The Inside Assyria Discussion Forum #5

=> From Will Durant On Muslim/Christian interaction

From Will Durant On Muslim/Christian interaction
Posted by pancho (Guest) - Wednesday, December 5 2007, 21:37:04 (CET)
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The following quotes are taken from Dr Will Durant’s Volume 3, titled “The Age of Faith”…part of an eleven volume set called, “The Story of Civilization”. Dr Durant is a well known and highly respected historian who, together with his wife, Ariel, spent over 40 years researching, traveling and writing their books, which have been read by millions of people the world over. Volume 10, “Rousseau and Revolution” won the Pulitzer Prize. No historian has written so extensively on such a wide field and in such depth as Dr. Durant. If he were one us we’d feel comfortable calling him a “stupid lying traitor”, which tells you how much “pride” we really have. But since he’s a white man, we’ll just refuse to read him.

I’ve broken the quotes down by categories, the first:

Muslim Treatment of Christians:

a.Ch. 11, p. 218

As in most religions, the various sects of Islam felt towards on another an animosity more intense than that with which they viewed the “infidels” in their midst. To these “Dhimmi”: Christians, Zoroastrians, Sabeans, Jews, the Umayyad caliphate offered a degree of toleration hardly equaled in contemporary Christian lands. They were allowed the free practice of their faiths, and the retention of their churches, on condition that they wear a distinctive honey-colored dress, and pay a poll tax of from one to four dinars per year according to their income. This tax only fell on non-Moslems capable of military service, it was not levied upon monks, women, adolescents, slaves, the old, cripples, blind, or very poor.

b.Ch 11, p. 224

When the Arabs conquered Syria they were still half-barbarous tribes, recklessly brave, violent, sensual, passionate, superstitious, and skeptical. Islam softened some of these qualities, but most of them survived. Probably the cruelties recorded of the caliphs were no worse in total than those of contemporary Christian kings, Byzantine, Merovingian, Norse; but they were a disgrace to any civilization.

…normally the Moslem was the soul of courtesy, humanity and tolerance.

c.Ch 11, p. 239-40

The caliphs realized the backwardness of the Arabs in science and philosophy, and the wealth of Greek culture surviving in Syria. The Umayyads wisely left unhindered the Christian, Sabaean, or Persian colleges at Alexandria, Beirut, Antioch, Harran, Nisibis, and Jund-i-Shapur; and in those schools the classics of Greek science and philosophy were preserved, often in Syriac translations. Moslems learning Syriac or Greek were intrigued by these treatises;and soon translations were made into Arabic by Nestorian Christians or Jews.

d.Ch 13, p. 299-300

Christian males, like all males, were subject to compulsory circumcision as a measure of national hygiene; otherwise they were ruled by their own Visigothic-Roman law, administered by magistrates of their own choosing. In return for exemption from military service, free and able Christian males paid a land tax, normally forty-eight dirhems per year for the rich, twenty-four for the middle class, twelve for manual workers. Christians and Moslems intermarried freely; now and then they joined in celebrating a Christian or Moslem holyday, or used the same building as church and mosque…Clerics and laymen from Christian Europe came in safety and freedom to Cordova, Toledo, or Seville as students, visitors, or travelers. One Christian complained of the results in terms that recall ancient Hebrew criticism of Hellenizing Jews:

´My fellow Christians delight in the poems and romances of the Arabs; they study the works of Mohammedan theologians and philosophers, not to refute them, but to acquire a correct and elegant Arabic style…Alas! The young Christians who are most conspicuous for their talent have no knowledge of any literature or language save the Arabic; they read and study with avidity Arabic books; they amass whole libraries of them at great cost; they everywhere sing the praises of Arabic lore´.


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