Thursday, September 27, 2007


This Day in the History of Muslim Religious Toleration

On this day in 1009, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (the traditional site of Jesus' Crucifixion, and one of the holiest sites in the Christian world) was destroyed by Caliph al-Hakim. It took a while, but angry Christians from Europe came and tried to create a more tolerant kingdom around Jerusalem, and partially succeeded for a while after initial excesses. The Israelis, thank God, have the duty now and the area, holy to three religions, couldn't be in more competent hands.

Plenty of people put the date of the destruction as October 17. Could have been. Oh, and it's been rebuilt.


Toleration was not a salient feature of medieval Christianity. It only started to become more common after the 30-years war.

Tolerance (note: not equal treatment) was a feature of medieval Islam. This might have been less true in the Levant than it was elsewhere in the Islamic world (I don't know enough to comment.)

Certainly, the Islamic governments of Sicily, Islamic Spain, and the rest of the Fertile Crescent were far more tolerant of other religions than were England, France, the Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire to you and me), the Holy Roman Empire, and the rest of the Christian world.

It's really remarkable how much these positions have reversed over the last millennium.

I think "more tolerant" is correct. The practice of Dhimmi granted tolerance to Jews, Christians, and other "People of the Book," howver, Jews and Christians were also taxed at exhorbitant rates that caused some to convert to Islam.
I agree with what you all write but I was talking specifically about 11th Century Holy Land, where the Muslims were in many ways 'better' than the Christians back home in Europe but still brought the Crusades on themselves.
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