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Book Review: ‘Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions’

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Author: Maher Abu-Munshar

Reviewed by: Rabia Mir (Canada)

About the author: Dr Maher Abu-Munshar is Assistant Professor in Qatar University.  He completed his PhD in 2003 (Dundee, UK) and won in 2005 the Islamic Jerusalem Studies prize for young scholars from the Islamic Research Academy [ISRA] in UK. In 2008 he was awarded Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education in Dundee, UK.  Prior to joining Qatar University, Dr Abu-Munshar was a Visiting Senior Lecturer to the Department of Islamic History and Civilization at the University of Malaya, Malaysia and before that he was a lecturer at the Al-Maktoum Institute at the University of Aberdeen (UK) where he worked since 2003.

His teaching and research expertise lies in the areas of Islamic history, with a special interest in Islamic Jerusalem history, history of Muslim – Christian Relations and the Crusaders. He is the author of Islamic Jerusalem and Its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions (IB Tauris, 2007) as well as many articles on different aspects of Islamic history, Christian-Muslim Relations and the study of Islam and Muslims. The most recent articles are: Fatimids, Crusaders and the fall of Islamic Jerusalem, Foes or Allies? In Al-Masaq: Islam & the Medieval Mediterranean Journal (Routledge) April 2010 and the Compatibility of Islam with Pluralism: Two Historical Precedents. Journal of Islam and Civilisational Renewal (Pluto Journals) July 2010.  Additionally, as a major mark of recognition of his scholarly work he was elected as a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) in May 2008 and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK) in April 2009.

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The holiest shrine in Christianity: The Church of Holy Sepulchre -- Caliph Umar preserved it in the seventh century!

History saw 9/11 as that splash of colour upon its canvas which altered every other colour there was, redefining the very image upon the canvas.  But perhaps the most profound change that 9/11 produced was one of perspective.  Perspectives on Islam became abundant.  What was once a faith that was indeed generally condemned but simultaneously ignored became the most provocative punching bag phenomenon.  But once the shock of 9/11 passed, and the fervor of justice and vengeance died down, what came to light was an incredible introspection into the heart of Islam–into the heart of Islam and its relationship with the West.

There were many books written about Islam before 9/11 and perhaps even more since:  How Islam is a source of fear and affliction; how it oppresses its followers into a self-crushing submission.  There have been many books written about Islam and its relationship to the West.  How it subdues its opponents with treachery and terror; how it treats non-believers with contempt and cruelty.  While all these topics are often discussed by Western authors (some steadfastly deriding and insulting while others standing strong for reason, cohesion and peace and reconciliation) these subjects have not been, even after 9/11, dissected by Muslim authors in an academic fashion.  Most Muslims respond to such accusations in a defensive manner, often effacing their dignity in a struggle to justify their beliefs to Western critics or becoming childishly and uselessly engaged in an offensive against the West, striving to expose it as a weak and hypocritical judge of Islam.  But Maher Y. Abu-Manshar follows neither of these two paths in his book Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions.  He addresses Islam’s historical relationship with the West in an entirely academic fashion, as a student of the Islamic Jerusalem studies:

“This specialized field of study developed when Professor Abd al-Fattah El-Awaisi, from his work in the United Kingdom, became painfully aware of the lack of serious academic research on Jerusalem from an Arab and Muslim point of view, since most research has been undertaken by orientalists, western or Israeli writers. Hence, the history of the region under Muslim rule has been subject to much alteration and distortion.  Although there is a vast literature by Arab and Muslim writers dealing with the issue of Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular, the majority of these studies are of poor quality, as they address the subject either emotionally or politically. Those that do take an academic approach discuss only contemporary Jerusalem, as a city with east and west parts. As indicated, a central difference between Islamicjerusalem studies and Jerusalem studies is that the former does not confine itself to Jerusalem as a city, but considers it as a region, as El-Awaisi explains:

‘Islamicjerusalem studies can be fairly eventually characterized and defined as a new branch of human knowledge based on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches. It aims to investigate all matters related to the Islamic jerusalem region, explore and examine its various aspects, and to provide a critical analytic understanding of the new frame of reference; in order to identify the nature of Islamic Jerusalem and to understand the uniqueness of this region and its effects on the rest of the world in both historical and contemporary context.’”[i]

This academic framework is the foundation upon which Abu-Manshar lays out his analysis of historical Muslim-Christian relations.  He begins with a study of Islamic Jurisprudence and then goes on to study the practice of this Jurisprudence in the persons of the Second Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab and the Sultan Salah al-Din.  The author is careful to lay out the actual teachings of Islam and to place the behaviours of both the Second Caliph and the Sultan in the context of these teachings rather than basing their conduct on personality alone.  He does this for the purpose of distinguishing Islam as separate from its followers.  His purpose being to establish that those rulers who mistreated minorities did so arbitrarily, not upon the basis of Islamic teachings but upon the basis of their own political gains and/or personal shortcomings.  The Fatamid Dynasty is a case in example.[ii]  The author goes on to state that most Western scholars fail to highlight this distinction between behaviour and Book.[iii]  Thus, for the purpose of clarity and so as to emphasize the element of tolerance in Islam whose practitioners are not always in sync with its teachings, Abu-Manshar focuses first and foremost on Islamic Jurisprudence and thus lays out the foundation of Islamic conduct.

This paper will provide a summary of Manshar’s work.  It will then go on to investigate the misconceptions surrounding Islam, rooting their emergence in the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem.  The purpose of such misconceptions will be discussed in light of the anthropological understanding of identity and Edward Said’s understanding of East West relations.

Islamic Jurisprudence

Islamic jurisprudence is derived from the Quran, Sunnah, analogy and consensus.  Quran and Sunnah are the only primary sources and Quran supersedes Sunnah.  But should Quran and Sunnah offer limited insight into or remain silent upon a specific matter, scholarly opinion comes into play.  Scholars use their knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah and with this knowledge, if necessary, build an analogy and apply it to the matter at hand and then arriving upon a consensus as to what Islamic Law should entail for that specific matter.  Their purpose is to retain the spirit of Islamic teachings and its objectives in resolving the matter.[iv]

Islamic jurisprudence, in relation to dealings with non-Muslims is characterized by many Quranic principles.  But in the case of Christians particularly, the most relevant Quranic injunctions are those that relate to “People of the Book.”[v]

People of the Book

People of the Book are Christians and Jews—those to whom Divine scriptures have been sent.  Abu-Munshar states that the Quran urges Muslims to behave especially well towards the People of the Book from amongst non-believing people and to engage in discussion with them in a becoming manner.  He also cites the fact that Muslims are permitted as lawful that which the People of the Book eat and that Muslims are also permitted to marry People of the Book.[vi]

But the people of the Book are not alone in receiving honor and respect.  Non-Muslims who do nott qualify as People of the Book are also to be treated with dignity, respect and honor.  The four major foundational elements that should characterize relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims according to the Quran are:[vii]

1. Human Brotherhood

2. Religious Tolerance

3. Justice and fair treatment

4. Loyalty and Alliance

Human Brotherhood

Islam insists upon the equality of all peoples.  That God has created each and every nation, tribe and person and all are equal in the sight of God and that there is no discrimination between any of them, save in righteousness.  The Islamic principle of social justice stems primarily from this recognition of universal brotherhood.  Each person is entitled to peace, prosperity, and security, because their origin is the same, i.e. God.  Thus, Islam honors all of humanity, and emphasizes distinction only in deeds.[viii]

Religious Tolerance

A religion that permits and indeed encourages religious plurality cannot condone intolerance and indeed Islam does not.  Islamic doctrine insists that faith is a “voluntary act born out of conviction and freedom” and that “embracing moral beliefs and practical conduct, cannot be imposed by force.”[ix]

Justice and Fair Treatment

“The fundamental Qur’anic verses that determine the nature of Muslim treatment of non-Muslims are the following:

God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for [your] Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For God loves those who are just. God only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for [your] faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support [others] in driving you out, from turning to them [for friendship and protection]. It is such as turn to them [in these circumstances] that do wrong.   (Quran 60:08)

Set out here are very important injunctions determining the attitude of Muslims to non-Muslims. They are obviously not prevented from establishing good relationships with non-Muslims. On the contrary, the Muslim treatment of non-Muslims should be based on principles of good relationship and justice, especially towards those who have peaceful intentions towards Muslims. More specifically, Muslims are asked to deal with non-Muslims kindly and justly, unless the latter are out to destroy Muslims and their faith.”[x]

“To sum up, the general rule for the treatment of non-Muslims by Muslims is very clearly spelled out and leads to two important observations. First, the basis of this treatment should be justice and kindness, that is, peaceful coexistence. It is also obvious that deviation from the basic rule of friendship and peaceful coexistence can be justified only in certain exceptional situations. These include, for example, when people fight Muslims because of their faith, or try to destroy the Muslim religious identity. This exception is logical, based as it is on the concept of self-preservation. The other exception given in the verse is when Muslims are driven from their homes, when violence and hostility are used against them, or when support is given to others to force Muslims from their homes. Muslims cannot persecute non-Muslims, take away their rights or otherwise damage them simply because they are non- Muslims.”[xi]

Justice applies equally to everyone.  Quranic injunction is clearly in favour of principle of justice above all other things.  Even when justice imposes hardship or loss upon one’s kin, it must be observed.  This emphasis on justice over personal bonds applies to groups as well.  Muslims are warned not to hold religious solidarity above principles of justice.[xii]

Loyalty and Alliance

Abu-Munshar tackles herein the misconceptions surrounding the Quranic verse wherein Muslims are forbidden from forming alliances with non-Muslims.  “A contemporary Sudanese scholar considers that these verses should have been seen as providing the necessary psychological support for the survival and cohesion of a vulnerable community of Muslims in a hostile environment. However, it should be borne in mind that the warning against taking Jewish or Christian allies is not general in application and does not include every individual Christian or Jew. If it were so inclusive, it would contradict other verses and instructions in the Qur’an that permit kindness to those who are decent, have good relations with Muslims and cause them no harm.”[xiii]

Dhimmi and Jizya

Abu-Munshar then goes on to clarify misconceptions surrounding the concepts of dhimmi and jizyah

“To regulate the attitude and the way that Muslims should treat non-Muslims, Islam introduced the dhimma pact and the jizyah tax. The term dhimma literally means pledge and guarantee. It was the contract for protection that was made with Christians,

Jews and others when they agreed to live within the Muslim state and to pay jizyah. Muhammad al-Buti, a leading contemporary Syrian jurist, argues that the dhimma pact was a contract that could be no more than a bay‘ah (a pledge of allegiance to obey the rules of the state and pursue its public interest), which took place between

the head of the state and all citizens. Therefore no one, Muslim or non-Muslim, could be excluded from this bay‘ah because they were citizens, Muslims however were obliged to obey this bay‘ah as a religious duty, whereas for non-Muslims it was a fulfilment of their pact or agreement with Muslims that secured their own protection.”[xiv]

And “dhimmis were granted full rights including protection of their lives and property and Muslims nor the [Islamic] state were to prohibit them from their practices such as eating pork and drinking wine as long as neither was done in public.  Essentially, personal laws were not to be interfered with by the Muslim state.”[xv]

Guidelines from the Sunnah

“The Sunnah sets out clear guidelines for the treatment of non-Muslims. In the constitution of Madinah, which reveals the high level of organization achieved by the Prophet, the Jews in that city were guaranteed rights as citizens of the Muslim state. The constitution placed principles of justice above religious solidarity and affirmed the right to justice irrespective of tribal or religious affiliation. It established a pattern for future relations with non-Muslims within the Muslim state. Religious tolerance, noninterference

in the religious affairs of a non-Muslim group and freedom of religion for all citizens are an essential part of this.  Similarly, the Prophet’s treaties with various non-Muslim kings

and chiefs became an example for Muslim leaders in their dealings with dhimmis. These agreements demonstrated the Prophet’s practical application of the concepts of tolerance and religious freedom. Under a dhimma pact, the non-Muslim automatically becomes a citizen of the Muslim state, benefits from its protection and shares the basic rights of a Muslim.”[xvi]

Muslim Rulers:  Umar and Salah al-Din

Caliph Umar and Sultan Salah al-Din remain two of the most pivotal political leaders in Islamic history aside from Prophet Muhammad (saw) himself.  They have garnered international attention for their conviction, their struggle and their military strategy.  Unfortunately not all versions of history do justice to their great deeds.  Both the Caliph Umar and Salah al-Din, in their respective times, became rulers of Islamic Jerusalem.  While some Christian authors have dubbed them as cruel leaders who were intolerant of minorities, Abu-Munshar offers an alternative perspective, highlighting both men’s characters as deeply and truly religious and thereby inherently tolerant of minorities and particularly of the People of the Book.

The Caliph Umar

 “When ‘Umar Ibn Khattab conquered the region, Islamic Jerusalem held great significance for the Muslims, not only as the site of the Night Journey and Ascent of the Prophet Muhammad, but as the city of earlier prophets from David (Dawud) to Jesus (Issa). Yet ‘Umar allowed the existing Christian population to remain, to keep their churches and to worship freely despite his disagreement with their religion. He valued

observance of the Islamic requirement of just treatment of the People of the Book more highly than establishing ‘Islamization’ in the newly conquered territory.  Considering the holy nature of Islamic Jerusalem, the Muslims were especially keen to avoid a battle, and the city’s Christian defenders soon realized that they did not stand a chance against

the Muslim armies. This resulted in a peaceful transfer of the city to the Muslims. ‘Umar set out his historic Assurance of Safety, which was, in effect, the first international guarantee of the protection of religious freedom. It was an outstanding example

of the tolerance of Muslims in administering the countries in which they lived alongside the followers of other religions.  ‘Umar was a magnanimous leader. He ensured that the church of the Holy Sepulchre was safeguarded for Christian worship, and despite the subsequent influx of Muslims from Madinah, the city retained a largely Christian character. Finally, the assurance issued by ‘Umar provided a lasting framework for dignified coexistence between Christians and Muslims.”[xvii]

Salah al-Din

“Salah al-Din’s personality, education and background played a substantial role in his policies towards the Christians in Egypt. In addition to being a military leader, he was a well-educated religious man, and this had a bearing on his dealings with the Christians as dhimmis. Initially, Salah al-Din’s treatment of the Christians was harsh, because of Christian participation in conspiracies against him and their links with the Crusaders in Islamic Jerusalem in a plot to overthrow him. Even so, there was no religious connection between Salah al-Din’s policies against the Christians in Egypt and the Crusader kingdom in Jerusalem.  After Salah al-Din had overcome his enemies, he became notably more tolerant to the Egyptian Christians. Before the Crusader occupation the Christians in Islamic Jerusalem were treated as dhimmis, but their rights were fully guaranteed. This refutes the claim of Pope Urban II that armed intervention was needed to rescue the Christians of Islamic Jerusalem and save them from massacre.”[xviii]

“It can be said that Salah al-Din was a model of chivalry. He was generous to his defeated enemies, kind to Crusader women and humane to captured prisoners of high rank. Once he had taken Islamic Jerusalem he opened the city to pilgrims of all faiths. Salah al-Din was also a determined fighter and a good strategist. His attitude towards Christians was vastly different from that of the Crusaders to Muslims. Although he had the power to do so, Salah al-Din did not kill thousands of them when he took Islamic Jerusalem, as the Crusaders had done to Muslims and Jews. His treatment of Christians and non-Muslims in Islamic Jerusalem was characterized by tolerance, respect and generosity.”[xix]

The Source of Misconceptions:  A Matter of Identity Politics

The author is meticulous in his research of the Muslim treatment of Christians in Islamic Jerusalem, and uses the treatment of other minorities to further his point that Islam is a highly tolerant religion.  But the question arises as to why such misconceptions surround Islam and why such stereotypes surround Muslims.  To begin with, it is important to understand the notion of identity.  Anthropologists often cite that element of identity construction wherein to establish one’s own identity, one must acknowledge its opposite.  That is, “I am what I am not.”  Or more accurately, “I am what you are not.”  Defining oneself in opposition to another is, it seems, an intrinsic part of human nature.  But the ramifications of such an identity construct are obvious.  The self becomes better than the other.  This seems to be particularly true of religion.  As Karen Armstrong writes in her book “Holy War,” about religion:  “We are illogical, emotional creatures, clinging to myths that are fundamentally sacred to our identity.”[xx] If these myths are threatened, we react emotionally, irrationally and more oft than not, we seek to discredit the other, the one who threatens our sacred identity myths any way we can.

Examples of such reactions can be found in modernity.  Edward Said in his most influential book “Orientalism” defined orientalism as a system which is based on false assumptions of the East in general and Islam in particular and is in essence, a cultural apparatus the purpose of which is to reinforce and disseminate these false assumptions.  He writes that while the modern system operates within a seemingly secular framework, it is in fact entrenched in a religious one.[xxi]  “The essential aspects of modern Orientalist theory…can be understood…as a set of structures inherited from the past, secularized, redisposed, and reformed…[as] substitutes for (or versions of) Christian Supernaturalism.”[xxii]

So if such false assumptions are based on religion, from where did such misconceptions arise, despite the fact that Muslims allowed Christians freedom of faith and full rights under their rule?  Abu-Manshar does not lay out the reasons behind these misconceptions.  Ultimately, it is for the most part a matter of inference and logic, based on historical events.  The following sections will provide an analysis of what may have occurred that give rise to these misconceptions.

Power

First and foremost it could be the age-old matter of power. Islam’s expansion onto the doorstep of Christian Europe all the while taking over major Christian strongholds in the Middle East was sufficient threat to the Christian’s religious myth of being the chosen people of God.[xxiii]  Whereas Muslims had a place for Christians in their mythological structures, Christians had no such place for Muslims, and naturally it must have run foul with them to have infidels seize power from them.  And not only did these infidels seize power but their religious leaders’ decisions eventually prevailed over those of Christian leadership, which is trouble enough in the matter of power politics, but made more dangerous in the domain of mythic politics i.e. religion.

A Bid against Assimilation

It seems probable that as Islam spread and Muslims became numerous, the Christians clung ever more readily to their faith, as minorities tend to do.  But it became a matter of grave concern when the predominant and ruling faith proved in many ways antithetical to the Christian one.  For one thing, Jesus was only a Prophet in the prevalent Islamic ideology whereas Jesus was a Divinity in Christianity.  Moreover, Muslims believed Mohammad (saw) to be the final and greatest Prophet, seemingly spreading a culture which although respectful of the Christian faith was in no way ideologically subservient to it and to make it worse was politically powerful over it.  This political upper hand of the Muslims probably irritated the Christian clergy which envisioned its own reign over the region and saw themselves as the enlightened ones not only deserving of such tremendous power but also ones who were used to it and had it stripped from them by the oncoming tide of Islamic expansion.    Also, as the Pope began to insist upon celibacy amongst his religious subjects, Islam with its permission of up to four wives proved to be another threat to the powerholders of Christendom as Christians became somewhat enamored with the seemingly easy-going faith of the Muslims.[xxiv] Thus began the spreading of stories about the Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) private life. Ridicule and insult were generated around him and upon the idea of multiple wives so as to suppress any sentiments that gave Islam the upper hand in the psyche of Christendom’s subjects.  It does not require much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that this tactic may well have been applied to many other aspects of the Muslim-Christian relationship and interactions.

The Religious Dimension of Political Insult

Returning to the subject of political subservience, it could not have been a pleasant experience, despite the Islamic rule’s assurances and the rights granted to Christians therein, to have another ideology prevail over one’s own.  The Christian belief that those who believed in and loved Christ as the Son of God would be granted the Kingdom must have been sorely shaken to discover that the Kingdom (albeit in its worldly form of Jerusalem) was to be taken over by infidels.  Even as Christians became the subjects instead of the rulers, their claim to power remained unrelenting and Muslims became that nemesis which dared to take that power from them.   It is conceivable and certainly worthy of argument that as Christians felt threatened, they felt themselves increasingly distant and different from their conquerors.  That is, the identity construct of opposition came into play.  In the minds of Christians, the conquerors took on those qualities that were in every way in contrast to those of the Christians.  Said discussed, in Orientalism, the generalization and homogenization of Eastern cultures in Western literature and education and how this was a deliberate effort and the East came to be the opposite of the West, i.e. as an inverse reflection of the West.[xxv] Now, Said refers to an entire civilization’s hegemonic processes, and refers primarily to relatively recent history.  However, his theory of inverse reflection can also be applied to historical Jerusalem.  As Christians felt slighted for having been conquered and felt that the ideological gap between themselves and their conquerors was too wide to bridge, it is possible that they developed an entire mythological discourse designed to slight the conqueror.  The notions that exist today of mistreatment of minorities at the hands of Muslims among others were likely developed during the time of historical Jerusalem.  And these have served as the building blocks for later historical ideological propaganda.[xxvi]

Righteous Oppression of the Oppressor

Said highlights that the modern orientalist construct was designed to depict the “other,” (in this case Islam) as primitive and backward, a cultural group whose men are lazy and smitten with women who are diminished to sensual beings.[xxvii] What is the purpose of such a construct?  Clearly it is to dehumanize.  To strip the subject of his humanity and render him as one-dimensional grants the narrator (i.e. the West) power over the subject.[xxviii]  Such dehumanization effectively facilitates power over the subject not only in the cultural psyche but upon the battlefield as well if required.  Warfare, whether physical or cultural, against such a group then takes on a much more meaningful and righteous significance.

These seeds of Orientalism most probably took root during the period of the Crusades (if not before that).  Upon taking over Jerusalem, Islam came to play the oppositional role to Christianity in identity politics.  Muslims became all that Christians were not.  And vice versa, and Muslims slowly but surely became the oppressor in the psyche of Christendom, the conquerors and disgracers of the holy land who must be ousted from it.[xxix]

Thus began the dehumanization of the “other.”  Indeed, when Christian and Muslim forces met yet again on the battlefield in the desperate struggle for Jerusalem, following its Islamic rule, no doubt stories of the oppression of minorities at the hands of Muslim rulers provided the Crusaders with an incredible source of motivation for victory and a certainty of conviction in the knowledge of the “other” as the oppressor and the “self” as entitled to the freedom from bondage that must be fought for and is worthy of dying for and killing for.  The oppression of the oppressor took on mythical proportions and gave moral purpose and strength to the oppressed.  Thus, it was important to signify the enemy as an oppressor.

This is not to say that Christians were a devious people who devised stratagems against Muslims without rhyme or reason nor is it to say that Muslims were completely blemish-free in their dealings with minorities.  But what is clear is that Muslims were by faith required to promote tolerance and freedom of religion in their communities, and that this was possible as highlighted in the leadership models of the Caliph Umar and Sultan Salah al-Din.  But what is also apparent is that their subjects were not always willing to be their subjects and having felt the sting of being conquered sought to return that sting in what way they could.

Conclusion

Abu-Munshar takes on the misconceptions surrounding Islamic treatment of minorities by conducting a thorough research of Islamic dogma regarding minority rights and religious freedom.  He also uses the persons of Umar and Salah al-Din as examples to illustrate that Islamic principles can be enacted and do produce justice and prosperity as they did in Islamic Jerusalem. He also acknowledges that there were those Muslim rulers who mistreated religious minorities, but Abu-Munshar underscores that these rulers were acting on personal political gains and not on the Islamic code of conduct.   Although this book is somewhat of a tome on Islamic history and jurisprudence it is a highly productive and detailed read and demonstrates the author’s diligence as every claim is backed by multiple sources and examples.  The only drawback to Abu-Munshar’s work is that it fails to explain why the misconceptions he addresses exist about Islam.  He should have put some effort into identifying the root causes of such misconceptions.    Even so, Abu-Munshar’s work is a useful reference text and is an academic feat as such.  His work was sorely overdue.  In a post-9/11 world where East, West relations have become strained and misconceptions about Islam are being spread whereas simultaneously Islam’s true teachings are also being spread far and wide, it is imperative that historical misconceptions are cleared, realities laid out and the Orientalist mind-set deconstructed, so that those resentments which have been built on the past can be laid to rest as unfounded and a bridge may be built between the faiths.

References

The featured picture is of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


[i] , Maher Y.  Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians:  A History of Tolerance and Tensions.  (New York:  Tauris Academic Studies, 2007), p. 13-14.

[ii] Ibid., p. 19.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid., p. 20.

[vi] Ibid., p. 21.

[vii] Ibid., p. 23.

[viii] Ibid., p. 24

[ix] Ibid., p. 25

[x] Ibid., p. 27.

[xi] Ibid., p. 29.

[xii] Ibid., p. 32.

[xiii] Ibid., p. 34.

[xiv] Ibid., p. 36.

[xv] Ibid., p. 45.

[xvi] Ibid., p. 176-177.

[xvii] Ibid., p. 128.

[xviii] Ibid., p. 153.

[xix] Ibid., p. 184.

[xx] Armstrong, Karen.  Holy War:  The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World.  (New York:  Anchor Books, 2001), p. 536.

[xxi] Said, Edward.  Orientalism.  (New York:  Vintage Books, 1979), p. 121.

[xxii] Ibid., p. 122.

[xxiii] Armstrong, Karen.  Muhammad:  A Biography of the Prophet.  (New York:  Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 1992), p. 11.

[xxiv] Ibid., p. 27.

[xxv] Said, Edward.  Orientalism.  (New York:  Vintage Books, 1979), p. 297.

[xxvi] Ibid., p. 121.

[xxvii] Ibid., p. 204.

[xxviii] Ibid., p. 121.

[xxix] Armstrong, Karen.  Muhammad:  A Biography of the Prophet.  (New York:  Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 1992), p. 25.

Posted by on February 1, 2012. Filed under Book Review,Law,Law and Religion,Separation of Church and State,Sharia,Sharia Law,Sharjah. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to Book Review: ‘Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions’

  1. Zia H. Shah

    February 1, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Islamic tradition and religious pluralism

    By Maher Y. Abu-Munshar

    He wrote in 2009:

    There is a pervasive view in the media today that Islam does not support pluralism. Sadly, we often hear how difficult it is for non-Muslim minorities to live in peace and harmony in Muslim countries. Violent extremists who misuse Islamic theology to justify terrorist attacks have exacerbated prejudices against Muslims and today many people think that Muslims do not believe in pluralism and diversity.

    By contrast, history reveals that Islam — as preached in the Qur’an and exemplified by the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions — actually accepts, celebrates and even encourages diversity.

    It should be noted that the term “minority” has no place in Islamic law.

    It has no place in sharia (a legal system based on Islamic principles) and jurists have never used the term. Rather, it emerged from Western societies, which use it to distinguish between ethnic groups.

    According to Islamic principles, everyone who lives in a Muslim state is entitled to enjoy the same rights of citizenship, despite the differences they may have in their religion or population size.

    In 622 CE, when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina in the Arabian Peninsula and started to build the first Muslim state, he ensured that its Muslim and non-Muslim inhabitants could coexist in harmony. There was a substantial Jewish community in Medina, and the Prophet proposed an agreement of cooperation — between Muslims and the 11 Jewish tribes — called the Constitution of Medina, which Muslim historians and scholars generally accept as the first written state constitution.

    This constitution spelled out Jews’ rights as non-Muslim citizens in the Muslim state. As a result, the Prophet managed to establish a multi-faith political community in Medina based on a set of universal principles. The rules set out in the constitution were meant to maintain peace and cooperation, protect life and property, prevent injustice and ensure freedom of religion and movement for all inhabitants— regardless of tribal or religious affiliation. Allegiance to the community superseded religious identity, as spelled out in the rules for joint defence: “each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document”.

    Read further:

    http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=25934&lan=en&sp=0

  2. Zia H. Shah

    February 1, 2012 at 6:01 am

    The moderate Muslims in Pakistan and Indonesia and the Mullahs

    Articles and books like this should go a long way to serve as an epiphany for the moderate Muslims that how wrong the Mullahs (the religious clerics and the extremists) are, when they mistreat the minority Muslims and non-Muslims in their countries and how by doing that they defame Islam in the Western countries.