Tranquillity under Muslim Rule
- :Harun Yahya
Christians and Jews enjoyed the highest degree of freedom and tolerance under Muslim rule. During the first few centuries of the Christian era, Jews oppressed Christians; as the latter became more powerful, they began to oppress Jews and even fellow Christians belonging to other sects. The Middle Ages were dominated by the Catholic church's oppression of all Jews and Christians who did not agree with its teachings. Some non-Catholics sought refuge with the Muslims. The oppression and violence directed by Byzantium against the Egyptian Monophysite and the Jacobean Christians, the horrors endured by those Jews and Orthodox Christians who found themselves in the path of the Catholic Crusaders, and the persecution endured by the Jews of Europe, as well as by the Muslisms and Jews in Spain after the reconquista, have never occured on Muslim soil.
The Ottoman Empire set an example of acceptance. The Patriarch of Antalya, Makarios, compared the tyranny of Catholic Poland against the Orthodox population with the Ottoman administration and concluded:
We mourned the thousands of people, men, women, and children killed by those heathens. The Polish wish to exterminate people of the Orthodox faith. May God make the Turkish state eternal, because they do not interfere with the Jews or Christians, provided they pay their taxes. 8 Jews escaping Spanish tyranny found the peace and security they sought on Ottoman soil. Driven out of Spain and faced with more hardship in other countries where they sought refuge, many died of hunger and thirst at the gates of towns and cities they were not permitted to enter. Jews who boarded Genoese ships were either exploited or sold to pirates. Sultan Bayazid welcomed the Jews into his empire and demanded that the people show them the respect and acceptance to which they were entitled.
The order proclaimed not to refuse the Jews entry or cause them difficulties, but to receive them cordially. 9 Sultan Bayazid is known to history as a religious man, and his hospitality and acceptance were based on the Qur'an's morality.
Another example of the comfortable and prosperous lives led by Jews on Muslim soil was seen in Muslim Andalusia. This state, which founded the most advanced civilization in Europe at that time, was characterized by its acceptance of non-Muslims. Andalusia was gradually weakened due to the constant attacks of Spanish Christians. Granada was its last stronghold, and historic documents state that "those who have not seen the splendor of Jewish life do not know what splendor is." At that time, Granada was the safest place on Earth for Jews. 10
Another example is Palestine, where Jewish and Christian communities enjoyed religious freedom, lived in peace and safety, and engaged in trade and crafts. The Ottoman Empire guaranteed peace and security for five centuries in the area, and such order has never been seen there since. The freedoms and acceptance enjoyed in Jerusalem and its surrounding area under Ottoman rule is described by one of Israel's ex-foreign ministers, Abba Eban, as follows:
Jerusalem and the Jewish nation suffered bloodshed and torture from the Romans and every other occupying force. Only after the conquest of Jerusalem by Sultan Yavuz Selim and its fortification by Kanuni did the Jewish nation discover what humanity, equality, and a peaceful life meant. 11 Throughout the Muslim world, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in peace and tranquility for centuries. The People of the Book engaged in commerce and acquired property as they wished, engaged in the trade or profession of their choice, and were appointed to posts in the state administration and even in the sultan's palace. They enjoyed the freedom of thought and expression at the highest degree, and made scientific and cultural achievements that are still with us today. They were not denied their social rights, and enjoyed maximum freedoms of belief and worship.
For instance, historical sources reveal that Christian physicians in the Abbasids' palace could read the Bible with their families and staff, and no one interfered with their worship.
The importance of science and scientists in the Islamic world guaranteed the caliphs' patronage of Christian and Jewish scientists. Scientists of various religious denominations would meet at state-organized gatherings to discuss scientific matters. Jewish and Christian physicists would exchange views with their Muslim counterparts, and many medical works would be discussed in the presence of the caliph or his bureaucrats. 12 Living under the Islamic rule,
the People of the Book took part in the bustling cultural life. Muslim leaders extended their cultural patronage to the lands they conquered and imported them to Baghdad, capital of the empire, where they would be studied by Muslim, Christian, and Jewish scientists. Each of them in turn, could teach their works based on these studies alongside their own religious beliefs. At a time when Muslims supported science and freedom of thought, Europe, the center of Christianity, had Inquisition courts that burned people at the stake for their heretical, meaning non-Catholic, thoughts or religious beliefs.
The Muslim leaders' sense of justice led many Christians and Jews to bring their cases to Islamic courts, even though they had their own courts with their own laws. At one time, the Nestorian patriarch Mar Timothee I (780-825) even circulated a decree to counteract the ever-increasing number of Christians taking their cases to Islamic courts. 13
This unequalled acceptance and justice in Muslim lands was based on the Qur'an's morality. Muslim leaders who adopted such ethical standards always achieved security, peace, and justice in their domains. These administrations' priority was the public's happiness and prosperity; therefore, they established systems that set the standards for future generations. When these same values of compassion, mercy, justice, understanding, modesty, patience, selflessness, and devotion derived from the Qur'an's morality begin to pervade modern-day societies, it will be possible to create a world order in which all people will find peace and security.
8. Osman Turan, Turk Cihan Hakimiyeti Mefkuresi Tarihi (A History of the Ideal of Turkish World Sovereignty) (Istanbul: Nakislar Publishing, 1979), 193.
9. Abraham Danon, in the Review Yossef Daath, no. 4.
10. Felipe Torroba Bernaldo de Quiros, The Spanish Jews (Madrid, [Rivadeneyra] 1966), 17.
11. Ilhan Bardakci, "Biz Hic Irk Olmamisiz" (We Have Never Been a Race!), Tercuman Magazine, May 7, 1983.
12. Levent Ozturk, Asr-i Saadetten (Christians in Islamic Society from the Blessed Period of the Prophet to the Crusades), 437.
13. Ibid., 188.
Adapted from: "A Call for Unity" by: "Harun Yahya"
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