The vicious attacks on two Jewish synagogues in Istanbul displayed equal measures of intolerance and inhumanity. But above all, they demonstrated an amazing degree of sheer callousness and irrationality. With one stroke, the perpetrators of this monstrous crime have lost any sympathy for their cause that might have existed in Turkey.
What did Al Qaeda hope to achieve by killing Jews living peacefully in a Muslim country? In the event, the attacks have given Israel and the West a further excuse to brand Muslims anti- Semites although we have always claimed that historically, Jews were far better treated by Muslims than they were by Christians. The Ottomans were particularly welcoming to them and at one point, there were 400,000 Jews living in their empire (which included Palestine).
Jews, driven out of Spain by the Inquisition in the 15th century, were welcomed in the Ottoman Empire. In his book 'Constantinople', Philip Mansel quotes a rabbi in Turkey writing to his brethren in Europe where they were facing increasing persecution after 1453:
"Here in the land of the Turks we have nothing to complain of. We possess great fortunes; much gold and silver are in our hands. We are not oppressed by heavy taxes and our commerce is free and unhindered. Rich are the fruits of the earth. Everything is cheap and each one of us lives in freedom. Here a Jew is not compelled to wear a yellow star as a badge of shame as is the case in Germany where even wealth and great fortune is a curse for a Jew because he therewith arouses jealousy among the Christians and they devise all kinds of slander against him to rob him of his gold. Arise my brethren, gird up your loins, collect up your forces and come to us."
Pushed out by an intolerant Church in much of Europe, Jews began playing an increasingly important role in the Ottoman Empire. Several districts in Istanbul were identified with them and their synagogues were focal points in their daily lives. Retaining an archaic form of Spanish as the language they use among themselves to this day, Jews are thoroughly integrated into Istanbul society. Although there are only 27,000 left in the city, they are active and successful in business and professions. Over the years, I have met several of them in Istanbul and they were indistinguishable from other Turks; indeed, I had no idea they were Jewish until my friends told me later.
As an example of the close relationship between Jews and Muslims in Istanbul, Mansel informs us that in one ancient market built during the days of Suleiman the Magnificent, a synagogue and a mosque shared the first floor. They both exist side by side to this day. According to the author, the Jews used their commercial skills to marginalize the well-entrenched Italian community by the 16th century. Mansel quotes a French diplomat from the period writing enviously:
"They [Jews] now have in their hands the most and greatest traffic of merchandise and ready money that is conducted in all the Levant. The shops and stalls stocked with all the varieties of goods which can be found in Constantinople are those of the Jews.
They have also among them very excellent practitioners of all the arts and manufactures, specially the Marranos [Jews] not long since banished and expelled from Spain and Portugal who to the great detriment and injury of Christianity have taught the Turks several inventions, artifices and machines of war such as how to make artillery, arquebuses [ancient muskets], gunpowder, cannon-balls and other arms."
So clearly, the Jewish community was very useful to the Ottomans and were considered equal citizens in a vast empire that drew Janissaries from Sweden, slaves from Africa and traders and artisans from much of the known world. One reason for the empire's longevity was that most of the Sultans were tolerant rulers who realized the value of a multi-cultural society long before it became a buzz-word in the West.
From this model to the growing intolerance that threatens world peace today is a long and tragic fall. Karachi had a synagogue and a small Jewish community until the Fifties and I remember having a couple of local Jewish kids with me in school. Now for a large number of Muslims around the world, a Jew is a caricature figure to be hated and reviled, regardless of whether he supports Israel or not. It is important to remember that many of them in the West firmly oppose the extremist policies being followed by Sharon and his ilk, as do many Israelis.
We have demonized Jews to such an extent that we equate them all with extremist right-wing settlers. While most Jews supported the creation of Israel, many of them do not approve of retaining the territories occupied after the 1967 war, and accept the right of the Palestinians to their own state.
In our righteous anger over the creation of a state perceived as a western outpost in Palestine, we forget that specially after the horrors they suffered under Nazi Germany, the Jews were desperate for a homeland. Now, whatever the rights and wrongs of the UN resolution that brought it into being, Jews will defend Israel's right to exist tooth and nail.
By attacking and desecrating Jewish synagogues and graves in different parts of the world, Muslims are increasingly identifying themselves with right-wing extremist groups that feed on hatred of all things non-white and non-Christian. In a statement issued after the Istanbul attacks, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Los Angeles based Simon Wisenthal Centre was moved to say: "They want to cleanse Europe of Jews so that it will be all open territory for the fundamentalist Islam groups..." He went on to charge that the goal of Islamic fundamentalists echoes "the policy advocated by the Nazis during World War II".
Although these charges are farfetched, they reflect the fear and anger among the Jews and resonate in a West sympathetic to them for a variety of reasons ranging from cultural affinity to the collective guilt surrounding the Holocaust.
The attacks on the Istanbul synagogue have only alienated Muslim Turkey and the Christian West. Worse, they have further tarnished the image of Islam. All peace-loving people should firmly condemn the killers and their methods.
john norman is zionist troll, he's only following the dictates of the talmud, that great tome of jewish supremascisy.
Speaking of holocausts, so people like you John keep on reminding everyone that 6 million jews died in the holocaust, well what about the more than 20 million Muslims that were slaughtered by Stalin? Why don't you defend this holocaust? What is your agenda, come out and say it please, I'd like to know what you truly believe and if you are favouring one group over the other...can't you see we're all human? It's pretty sad but I don't think you see that....sad for you, b/c if you don't you'll just be left behind.
Finally, al-qaeeda is a USA made phenomena which may not even exists in reality! But unfortunately it seems to me that pentagon and its allies comes up with insulting confusing words and we in the muslim world just assume that its right. I would be glad if the author can think ohters too behind this terrible horrendous crime while al-qaeeda may too be a suspect.
secondly,how does a country that openly practises secularism be termed muslim; how muslim is a land that by law prohibits the hijab ? where is the much touted secularist freedom of choice in religion that turkey extends to the non muslim but not the muslim.
thirdly, how come "muslim" turkey receives such approval from israel that they sell their best arms to the turk.. muslim turkey has long had her turkey cooked, stewed braised n roasted.
quran refers to the jews as even though being closest in religion to the muslim , nevertheless their inveterate enemy for all time.
let the jews prove us muslims wrong; let them prove they are better in friendship than the christian.
its true that judaism, flourished under muslim rule for 1400 yaers; we can see despite this heritage of good relations, how islam flourishes in israel today. go to israel today ; see for yourself.
The article provides an excellent overview of how well Jews, Christians and other ahl-dhimma where treated during the Ottoman Caliphate.Indeed the attacks in Istanbul must be condemned, not only are they wrong from an Islamic viewpoint but they also give ammunition to the enemies of Islam who say that all Muslims are anti-semites.
However I disagree with the author's view on the creation of the Zionist state, as Muslims we must take care to differentiate between Zionists and Jews that live(ed) amongst the Muslims peacfully.The Zionist state was not created due to the persecution the Jews suffered during WWII but due to an orchestrated scheme stretching back to the end of the 19th century by individuals such as Theodr Herzl and Chaim Weizmann the former was an agnostic and despised traditional Jewish religion.We should also not forget that the creation of this entity led to the death and expulsion of thousaunds of Muslim and Christian inhabitants of Palestine.Indeed it is due to the existence of this state that the feelings of hatred against Jews in general have increased in the Middle East over the past 50 years since its illegal creation, when before under the rule of Islam, Jews, Christians and Muslims had lived in peace.
Although I agree with the jist of the author's message and feel that he did an honest job trying to portray a general Muslim disillusionment with the Judaic people, I beg to disagree with the above mentioned statment. Whose the "we" the author is trying to portray? He's guilty of the same generalization when he accuses Muslims of demonizing Jews. I don't demonize Jews so why should I be apologetic to them? I believe I'm capable enough in differentiating between the peace loving Jews with the right-wing, neoconservative, ultra-orthodox, pro-Israeli Jews. In all due respect, from the message boards to the chat rooms on the internet, I belive it is the latter that is more guilty of intolearance than the Muslims. Yes, Muslims might hold antipathy and anger towards the people with who they perceive as stealing their land; but generally they are well-informed capable people who recognize that Zionism is the problem and not Judaism.
So, they were tolerant, multi-cultural *slave owners*? Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't this paragraph a paradox? Or don't the slaves count because they were from Africa? Is that why the Ottomans can be multi-cultural and tolerant and still have slaves? Because Africans don't count?
Please help. I find this very confusing and distressing.
I have objected to your idea, but I haven't critcized you personally. Please provide the logic behind your reasoning, maybe there's something here that I fail to see.
just because the europeans treated the jews with genocidal rage, doesn't mean the ottomans treated them well. janissaries, jizya, second-class citizens. during the ottoman reign, the most hideous and restrictive form of dhimmitude was unleashed against the non-muslim population, including the jews (despite some jews being exempt). just because europe was genocidal at the time, doesn't mean the ottomans were nice. far from it!
Terrorism is unlawful in Islam andment thus unacceptable no matter the grievance. Also our treatment of Jews must be in light of Qur'an and Sunnah not on emotional and ignorance.
That said, Muslims must be careful in the way we put our thoughts. For example is Al Qaeda or Some Muslims behind the Turkish bombing? The question is needed because the enemies of Islam are capable of quite a lot. So before we pass judgement on the culprit we must do our own investigation and not accept other peoples judgement as the Qur'an exhorts us.
The actions of some Muslims must not be equated to the action of all Muslims. And also these unIslamic actions cannot tarnish the Image of Islam, except in the eye of the ignorant. For what a Muslim or some Muslims do are not necessarily Islamic unless such action can be found in the Sources of the religion. So as in every case, Islam must be judged by its content not in the action of followers who are not perfect.
It is does not correct or helpful when Muslims themselves make statements that indicate these wrong ways of thinking. We must understand how to talk about our religion if we are to propagate its teaching properly.
Muslims must not compete with Christians as to how to treat others but must treat people according to the teaching of our deen.
There is truth in the fact that some Muslims treat Jews based on emotions rather than by the dictates of our religion. Those who do this will definately fall foul in the eye of ALLAH, as in Islam the end does not justify the means.
On the issue of Jews defending Israel till the end, there is no question that if usurpers are going to defend what is not rightfully theirs, the rigthful owners will do likewise. No matter what, injustice cannot be condoned, Jews can have their rights, but must equally give others theirs.
Everyone muslim should come forward and condemn this act of barbarity done in the name of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood, always has been and always will be. This is a message that we have to get forth to all who live around us. I think we muslims living in the west have a greater responsibility in that regard and should take it upon ourselves to let our fellow human beings know that these acts of violence have no place in Islam. We have to be more proactie. There is no other way to counter the hatred and bigotry being thrown around.
To Ismail Behishti , If Jews are our enemy then I am a traitor to the Moslims for I have dear freinds who are of the Jewish faith in the U.S
The Qura'n never stated that the Jews are the enemny, but it did state that Shaytan is the enemy. To me the Qura'an is true and everything else could be possibly false, even if it was displayed as facts.
If the west yells us, we return the yell with a smile, after all a better man is one who fights ignorance by asking God to give hidaya to the ignorant, and how could one ask for Hidaya if he doesnot have love for the one who needs it? learn to love mankind for he is part of you, for we were all are one single nafs before coming to earth.
I asked Allah for forgiveness.
Muslims should also pray for the families American soldiers who are dying everyday in Iraq.
It does not matter if Chritians or Jews derive great pleasure when they kill or oppress Muslims. Many of them do and many don't. The same can said of Muslims.
Al-Qaida or whoever is kililng innocent Jews must be punished by Islamic Court b/c they are not following the Quran.
Although the American gov't, the Zionists and their Westernized Middle Eastern proxies are the root of all the current deaths and destruction...Be patient, proactive, and have trust in Allah. HE is enough for solving all problems. Just act according to his Rx.
I am proud of what Islam stands for. But I am saddened by the present day Muslim standing in the world.
Eid-ul-Fitr is on Monday in Libya, Tuesday in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon, and probably Wednesday in Pakistan.
This is an OUTRAGE, an ABSOLUTE disgrace! when we cannot simply celebrate on the same day.
How do you propose to unite against the unjust West if you cannot agree on a simple event.
I am ashamed.
Muslims were right in providing haven for Jews from Spain, but a Monday-moring quarterbacking would clearly show where the knife stuck in the back of Islam came from. It is no secret that most of the senior operatives in Kemal Pasha's cabal of "Young Turks" that set Turkey against Islam were Jews. Could there be a more perverse obscenity than the fact that after United States, Turkey is the closest ally of Israel. Could there be an outrage greater than the fact that in the land of Caliphate, it is a crime to follow the Islamic dress code.
Having said that, we as Muslims cannot cherrypick and choose to follow some edicts and ignore others. We should refer to the ayat in Quran that says that, " killing an innocent person is like killing the whole humanity and saving an innocent life is like saving the whole humanity." No matter how uphill our struggle is, we can not allow ourselves to veer from the path of Quran. If our struggle is right, which it definitely is, the victory will come through following the path of Allah and Quran not by showing a contempt for them.
Given the west's propensity to start word wars, ethnically cleanse multiple continents and economically enslave anyone unable to resist them I do not think this threat should be taken lightly. Therefore, what are we, and by that, I mean humanity in todo, to do. You can stick your head in the sand and wait for it to come about but you should remember that while the meek may inherent the earth with the west's preference for mini nukes, depleted uranium weapons, land minds and other weapons of lingering destruction, it's ability to sustain them should be given a low probability assessment.
A direct assault on them is a fool's game of treating the symptom instead of the disease. Before you can fight the lesser jihad, you must win the greater jihad. But I am afraid that a time table is being set in which no one will have time to survive unless this trend is checked. Create the objections to this trial balloon.
The life you save may be your own.
Jews were not equal citizens (neither were Christians, for that matter) with Muslims. They suffered discriminatory treatment, massacres, expulsions, and so on. It is a pity that it is virtually impossible to find a Muslim to offer an apology for this treatment.