Juan Bejarano- GutierrezSpertus College 2010
Living under IslamJewish Life in the Muslim Word
Despite the very real episodes of Islamic persecution that occurred against Jewsin the medieval period, and despite the neo lachrymose view of Jewish life underIslam adopted by many in recent years, Jewish life under Islam was markedlydifferent than that under Christendom.
Jews under Muslim rule underwentvarying degrees of Arabization or even Islamization which to a large extentreveals the ability of non-Muslims to integrate to a large measure in Islamicsociety.
This should not diminish the degrading nature of the Dhimmis laws
Daniel Frank, ed.,
The Jews of Medieval Islam: Community, Society, and Identity
, (New York: E.J.Brill, 1995), 146.
The nature of Jewish life under Islamic rule is also not as pristine as many wouldassume. From the 11th through the 13
century, there were 11 incidents of violence by Muslimstowards Spanish and Moroccan Jews: 1) The Muslim massacre of the Jews of Fez, circa 1035; 2)The Muslim massacre of Jews of Granada, circa 1066 ; 3) Muslim suppression of a Jewish revolt inLucena, Andalusia, circa 1290; 4) The threat of forced conversion to Islam on the Jews of Lucenain circa, 1105; 5) The Muslim suppression of the Jewish messianic revolt in Cordova, Andalusiacirca 1117; 6) The Muslim suppression of the Jewish messianic revolt in Fez, circa 1127; 7) TheMuslim threat of death against the Jews of Aghmat-Ailen, circa 1106-1143; 8) The forcedconversion of Jewish of Spain, circa 1146-1163 ; 9) The forced conversions of Jews in Moroccocirca 1164-1185; 10) Muslim massacre of Jews in Marrakesh in 1232; 11) and the Muslim massacreof Jews in Fez in 1275. Allan Harris Cutler and Helen Elmquist Cutler,
The Jews as Ally of the Muslim: Medieval Roots of Anti-Semitism
, (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1986), 259.
According to Menahem Ben-Sasson, Jews underwent extensive cultural Arabization. Ben-Sasson, “On the Jewish Identity of Forced Converts: A Study of Forced Conversion in theAlmohade Period.” 20. Bernard Lewis emphasizes the linguistic transformation in Jewish lifewith the rise of Islamic rule:” One of the major changes that took place Jewish life in thesecountries was the process of Arabization, meaning primarily but not exclusively the replacementof the older languages by Arabic.” He also refers to a number of similarities between the tworeligious traditions: the similarity of a rabbi to an
, the similarity in emphasis of religious law(
and in the Islamic
. The influence on Jewish poetry,philosophy and theology is apparent as both arose in Islamic lands. Bernard Lewis,
The Jews of Islam,
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 76, 79-80.