There are many imams and other Muslims who are working hard to reform Islam from within. These people are often risking their lives in order to bring the values of equality and humanism to their religion. They have established mosques where men and women worship side by side and welcome LGBT people into their midst.
Then there are imams like the one below. They need to be exposed for the ignorant bigots they are. This imam is reinforcing the prejudices of all those who hate Muslims, just like the Westboro Baptist Church and other anti-gay Christians make themselves a target for hate.
There are many on the left who criticize people like Sam Harris and Bill Maher when they point out the misogyny and homophobia in much of Islam for stoking the flames of of anti-Muslim bigotry. (And I’m sure those same people will criticize me for doing it too if they notice!). But we are not the ones doing anything wrong. Islam itself needs to take a lot of the responsibility. As long as there are a large proportion of Muslims who believe things such as those taught by the imam in this video, and they do, people will feel justified in their bigotry. Ignoring this fact will not make it go away. It is only by exposing preachers of hate that there can be any hope of changing their behaviour. There are other mosques in Cincinnati the men at this session of Friday prayers could attend where the imams do not teach such beliefs. If imams like this one were abandoned, they would have no one to spread their ideas to.
People are not born hating others – hate it taught. If you belong to a religion, any religion, where you are taught that another human being should not have the same rights and privileges as you do, there is something wrong with that religion.
Personally, I came to hate religion long before I stopped believing in God. The main reason, though not the only one, was the attitude towards, and treatment of, women. My feelings became stronger when I discovered as an historian how much of the misogyny was manufactured – things like the deliberate mistranslations of the Bible by (Saint) Jerome to raise men up above women.
I find misogyny and how it relates to religion a really depressing thing to write about. So instead of wallowing I present a few of the things I’ve posted on Twitter or collected from there and elsewhere over the years which exemplify some of my feelings and opinions on the subject:
Of course, back in 2000, former US president Jimmy Carter, who was and still is a Sunday School teacher, famously left the Southern Baptists because of their stance on women. ABC News reported at the time:
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published today, Carter says Southern Baptist leaders reading the Bible out of context led to the adoption of increasingly “rigid” views.
“I’m familiar with the verses they have quoted about wives being subjugated to their husbands,” he told the paper. “In my opinion, this is a distortion of the meaning of Scripture. … I personally feel the Bible says all people are equal in the eyes of God. I personally feel that women should play an absolutely equal role in service of Christ in the church.”
Great post Heather.
Cheers Damien. 🙂
Another wonderful article that needs to be read by everyone, You express so wonderfully the sentiments of so many women. Thank you.
Thanks Lee. I realized in the middle of the night that I’d left a graphic off by accident, which I think adds to how it is for women. I’ll put it up shortly – it’ll be the penultimate one.
That is a good graphic!
Excellent graphic. I thought I was reading the typical sentiments of a controlling and abusive husband/partner till I got to the bottom. Which of course is the point.
“There are many on the left who criticize people like Sam Harris and Bill Maher when they point out the misogyny and homophobia in much of Islam for stoking the flames of of anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Yes, we do and they are. They attribute to Islam misogyny and homophobia that exist in all cultures. http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Womens%20Page/career_women.htm
Harris et al stir up false fears that Muslims are a threat to western civilization (Sleepwalking toward Armageddon), when the reality is that we have repeatedly invaded and otherwise undermined their countries.
You may have noticed that Harris and Maher also condemn misogyny and homophobia in other cultures too.
You may also have noticed that both also condemn the US’s (and cohorts’) invasions of other countries as well.
Yes, you are right Yakaru. But they don’t seem to connect Islamic terrorism to those invasions (western terrorism).
And yes they do condemn misogyny and homophobia in other cultures, but tepidly and superficially.
We’ve been over this ground before Yakaru. Maher does indeed connect Islamic terrorism to western terrorism and says quite bluntly that we should get out of their countries if we want it to stop. But Harris actively disagrees, paying only lip service to the idea the West has anything to do with terrorism at all, rather than it being “blow back” for US interventions as the CIA says. He used to deny it outright claiming once in an email to me that the only reason we were in Muslim lands, other than where we’d been invited, was because we were fighting a “defensive war against jihadists”. In other words, they caused our invasions, not the other way around! He now prefers to say that the US made “mistakes”, because our intentions are good, still maintaining we’ve committed no crimes which might lead to a response. His views are a very far cry from condemnation of US actions, and are even farther from admitting they played the fundamental role in creating the mess in the first place.
And once again Paxton has successfully hijacked the comments to promote his own agenda.
The logical reduction of Paxton’s argument is that if there was no conflict between Muslim and Christian countries, Islam would treat women better. But it’s okay anyway, because everyone is misogynist historically.
This post is about the way religion treats women, not Paxton’s obsessions.
It was an own goal, Heather! I was very surprised you mentioned Harris of all people, and then referred to Paxton almost by name.
I just gave Paxton the chance to write a whole post on the subject but that wasn’t enough apparently, and I thought he might have taken the hint from the Jesus and Mo cartoon and remember the frequent discussions we’ve already had.
OK, ungrateful wretch that I am (and really Heather, I do appreciate the opportunities you have given me) let me respond to Jesus and Mo. Orthodox Jewish Synogogues have separate seating for the sexes. My wife grew up attending one. I view that as their business. If people don’t like it they can go somewhere else or not go. If it’s in a public facility, that should not be a requirement, but if people want to self segregate, that’s their business. The cartoon is clever, but is this really much of an issue? The speaker can always speak in a mosque or church where segregated seating is allowed.
I note that the cartoon like your post, features the Muslim as the chief and vociferous misogynist, and the Christian as only a mild, passive misogynist.
I See such things as employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and pervasive attitudes of male superiority as much more pervasive problems if misogyny than whether men and women sit together to listen to some delusional Imam, or Rabbi, or Priest spout his nonsense.
Yeah, it is an issue. People, especially women and children, often don’t have an issue where they worship, or even if they worship at all. I think we need to point out misogyny wherever we see it, and religion doesn’t get a pass. One of the things that I see as wrong with society is that religion does get a pass. People excuse things because of religion that they wouldn’t excuse otherwise. We allow people to discriminate because of “closely held beliefs” when those beliefs are religious, but would we allow it is the closely held belief was, for example, white supremacy? Of course not.
That’s what’s wrong with all those laws many US states are trying to introduce allowing people to discriminate on the basis of religion. They really only mean Christianity, and it’s separating religious belief from other prejudices that people hold. If you are a business you should serve everybody. Why is it any different for a conservative Christian to serve a gay person than it is for someone to refuse to serve a person of colour. It’s not, or it shouldn’t be, but too may think they should be able to discriminate in this way because of religious freedom. By the same token, treating women as less or different should not be allowed.
A church etc is like a private club, so there’s nothing we can do about it, but we don’t have to like it, or accept it, or shut up about it. And if it stops happening in religion, it’ll stop happening in the rest of society too. It is countries that are the least religious that are by and large the best for women. The US is quite a long way down the list. (#55 World Gender Equality Index 2014)
And I’m harsher about Islam than Christianity when it comes to misogyny because there are more examples, and worse examples, in Islam. I was inspired to write this particular post after watching the MEMRI clip. If I’d watched a misogynist from another religion instead, the post might have turned out different. Call it determinism.
Indeed. Which is why Israel, for example, would be really really safe for LGBT people if an Islamic theocracy came to power instead of the current secular administration.
Muslims only throw gay people off of rooftops cuz “the west made them do it”
Two straw men in one short comment. Well done.
The point is, Islamists don’t behave the way they do – they do not throw gay men off of rooftops, for example, because of Western Imperialism.
And to state that ‘all religions are equally horrible’ which I see going on here, is asinine considering the way many Islamists behave.
So you think the existence of Daesh can be blamed exclusively on Islam?
The reason ISIS kills gays is entirely Islamic. (And for Paxton, yes, the Bible also says to kill gays, and if more Muslims realized the Koran is largely derived from the Bible rather than the final word of God, they might find it in themselves to reflect more on their attitudes to gays — which *is* a massive problem in Muslim culture worldwide.)
Yakaru, you must know how simplistic that argument is, given our repeated debates. I’m really not sure why it remains so attractive after all this time. It is generally accepted that the events that brought Daesh into prominence have hugely to do with western imperialism, from the original funding and training of military jihadists groups by the west, to the destabilisation of Iraq. Even the tactic of killing gays and others in gruesome ways is meant to get western attention and provoke further intervention. Of course it is true that if Islamists weren’t involved, their particular atrocities would not occur, but focusing solely on Islam as the thing in need of change is to miss the huge forest for a few trees. When it comes to terrorism, our goal is surely to reduce it, so we need to focus on what actions will make a difference. Complaining about even true things about Islam just won’t. There is no way that we can ever prevent crazy people from using some theology to justify grotesque acts. What we can do is address what enables them to be in a position to practice their grotesqueness, particularly when our actions have played such a great role. So not only is western imperialism wholly relevant in a causal sense, but changing our approach in the ME is also the main lever we have to keep many more people from being thrown off buildings in the future. Hence ignoring it is not just academically wrong, but morally wrong too.
Ken, this ignores the fact that there are several countries, which are allied with the West, Saudi Arabia being the most prominent example, where it is illegal to be gay and it is punishable by death, and this sentence is carried out on a regular basis. This was happening long before the West screwed things up there and will keep on happening as long as conservative Islam is in charge of those countries. The only thing that will change that is reform of the religion.
Heather, we were talking about Daesh and the erroneous claim that Islam is the only reason gays are being thrown from roof tops by them. I wouldn’t make the same argument if we were talking about what Saudi does to it’s own population, but what they do is not relevant to my argument re Daesh.
If you want to go back in time: “their countries” became so because they were ‘invaded and otherwise undermined’ by the muslim armies. Subjugation by the sword.
The only reason the ‘West’ got the upper hand is the Scientific and -more importantly- Industrial revolution (hence quite recently).
Moreover, it cannot be denied that in the classes of patriarchy, intolerance, imperialism, misogyny and homophobia Islam always earns a little star.
Yeah, if you want to go back 1000 years or so Muslims were conquering other countries. But we only have to go back 12 years to the Iraq invasion and two years to the Gaza invasion, and the likelihood is that we have bombed Afghanistan, Iraq and/or Syria today. Plus regular drone strikes on Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere. When was the last time a Muslim country conquered or even attacked a western/Christian country?
So you don’t count terrorist attacks by Islamists as attacks? What are they then? And how is it the West’s fault that much of Islam continues to subjugate women? And why have you ignored the references I have made to other religions? Do they not suit your narrative?
Sure, I count attacks by terrorist groups and individuals as attacks, though not by nations. Still, pick any time frame and compare people killed by the west (US, U.K. Israel, France, Spain, Italy) vs westerners killed by Muslims. A life is a life.
By some accounts subjugation or as the Imam would say, “protection” of women has primarily increased in places or its affiliated thugs, eg Saudi Arabia have thrown into turmoil by attacks and coups, when we get our military out of these countries and make restitution, then we can say that we have no responsibility for their backward ways.
Yes, I did note with approval that you laid misogyny on Christianity also. I applaud you for that. But while you introduced Islam with a radical Imam, you introduced Christianity with St. Jimmy Carter.
But really, misogyny long preceded Christianity and Islam. Yes, Chritianity and Islam, like all religions, are preservers of the social norms of their cultures. They are inherently conservative institutions. But misogynists and male supremacists are widespread, just like racists and homophobes, and most of them couldn’t tell you a verse from the Bible or Quran. IMO, you exaggerate the power of religion. As you said, any Muslim in the Cincinatti area has a number of peaceable, family oriented mosques to choose from. People choose the form of religion that tells them what they want to hear.
Syria, Iran/Iraq, India/Pakistan, Indonesia vs East Timor & Irian Jaya… I’m all for criticizing one’s own culture more harshly, but unless you also switch back to being more neutral and treating all people equally, you wind up with a skewed world view.
There’s been misogyny for a long time therefore it’s OK, and somehow it’s still the fault of us invading Muslim countries. I can’t even be bother arguing with that. I call bullshit.
Where did I say misogyny has existed a long time and therefore it’s ok? I said it long preceded Christianity and Islam, so it’s not likely these religions are the cause of it. It’s like saying ISIS existed well before Obama became President, so he didn’t cause it.
Nor did I say misogyny in Muslim countries was the fault of the westerners who invaded them. I garbled the paragraph (or my iphone did) but I was trying to say conservative dress in Muslim countries has been reported to have increased primarily where the societies are in turmoil due to military conflicts. It’s not too controversial to say that societies cling more tightly to traditions during times when they feel threatened. I don’t consider conservative dress to necessarily imply misogyny, although it may. What I was saying is that you can’t consider anything people do in times of chaos to be typical of their culture.
Misogyny takes many forms including requiring women to cover their bodies and requiring women to uncover their bodies for sex or to sell products. I have not seen studies showing that Islamic countries are more misogynistic than Hindu or Buddhist or Christian countries. If anything, the UN study of Asian countries you cited some time back suggested the opposite. But these were countries we had not invaded (at least not recently).
I did not introduce Christianity with Carter.
You clearly took in nothing from my post on the requirements, in Islam, for women’s dress. And of course telling another person how they should dress is a method of control.
It is irrelevant whether misogyny preceeded Christianity and Islam. The fact is religion is the worst offender when it comes to perpetuating it now.
You underestimate the power of religion, and when it comes to Islam you won’t even acknowledge it.
If 1000 or so would equal 333, one might argue you are correct. The height of the siege of Vienna was in 1683.
The Barbary corsairs, operated by the Barbary States, took more than a million European slaves until the French more or less put an end to it by taking Algiers in 1830 (less than 200 y ago, as said, “quite recently”). Not to mention the systematic enslavement of blacks by muslims in the Sahel until the present day. Note that the Arabic word ‘Abeed’ – ‘black african’- is synonymous with ‘slave’.
Last time a Muslim country attacked a non-muslim one? Timor Leste in 1975? Nagorno-Karabach in 1992? (The first 2 that come to mind). A ‘Muslim Nation’ won’t attack the ‘West’ because they would come off second best (as said, quite a recent phenomenon). Only terrorist attacks by ‘para-statals’ can be carried out at present.
Note that our own word ‘slave ‘ is derived from the Slavs, an eastern indo-germanic tribe that was often raided for slaves, but that is indeed more than 1000 years ago 🙂
Sure, ancient history leaves its mark on language and other things. But the experiences that make people want to kill others are much more recent. For instance the hundreds of thousands who lost a loved one in the Iraq invasion and continuing offshoots. Or the millions of refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods. In 200 years those hurts will be forgotten, but not now. The good news is that if we stop killing them, they will very likely stop killing us. But no one wants to hear the good news.
I acknowledge everything you say, Nicky, but 333 or even 200 is still a long time ago. No one alive today ever knew anyone who remembers these things. And East Timor was terrible and carried out by a western client. But the US invasion of Iraq and Israel’s 50 year captivity of the Palestinians are at the center of the current war and to blame Muslim counter attacks on Islam is preposterous.
Paxton, I fully agree with you that eg. the invasion of Iraq was not just a mistake, but a crime. At the time I opposed it, but not really wholeheartedly. After all, Saddam was a murderous scoundrel. However, it was clear he had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or 9/11, I believed he had some incipient WMD’s (I was wrong there), but not that they were effective or a real threat.
The only positive in the end is that the Kurds have their own de facto state now.
I do not want to go into the Israel/palestinian problem here, because that is a far to complicated issue to address as a side in a thread.
Maybe we should have invaded Saudi Arabia instead ( 🙂 )
I am not so sure as you are that Islam is not to blame in much of these cases, but I agree that there is much more.
What I am sure of is that Islam, and the Wahhabi flavour in particular, is patriarchal, intolerant, imperialistic, mysogynistic, hegemonial and homophobic.
Heather is spot on there.
It could also be argued that the Islamic/Arabic “Golden Age” lasted a good few hundred years — not a bad run as historical cycles go. (In Spain they still refer to the eventual expulsion of “Muslim invaders” — after 500 years of Muslim rule!)
But it can also be noted that once the fundamentalists got the upper hand, the openness to science and philosophy was slowly extinguished. Ibn Rushd (aka Averroes) said in 1150 that women should be treated equally and allowed to work and participate fully in public life, as it is madness to waste the talents of half the population. He has the distinction of having been condemned by both Muslim and Christian theologians.
Religions don’t really progress. They just have cycles of more and less stupidity and ignorance. The good times are *always* marked by an openness to science, preparedness to mix with other cultures, and an emphasis on reason.
I’m with you Yakaru. Fundamentalists, whether religious, nationalistic, or ideological are the biggest danger to civil society. But I think Jesus was a great moral teacher and though his followers have often not heeded his advice, it has had an influence. If I knew more, I expect I could say the same about Buddha, Confucious, Mohammed and others. I agree that reason, shedding superstitions, and evidence-based knowledge have moved us forward, but some religious groups in the US have been at the forefront of all the equal rights movements. Social justice is an ongoing battle. It will never be fully achieved. We need to work together and cease the age old tendencies to glorify ourselves and Hillary the other.
Sorry Yakaru, but an invasion and colonisation of a western country for 800 years must be an “invasion for 500 years”? Its like Stockholm syndrome.
In Andalusian Spain the dhimmis (Christians and Jews) constituted the Lowest rung of society followed by recent converts to Islam. This is because Islam traditionally teaches that Muslims are superior to the kaffir (unbelievers). Thus NJ Dawood in the introduction to his translation of Quran (Penguin published) explains pp5&6 that scriptures from their prophets which the people wilfully distorted and that the correct view of their faith is actually Islam and the Quran as handed down by Muhammud the final Prophet whose coming was foretold by the earlier Abrahamic prophets. The Quran 9:23 says that the dhimmi are to “feel themselves subdued”. The Maliki school that the first Muslim conquers subscribed to say that the Jizya (special tax on Dhimmis) is imposed on them “to humble them”. The jizya could be increased at the whim of the ruler. p213 The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise, Intercollegiate Studies Institute Books, Wilmington Delaware, May 2016 Dario Fernandez-Moreira,
The dhimmi had to present the money to a Muslim seated on an elevated platform, who would seize his throat saying “Oh dhimmi enemy of Allah, pay the Jizya that you owe us for the protection and tolerance we grant you”.(p 209) In Islam slaves are originally captured non Muslims who are not allowed to become dhimmis, ransomed or killed. In Islamic law all booty (including slaves) must be taken back to lands ruled by Muslims before it is formally distributed or used (Hidaya). Slaves are converted and their descendants are usually freed, or if they have child by the master, they must be freed when the master dies. Dhimmis and their descendants must always pay extra tax as long as they fail to convert. The third Caliph Umar advocated to the Muslims that they allow captives to be dimmis, not slaves, for :
“The Muslims of our day will eat [from the work of] these people as long as they live. And when we and they die, our sons will eat their sons forever, as long as they remain, for they are slaves to the religion of the people of Islam as long as the religion of Islam shall prevail.” (p 209) The Myth of the Andalusian paradise Dario Fernandez-Morera.
Islamic sharia law also prescribes much lesser penalties to physical offences against the non Muslim dhimmi living in Muslim lands than for a Muslim person (Hidaya guide to the Islamic laws of the Hanifis, p 209-10 Fernandez Morera) A Muslim must not initiate a greeting with a Christian or assist the Christian poor (this latter is acceptable in the Hanifi school only). Various laws existed for all the Sunni law schools which reduced sexual interaction between the faiths, except where conversion to Islam is involved. Muslim women may not marry non muslims, but a man may; however the children must be raised Islamic. Islamic law forbade a non muslim to be in a position of authority over a Muslim (p 221) The testimony of a dhimmi was not acceptable in any legal case involving only Muslims (also in other schools)
Muslim law maintains that Muslims must not touch food, clothing, water and other items touched by dhimmis as it had become unclean, and mandates that they should not adopt the ways of speaking, manners or customs of dhimmis. Dhimmis in Spain and elsewhere (eg the Ottoman empire) were allowed their own religious laws under the overall sovereignty of Islamic law. However they had to wear distinctive clothes bearing no resemblance to Muslim clothes, could not wear religious emblems (such as a cross) They were forbidden to build new religious buildings, and often from repairing existing ones (this is in the Hidaya of the Hanifas also) Additionally Christians could not ring church bells or hold services or parades outside, or proselytise, and their churches could not be much taller than any mosque, which meant that pre-existing large churches and cathedrals were converted into mosques, although a mosque could not be converted into a church. Dhimmis had to stand up in the presence of Muslims, they could not carry weapons and could not ride, except donkeys, and then only mounted sidesaddle as a mark of humiliation.) In cities that had offered resistance, churches were destroyed and mosques built on the site or converted. Some rulers destroyed churches, statues and relics in peacetime. All settlements towns and landmarks were given Arabic names, and dhimmis had to speak, read and write Arabic in their commercial, social and political transactions. If dhimmis wanted to escape all this , they only had to convert, although they would then not be treated as equal to a Muslim until their family had been converts for generations. pp 210-16
Jews were treated badly in Visigoth Spain prior to the Muslim conquest, which encouraged them to side with the Muslims. pp 219-222 when ..According to Bat Yeor
The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, Bat Ye’or, 1985 revised edition, Associated University Press, Cranbury, New Jersey, see Chapter Two explaining the condition of dhimmitude
Also give reference or references on situation of Serbs (from part 5 of early versions of book perhaps)
Jews however, were also dhimmis and did not have an easy time in Adalusia, which was as I mentioned ruled first by the Almoravids and then by the Almohad dynasty. Despite the Qur’annic protection of the faith on condition of dhimmitude, Jews were forced to convert in North Africa under the Almohads, and later in Yemen, Morocco and Baghdad. Jews were first required to wear the yellow badge as a marker in the ninth century, under the command of Baghdad’s Caliph al-Mutawakkil.
H.E.W. Young, British Vice-Consul in Mosul (northern Iraq), wrote in 1909:
The attitude of the Muslims toward the Christians and the Jews is that of a master towards slaves, whom he treats with a certain lordly tolerance so long as they keep their place. Any sign of pretension to equality is promptly repressed.
In 1066 around five thousand Jews from Granada are thought to have been killed in the pogrom that followed the crucifixion of the Jewish Vizier there, thirty years prior to the first Crusade. It is likely the pogrom was inspired by the writings of the poet Abu Ishaq (1029-1087), who inveighed:
“Put them back where they belong and reduce them to the lowest of the low … turn your eyes to other [Muslim] countries and you will find the Jews there are outcast dogs … Do not consider it a breach of faith to kill them … They have violated our covenant with them so how can you be held guilty against the violators?”
The Muslim Berber Almohads in Spain and North Africa (1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations. This devastation- massacre, captivity, and forced conversion- was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim “inquisitors” (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. Maimonides, the renowned Jewish philosopher and physician, experienced the Almohad persecutions, and had to flee Cordoba with his entire family in 1148, temporarily residing in Fez — disguised as a Muslim — before finding asylum in Fatimid Egypt. Maimonedes said “..the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us…Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they..”
Andalusian Myth: Eurabian Reality, By Bat Ye’or and Andrew Bostom 21 April 2004
Fernandez Morera’s book outlines a history of extortion, humiliating subordination, and periodic uprising followed by fierce punishment (crucifixions of participants, enslavements of women, looting). The Bat Ye’or and Bostom article summarises the situation succinctly
The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was of tranquility…Tolerance? Ask the Jews of Granada who were massacred in 1066, or the Christians who were deported by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126 (like the Moriscos five centuries later)…
Thanks for the information, but did you notice my quotation marks around the term golden age? My comment was brief and specific and not especially in conflict with any of the details you mention.
I am sorry about my implication of stockholm syndrome Im am sorry I didn’t apprehend your ironic usage in the first two Yakaru,
Averroes and Avicenna, 2 of my heroes. Ibn Rushd also did some good research in optics and ophthalmology. Ibn Sina is known for his (paraphrased): there are 2 truths, the lower truth of Allah and the prophets, believed by the masses, and the higher truth of al Jabr (algebra/science) believed by those in the know. Hights of the Arabo-Andalus culture (I like the Arabo-Andalus music too, btw).
Yes, that was a wonderful cultural synthesis. Why could it have not continued? The Christians were less tolerant than the Muslims. There will always be tensions between ethnic groups living together. But on the individual level it usually works fine. It’s when the fundamentalist ideologues of whatever persuasion decide things aren’t pure enough for them that the trouble starts.
That last sentence should be carved in a golden tablet 🙂
I don’t think it was “a wonderful cultural synthesis” at all. More like apartheid.
The myth of the Andalusian Paradise by Dario Fernandez-Moreira, ISI Books, Wilmington Delaware, May 2016 also
Andalusian Myth, Eurabian Reality, Bat Ye’or and Andrew G. Bostom, April 21, 2004 http://www.andrewbostom.org/2010/08/jihad-dhimmitude-and-muslim-spain/
Iberia (Spain) was conquered in 710-716 AD by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. Massive Berber and Arab immigration, and the colonization of the Iberian peninsula, followed the conquest. Most churches were converted into mosques. Although the conquest had been planned and conducted jointly with a strong faction of royal Iberian Christian dissidents, including a bishop, it proceeded as a classical jihad with massive pillages, enslavement, deportations and killings.
Toledo, which had first submitted to the Arabs in 711 or 712, revolted in 713. The town was punished by pillage and all the notables had their throats cut. In 730, the Cerdagne (in Septimania, near Barcelona) was ravaged and a bishop burned alive. In the regions under stable Islamic control, Jews and Christians were tolerated as dhimmis – like elsewhere in other Islamic lands – and could not build new churches or synagogues nor restore the old ones. Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class attached to the Arab domains; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions* [which is the qurannic punishment for rebellion against an Islamic ruler] would sanction the Mozart (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings. Moreover, if one dhimmi harmed a Muslim, the whole community would lose its status of protection, leaving it open to pillage, enslavement and arbitrary killing.
By the end of the eighth century, the rulers of North Africa and of Andalusia had introduced Malikism, one of the most rigorous schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and subsequently repressed the other Muslim schools of law. Three quarters of a century ago, at a time when political correctness was not dominating historical publication and discourse, Evariste Levi-Provencal, the pre-eminent scholar of Andalusia, wrote: “The Muslim Andalusian state thus appears from its earliest origins as the defender and champion of a jealous orthodoxy, more and more ossified in a blind respect for a rigid doctrine, suspecting and condemning in advance the least effort of rational speculation.”
The humiliating status imposed on the dhimmis and the confiscation of their land provoked many revolts, punished by massacres, as in Toledo (761, 784-86, 797). After another Toledan revolt in 806, seven hundred inhabitants were executed. Insurrections erupted in Saragossa from 781 to 881, Cordova (805), Merida (805-813, 828 and the following year, and later in 868), and yet again in Toledo (811-819); the insurgents were crucified, as prescribed in Qur’an 5:33.*
The revolt in Cordova of 818 was crushed by three days of massacres and pillage, with 300 notables crucified and 20 000 families expelled. Feuding was endemic in the Andalusian cities between the different sectors of the population: Arab and Berber colonizers, Iberian Muslim converts (Muwalladun) and Christian dhimmis (Mozarabs). There were rarely periods of peace in the Amirate of Cordova (756-912), nor later.
Al-Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year, sometimes twice a year, raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. Thousands of people were deported to slavery in Andalusia, where the caliph kept a militia of tens of thousand of Christian slaves brought from all parts of Christian Europe (the Saqaliba), and a harem filled with captured Christian women. Society was sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, with the Arab tribes at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never recognized as equals, despite their Islamization; lower in the scale came the mullawadun converts and, at the very bottom, the dhimmi Christians and Jews.
The Muslim Berber Almohads in Spain and North Africa (1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations. This devastation- massacre, captivity, and forced conversion- was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim “inquisitors” (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. Maimonides, the renowned philosopher and physician, experienced the Almohad persecutions, and had to flee Cordoba with his entire family in 1148, temporarily residing in Fez — disguised as a Muslim — before finding asylum in Fatimid Egypt.
The summary of Bat Ye’or and Andrew Bostom’s article is
“The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was of tranquility…Tolerance? Ask the Jews of Granada who were massacred in 1066, or the Christians who were deported by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126 (like the Moriscos five centuries later)…”
I don’t believe in utopian societies where there is no pain and we are all in nirvana, but I do believe in improvement. My argument is Western society was able to increasingly and not always smoothly do away from really heinous stuff and make better life possible through practical technology
– and modern mores ARE better than ones in the 19th Century and before.
Islamic society needs to modernise – and become open to debate. – as Dario Fernandez-Morera, The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise pp 92-94 points out even Visigothic Spain of the pre Islamic period had a clear separation of church and state – there was church law applying to itself and there was secular law, but Islam is the actual law of the land according to doctrine and practise – in medieval Islamic states and prior to the dissolution of the Caliphate in 1922 (e.g. Islamic lawbooks of Hanifa and Shaafi clearly show this, as does the Principles of Islamic Law, by Mohammed Hashim Kamali, and according to Patricia Crone, God’s Rule: Government and Islam political authority and religion have always been one in islam. TPart of this is because Christianity is more flexible (and in some ways weaker as an ideology) than Islam because of its philosophical tradition (it always allowed philosophical discourse to explain and defend some of its theology) and because of its division of church and state. Islam ultimately does not accept debate and empirical investigation if this involves theoretical questioning of the world. Translations of Greek and Persian works sparked initial inquiry patronised by some rulers but this was soon suppressed by clerical backlash. Revelation was then seen to be the basis of all reason – not dependant on any imperial observation and certainly not philosophical speculation. Some science continued to be acceptable e.g. Mathematics and optics was acceptable as long as it didn’t pose biological and moral questions) (e.g. Tanis Edris, An Illusion of Harmony and Edward Grant, A History of Natural Philosophy,
After the Reconquista and reestablishment of Christian rule in the fifteenth century Iberia, the North African Berber states began to sponsor piracy out of their ports, forcing some Western Christian states to pay tribute to have their shipping unmolested, and taking up to a million west European slaves from coastal raids. This went on for 3 centuries from 16th to 19th Centuries. The Congress of Vienna (1814–5), which ended the Napoleonic Wars, led to increased European consensus on the need to end Barbary raiding, but this did not entirely end until France invaded Algeria in 1830. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_pirates
Even the Guardian ran an article about it a while ago
The Almohad Berber rulers in North Africa were not nice. Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif (1634 –1727) of Morocco was given the epithet “The bloodthirsty” for his legendary cruelty. In order to intimidate rivals, Ismail once ordered that his city walls be adorned with 10,000 heads of slain enemies. Legends of the ease in which Ismail could behead or torture laborers or servants he thought to be lazy are numerous. During the half century of Ismail’s rule, he is estimated to have killed 30,000 slaves. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ismail_Ibn_Sharif
Ismail was of the Alaouite Dynasty – the dynasty in power for the last two hundred years of Muslim rule in the Iberian peninsular. He kept at least 25,000 slaves at any one time, and treated them with extreme cruelty. When slaves died on public works, often of exhaustion, their blood would be mixed with lime and used as building material. He kept hundreds of concubines, whose girl children were strangled, and the boys, if they displeased him, would have their limbs cut off. The Sultan once famously said. “My subjects are like rats in a basket, and if I do not keep shaking the basket, they will gnaw their way through.”
http://lexicorient.com/e.o/moulay_ismail.htm © Copyright 1996-2007 LexicOrient. By: Tore Kjeilen Encyclopedia of the Orient
Averroes attitude to women was exceptional amongst the medieval Muslim intellectuals; according to Patricia Crone God’s Rule (she was a fluent Arabic speaker and reader and a third of her references are in Arabic) was the only one who explicitly didn’t regard women as stupid, not fit for any education, and appropriately kept at home, out of the workforce in semi purdah, breeding.