Home A 13th Century View of Jewish Life Under Islam
Home A 13th Century View of Jewish Life Under Islam

A 13th Century View of Jewish Life Under Islam

Liberals who seek to rewrite Jewish history and Anti-Zionists of various flavors have one key myth, that Jews were well treated in the Arab world and that it was only the creation of Israel that spoiled this harmonious time.

In fact Jews living in Arab lands, like Jews living in Christian lands; were at times found useful and other times mercilessly and brutally persecuted. So much so that Ibn Ezra saw Mohammed as the 'little horn' of Daniel. One of the piyutim in the recent selichos, Samach Daled, is a flash of reality, particularly to any religious Jews who insist on the mythology of an Arab utopia in which Jews happily dwelt. And it is in some ways shockingly current though it dates back to the 13th century. A few selections follow...

"How can I come to you when those who serve other things will not permit me to serve you
They seek to divide me from you
But I have not forsaken your trust
How have I been exiled and go and wander through every road and district
And those who have made Moloch their king, rule over me

(note here that contrary to those who continually insist that Muslims also worship G-d, Rabbeinu Yitzchak ben Saadia is quite clear on what deity Muslims worship and it's one that involves human sacrifice)

For I have been delivered over to doers of evil and perversion
And they and their children shoot arrows at me
And I am like a sheep to the slaughter

(today it's rocks and bullets)

How broken is the kingship of the kingdom of your treasured people
and the rulership is extended for the rulers of evil people...
I have wept and shed tears from the yoke of Ishmael's children
And they mock me, Come and Hear
And I like a deaf man do not hear

How the Arabs have surrounded us and the sons of Ham cut us off
Who call a prophet a man who never prophesied
They build and assemble their armies and troops
And me, where shall I go?

How have my stars darkened and the planets turned back
And those who serve abominations have befouled my lands...
With all their strength and power they pain and grieve me
But I trust in your kindness and my heart will rejoice

How can the enemies of all that is pure reside in Zion...
And they are rich and princes raised up high...
How came they to dwell in my temples
and made themselves a dwelling there
From the top to the bottom
and from the bottom to the middle

Remember us and recall us with your salvation
from those who worship things that are not you
Hurl them out and swallow them up from your holy dwelling place
And I through your great kindness will at last enter your house"


  1. Anonymous9/10/08

    Sultan Knish

    Do you have any links to the sources quoted in the topic? (along with the english version of Iggert Teman if possible)

    One thing that has really ticked me off is being witnessed to seeing even otherwise Good Rabbi’s blindly stating the “We share the same G-d” line even thou they should know better.

    I mean does the G-d of Israel share any of the follow traits that muslims see allah possessing below?

    Al-Makkar = The Deceiver
    Al-Mutakabir = The Proud One
    Al-Warith = The Inheritor
    Al-Jabbar = The Despot
    Al-Mumit = The Death Giver
    Al-Khafid = The Abaser
    Al-Qahhar = The Subduer
    Al-Mudhell = The Humiliator
    Al-Mu'akhkhir = The Retarder

    I find it ironic that the whole “Islamic golden age” myth took off only because of what some obscure Spanish Rabbi said (from I've read in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism).


  2. there's only one source quoted and it's in selichos, I don't have anything more in depth as far as that goes

    I don't see the iggeret teiman connection but the sefer can be bought in an english translation, I see a wikisource that claims to be an english translation of it or parts of it here


    but i can't even begin to vouch for its accuracy on short notice

  3. As much as it pains me to say it, in Europe, during this generation, all fantasies regarding any similarities between the God of the Jews, and the moon-god of the Muslims will be dissolved.

    Once again (and here we thought such a possibility was beyond imagining - such naiveté) Jews are putting on the mantle of persecution, while the world looks on in indifference.

    Andre Schwarz-Bart's epic tale apparently has a sequel, as yet unwritten. In France, it has already begun. In Russia and the Ukraine, it has already begun. Ditto Belgium, Sweden.

    But the fury of Islam will not be spent entirely on the Jews. There is plenty of hate for all things non-Muslim.

    When the multicultural vipers in government are run out of their holes, then the real battle can begin.

  4. Yes, the god of islam is not the G-d of Israel. There is no likeness in them at all.
    We do not all worship the same god and those who say it is are very deceived.

  5. Where people get decieved is that they claim that because Muslim whorship "one god" that it automatically is the One G-d of Israel.

    Huge mistake.

    The Muslim god is more comparable to the sun god worshiped by the Aztecs, the god they offered the most ghastly human sacrifices to.

  6. Anonymous10/10/08

    On the one hand the Rambam has been quoted as saying that both Christianity and Islam are different paths to belief in one G-d.

    Then he says that Jews are forbidden from talking with muslims (unlike Christians who have the OT) since about the Torah for fear that it would be used against them (since muslims believe that adam was a muslim prophet… before islam even existed, etc).

    And lastly he says that in the event that a Jew is forcibly converted to islam, he can easily return in his faith since islam believes in one G-d, unlike Christianity due to it’s belief in the trinity.

    He can be pretty confusing sometimes.

    IMO I’ve always seen allah as a very fragile national moon god elevated to a mono-god similar to ancient times where if the temple of say dagon was destroyed then that particular deity was destroyed and it’s the same with islam itself.

    It seems that the arabs themselves also believe in committing national and racial deicide.


    “According to an African chief quoted in the report, the singers said: "The blood of the blacks runs like water, we take their goods and we chase them from our area and our cattle will be in their land. The power of [Sudanese president Omer Hassan] al-Bashir belongs to the Arabs and we will kill you until the end, you blacks, we have killed your God."”


  7. when looking at someone like the Rambam who was living or moving between societies where criticizing islam could mean death, there had to be a tricky balancing act involved

    he had to find a way to bring back forcibly converted Jews and because of that the religions they had been forced to convert to had to be defined as non-idolatrous, in doing so the Rambam actually reversed himself but it was the humane thing to do

  8. Anonymous10/10/08

    To what Apology said I have to admit that I did the same mistake before I became a Christian. My idea was that God and Allah are the same. A different religion for different groups of people. What naivete, truly. I knew that Islam has always used the sword. This much they had sense to teach us the difference of the religions in school back in my days. But what it really all meant I figured only out in the last ten years.

    As far as your last article is concerned, I can only point out to Bill Warner's website Political Islam.org and his latest article "Their Ain't No Stinkin' Pirates". It's clear that Bill Warner wrote this last one in utter frustration. This is the way I feel alot of times. My father in-law said that people go to the extreme that if you keep bothering them with e-mails and what have not on that topic they may not want to deal with you anymore because they don't want to be bothered by it. It's just that our survival depends on it. But hey, who cares.

  9. This denial of the reality of Jewish life under Islam is very similar, and equally dangerous, as Holocaust denial. Jewish life under Islam was marked by persecution, humiliation, occasional pogroms and of course forced conversions.


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