Jews were settled in the Iberian Peninsula by the fourth century, and the first test of Jewish-Christian relations came in the Visigothic period. The Church was actually exhibiting a rather tolerant policy during the time period that Jews experienced a great deal of animosity. The theory that the conversion of the originally Arian Visigoths to Catholicism caused this hostility has now been rejected.
In fact, it was Byzantine legal codes and anti-Jewish attitudes that strongly influenced the Catholic Visigothic kingdom.
Originally, there was significant hatred among the Byzantines and their Visigothic rivals. Athangild, a Visigothic candidate of the rival faction struggling to gain control, invited the aid of the Byzantines in The Byzantines were more than happy to use the excuse to enter the Iberian Peninsula; they took control of almost all of southern Spain, including such major cities as Cordoba, Granada, and Cartagena.
The defeat of the Byzantines by Swinthila and the final expulsion of them from Iberia in marked an end to their influence politically, but certainly not religiously. The main centers of Jewish population under the Visigoths appear to have been Toledo, Merida, Sevilla, Tarragona, and Narbonne, with other populations along the Mediterranean coast in Tortosa, Sagunto, Elche, and Adra.
But precise archaeological evidence is lacking in the matter of where Jews lived, and conjectures vary. Muslim-born Arabs lived in the Arabian Peninsula and were confined to this region for the most part. The rise and spread of the Muslim civilization can be attributed entirely to converts to Islam, in areas such as Persia, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa.
The Iberian Peninsula again gained significant numbers in when immigrants from Syria and Iraq came to the region. During the eighth through the twelfth centuries,so many Berbers came to Spain that the majority of the population was soon Muslim. At the same time, there was significant emigration from al-Andalus to North Africa. The large number of Berbers in al-Andalus led to serious problems; these Muslims were sharply divided along national and ethnic lines, with strong jealousies and rivalries between the groups often erupting in rebellions.
Many Berbers falsified their genealogies and adopted Arab tribal names to claim association with one of the elite tribes of early Islam. Following the Muslim invasion and conquest in , the majority of Visigoths fled Spain for other parts of Europe. These Christians enthusiastically adopted many elements of the luxurious lifestyle of the Muslims, including dress, architecture, interest in literature and poetry,and the Arabic language.
However, many of these Mozarabs did not adhere to the absolute requirements of the Christian religion. Abd al-Azlz, son of Musa ibn Nusayr who conquered Spain and governed until he was murdered in , married the wife of Rodrigo, technically the last Visigothic ruler Roth Intermarriage also occurred between Christian men and Muslim women.
The Jewish Quarterly Review. Sign Up. Outline Index. An error has occurred. If found guilty of false conversion, Jews could be killed, their property seized, and their wives and families exiled.
Technically these marriages were a violation of Church law, but were frequently overlooked. Christian law imposed the death sentence on a free Christian woman who married a slave, Muslim, or Jew. This was clearly a double standard since Christian men were not similarly threatened. The most famous example of this occurrence is Alfonso VI of Leon who married Zayda, the daughter-in-law of al-Mu tamid, the ruler of Sevilla from Roth The extent of Jewish involvement in slavery also sheds some light on their involvement in Muslim society.
After the reconquest of some cities in northern Spain, Jews were involved in the ransom of Muslim slaves and in the transport of them to al-Andalus to be redeemed. But the same is not true of the sale of Christian slaves to Muslims. Jews did own Muslim slaves in Aragon and Cataluiia and in the reconquered cities of Andalusia and Toledo.
These slaves were captives from the territories against which the Christians were fighting, and not the Mudejars living in Christian cities.
Because there is no evidence of Jews in Muslim Spain using slaves in agricultural work, it seems that the majority of Jews who owned slaves usually had no more than one or two, usually female, that worked primarily in the home. In both Christian and Muslim Spain, men and women of all three religions were involved sexually with one another in every conceivable combination, including Muslim men with Jewish women or boys and Jewish men with Muslim women or boys.
With respect to Jewish law, there was no difference between Muslim women and other Jewish women, but there certainly was in reality. Muslims, but not Christians, were clearly not considered on an equal level by the Jews. Not only was the keeping of concubines not discouraged in Jewish law, it was generally considered entirely permissible. Prostitution was prohibited by Jewish law, but a woman who gave herself to just one man made no violation at all.
There is clear evidence that Jews in some Muslim countries, like Egypt,did, in fact, have Muslim concubines. This may have been too dangerous in Muslim al-Andalus. But even in Christian Spain, some concubines were Jewish, and some were even Christians. Ordinary sexual relations between Jews and Muslims, particularly Jewish men and Muslim women, were quite commonplace. This kind of behavior waste chnically forbidden by Jewish law, and actual intercourse with an adult male, classified as thirteen and older, was punishable by death in biblical law, although flogging and other forms of punishment were much more common.
An interesting case is the famous poet Ibrahim, who wrote both Hebrew and Arabic poetry and was purported to have converted to Islam, but Muslim sources reflect considerable uncertainty as to this fact. There are two possible explanations for his poem. He either escaped the law of Moses by converting to Islam, or he saw it replaced by Muhammad.
But a love interest offers a humorous third perspective to the poem. Ibrahim was in love with two boys, one a Jew and one a Muslim, with the names Musa Moses and Muhammad. These verses could simply be one of the many love poems he wrote about these two boys and his inability to choose between them Roth A defining characteristic of Muslim society, unlike their Christian contemporaries in the rest of Europe, was its urban quality.
There were at least eight cities in al-Andalus with populations in excess of 15, in the eleventh century: Cordoba, Toledo, Almeria, Granada, Majorca, Zaragoza, Malaga, and Valencia. Some estimates indicate that Sevilla and Badajoz were also among these most populous cities. Estimations of the Jewish population in these and other cities vary.
Gardens and gardening were obsessions for the Muslims, nor only for beauty and relaxation, but as a source of cool relief from the heat. Most homes had at least one, and often there were several. Fountains, too, were used for this purpose. Wealthy homeowners enjoyed a natural system of air conditioning whereby water flowed through channels in the floors of the living quarters. This technique can be seen today at the Alhambra, the famously well-preserved and luxurious palace and gardens that exist as remnants from Muslim rule in Granada.
There is no evidence of compulsory separate quarters for Jews living in Muslim Spain. But Jews did tend to naturally live together, as was typical of other religious and ethnic groups at the time. Another, or course, was the social inclination of living with neighbors of similar cultural and religious backgrounds. These were frequent in other Muslim cities outside al-Andalus like Baghdad and Fez. In some instances, Jews seemed to have more power than their Muslim counterparts. Jews are reported to have comprised the majority of the inhabitants of Lucena. Muslims in Cordoba had even allowed the Christians to use half of their mosque for a church, but many Christian men and women happily chose the road to instant martyrdom, nearly all of them ending up as obscure saints as a result.
In direct contrast to the Mozarabs of Muslim Spain are the Mudejars, Muslims living among Christians in centers of population that were predominantly Christian. Muslims certainly did not convert to Christianity in great numbers. Indeed, laws were in existence to discourage such conversions. Muslim slaves converted to Christianity by their Christian masters, for example, had their goods inherited by the master, and only if he died could their sons inherit the property. Many of these Mudejars lived in northern Spain in parts of Aragon that were never part of the Reconquest of Christians over the Muslims.
Burgos is an example of a Christian city in Castilla where Muslims lived until the end of the fifteenth century and documents attest to the existence of mosques. Following the Cortes of Madrid in and Toledo in , both Jews and Muslims were ordered to live in separate barrios apart from Christians Lynch In the council of Burgos ordered that the gates of the Muslim quarter be closed at night because of concern about sexual relations between the three groups.
The gates of the Jewish quarter were apparently allowed to remain open. Medieval conversion to Islam is a topic of interest considering the cultural interactions occurring during that time. Evidence suggests that it was more permissible for Jewish men to convert to Islam than Jewish women. One instance of a Jewish woman converting to Islam resulted in Pedro III ordering the death penalty, but Jewish sources reveal that conversion of Jews to Islam, mostly men, was constantly taking place in Spain long before the Almohad invasion.
There is evidence of a general decree compelling Jews, as well as the few Christians among them under Muslim control, to convert to Islam. In fact, suspicion of genuine conversion to Islam is the reason cited by the Muslim ruler al-Marrakushl forregulations on the clothing worn by Jews and Christians at the time. Indeed, Muslim judges kept close watch on Jews who claimed to have converted to Islam and accepted any testimony against them.
If found guilty of false conversion, Jews could be killed, their property seized, and their wives and families exiled. Despite the fact that Jews and Muslims had many religious laws in common,problems still arose. The slaughtering of animals was a particularly troublesome issue given the dietary edicts of each religion.
The permissibility of Jews to slaughter the sacrificial sheep for Muslims, and even eating these with them, was typically acceptable. It was forbidden, however, for a Jew to rejoice with a Muslim on his holiday. But since Muslims are not idolaters, it was at least permissible to conduct business with them on holidays.
It is clear that Muslims and Christians always regarded the other as the enemy and a threat to their power. Nevertheless, Christians and Muslims were in constant daily contact, not only in the more remote southern part of Muslim Spain, but also in the more populated regions of Aragon and Cataluna in Christian Spain. The close living environment and generally cordial relations between the two groups helped to prevent the kinds of stereotypes and hostility that characterized most European attitudes.
Modem Spain owes a great deal of its architectural beauty to the early Muslims. Some of the most splendid architecture of the country is found in Muslim mosques, most notably the famous mosque in Cordoba. Islamic influence can be found in medieval Christian architecture as well, in the form of the keystone arch, for example.
Christian churches throughout Spain imitated Muslim inscription writing in the designs on their walls. So too did many of the Christian kinds, who either learned how to sign their names in Arabic or at least imitated Arabic signatory script in Romance. Commerce played a key role in the economies of Islamic cities in Spain, with larger cities housing a special commercial district.
Stores were generally located near the mosque in Muslim communities. There are numerous references to commercial activity between Spain and Egypt, and indeed, ships from Spain were arriving constantly in Egypt to do trade with Tunisia and Alexandria. One of the major sources of income in Muslim Spain were tunny fish, a member of the mackerel family related to tuna, which came from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean only in April.
Jews were involved heavily in thistrade, more so in drying and exporting the fish than in catching them. Dyed goods were not considered to be a profitable import to be sold in Spain, which may be explained by the importance of Jews in the silk industry. They are reported to have had a monopoly on crimson dye, explaining the tremendous market for imported Brazil wood and other dyes among Jews. A common myth is that Jews engaged in this trade because it was despised by Muslims for its dirty nature.
This appears to be unfounded as Muslims did and still do engage in dying today in North Africa. Although they sometimes had their own market commissioners, Jewish merchants were also subject to Muslim supervisors. Muslim officials even enforced the payment of debts between Jews themselves, and imprisoned Jews for nonpayment. Agriculture comprised an important part of the economy for al-Andalus, and indeed, the Muslims of Spain were famous for their accomplishments in the area.
They grew virtually every kind of fruit and vegetable known today, even those with no reason to be expected to grow in the region, like rice and cotton.
The Muslims in Spain were able to produce a sweeter fruit than in the rest of the world by developing methods of injecting perfumes and syrups into trees. Produce like olives, figs, guavas, peaches, apricots, cauliflower, and cucumbers were common in Muslim Spain, despite being totally unknown in Christian Europe. The Jews learned a great deal from the Muslims in terms of agriculture and horticulture. It was the Jews apparently that first introduced and cultivated the olive in Spain, a veritable staple of cooking in the region today. The financial and legal capacity of Jewish participation in Muslim al-Andalus was somewhat limited in other aspects, however.
Jews were forbidden to act as executors of wills and as guardians of children of deceased relatives or friends, for example. These Muslims received permission to do as they wished with these children and their property. The caliphal library was said to contain some four hundred thousand volumes, compared to the largest library in Christian Europe, which held no more than four hundred manuscripts. And this library was only one of seventy in the capital city, where books were so adored that seventy copyists were employed in the book market who worked exclusively on copying Qurans Menocal It was not uncommon to find a Muslim man knowledgeable in the areas of medicine, physics, and astrology, and the influences of these scholars on the Christian world lasted well beyond the medieval period.
But Muslims were frequently ridiculed for their interests in astrology by Christians who regarded the science as somehow diminishing the importance and significance of God. Jews studied with Muslim teachers, particularly true with the sciences. The greatest Muslim scientists and philosophers had Jewish students.
Public literacy was a government priority for the Muslims of al-Andalus, and the knowledge of Arabic played a critical role in the cultural development of the Jews in their relations with Muslims. Moses Ibn Ezra, the illustrious Hebrew poet from Granada, observed that when the Muslims conquered the Iberian peninsula from the Visigoths the Jews learned Arabic language and grammar, which aided them in understanding Hebrew language and grammar.
Evidently, the Jews who remained in Spain from the Visigothic era, who obviously had not known Arabic, were taught Arabic by the Muslims even prior to the massive immigration of Arabic-speaking Jews into Spain Paris It was not unusual, in fact, for Spanish Jews to attempt to clarify Hebrew by comparison with Arabic. We got married after five years of living together.
The religious leader promoted the peaceful coexistence of distinct ethnic groups. A plural noun indicates that there is more than one person, place, thing, or idea. The priest of our church invited me to attend the retreat that is held every year. A noun is a word referring to a person, animal, place, thing, feeling or idea e.
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