following discussion, the word means unwarranted violence against persons or property, including individual and mass murder. It means unlawful compulsion in matters of religion, such as forced conversion, and it includes physical expulsion. Other forms of mistreatment–what we would call discrimination, be it bias, sumptuary laws, negative attitudes, or false statements–may and do lead to persecution. In and of itself, however, such intolerance was considered “normal” by medieval socities in which Jews lived.

Not even Salo Baron’s anti-lachrymose revision of Jewish history in the Middle Ages managed to gloss over the fact that the Jews in Christendom suffered greatly, especially from the twelfth century on. Well known are instances of large-scale massacre that began during the Cursades. Jews charged with killing Christian children were tortured and, in many cases, executed. Others were persecuted for allegedly poisoning wells or stealing and “torturing” the eucharist wafer (the “host desecration libel”). Jews experienced economic persecution (for instance, through official limitation of occupational opportunities and assaults on their property). The Talmud was burned, and Jews were forced to attend conversionary sermons–measures intended to weaken the hold of Judaism on its adherents. And Jews were expelled from towns, counties, and kingdoms…

Whether their persecution is measured in terms of expulsion, murder, assault on property, or forced conversion, the Jews of Islam did not experience physical violence on a scale remotely approaching Jewish suffering in Western Christendom. By and large, even when dhimmis as a group experienced growing oppression and persecution in the postclassical period, the grim conditions found in Europe were not matched…”Compared with the contemporary massacres in Christian Europe,” Baron writes of the Mamluk empire in the period 1250-1517, “anti-Jewish riots were both less frequent and less bloody. As a rule they were limited to certain localities and did not assume the epidemic proportions of the assaults by Crusaders or by the frenzied European mobs of 1348-1349 or 1391.” His pinpointing a distinction that applies even more sharply to earlier centuries, the period that is the focus of my book.

How can one explain this difference? The historian R. I. Moore has called medieval Christianity, especially as of the twelfth century, a “persecuting society.” The characteristics and historical circumstances that this scholar evidences in support of his conclusion help explain the relatively better condition of the Jews of Islam. According to Moore, beginning in the twelfth century, European Christendom showed increasing hostility to three groups–Jews, heretics, and lepers. The assumed connection between the Devil and both Jews and heretics (linkage between Jews and heretics, of course, went back to early Christian times), and the ascription to Jews and lepers alike of filth, stench, and putrefaction and of menace to Christian wives and children numbered among the factors that led to the deadly interchangeability of the three groups, particularly in popular thinking. “The assimilation of Jews, heretics and lepers into a single rhetoric … depicted them as a single though many-headed threat to the security of the Christian order…”

Nothing comparable to the invective and hatred characteristic of the Ashkenazic literary treatment of Christianity exists in the writings of the Jews of Islam…The dissimilarity between East and West was even greater during the classical period. Seen from the perspective presented in this book, the embeddedness of the Jews of Islam, the product of intertwining religious, legal, economic, and social factors, constitutes the most important reason for the relative freedom from violent persecution, and hence for a collective historical memory that was fundamentally different from that of the Jews of Christendom. [138]

During the Crusades alone, it is estimated that over a 100,000 European Jews were slaughtered. [139]


One recalls the infallible Papal Bull that gave permission to Christians to “invade, conquer, storm, attack, and subjugate” to “reduce into perpetual servitude [perpetuam servitute] the Saracens [Muslims], pagans, and other enemies of Christ.” It is a truism that bigots often–in their haste to hate–end up throwing stones from glass houses. The sheer irony–of the self-proclaimed defenders of the Judeo-Christian tradition using the term “perpetual servitude” to beat the Muslims over the head with–should not be lost on the perceptive reader.

Dhimmis were not reduced to perpetual servitude, and it is thus incorrect to use this neologism of dhimmitude, which is a purposeful amalgamation of the two words. Infidels in Islamic lands were free men; in fact, it was considered illegal by law–both secular and religious–to take away their freedom or to enslave them. Neither were they serfs owned by monarchs, barons, and other royals–nor of the the church–as they were in Christendom. Under the iron fist of Christian rule, infidels were traded as chattel by the Church and state, rented out and even mortgaged as if property.

Dhimmis on the other hand were not unfree serfs but free citizens, second class though they were. As discriminatory as it was to be a second class citizen, it was certainly worlds better than being an unfree serf or slave. Bernard Lewis commented on the status of the second-class dhimmi vis-a-vis the perpetual serf:

Second-class citizenship, though second-class, is a kind of citizenship. [140]

Professor Cohen opines:

According to the Islamic “law of the land,” the shari’a [holy law], the dhimmi enjoyed a kind of citizenship, second class and unequal though it was…[in contrast to] Jews living in Latin Christian lands, where competing legal systems complicated their status and where the “law of utility” inexorably led to arbitrariness and eventually to isolation of the Jews into a special category of persons, legally possessed by this or that ruling authority. [141]

Dhimmis were to pay the jizya once yearly; the rate was usually reasonable. On the other hand, the Christian authorities taxed infidels in their realm multiple times throughout the year, burdening them with hefty tallages beyond their abilities. The jizya guaranteed the state’s protection. On the other hand, Christendom forced the infidels to engage in shohad (bribery) in order to obtain protection, which was much more arbitrary than the jizya, oftentimes not enough to save them from persecution. After their economic capacity had been subsequently diminished, the Jews of Europe were expelled due to their insolvency and lack of utility. Their remaining property was seized by the state.

The concept of Perpetual Servitude established the idea that infidels were the property of the church or state; hence, all what they owned did not belong to them, but to the Christian authorities. Church leaders argued that all Jewish property could be seized except the absolute bare minimum necessary for their survival (as it was argued that they ought not to be allowed to die for fear that they would then not serve as Witness to the triumph of Christianity). Meanwhile, infidels in Islamic lands owned all their wealth and property–with the only requirement being that they pay a tax on it.

Islamic authorities allowed dhimmis to practice their religion freely in private, without interference. Meanwhile, Christian laws impeded even the personal religious practices of the Jews. The Church attacked the Talmud, censoring it, banning it and even burning tens of thousands of copies. The Jews perceived this as an unprecedented “catastrophe.” Both Islamic and Christian authorities forbade infidels from proselytism, but the Church went even further by forcing infidels to attend compulsory Christian sermons, where intimidating Christian mobs would seek to force Jews to see the light of Christianity.

The Islamic and Christian worlds alike punished those infidels guilty of abusing the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ respectively. Here too, however, major differences existed; the Christians resorted to collective punishment whereas the Muslims generally did not as a matter of law. Also distinctive to the Christian world were the irrational ritual murder libel, Black Death accusation, and the eucharist wafer scare. These witch hunts led to masscres of tens of thousands of Jews, and elimination of entire communities.

The Jews of Europe were barred from most professions, and thereby restricted to the hated and hateful occupation of money-lending–something which only increased their vulnerability to angry Christian mobs. Even this singular means of survival often came under attack by the Church, further reducing the Jews to a state of unemployment and abject poverty. Meanwhile, Jews of the Islamic Orient were permitted to–and did–join virtually any profession. This gave them great occupational diversification which made them much more financially secure than their counterparts in Europe.

Infidels in the Christian West, as perpetual serfs, were forbidden to own land. Dhimmis, on the other hand, were considered free persons and had the right to own property.

Most importantly, the Jews of Europe were faced with much more persecution than their counterparts in the East. Under Christian rule, the Jews were faced with recurrent expulsions, forced conversions, and massacres.

The Jews were exceedingly oppressed during the middle ages throughout Christendom. In France, a Jew was a serf, and his person and goods belonged to the baron on whose demesnes he lived. He could not change his domicile without permission of the baron, who could pursue him as a fugitive…Like an article of commerce, he might be lent or hired for a time, or mortgaged. If he became a Christian, his conversion was considered a larceny of the lord, and his property and goods were confiscated. They were allowed to utter their prayers only in a low voice and without chanting. They were not allowed to appear in public without some badge or mark of distinction. Christians were forbidden to employ Jews of either sex as domestics, physicians, or surgeons…It was deemed disgraceful to an advocate to undertake the cause of a Jew. If a Jew appeared in court against a Christian, he was obliged to swear by the ten names of God and invoke a thousand imprecations against himself if he spoke not the truth. Sexual intercourse between a Christian man and a Jewess was deemed a crime against nature, and was punishable with death by burning…

Under the Roman law the Jews were the subject of severe restrictive laws and were classed in the enactments of the Christian emperors with apostates, heretics, and and heathens…Marriage with them was forbidden…and a Jew could not be the tutor of a Christian…

In the fifth book of the Decretals it is provided that if a Jew have a servant that desireth to be a Christian, the Jew shall be compelled to sell him to a Christian for twelve-pence; that it shall not be lawful for them to take any Christian to be their servant; that they may repair their old synagogues, but not build new; that it shall not be lawful for them to open their doors or windows on Good Friday; that their wives shall neither have Christian nurses, nor themselves be nurses to Christian women; that they wear different apparel from the Christians, whereby they may be known…

In England, the Jew could have nothing that was his own, for whatever he acquired he acquired not for himself but for the king..They were so heavily taxed by the sovereigns or governments of Christendom, and at the same time debarred from almost every other trade or occupation–partly by special decrees, partly by vulgar prejudice–that they could not afford to prosecute ordinary vocations. In 1253, the Jews–no longer able to withstand the constant hardships to which they were subjected in person and property–begged of their own accord to be allowed to leave the country. Richard of Cornwall, however, persuaded them to stay. Ultimately, in 1290 A.D. they were driven from the shores of England, pursued by the execrations of the infuriated rabble, and leaving in the hands of the kings all their property, debts, obligations, and mortgages. [142]

The Jewish Israeli historian Nissim Rejwan [143] sums it up best:

Under Ottoman Empire, which by the beginning of the sixteenth century dominated Syria [including Palestine] and Eygpt, the conditions under which the Jews were permitted to live contrasted so strikingly with those imposed on their coreligionists in various parts of Christendom that the fifteenth century witnessed a large influx of European Jews into the [Ottoman] Sultan’s dominions. During the first half of that century, persecutions had occurred in Bohemia, Austria, and Poland, and, at about this time, two German rabbis who sought and secured refuge in the Ottoman Empire wrote a letter to their community extolling the beauties and advantages of their new home.

But it was the measures taken against the Jews in Spain, culminating in their expulsion in 1492, that gave the greatest momentum to this migration. The Jews who chose to settle in various parts of the [Ottoman] empire found their surroundings rather congenial, and they, in turn contributed greatly to the flowering of Ottoman civilization…Marranos, who in Christian Spain had embraced Christianity to escape persecution and death, abandoned their disguise and returned to Judaism. Istanbul soon came to harbor the largest Jewish community in the whole of Europe, while Salonika became a predominantly Jewish city. The degree of the Jews’ integration into the life of Ottoman Islam was such, indeed, that two notable non-Jewish students of modern Islam found that there has been, in their words, “something sympathetic to the Jewish nature in the culture of Islam,” since “from the rise of the Caliphate till the abolition of the ghettos in Europe the most flourishing centers of Jewish life were to be found in Muslim countries: in Iraq during the Abbassid period, in Spain throughout the period of Moorish domination, and thereafter in the Ottoman Empire.”

…At the turn of the eighteenth century, the Jewish community in Jerusalem experienced a growth in numbers at an inordinate rate…According to a recent study by Tudor Parfitt, however, the startling increase in Jewish immigration to Jerusalem in the nineteenth century took place “not because the attraction of Jerusalem as the holy city grew, but because political and other factors made such immigration increasingly possible.”

…In nineteenth-century Palestine, he adds, such tolerance was “a consistent part of the relationship between the Ottoman authorities and the Jews.” He quotes European travelers as remarking on “the perfect religious freedom” that prevailed…One of these travelers, J. Wilson, is quoted as saying that “entire freedom of worship…is now accorded to [the Jews] and they are left to manage their own internal affairs without interference from any other quarter.” …

By way of conclusion, a word of caution is in order…It must be pointed out that the picture has not been uniformly so rosy and that instances of religious intolerance toward and discriminatory treatment of Jews under Islam are by no means difficult to find. This point is of special relevance at a time in which, following a reawakening of interest in the history of Arab-Jewish relations among Jewish writers and intellectuals, certain interested circles have been trying to… Judeo-Arabic tradition or symbiosis by digging up scattered pieces of evidence to show that Islam is essentially intolerant…and that Muslims’ contempt for Jews was even greater and more deep-seated than that manifested by Christians…

Such caricatures of the history of Jews under Islam continue to be disseminated by scholars as well as by interested publicists and ideologues. Indeed, all discussion of relations between Jews and Muslims…is beset by the most burning emotions and by highly charged sensitivities. In their eagerness to repudiate the generally accepted version of these relations (a version which, it is worthwhile pointing out, originates not in Muslim books of history but with Jewish historians and Orientalists in nineteenth-century Europe), certain partisan students of the Middle East conflict today seem to go out of their way to show that, far from being the record of harmonious coexistence it is often claimed to be, the story of Jewish-Muslim relations since the time of Muhammad was “a sorry array of conquest, massacre, subjection, spoilation in goods and women and children, contempt, expulsion–[and] even the yellow badge…”

Informed by a fervor seldom encountered in scholarly discourse, some of these latter-day historians have gone so far as to question even the motives of those European-Jewish scholars of the past century who virtually founded modern Oriental and Arabic studies and managed to unearth the impressive legacy of Judeo-Arabic culture, a culture that was undeniably an outcome of a long and symbiotic encounter between Muslims and Jews.

…[But] by the standards then prevailing–and they are plainly the only ones by which a historian is entitled to pass judgment–Spanish Islamic tolerance was no myth but a reality of which present-day Muslim Arabs are fully justified in reminding their contemporaries…Tolerance, then, is a highly relative concept, and the only sensible way of gauging the extent of tolerance in a given society or culture in a given age is to compare it with that prevailing in other societies and cultures in the same period…

The only plausible conclusion one could draw from the whole debate is that, while Jewish life in Muslim Spain–and under Islam generally–was not exactly the idyllic paradise some would want us to believe, it was far from the veritable hell that was the Jews’ consistent lot under Christendom. [144]

Edited from Danios article @