The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement Blog

Miracles, Myths, Mistakes and MattersSee Title Page and List of Contents

See: Project Rebuttal: What the West needs to know about Islam

Refuting the gross distortion and misrepresentation of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, made by the critics of Islam

Read: Background to the Project

List of all Issues | Summary 1 | Summary 2 | Summary 3

September 28th, 2012

Issue 72

Issue 72 [@1:15:41]: Robert Spencer – Director, – “[continued from Issue 71] … Traditional Islam forbids conversion from Islam, forbids anyone to leave Islam. There is no way out. And, it forbids Muslims and non-Muslims to live as equals in the society. It mandates a second-class status of non-Muslims. Forbidding them to hold authority over Muslims, forbidding them to hold certain jobs as a result, it even mandated in history that house of worship of Jews and Christians were neither to be built or repaired, making communities relegated to a perpetual state of decline.”

Rebuttal 72: Robert Spencer again opines, rather smears Islam. He is wrong for each of his above assertions, none of which find validation in Quran or even history. It is rather Bible and Christian history that validates all his assertions. His allegations will be rebutted one by one below.

Spencer’s allegations against Islam teeter on delusional beliefs. Such arguments when wide spread takes the garb of a religion like Christianity. Such a religion is farthest from logic and reason that are necessary components for any religion, whether from God or manmade. There is no “Traditional Islam” in Quran and in turn Islam is nothing but message of the Quran. It is this approach of Quran which separates Islam from Spencer’s way of religion where manmade dogmas hold sway over words of God. Such dogmas then naturally segment the duped believers into sects and consequently the sects simmer in a mutual hate. Once a religion departs from the words of God due to injection of manmade trappings into its core, it loses its purpose. In such formulations, soul of religion gets sacrificed to preserve its shell of soulless rituals in the name of virtue while swimming in vice. By such pollution of beliefs a self-propagating process is set into motion that with every passing generation opens itself up for newer interjections that continue to divide and sub-divide the followers into sects and sub-sects. This domino crash of faith continues till eternity and each sect gets far removed from what the religion was supposed to be in the first place. In the same manner, new religions arose from ashes of Islam of Abraham, Moses and Jesus in the likes of Judaism and Christianity. A religion which should have been the source of unification of mankind, now become cause for its dissention and disintegration.

Issue 72a: Spencer alleges – “…Traditional Islam forbids conversion from Islam, forbids anyone to leave Islam. There is no way out…”

Rebuttal 72a: The above statement by Spencer is farthest from the truth. Islam does not forbid conversion from Islam, does not forbid anyone to leave Islam. It is a free choice for an individual to move in and out of Islam. These are not empty statements, but the Law as laid out in Quran:

2:256. There is no compulsion in religion — the right way is indeed clearly distinct from error [– thus conclusively in Islam EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION; THIS RIGHT INCLUDES FREEDOM TO CHANGE HIS RELIGION OR BELIEF, AND FREEDOM, EITHER ALONE OR IN COMMUNITY WITH OTHERS AND IN PUBLIC OR PRIVATE, TO MANIFEST HIS RELIGION OR BELIEF IN TEACHING, PRACTICE, WORSHIP AND OBSERVANCE – excerpt from The Universal Declaration of Human Right, Article 18 of United Nations ]…

18:29. And say: The Truth is from your Lord; so whoever wishes, let him believe, and whoever wishes, let him disbelieve…

10:99. And if your Lord had pleased, all those who are in the earth would have believed, all of them. Will you then force people till they are believers?

10:108-109. Say: O people, the Truth has indeed come to you from your Lord; so whoever goes aright, goes aright only for the good of his own soul; and whoever goes astray, goes astray only to its detriment. And I am not a custodian over you. And follow what is revealed to you and be patient till Allah give judgment, and He is the Best of the judges.

39:41. Surely We have revealed to you the Book with truth for (the good of ) people. So whoever goes aright, it is for his own soul, and whoever goes astray, goes astray only to its detriment. And you are not in charge of them.

39:18-24. And no bearer of a burden can bear another’s burden. And if one weighed down by a burden calls another to carry his load, nothing of it will be carried, even though he be near of kin. You can only warn those who fear their Lord in secret and keep up prayer. And whoever purifies himself, purifies himself only for his own good. And to Allah is the eventual coming. And the blind and the seeing are not alike, nor the darkness and the light, nor the shade and the heat. Neither are the living and the dead alike. Surely Allah makes whom He pleases hear, and you cannot make those hear who are in the graves. You are only a warner. Surely We have sent you with the Truth as a bearer of good news and a warner. And there is not a people but a warner has gone among them.

53:29-30. So shun him who turns his back upon Our Reminder, and desires nothing but this world’s life. That is their goal of knowledge. Surely your Lord knows best him who strays from His path and He knows best him who goes aright.

2:217. …And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can. And whoever of you turns back from his religion, then he dies while an unbeliever — these it is whose deeds are fruitless in this world and the Hereafter [as there is no temporal penalty for apostasy, only a spiritual loss]

5:54. O you who believe, if anyone of you should turn back from his religion, then Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble towards the believers, mighty against the disbelievers, striving hard in Allah’s way and not fearing the censure of any censurer. This is Allah’s grace — He gives it to whom He pleases. And Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.

4:137. Those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor guide them in the (right) way [thus suffering a spiritual damage].

3:90. Those who disbelieve after their believing, then increase in disbelief, their repentance is not accepted, and these are they that go astray.

3:72. And a group of the People of the Book say: Affirm belief in what has been revealed to those who believe, in the first part of the day, and disbelieve in the latter part of it, perhaps they may turn back [and they do so knowing fully well that there is FREEDOM TO CHANGE ONE’S RELIGION OR BELIEF in Islam and there is no temporal penalty associated for apostasy]…

11:29. …Can we compel you to (accept) it [– Islam] while you dislike it?…

22:39-40. Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And surely Allah is Able to assist them — Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And if Allah did not repel some people by others [so that people can profess and practice their faith in freedom], surely cloisters and churches and synagogues, and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered, would have been pulled down.

With the above freedom of choice for Islam as a religion, Quran specifically forewarns certain deceitful converts out of Islam, who like Shoebat intend to injure Islam maliciously. But, will they?

3:176-178. And do not let those grieve you who run into disbelief hastily; surely they can do no harm to Allah. Allah does not intend to assign them any portion in the Hereafter; and for them is a grievous punishment. Those who buy disbelief at the price of faith can do no harm to Allah, and for them is a painful punishment. And those who disbelieve should not think that our granting them respite is good for themselves. We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins; and for them is a humiliating punishment ––– both in the here and hereafter – 32:21. And certainly We will make them taste the nearer [– earthly] punishment before the greater punishment [of the hereafter], that perhaps they may turn.

In the very next verse, Quran actually points to the Divine plan inherent in conversion of such hypocrites out of Islam, who would had been more damaging if they remained hidden in the ranks of Muslims:

3:179. Allah will not leave the believers in the condition in which you are until He separates the evil from the good.

Spencer seems to be incognizant that what he is alleging Islam with is actually of his own religion. This is outlined in Old Testament that needs no explanation but a plain read:

Deuteronomy 13:1-18 (NIV). If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt, and none of the condemned things are to be found in your hands. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors— because you obey the Lord your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes. [Emphasis added]

Mr. Spencer might not be aware that Jesus himself declared that he will uphold the Law of Torah. The above mayhem as punishment for apostasy is only a case in point:

Matthew 15:17-19 (NIV). “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [Emphasis added]

Spencer must not have read his own Scriptures; else his allegations are indicative of a plain denial, a suffrage of frank delusion for what he alleges in the current issue about Islam. By any plain comparative read of Quran and Bible above, one naturally concludes that it is not Islam, but “Christianity and Judaism that forbid conversion from their respective religions, forbid anyone to leave Christianity and Judaism. There is no way out.” Case closed!

Issue 72b: “…And, it [i.e. Islam] forbids Muslims and non-Muslims to live as equals in the society…”

Rebuttal 72b: Spencer is plain wrong in his allegation. Contrary to what Spencer alleges Islam enforces equality of mankind irrespective of gender, race, culture, language or religion, social or economic status. Quran fully endorses all of the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights including its Preamble and all its Articles 1 – 30 (see Issue 71). It does so as a Law in Quran of which only a handful of verses are quoted below:

4:1. O people [i.e. Jews, Christian, Muslims etc.], keep your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single being [i.e. ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE BORN FREE AND EQUAL IN DIGNITY AND RIGHTS. THEY ARE ENDOWED WITH REASON AND CONSCIENCE – excerpt from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1 of United Nations] and created its mate of the same (kind), and spread from these two [i.e. married pairs] many men and women. And keep your duty to Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship. Surely Allah is ever a Watcher over you.

30:22. And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colours. Surely there are signs in this for the learned.

49:13. O mankind, surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other. Surely the noblest of you with Allah is the most dutiful of you [and not by mere association with certain RACE, COLOUR, SEX, LANGUAGE, RELIGION, POLITICAL OR OTHER OPINION, NATIONAL OR SOCIAL ORIGIN, PROPERTY, BIRTH OR OTHER STATUS – excerpt from The Universal Declaration of Human Right, Article 2 of United Nations]. Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.

3:103. And hold fast by the covenant of Allah [i.e. Quran] all together and do not be disunited. And remember Allah’s favour to you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favour you became brethren [WITHOUT DISTINCTION OF ANY KIND, SUCH AS RACE, COLOUR, SEX, LANGUAGE, RELIGION, POLITICAL OR OTHER OPINION, NATIONAL OR SOCIAL ORIGIN, PROPERTY, BIRTH OR OTHER STATUS – excerpt from The Universal Declaration of Human Right, Article 2 of United Nations ]. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire [of mutual hate, enmity and wars], then He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes clear to you His messages that you may be guided.

49:11-12. O you who believe, do not let a people laugh at (another) people [i.e. mock, ridicule or DISCRIMINATE on basis of RACE, COLOUR, SEX, LANGUAGE, RELIGION, POLITICAL OR OTHER OPINION, NATIONAL OR SOCIAL ORIGIN, PROPERTY, BIRTH OR OTHER STATUS – excerpt from The Universal Declaration of Human Right, Article 2 of United Nations], perhaps they may be better than they; nor let women (laugh) at women, perhaps they may be better than they. Neither find fault with one another, nor call one another by (offensive) nick-names. Evil is a bad name after faith; and whoever does not repent, these it is that are the wrongdoers. O you who believe, avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is sin; and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You abhor it! And keep your duty to Allah, surely Allah is returning (to mercy) again and again, Merciful.

Compare the above Quranic verses dealing with equality of mankind with the racial hate in Bible below. In the latter a non-Jew is no better than a dog and not worth the blessings of the Lord whose own uttered words are quoted below:

Matthew 15:22-28 (NIV). A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. [Similarly, in Mark 7:25-30, the woman is identified as a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia]

Many discriminatory passages from Bible based upon inequality of gender and other issues could be quoted, but we leave them out for now.

Issue 72c: “…It [i.e. Islam] mandates a second-class status of non-Muslims. Forbidding them to hold authority over Muslims, forbidding them to hold certain jobs as a result …”

Rebuttal 72c: Spencer is a plain liar in his above statement. Either we believe Spencer or the official records of Ottoman Empire. Even when it was breathing its last, less than a century ago, Ottomans had the following portfolios for Christians in its cabinet and upper administration of government:

Appendix 5: Christian Officials in the Turkish Administration [India in Balance – British Rule and the Caliphate by Khwaja Kamal-ud-din]

The following few names have been taken from the Ottoman Civil List, and do not include different officers belonging to various Christian nationalities who served as Judges, Administrators, Governors, Sub-Governors, Chiefs of Sections in various State Departments, Secretaries, Senior Officers in the Army, etc.

* Musurus Pasha (Greek), Vezir, Ambassador in London.
* Alexandre Caratheodory Pasha, Vezir, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
* Agop Pasha (Armenia. Vezir, Minister of Finances.
* Franco Pasha (Catholic), Vezir, Governor.
* Aleco Pasha (Bulgarian), Vezir, Ambassador and Governor-General.
* Gavril Pasha (Bulgarian), Vezir, Governor-General.
* Photiades Pasha (Greek), Vezir, Ambassador.
* Rustem Pasha (Catholic), Vezir, Ambassador.
* Savas Pasha (Greek), Vezir, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
* Ohannes Pasha Sakiz (Armenian), Vezir, Minister of the Civil List of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan.
* Artin Pasha Dadian (Armenian), Vezir, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
* Naoum Pasha (Catholic), Vezir, Governor-General and Ambassador.
* Mouzaffer Pasha (Catholic), Vezir, Governor-General.
* Portocal Michael Pasha (Armenian), Vezir, Minister of the Civil List of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan.
* Youssouf Pasha Franco (Catholic), Vezir, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
* Vassa Pasha (Catholic), Vezir, Governor-General.
* Costaki Anthopoulos Pasha (Greek), Vezir, Ambassador.
* Musurus * Pasha (son of Musurus Pasha at the head of this list), (Greek), Vezir, Ambassador in London.
* Mavroyeni Pasha (Greek), Vezir, High Official of His Imperial Majesty’s Palace.
* Couyoumdjian Ohannes Pasha (Armenian), Vezir, Governor-General.
* Couyoumdjian Bedros Effendi (Armenian), Minister of Mines and Forests.
* Mavroyeni Bey (Greek), Senator and Ambassador.
* Aristidi Pasha (Greek), Vezir, Minister of Commerce and Agriculture.
* Gabriel Effendi Noradounghian (Armenian), Minister of Foreign Affairs, at present Leader of the Armenian Committee.
* Tchamidj Ohannes Effendi (Armenian), President at the Ministry of Finances.
* Abro Effendi (Armenian), Councillor of State.
* Constantin Caratheodory Effendi (Greek), Councillor of State.
* Aram Effendi (Armenian), Senator.
* Azarian Effendi (Armenian), Minister Plenipotentiary, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Senator.
* Herand Bey Abro (Armenian), Legal Adviser of the Sublime Porte.
* Ohan Effendi (Armenian), Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice.
* Fethi Bey Franco (Catholic) Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

[Editor’s Note: Vezir = Minister in the Court or Cabinet]

Now, let’s ask Mr. Spencer, how many Muslims, now or ever, held any significant positions in the governments of Europe, America, Israel, Canada, Australia or New Zealand? Can he count them on fingers of one hand? He better refrain from clichés that there are not enough Muslim in these continents (see Map of Muslim Population in Europe). Norway made the right choice by appointing the first Scandinavian Muslim minister against the back drop of the mass murder whose manifesto of hate was based upon the writings of Spencer and other experts of this documentary. In his manifesto, the Norwegian terrorist mentioned Robert Spencer 64 times [New York Times], Bet Ye’or dozen times [Foreign Policy], Serge Trifkovic, Abdullah Al Araby and Walid Shoebat as recommended authors []. It is the likes of Spencer who are attacking the current American president, a Christian, for his race and middle name, both of which the “poor” African-American Hussain has no control of.

Issue 72d: “…it [i.e. Islam] even mandated in history that house of worship of Jews and Christians were neither to be built nor repaired, making communities relegated to a perpetual state of decline.”

Rebuttal 72d: Once again Spencer is fabricating lies. It is Islam which by its Law in Quran mandates protection of churches and synagogues when it states:

22:39-41. Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And surely Allah is Able to assist theme — Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And if Allah did not repel some people by others [so that people can profess and practice their faiths in freedom], surely cloisters and churches and synagogues, and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered, would have been pulled down [by act of man or neglect and disrepair]. And surely Allah will help him who helps Him. Surely Allah is Strong, Mighty. Those who, if We establish them in the land, will keep up prayer and give the due charity and enjoin good and forbid evil. And Allah’s is the end of (all) affairs.

We will encourage Spencer to re-read the above verses where he might be surprised to find that Quran equates cloisters, churches and synagogues with houses of worship in which Allah’s name is much remembered. Anyone saving and protecting these houses of worship from destruction is equated with someone who helps Him i.e. God Himself. Further, one of the attributes for a government to enjoin good and forbid evil is to protect all houses of worship of all the faiths.

Besides Quran, we re-quote from Rebuttal 15c the protection of Christians and their religious institutions as assured by Prophet Muhammad:

(excerpted pages 143-146 from: Jihad in Islam, by M.Y.K., The Muslim Revival, Vol V, No. 2, June 1936, Lahore, India)

According to Futuh-ul-Buldan Balazari the charter of freedom of faith granted to the Christians of Najran and later on extended to the Christian subjects of Islam all over the world runs as follows:

“This is the document which Muhammad son of Abdullah, God’s Prophet, Warner and Bearer of glad tidings, has caused to be written, so that there should remain no excuse for those coming after. I have caused this document to be written for the Christians of the East and the West, for those who live near, and for those of the distant lands, for the Christians living at present and for those who will come after, for those Christians who are known to us and for those as well whom we do not know. Any Muslim violating and abusing what is therein ordered would be regarded as a violator of God’s testament and would be the breaker of his promise and would make himself deserving of God’s curse, be he a king or a subject.”

“I promise that any monk or way-farer, etc., who will seek my help on the mountains, in forests, deserts or habitations, in places of worship, I will repel his enemies with all my friends and helpers, with all my relatives and with all those who profess to follow me and will defend him, because they are on my covenant. And I will defend the covenanted against the persecution, inequity and embarrassment by their enemies in lieu of the poll-tax (Jizya) they have promised to pay.

“If they will prefer themselves to defend their properties and persons, they will be allowed to do so and will not be put to any inconvenience on that account. No bishop will be expelled from his bishopric, no monk from his monastery, and no priest from his place of worship and no pilgrim will be detained in his pilgrimage. None of their churches and other places of worship will be desolated or destroyed or demolished. No material of their churches will be used for building mosques or houses for the Muslims. Any Muslim so doing should be regarded as recalcitrant to God and His Prophet. Monks and bishops will be subjected to no tax (jizya) or indemnity, whether they live in forests or in the rivers, are in the East or West, North or South. I give them my word of honour. They are on my promise and covenant and will enjoy perfect immunity from all sorts of inconveniences. Those who retire to the mountains and dedicated places, the produce of their cultivated lands will not be subjected to tax or tithe and in times of scarcity of food they will not be compelled to contribute anything in the form of grain. No military service will be taken from them, nor will they be required to pay jizya. Not more than 12 dirhams per annum will be taken from their merchants, landholders and from the wealthy among them. None should be harassed and tryannised for the payment of taxes. In religious controversies and disputations, they should be tathed to with civility and lenience. Let mercy overwhelm them wherever they may be and they should be protected from all troubles and injuries. He who broke God’s covenant and adopted a defiant attitude, will be regarded as His enemy and the violator of His testament. Every help shall be given them in the repair of their churches. They shall be absolved from wearing arms. They shall be protected by the Muslims. Let this document be not disobeyed till the Judgment Day.”

Another example of a Muslim Mogul Ruler, Aurangzeb of India – Islamic Review, Vol XIII, Nos. 4 & 5, pg 124-125, April-May, 1925:

Be it known unto all men that we, because of our natural mercy and favour for the welfare of our people, do hereby declare and decree that all our beloved subjects – be they high or low- shall live in peace and harmony one with another; and in accordance with the Islamic Sheria’t (Law) we hereby command that the Temples and the places of idol-worship of the Hindus be maintained and protected. And whereas it hath recently been brought to our notice that certain people intend to entreat despitefully and cruelly our Hindu subjects at Benares and debar the Brahmans from the ancient lawful rites of their worship; and whereas it hath also been brought to our notice that these rumours have caused much pain and consternation to them; now, therefore, we decree and let it be known throughout out our Empire, that from the date of the issue of this decree, no Brahman be molested in his prayers nor Hindu Temples be meddled with. Let our Hindu subjects dwell in peace and pray for our prosperity.

Spencer tries to draw from history when he alleges “making [non-Muslim] communities relegated to a perpetual state of decline.” One has to go no further than Jewish sources which rebut him and lay Spencer’s allegations on door steps of his own religion and Europe, the Christians, Christian Church and Christian kings –“ Sephardim” by Rebecca Weiner (Jewish Virtual Library)

The Golden Age

The situation improved in 711 when Spain fell under the rule of the Muslim Moors. Both Muslims and Jews built a civilization, based in Cordoba, known as Al-Andalus, which was more advanced than any civilization in Europe at that time. Jews were able to coexist peacefully with their neighbors; however, they were still treated as dhimmis, “People of the Book” (Jews and Christians) who are protected under Islamic law. Jews did not have complete autonomy and had to pay a special tax, the jizha , but were able to freely practice their religion.

The era of Muslim rule in Spain (8th-11th century) was considered the “Golden Age” for Spanish Jewry. Jewish intellectual and spiritual life flourished and many Jews served in Spanish courts. Jewish economic expansion was unparalleled. In Toledo, Jews were involved in translating Arabic texts to the romance languages, as well as translating Greek and Hebrew texts into Arabic. Jews also contributed to botany, geography, medicine, mathematics, poetry and philosophy.

A number of well-known Jewish physicians practiced during this period, including Hasdai Ibn Shaprut (915-970), who was the doctor for the Caliph (leader of Spain). Many famous Jewish figures lived during the Golden Age and contributed to making this a flourishing period for Jewish thought. These included Samuel Ha-Nagid, Moses ibn Ezra, Solomon ibn Gabirol Judah Halevi and Moses Maimonides.

Jews lived separately in aljamas (Jewish quarters). They were given administrative control over their communities and managed their own communal affairs. Jews had their own court system, known as the Bet Din. Rabbis served as judges and rendered both religious and civil legal opinions. [Emphasis added]

Islamic culture also influenced the Jews. Muslim and Jewish customs and practices became intertwined. For example, Arabic was used for prayers rather than Hebrew or Spanish. Before entering the synagogue, Jews washed their hands and feet, which is a practice done before entering a mosque. Arab melodies were used for Jewish songs. Jews wore the clothing style of their Moorish neighbors, although they were not allowed to wear silk or furs.

Jews lived peacefully in Al-Andulus for 400 years. The Golden Age for Jewry in Muslim Spain declined after the Almovarids gained power in 1055 and continued to deteriorate after the Almohads came to power in 1147. Jews continued to work as moneylenders, jewelers, cobblers, tailors and tanners, however, they had to wear distinguishing clothing, such as a yellow turban.

[Editors Note: “Generally, the Jewish people [under Muslim rule] were allowed to practice their religion and live according to the laws and scriptures of their community. Furthermore, the restrictions to which they were subject were social and symbolic rather than tangible and practical in character. That is to say, these regulations served to define the relationship between the two communities, and not to oppress the Jewish population” – Lewis, Bernard W (1984). The Jews of Islam].

Christian Rule, the Inquisition and the Expulsion of 1492

The Christians conquered Toledo in 1098 and the Jews in Christian Spain prospered, while those in Muslim Spain suffered under the Almohad dynasty. Both Jews and Muslims were involved in the cultural, economic, intellectual, financial and political life of Christian Spain. By the mid-13th century, the Christians controlled most of Spain and increasingly forced Jews to convert to Christianity. Those who converted became known as Marranos or New Christians. Marranos are also known as crypto-Jews because they taught their children and practiced Judaism in secret. During this period, Jews were forced to participate in “religious” disputes with Christians counterparts. [Emphasis added]

Anti-Jewish riots broke out in 1391 in several Spanish cities and the situation worsened for the Jewish community. New Christians were tortured or killed in the Spanish Inquisition during the 15th century. Father Tomas de Torquemada felt that if the Jews remained in Spain, then they would influence the new converts to Christianity. After the capture of Granada from Muslim forces, Father Torquemada convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the Jewish community was expendable. In 1492, Isabella and Ferdinand commanded that all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity be expelled from Spain. The Jews were given four months to leave Spain and were forced to sell their houses and businesses at low prices. It is estimated that 100,000 Jews left Spain at this time. The expulsion from Spain is commemorated every year by all Jews on the holiday of Tisha B’Av. [Emphasis added]

Many Spanish Jews settled in Portugal, which allowed the practice of Judaism. In 1497, however, Portugal also expelled its Jews. King Manuel of Portugal agreed to marry the daughter of Spain’s monarchs. One of the conditions for the marriage was the expulsion of Portugal’s Jewish community. In actuality only eight Jews were exiled from Portugal and the rest converted, under duress, to Christianity.

In the first Sephardi Diaspora, a large number of Jews settled in North Africa and in the Ottoman Empire, especially, Turkey and Greece. Spanish exiles brought with them a unique culture, language (Ladino) and traditions. Many of these immigrants continued to speak Ladino until the 20th century.

A Marrano Diaspora took place a century later. Some Marranos had settled in Portugal and eventually moved to Holland, where they were allowed to outwardly practice Judaism. Many settled in Western Europe and moved to the Americas. Marranos who settled in Latin America continued practicing crypto-Judaism for many years because Spain began an inquisition in its New World colonies. Fear of persecution led Crypto-Jews to settle in remote villages. Today, descendants of crypto-Jews can be found in Colorado and New Mexico.

Exiled Sephardic Communities


Large Sephardic communities were founded in Venice, Leghorn, London, Bordeaux, Bayonne and Hamburg. These immigrants spoke Portugese and Spanish and many adapted mainstream Western European culture. Successful business enterprises were started by the Sephardim and their trade networks became famous worldwide.

Throughout the medieval period in Europe, the Sephardic Jews were treated as elites among Jews. Many times they had a secular education and often had great wealth. In the 18th century, the Sephardic Jews who lived in Amsterdam and in London, tended to discriminate against non-Sephardic Jews who wanted to pray at their synagogues by forcing them to sit separately from the rest of the congregation.

North Africa and the Arab World

For hundreds of years, Sephardic Jews lived, as dhimmis, in relative peace with Muslim neighbors and rulers in North Africa and in the Ottoman Empire. They were considered second-class citizens, but were free to practice their own religion and participate in commerce. Similar to Spain and Portugal during the Golden Era, the Sephardic upper class in the Ottoman empire were employed as translators.

The Sephardic communities in the Arab world were more receptive to modernity than their Ashkenazi counterparts in Europe. The Zionist movement became popular among Sephardic Jews in North Africa. Many Sephardic rabbis in the Ottoman Empire supported Zionism and the Zionist movement spread to many Muslim countries in North Africa, such as in Egypt and Tunisia.

Of the many moral inventions by Europe, seven stand out quite prominently – the Crusades, Inquisition, Witch Trials (35,184–63,850 executions), Colonialism, Atlantic Slave Trade (12,521,336 slaves), Apartheid and the Holocaust. Each one of these institutions was inspired, abetted, initiated, sponsored and maintained by state and the church. These atrocities were part of public policy. Of note is that the only non-signatories of the Crime of Apartheid (1973) are mostly European white nations spread across the globe, including Israel, besides a few kingdoms.

Spencer seems to have clearly forgotten the all too familiar term “Holocaust” whose inventor is none but Modern European History and whose victims were none but Jews that are now his fellow experts in this documentary. Should we say that both Christians and Jews have short memories?

Let’s not forget that contrary to allegations of Spencer, factually it were the Mosques and Muslims which got destroyed and eliminated in Europe during the same time period for which he can only falsely allege that “house of worship of Jews and Christians were neither to be built or repaired”:

The colony [Lucera – “Lugêrah”, as she was known in Arabic] thrived for 75 years until it was sacked in 1300 by Christian forces under the command of Charles II of Naples. The city’s Muslim inhabitants were exiled or sold into slavery, with many finding asylum in Albania across the Adriatic Sea. Their abandoned mosques were demolished, and churches were usually built in their place, including the cathedral S. Maria della Vittoria [Wikipedia].

Note: [text enclosed in square brackets above is not part of the original quoted sources. Some of the comments are excerpted quotes from the footnotes of “English Translation of the Holy Quran with Explanatory Notes” – Muhammad Ali, ed. Zahid Aziz]

The Universal Declaration of Human Right – United Nations
New International Version – Bible Gateway
India in Balance – British Rule and the Caliphate by Khwaja Kamal-ud-din
Map of Muslim Population in Europe – European Heritage Library
CHARTER TO CHRISTIANS by Muhammad, Jihad In Islam by Muhammad Yaqub Khan, The Muslim Revival, Vol V, No. 2, June 1936
The Decree of Aurangzeb – Islamic Review, April-May 1925
Sephardim by Rebecca Weiner (Jewish Virtual Library)
Crusades – Wikipedia
Inquisition – Wikipedia
Witch Trials – Wikipedia
Colonialism – Wikipedia
Atlantic Slave Trade – Wikipedia
Estimates of Slaves – Voyages – Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Estimates
Apartheid – Wikipedia
Holocaust – Wikipedia
Crime of Apartheid – Wikipedia
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Zahid Aziz

One Response to “Issue 72”

  1. When Spencer alleges in 72c “Forbidding them [Jews and Christians] to hold authority over Muslims, forbidding them to hold certain jobs,” he mistook Islam for Christianity and misidentified Muslims for Christians. What he is alleging is factually historical account of Christians decreeing such against the Jews:
    In 535 – The church of Synod of Claremont decreed that Jews could not hold public office or have authority over Christians.”
    In 1078 – Pope Gregory VII decreed that Jews could not hold office or be superiors to Christians. In 1081 Alfonso VI of Toledo, Spain, was reprimanded by the Pope for appointing Jews to offices of the state. Jews had to pay extra taxes to support the church.
    [A Short Review of Troubled History – by Fritz Voll]