Maimonides on Islamic treatment of the Jews

There is a claim that the Jews were much better treated under Islam than under their Christian counterparts. Whilst the ‘Christians’ are far from a model of toleration, the current clamour in certain quarters of Western academia (and obviously by Muslim propagandists) to paint dhimmitude as some benevolent, protective apparatus for religious minorities, must be treated with great scepticism.

Maimonides (1135-1204), wrote to the Jews of Yemen, who were then experiencing severe persecution at the hands of their Muslim rulers. In it, Maimonides describes his assessment of the treatment of the Jews at the hands of Muslims:

… on account of our sins God has cast us into the midst of this people, the nation of Ishmael [that is, Muslims], who persecute us severely, and who devise ways to harm us and to debase us…. No nation has ever done more harm to Israel. None has matched it in debasing and humiliating us. None has been able to reduce us as they have…. We have borne their imposed degradation, their lies, their absurdities, which are beyond human power to bear…. We have done as our sages of blessed memory have instructed us, bearing the lies and absurdities of Ishmael…. In spite of all this, we are not spared from the ferocity of their wickedness and their outbursts at any time. On the contrary, the more we suffer and choose to conciliate them, the more they choose to act belligerently toward us.

Maimonides, “Epistle to the Jews of Yemen”, translated in Stillman, Norman. The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. (1979), pp. 241–242 See also Martin Gilbert’s In Ishmael’s House

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