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    Tolerance in Islam

    An Abridged Version of the 1927 Lecture

    Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall


    Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall was an Englishman, an orientalist, and a Muslim who translated the meaning of the Holy Qur'an. His translation was first published in 1930 and he was supported in this effort by His Highness, the Nizam of Hyderabad (the ruler of Deccan, in the South), India. Pickthall traveled extensively to several Muslim countries, including Syria, Palestine, Turkey, Egypt, Arabia and India. He spent several years in India and had interacted with the Muslims of India.

    The 1920s was a period of great intellectual and political activity for the Muslims, particularly in India and Turkey. It is an interesting coincidence that the two most popular translations of the meaning of the Holy Qur'an into English were published from India or with the support and encouragement of Muslims of India. Pickthall's translation was published in 1930, which was followed by Abdullah Yusuf Ali's in 1934. Yusuf Ali's translation was published in parts as they became available over a period of many years ending in the complete translation and commentary in 1934. Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali was a native of India who later lived in England and Pakistan. As with Yusuf Ali's translation, Pickthall's translation has gone through many reprints and several publishers in the U.K., U.S.A., Pakistan and India.

    Several Muslims of international fame visited India in the 1920s. Muhammad Asad (former Leopold Weiss of Austria) also exchanged views with internationally renowned Muslim poet and philosopher (Sir) Allamah Muhammad Iqbal. As a result of his exchanges with Iqbal and Muslim leaders, Muhammad Asad served as Pakistan's alternative representative in the U.N. Asad wrote two famous books "Islam at the Crossroads" and "Road to Mecca," which became very popular in the West, and translated the meaning of the Qur'an.

    In 1927 Pickthall gave eight lectures on several aspects of Islamic civilization at the invitation of The Committee of "Madras Lectures on Islam" in Madras, India. This was the second in the series, the first one was held in 1925 on "The Life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)." Parts of Pickthall's lectures were made available in India at various times. All of his lectures were published under the title "The Cultural Side of Islam" in 1961 by Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Lahore from a manuscript provided by M.I. Jamal Moinuddin. The book has gone through several reprints since then.

    An abridged version of his fifth lecture on the "Tolerance in Islam" is presented below. His long lecture frequently used quotations from the Holy Qur'an to emphasize many points and to support his analysis and conclusions. The major theme of his lecture is retained here. All of Pickthall's eight lectures draw upon his vast knowledge of Islamic history, the Western religious, political and intellectual history through the ages, and their reasons for rise and fall. The lectures are very enlightening, analytically useful, and of great value even today. The curious reader is encouraged to refer to the book "Cultural Side of Islam (Islamic Culture)," published by Sh. M. Ashraf, Lahore.

    An Abridged Version of Pickthall's Lecture

    In the eyes of history, religious toleration is the highest evidence of culture in a people. It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance and other evidences of the highest culture. Before the coming of Islam, tolerance had never been preached as an essential part of religion.

    One of the commonest charges brought against Islam historically, and as a religion, by Western writers is that it is intolerant. This is turning the tables with a vengeance when one remembers various facts: One remembers that not a Muslim is left alive in Spain or Sicily or Apulia. One remembers that not a Muslim was left alive and not a mosque left standing in Greece after the great rebellion in l821. One remembers how the Muslims of the Balkan peninsula, once the majority, have been systematically reduced with the approval of the whole of Europe, how the Christian under Muslim rule have in recent times been urged on to rebel and massacre the Muslims, and how reprisals by the latter have been condemned as quite uncalled for.

    In Spain under the Umayyads and in Baghdad under the Abbasid Khalifas, Christians and Jews, equally with Muslims, were admitted to the Schools and universities - not only that, but were boarded and lodged in hostels at the cost of the state. When the Moors were driven out of Spain, the Christian conquerors held a terrific persecution of the Jews. Those who were fortunate enough to escape fled, some of them to Morocco and many hundreds to the Turkish empire, where their descendants still live in separate communities, and still speak among themselves an antiquated form of Spanish. The Muslim empire was a refuge for all those who fled from persecution by the Inquisition.

    The Western Christians, till the arrival of the Encyclopaedists in the eighteenth century, did not know and did not Care to know, what the Muslim believed, nor did the Western Christian seek to know the views of Eastern Christians with regard to them. The Christian Church was already split in two, and in the end, it came to such a pass that the Eastern Christians, as Gibbon shows, preferred Muslim rule, which allowed them to practice their own form of religion and adhere to their peculiar dogmas, to the rule of fellow Christians who would have made them Roman Catholics or wiped them out.

    The Western Christians called the Muslims pagans, paynims, even idolaters - there are plenty of books in which they are described as worshiping an idol called Mahomet or Mahound, and in the accounts of the conquest of Granada there are even descriptions of the monstrous idols which they were alleged to worship - whereas the Muslims knew what Christianity was, and in what respects it differed from Islam. If Europe had known as much of Islam, as Muslims knew of Christendom, in those days, those mad, adventurous, occasionally chivalrous and heroic, but utterly fanatical outbreak known as the Crusades could not have taken place, for they were based on a complete misapprehension.

    I quote a learned French author:

    "Every poet in Christendom considered a Mohammedan to be an infidel, and an idolater, and his gods to be three; mentioned in order, they were: Mahomet or Mahound or Mohammad, Opolane and the third Termogond. It was said that when in Spain the Christians overpowered the Mohammadans and drove them as far as the gates of the city of Saragossa, the Mohammadans went back and broke their idols.
    "A Christian poet of the period says that Opolane the "god" of the Mohammadans, which was kept there in a den was awfully belabored and abused by the Mohammadans, who, binding it hand and foot, crucified it on a pillar, trampled it under their feet and broke it to pieces by beating it with sticks; that their second god Mahound they threw in a pit and caused to be torn to pieces by pigs and dogs, and that never were gods so ignominiously treated; but that afterwards the Mohammadans repented of their sins, and once more reinstated their gods for the accustomed worship, and that when the Emperor Charles entered the city of Saragossa he had every mosque in the city searched and had "Muhammad" and all their Gods broken with iron hammers."

    That was the kind of "history" on which the populace in Western Europe used to be fed. Those were the ideas which inspired the rank and file of the crusader in their attacks on the most civilized peoples of those days. Christendom regarded the outside world as damned eternally, and Islam did not. There were good and tender-hearted men in Christendom who thought it sad that any people should be damned eternally, and wished to save them by the only way they knew - conversion to the Christian faith.

    It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant; and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance and other evidences of the highest culture. Therefore the difference evident in that anecdote is not of manners only but of religion. Of old, tolerance had existed here and there in the world, among enlightened individuals; but those individuals had always been against the prevalent religion. Tolerance was regarded of un-religious, if not irreligious. Before the coming of Islam it had never been preached as an essential part of religion.

    For the Muslims, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are but three forms of one religion, which, in its original purity, was the religion of Abraham: Al-Islam, that perfect Self-Surrender to the Will of God, which is the basis of Theocracy. The Jews, in their religion, after Moses, limited God's mercy to their chosen nation and thought of His kingdom as the dominion of their race.

    Even Christ himself, as several of his sayings show, declared that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel and seemed to regard his mission as to the Hebrews only; and it was only after a special vision vouchsafed to St. Peter that his followers in after days considered themselves authorized to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Christians limited God's mercy to those who believed certain dogmas. Every one who failed to hold the dogmas was an outcast or a miscreant, to be persecuted for his or her soul's good. In Islam only is manifest the real nature of the Kingdom of God.

    The two verses (2:255-256) of the Qur'an are supplementary. Where there is that realization of the majesty and dominion of Allah (SWT), there is no compulsion in religion. Men choose their path - allegiance or opposition - and it is sufficient punishment for those who oppose that they draw further and further away from the light of truth.

    What Muslims do not generally consider is that this law applies to our own community just as much as to the folk outside, the laws of Allah being universal; and that intolerance of Muslims for other men's opinions and beliefs is evidence that they themselves have, at the moment, forgotten the vision of the majesty and mercy of Allah which the Qur'an presents to them.

    In the Qur'an I find two meanings (of a Kafir), which become one the moment that we try to realize the divine standpoint. The Kafir in the first place, is not the follower of any religion. He is the opponent of Allah's benevolent will and purpose for mankind - therefore the disbeliever in the truth of all religions, the disbeliever in all Scriptures as of divine revelation, the disbeliever to the point of active opposition in all the Prophets (pbut) whom the Muslims are bidden to regard, without distinction, as messengers of Allah.

    The Qur'an repeatedly claims to be the confirmation of the truth of all religions. The former Scriptures had become obscure, the former Prophets appeared mythical, so extravagant were the legends which were told concerning them, so that people doubted whether there was any truth in the old Scriptures, whether such people as the Prophets had ever really existed. Here - says the Qur'an - is a Scripture whereof there is no doubt: here is a Prophet actually living among you and preaching to you. If it were not for this book and this Prophet, men might be excused for saying that Allah's guidance to mankind was all a fable. This book and this Prophet, therefore, confirm the truth of all that was revealed before them, and those who disbelieve in them to the point of opposing the existence of a Prophet and a revelation are really opposed to the idea of Allah's guidance - which is the truth of all revealed religions. Our Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself said that the term Kafir was not to be applied to anyone who said "Salam" (peace) to the Muslims. The Kafirs, in the terms of the Qur'an, are the conscious evil-doers of any race of creed or community.

    I have made a long digression but it seemed to me necessary, for I find much confusion of ideas even among Muslims on this subject, owing to defective study of the Qur'an and the Prophet's life. Many Muslims seem to forget that our Prophet had allies among the idolaters even after Islam had triumphed in Arabia, and that he "fulfilled his treaty with them perfectly until the term thereof." The righteous conduct of the Muslims, not the sword, must be held responsible for the conversion of those idolaters, since they embraced Islam before the expiration of their treaty.

    So much for the idolaters of Arabia, who had no real beliefs to oppose the teaching of Islam, but only superstition. They invoked their local deities for help in war and put their faith only in brute force. In this they were, to begin with, enormously superior to the Muslims. When the Muslims nevertheless won, they were dismayed; and all their arguments based on the superior power of their deities were for ever silenced. Their conversion followed naturally. It was only a question of time with the most obstinate of them.

    It was otherwise with the people who had a respectable religion of their own - the People of the Scripture - as the Qur'an calls them - i.e, the people who had received the revelation of some former Prophet: the Jews, the Christians and the Zoroastrians were those with whom the Muslims came at once in contact. To these our Prophet's attitude was all of kindness. The Charter which he granted to the Christian monks of Sinai is extant. If you read it you will see that it breathes not only goodwill but actual love. He gave to the Jews of Medina, so long as they were faithful to him, precisely the same treatment as to the Muslims. He never was aggressive against any man or class of men; he never penalized any man, or made war on any people, on the ground of belief but only on the ground of conduct.

    The story of his reception of Christian and Zoroastrian visitors is on record. There is not a trace of religious intolerance in all this. And it should be remembered - Muslims are rather apt to forget it, and it is of great importance to our outlook - that our Prophet did not ask the people of the Scripture to become his followers. He asked them only to accept the Kingdom of Allah, to abolish priesthood and restore their own religions to their original purity. The question which, in effect, he put to everyone was this: "Are you for the Kingdom of God which includes all of us, or are you for your own community against the rest of mankind?" The one is obviously the way of peace and human progress, the other the way of strife, oppression and calamity. But the rulers of the world, to whom he sent his message, most of them treated it as the message of either an insolent upstart or a mad fanatic. His envoys were insulted cruelly, and even slain. One cannot help wondering what reception that same embassy would meet with from the rulers of mankind today, when all the thinking portion of mankind accept the Prophet's premises, have thrown off the trammels of priestcraft, and harbor some idea of human brotherhood.

    But though the Christians and Jews and Zoroastrians refused his message, and their rulers heaped most cruel insults on his envoys, our Prophet never lost his benevolent attitudes towards them as religious communities; as witness the Charter to the monks of Sinai already mentioned. And though the Muslims of later days have fallen far short of the Holy Prophet's tolerance, and have sometimes shown arrogance towards men of other faiths, they have always given special treatment to the Jews and Christians. Indeed the Laws for their special treatment form part of the Shari'ah.

    In Egypt the Copts were on terms of closest friendship with the Muslims in the first centuries of the Muslim conquest, and they are on terms at closest friendship with the Muslims at the present day. In Syria the various Christian communities lived on terms of closest friendship with the Muslims in the first centuries of the Muslim conquest, and they are on terms of closest friendship with the Muslims at the present day, openly preferring Muslim domination to a foreign yoke.

    There were always flourishing Jewish communities in the Muslim realm, notably in Spain, North Africa, Syria, Iraq and later on in Turkey. Jews fled from Christian persecution to Muslim countries for refuge. Whole communities of them voluntarily embraced Islam following a revered rabbi whom they regarded as the promised Messiah but many more remained as Jews, and they were never persecuted as in Christendom. The Turkish Jews are one with the Turkish Muslims today. And it is noteworthy that the Arabic-speaking Jews of Palestine - the old immigrants from Spain and Poland - are one with the Muslims and Christians in opposition to the transformation of Palestine into a national home for the Jews.

    To turn to the Christians, the story of the triumphal entry of the Khalifah Umar ibn al-Khattab into Jerusalem has been often told, but I shall tell it once again, for it illustrates the proper Muslim attitude towards the People of the Scripture....The Christian officials urged him to spread his carpet in the Church (of the Holy Sepulchre) itself, but he refused saying that some of the ignorant Muslims after him might claim the Church and convert it into a mosque because he had once prayed there. He had his carpet carried to the top of the steps outside the church, to the spot where the Mosque of Umar now stands - the real Mosque of Umar, for the splendid Qubbet-us-Sakhrah, which tourists call the Mosque of Umar, is not a Mosque at all, but the temple of Jerusalem; a shrine within the precincts of the Masjid-al-Aqsa, which is the second of the Holy Places of Islam.

    From that day to this; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has always been a Christian place of worship, the only things the Muslims did in the way of interference with the Christian's liberty of conscience in respect of it was to see that every sect of Christians had access to it, and that it was not monopolized by one sect to the exclusion of others. The same is true of the Church of the Nativity of Bethlehem, and of other buildings of special sanctity.

    Under the Khulafa-ur-Rashidin and the Umayyads, the true Islamic attitude was maintained, and it continued to a much later period under the Umayyad rule in Spain. In those days it was no uncommon thing for Muslims and Christian to use the same places of worship. I could point to a dozen buildings in Syria which tradition says were thus conjointly used; and I have seen at Lud (Lydda), in the plain of Sharon, a Church of St. George and a mosque under the same roof with only a partition wall between. The partition wall did not exist in early days. The words of the Khalifah Umar proved true in other cases; not only half the church at Lydda, but the whole church in other places was claimed by ignorant Muslims of a later day on the mere ground that the early Muslims had prayed there. But there was absolute liberty of conscience for the Christians; they kept their most important Churches and built new ones; though by a later edict their church bells were taken from them because their din annoyed the Muslims, it was said; only the big bell of the Holy Sepulchre remaining. They used to call to prayer by beating a naqus, a wooden gong, the same instrument which the Prophet Noah (pbuh) is said to have used to summon the chosen few into his ark.

    It was not the Christians of Syria who desired the Crusades, nor did the Crusades care a jot for them, or their sentiments, regarding them as heretics and interlopers. The latter word sounds strange in this connection, but there is a reason for its use.

    The great Abbasid Khalifah Harun ar-Rashid had, God knows why, once sent the keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre among other presents to the Frankish Emperor, Charlemagne. Historically, it was a wrong to the Christians of Syria, who did not belong to the Western Church, and asked for no protection other than the Muslim government. Politically, it was a mistake and proved the source of endless after trouble to the Muslim Empire. The keys sent, it is true, were only duplicate keys. The Church was in daily use. It was not locked up till such time as Charlemagne, Emperor of the West, chose to lock it. The present of the keys was intended only as a compliment, as one would say: "You and your people can have free access to the Church which is the center of your faith, your goal of pilgrimage, whenever you may come to visit it." But the Frankish Christians took the present seriously in after times regarding it as the title to a freehold, and looking on the Christians of the country as mere interlopers, as I said before, as well as heretics.

    That compliment from king to king was the foundation of all the extravagant claims of France in later centuries. Indirectly it was the foundation of Russia's even more extortionate claims, for Russia claimed to protect the Eastern Church against the encroachment of Roman Catholics; and it was the cause of nearly all the ill feeling which ever existed between the Muslims and their Christians Dhimmis.

    When the Crusaders took Jerusalem they massacred the Eastern Christians with the Muslims indiscriminately, and while they ruled in Palestine the Eastern Christians, such of them as did not accompany the retreating Muslim army, were deprived of all the privileges which Islam secured to them and were treated as a sort of outcasters. Many of them became Roman Catholics in order to secure a higher status; but after the re-conquest, when the emigrants returned, the followers of the Eastern church were found again to be in large majority over those who owed obedience to the Pope of Rome. The old order was reestablished and all the Dhimmis once again enjoyed their privileges in accordance with the Sacred Law (of Islam).

    But the effect of those fanatical inroads had been somewhat to embitter Muslim sentiments, and to ting them with an intellectual contempt for the Christian generally; which was bad for Muslims and for Christians both; since it made the former arrogant and oppressive to the latter socially, and the intellectual contempt, surviving the intellectual superiority, blinded the Muslims to the scientific advance of the West till too late.

    The arrogance hardened into custom, and when Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt occupied Syria in the third decade of the nineteenth century, a deputation of the Muslims of Damascus waited on him with a complaint that under his rule the Christians were beginning to ride on horseback. Ibrahim Pasha pretended to be greatly shocked at the news, and asked leave to think for a whole night on so disturbing an announcement. Next morning, he informed the deputation that since it was, of course, a shame for Christians to ride as high as Muslims, he gave permission to all Muslims thenceforth to ride on camels. That was probably the first time that the Muslims of Damascus had ever been brought face to face with the absurdity of their pretentions.

    By the beginning of the Eighteenth century AD, the Christians had, by custom, been made subject to certain social disabilities, but these were never, at the worst, so cruel or so galling as those to which the Roman Catholic nobility of France at the same period subjected their own Roman Catholic peasantry, or as those which Protestants imposed on Roman Catholics in Ireland; and they weighed only on the wealthy portion of the community. The poor Muslims and poor Christians were on an equality, and were still good friends and neighbors.

    The Muslims never interfered with the religion of the subject Christians. (e.g., The Treaty of Orihuela, Spain, 713.) There was never anything like the Inquisition or the fires of Smithfield. Nor did they interfere in the internal affairs of their communities. Thus a number of small Christian sects, called by the larger sects heretical, which would inevitably have been exterminated if left to the tender mercies of the larger sects whose power prevailed in Christendom, were protected and preserved until today by the power of Islam.

    Innumerable monasteries, with a wealth of treasure of which the worth has been calculated at not less than a hundred millions sterling, enjoyed the benefit of the Holy Prophet's Charter to the monks of Sinai and were religiously respected by the Muslims. The various sects of Christians were represented in the Council of the Empire by their patriarchs, on the provincial and district council by their bishops, in the village council by their priests, whose word was always taken without question on things which were the sole concern of their community.

    With regard to the respect for monasteries, I have a curious instance of my own remembrance. In the year 1905 the Arabic congregation of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or Church of the Resurrection as it is locally called, rebelled against the tyranny of the Monks of the adjoining convent of St. George. The convent was extremely rich, and a large part of its revenues was derived from lands which had been made over to it by the ancestors of the Arab congregation for security at a time when property was insecure; relying on the well known Muslim reverence for religious foundations. The income was to be paid to the depositors and their descendants, after deducting something for the convent.

    No income had been paid to anybody by the Monks for more than a century, and the congregation now demanded that at least a part of that ill-gotten wealth should be spent on education of the community. The Patriarch sided with the congregation, but was captured by the Monks, who kept him prisoner. The congregation tried to storm the convent, and the amiable monk poured vitriol down upon the faces of the congregation. The congregation appealed to the Turkish government, which secured the release of the Patriarch and some concessions for the congregation, but could not make the monks disgorge any part of their wealth because of the immunities secured to Monasteries by the Sacred Law (of Islam). What made the congregation the more bitter was the fact that certain Christians who, in old days, had made their property over to the Masjid al-Aqsa - the great mosque of Jerusalem - for security, were receiving income yearly from it even then.

    Here is another incident from my own memory. A sub-prior of the Monastery of St. George purloined a handful from the enormous treasure of the Holy Sepulchre - a handful worth some forty thousand pounds - and tried to get away with it to Europe. He was caught at Jaffa by the Turkish customs officers and brought back to Jerusalem. The poor man fell on his face before the Mutasarrif imploring him with tears to have him tried by Turkish Law. The answer was: "We have no jurisdiction over monasteries," and the poor groveling wretch was handed over to the tender mercies of his fellow monks.

    But the very evidence of their toleration, the concessions given to the subject people of another faith, were used against them in the end by their political opponents just as the concessions granted in their day of strength to foreigners came to be used against them in their day of weakness, as capitulations.

    I can give you one curious instance of a capitulation, typical of several others. Three hundred years ago, the Franciscan friars were the only Western European missionaries to be found in the Muslim Empire. There was a terrible epidemic of plague, and those Franciscans worked devotedly, tending the sick and helping to bury the dead of all communities. In gratitude for this great service, the Turkish government decreed that all property of the Franciscans should be free of customs duty for ever. In the Firman (Edict) the actual words used were "Frankish missionaries" and at later time, when there were hundreds of missionaries from the West, most of them of other sects than the Roman Catholic, they all claimed that privilege and were allowed it by the Turkish government because the terms of the original Firman included them. Not only that, but they claimed that concession as a right, as if it had been won for them by force of arms or international treaty instead of being, as it was, a free gift of the Sultan; and called upon their consuls and ambassadors to support them strongly if it was at all infringed.

    The Christians were allowed to keep their own languages and customs, to start their own schools and to be visited by missionaries to their own faith from Christendom. Thus they formed patches of nationalism in a great mass of internationalism or universal brotherhood; for as I have already said the tolerance within the body of Islam was, and is, something without parallel in history; class and race and color ceasing altogether to be barriers.

    In countries where nationality and language were the same in Syria, Egypt and Mesopotamia there was no clash of ideals, but in Turkey, where the Christians spoke quite different languages from the Muslims, the ideals were also different. So long as the nationalism was un-aggressive, all went well; and it remained un-aggressive - that is to say, the subject Christians were content with their position - so long as the Muslim Empire remained better governed, more enlightened and more prosperous than Christian countries. And that may be said to have been the case, in all human essentials, up to the beginning of the seventeenth century.

    Then for a period of about eighty years the Turkish Empire was badly governed; and the Christians suffered not from Islamic Institutions but from the decay or neglect of Islamic Institutions. Still it took Russia more than a century of ceaseless secret propaganda work to stir ups spirit of aggressive nationalism in the subject Christians, and then only by appealing to their religious fanaticism.

    After the eighty years of bad government came the era of conscious reform, when the Muslim government turned its attention to the improvement of the status of all the peoples under it. But then it was too late to win back the Serbs, the Greeks, the Bulgars and the Romans. The poison of the Russian religious-political propaganda had done its work, and the prestige of Russian victories over the Turks had excited in the worst elements among the Christians of the Greek Church, the hope of an early opportunity to slaughter and despoil the Muslims, strengthening the desire to do so which had been instilled in them by Russian secret envoys, priests and monks.

    I do not wish to dwell upon this period of history, though it is to me the best known of all, for it is too recent and might rouse too strong a feeling in my audience. I will only remind you that in the Greek War of Independence in 1811, three hundred thousand Muslims - men and women and children - the whole Muslim population of the Morea without exception, as well as many thousands in the northern parts of Greece - were wiped out in circumstances of the most atrocious cruelty; that in European histories we seldom find the slightest mention of that massacre, though we hear much of the reprisals which the Turks took afterwards; that before every massacre of Christians by Muslims of which you read, there was a more wholesale massacre or attempted massacre of Muslims by Christians; that those Christians were old friends and neighbors of the Muslims - the Armenians were the favorites of the Turks till fifty years ago - and that most of them were really happy under Turkish rule, as has been shown again and again by their tendency to return to it after so called liberation.

    It was the Christians outside the Muslim Empire who systematically and continually fed their religious fanaticism: it was their priests who told them that to slaughter Muslims was a meritorious act. I doubt if anything so wicked can be found in history as that plot for the destruction of Turkey. When I say "wicked," I mean inimical to human progress and therefore against Allah's guidance and His purpose for mankind. For it has made religious tolerance appear a weakness in the eyes of all the worldlings, because the multitudes of Christians who lived peacefully in Turkey are made to seem the cause of Turkey's martyrdom and downfall; while on the other hand the method of persecution and extermination which has always prevailed in Christendom is made to seem comparatively strong and wise.

    Thus religious tolerance is made to seem a fault, politically. But it is not really so. The victims of injustice are always less to be pitied in reality than the perpetrators of injustice.

    From the expulsion of the Moriscos dates the degradation and decline of Spain. San Fernando was really wiser and more patriotic in his tolerance to conquered Seville, Murcia and Toledo than was the later king who, under the guise of Holy warfare, captured Grenada and let the Inquisition work its will upon the Muslims and the Jews. And the modern Balkan States and Greece are born under a curse. It may even prove that the degradation and decline of European civilization will be dated from the day when so-called civilized statesmen agreed to the inhuman policy of Czarist Russia and gave their sanction to the crude fanaticism of the Russian Church.

    There is no doubt but that, in the eyes of history, religious toleration is the highest evidence of culture in a people. Let no Muslim, when looking on the ruin of the Muslim realm which was compassed through the agency of those very peoples whom the Muslims had tolerated and protected through the centuries when Western Europe thought it a religious duty to exterminate or forcibly convert all peoples of another faith than theirs - let no Muslim, seeing this, imagine that toleration is a weakness in Islam. It is the greatest strength of Islam because it is the attitude of truth.

    Allah (SWT) is not the God of the Jews or the Christians or the Muslims only, any more than the sun shines or the rain falls for Jews or Christians or Muslims only.

    How can a man die better than facing fearful odds for the ashes of his fathers and the Temple of his Gods?

    Thanks for posting a historical treatise on an important subject from a period before it got a little more intense. I will revisit this thread to give a proper reading of it in the near future. Again, well chosen, Zakk!

    [This message has been edited by TOMASSO (edited May 14, 2002).]


      It is true that Muslims used to be a tolerant lot.
      However that doesn't hide the fact that atleast in the lands of it's origin, it is becoming increasingly intolerant.

      Saudi Arabia and Iran are prime examples.
      I mean, they do it to their own people so it is none of our business, except that we are discussing Islam and tolerance.

      Societies that support stoning to death and public beheading or destroy the graves of their own prophet or destroy acenturies old Turkish Forts in their midst can harldy be called tolerant.
      And Saudi Arabia is controlling Mecca and Madina!!

      That apart, I have to accept Muslims of sub-continent are fine people so long as Religion is not involved


        Mohammad did not wish to be venerated after death, not worshipped. What happened? His grave was made taller than he specified in his "will" and fundamentalist Muslims "get it". Also, the Arabs and the Turks probably had a falling out and there is residual animosity between the two countries yet today.


          The History of the Turkish Jews

          On the midnight of August 2nd 1492, when Columbus embarked on what would become his most famous expedition to the New World, his fleet departed from the relatively unknown seaport of Palos because the shipping lanes of Cadiz and Seville were clogged with Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain by the Edict of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain.

          The Jews forced either to convert to Christianity or to "leave" the country under the menace "they dare not return... not so much as to take a step on them not trespass upon them in any manner whatsoever" left their land, their property, their belongings all that was theirs and familiar to them rather than abandon their beliefs, their traditions, their heritage.

          In the faraway Ottoman Empire, one ruler extended an immediate welcome to the persecuted Jews of Spain, the Sepharadim. He was the Sultan Bayazid II.

          In 1992, the discovery year for all those connected to the American continents north, central and south world Jewry was concerned with commemorating not only the expulsion, but also seven centuries of the Jewish life in Spain, flourishing under Moslem rule, and the 500th anniversary of the official welcome extended by the Ottoman Empire in 1492.

          This humanitarianism is consistent with the beneficence and goodwill traditionally displayed by the Turkish government and peoples towards those of different creeds, cultures and backgrounds. Indeed, Turkey serves as a model to be emulated by any nation that finds refugees from any of the four corners of the world standing at its doors.

          In 1992, Turkish Jewry celebrated not only the anniversary of this gracious welcome, but also the remarkable spirit of tolerance and acceptance which has characterized the whole Jewish experience in Turkey. The events which were planned symposiums, conferences, concerts, exhibitions, films and books, restoration of ancient Synagogues etc. will commemorate the longevity and prosperity of the Jewish community. As a whole, the celebration aimed to demonstrate the richness and security of life Jews have found in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic over more than five centuries and show that indeed it is not impossible for people of different creeds to live together peacefully under one flag.

          A History Predating 1492
          The history of the Jews in Anatolia started many centuries before the migration of Sephardic Jews. Remnants of Jewish settlement from the 4th century BC have been uncovered in the Aegean region. The historian Josephus Flavius relates that Aristotle "met Jewish people with whom he had an exchange of views during his trip across Asia Minor."

          Ancient synagogue ruins have been found in Sardis, near Izmir, dating from 220 BC and traces of other Jewish settlements have been discovered near Bursa, in the southeast and along the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. A bronze column found in Ankara confirms the rights the Emperor Augustus accorded the Jews of Asia Minor.

          Jewish communities in Anatolia flourished and continued to prosper through the Turkish conquest. When the Ottomans captured Bursa in 1324 and made it their capital, they found a Jewish community oppressed under Byzantine rule. The Jews welcomed the Ottomans as saviors. Sultan Orhan gave them permission to build the Etz ha-Hayyim (Tree of Life) synagogue which remained in service until 50 years ago.

          Early in the 14th century, when the Ottomans had established their capital at Edirne, Jews from Europe, including Karaites, migrated there. (1) Similarly, Jews expelled from Hungary in 1376, from France by Charles VI in September 1394, and from Sicily early in the 15th century found refuge in the Ottoman Empire. In the 1420s, Jews from Salonika then under Venetian control fled to Edirne. (2)

          Ottoman rule was much kinder than Byzantine rule had been. In fact, from the early 15th century on, the Ottomans actively encouraged Jewish immigration. A letter sent by Rabbi Yitzhak Sarfati (from Edirne) to Jewish communities in Europe in the first part of the century "invited his co-religionists to lease the torments they were enduring in Christendom and to seek safety and prosperity in Turkey". (3)

          When Mehmet II "the Conqueror" took Constantinople in 1453, he encountered an oppressed Romaniot (Byzantine) Jewish community which welcomed him with enthusiasm. Sultan Mehmet II issued a proclamation to all Jews "... to ascend the site of the Imperial Throne, to dwell in the best of the land, each beneath his Dine and his fig tree, with silver and with gold, with wealth and with cattle...". (4)

          In 1470, Jews expelled from Bavaria by Ludwig X found refuge in the Ottoman Empire. (5)

          The Life of Ottoman Jews
          For 300 years following the expulsion, the prosperity and creativity of the Ottoman Jews rivaled that of the Golden Age of Spain. Four Turkish cities: Istanbul, Izmir, Safed and Salonica became the centers of Sephardic Jewry.

          Most of the court physicians were Jews: Hakim Yakoub, Joseph and Moshe Hamon, Daniel Fonseca, Gabriel Buenauentura to name only very few ones.

          One of the most significant innovations that Jews brought to the Ottoman Empire was the printing press. In 1493, only one year after their expulsion from Spain, David & Samuel ibn Nahmias established the first Hebrew printing press in Istanbul.

          Ottoman diplomacy was often carried out by Jews. Joseph Nasi, appointed the Duke of Naxos, was the former Portuguese Marrano Joao Miques. Another Portuguese Marrano, Aluaro Mandes, was named Duke of Mytylene in return of his diplomatic services to the Sultan. Salamon ben Nathan Eskenazi arranged the first diplomatic ties with the British Empire. Jewish women such as Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi "La Seniora" and Esther Kyra exercised considerable influence in the Court.

          In the free air of the Ottoman Empire, Jewish literature flourished. Joseph Caro compiled the Shulhan Arouh. Shlomo haLevi Alkabes composed the Lekhah Dodi a hymn which welcomes the Sabbath according to both Sephardic and Ashkenazi ritual. Jacob Culi began to write the famous MeAm Loez. Rabbi Abraham ben Isaac Assa became known as the father of Judeo-Spanish literature.

          On October 27,1840 Sultan Abdulmecid issued his famous ferman concerning the "Blood Libel Accusation" saying: "... and for the love we bear to our subjects, we cannot permit the Jewish nation, whose innocence for the crime alleged against them is evident, to be worried and tormented as a consequence of accusations which have not the least foundation in truth...".

          Under Ottoman tradition, each non-Moslem religious community was responsible for its own institutions, including schools. In the early 19th century, Abraham de Camondo established a modern school, "La Escola", causing a serious conflict between conservative and secular rabbis which was only settled by the intervention of Sultan Abdulaziz in 1864. The same year the Takkanot haKehilla (By-laws of the Jewish Community) was published, defining the structure of the Jewish community.

          An important event in the life of Ottoman Jews in the 17th century was the schism led by Sabetay Sevi, the pseudo Messiah who lived in Izmir and later adopted Islam with his followers.

          Education - Language and Social Life
          Most Jewish children attend state schools or private Turkish or foreign language schools, and many are enrolled in the universities. Additionally, the Community maintains a primary school for 300 pupils and a secondary school for 250 students in Istanbul, and an elementary school for 140 children in Izmir. Turkish is the language of instruction, and Hebrew is taught 35 hours a week.

          While younger Jews speak Turkish as their native language, the older generation is more at home speaking in French or Judeo-Spanish (Ladino). A conscious effort is spent to preserve the heritage of Judeo-Spanish.

          For long years Turkish Jews have had their own press. La Buena Esperansa and La Puerta de Oriente started in Izmir in 1843 and Or Israel started to be published in Istanbul ten years later. Now one newspaper survives: SALOM (Shalom), an eightpage weekly with seven pages written in Turkish and one in Judeo-Spanish.

          A Community Calendar (Halila) is published by the Chief Rabbinate every year and distributed free of charge to all those who have paid their dues (Kisba) to the welfare bodies. The Community cannot levy taxes, but can request donations.

          Two Jewish hospitals the 98 bed Or haHayim in Istanbul and the 22 bed Karatas Hospital in Izmir serve the Community. Both cities have homes for the aged (Moshav Zekinim) and several welfare associations to assist the poor, the sick, the needy children and orphans.

          Social clubs containing libraries, cultural and sports facilities, discotheques give young people the chance to meet.

          The Jewish Community is of course a very small group in Turkey today, considering that the total population which is 99% Moslem exceeds 57 million. But in spite of their number the Jews have distinguished themselves. There are several Jewish professors teaching at the universities of Istanbul and Ankara, and many Turkish Jews are prominent in business, industry and the liberal professions.

          A Haven For Sephardic Jews
          Sultan Bayazid II's offer of refuge gave new hope to the persecuted Sephardim. In 1492, the Sultan ordered the governors of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire "not to refuse the Jews entry or cause them difficulties, but to receive them cordially";. (6) According to Bernard Lewis, "the Jews were not just permitted to settle in the Ottoman lands, but were encouraged, assisted and sometimes even compelled".

          Immanual Aboab attributes to Bayazid II the famous remark that "the Catholic monarch Ferdinand was wrongly considered as wise, since he impoverished Spain by the expulsion of the Jews, and enriched Turkey". (7)

          The arrival of the Sephardic altered the structure of the community and the original group of Romaniote Jews was totally absorbed.

          Over the centuries an increasing number of European Jews, escaping persecution in their native countries, settled in the Ottoman Empire. In 1537 the Jews expelled from Apulia (Italy) after the city fell under Papal control, in 1542 those expelled from Bohemia by King Ferdinand found a safe haven in the Ottoman Empire.(8) In March of 1556, Sultan Suleyman "the Magnificent" wrote a letter to Pope Paul IV asking for the immediate release of the Ancona Marranos, which he declared to be Ottoman citizens. The Pope had no other alternative than to release them, the Ottoman Empire being the "Super Power" of those days.

          By 1477, Jewish households in Istanbul numbered 1647 or 11% of the total. Half a century later, 8070 Jewish houses were listed in the city.

          Turkish Jews Today
          The present size of Jewish Community is estimated at around 26000. The vast majority live in Istanbul, with a community of about 2500 in Izmir and other smaller groups located in Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Canakkale, Iskenderun, Kirklareli etc. Sephardis make up 96% of the Community, with Ashkenazis accounting for the rest. There are about 100 Karaites, an independent group who does not accept the authority of the Chief Rabbi.

          Turkish Jews are legally represented, as they have been for many centuries, by the Hahambasi, the Chief Rabbi. Rav David Asseo, Chief Rabbi since elected in 1961, is assisted by a religious Council made up of a Rosh Bet Din and three Hahamim. Thirty-five Lay Counselors look after the secular affairs of the Community and an Executive Committee of fourteen, the president of which must be elected from among the Lay Counselors, runs the daily affairs.

          Synagogues are classified as religious foundations (Vakifs). There are 16 synagogues in use in Istanbul today. Three are in service during holidays(during summer only). Some of them are very old, especially Ahrida Synagogue in the Balat area, which dates from middle15th century. The 15th and 16th century Haskoy and Kuzguncuk cemeteries in Istanbul are still in use today.


          (1) Mark Alan Epstein, "The Ottoman Jewish Communities and their role in the 15th and 16th centuries"
          (2) Joseph Nehama, "Histoire des Israelites de Salonique"
          (3) Bernard Lewis, "The Jews of Islam"
          (4) Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 16 page 1532
          (5) Avram Galante, "Histoire des Juifs d'lstanbul", Volume 2
          (6) Abraham Danon, in the Review Yossef Daath No. 4
          (7) Immanual Aboab, "A Consolacam as Tribulacoes de Israel, III Israel"
          (8) H. Graetz, "History of the Jews"

          The Turks in the Korean War

          The Turkish Brigade had succeeded to provide the necessary time and space for the withdrawal by preventing the encirclement of the Eighth Army and the IXth Army Corps and the destruction of the 2nd US Division, through the battles it fought on the dates of 27-30 November. The Turkish Brigade, which had no war experience, was affecting a great battle from its roots, was saving the friendly Army, which was starting to roll down a dangerous cliff, by stopping the superior numbers of enemy forces. Thus the Brigade was achieving fame in the world by playing an important role in the course of the war in its first battle.

          Echoes of the Kunuri Battle

          "4500 soldiers in the middle of the firing line have known how to create miracle. The sacrifices of the Turks will eternally remain in our minds." - Washington Tribune

          "The courageous battles of the Turkish Brigade have created a favorable effect on the whole United Nations Forces." - Time

          "The surprise of the Korean battles were not the Chinese but the Turks. It is impossible at this moment to find a word to describe the heroism which the Turks have shown in the battles." - Abent Post

          "The Turks have shown in Kunuri a heroism worthy of their glorious history. The Turks have gained the admiration of the whole world through their glorious fighting in the battles." - Figaro

          "The Turks who have been known throughout history by their courage and decency, have proved that they have kept these characteristics, in the war which the United Nations undertook in Korea." - Burner - U.S. Congressman

          "There is no one left who does not know that the Turks, our valuable allies, are hard warriors and that they have accomplished very great feats at the front." - Claude Pepper, U.S. Senator

          "I now understand that the vote I gave in favor of assistance to Turkey was the most fitting vote I gave in my life. Courage, bravery and heroism are the greatest virtues which will sooner or later conquer. In this matter, I know no nation superior to the Turks." - Rose - U.S. Senator

          "While the Turks were for a long time fighting against the enemy and dying, the British and Americans were withdrawing. The Turks, who were out of ammunition, affixed their bayonets and attacked the enemy and there ensued a terrible hand to hand combat. The Turks succeeded in withdrawing by continuous combat and by carrying their injured comrades on their backs. They paraded at Pyongyang with their heads held high." - G.G. Martin - British Lieutenant General

          "The Turkish forces have shown success above that expected in the battles they gave in Korea." - General Collings - Commander US Army

          "We owe the escape of thousands of United Nations troops out of a certain encirclement to the heroism of the Turkish soldiers. The Turkish soldiers in Korea have added a new and unforgettable page of honor to the customs and legends of heroism of the Turkish nation." - Emanuel Shinwell - U.K. Minister of Defense

          "The heroic soldiers of a heroic nation, you have saved the Eighth Army and the IX'th Army Crops from encirclement and the 2nd Division from destruction. I came here today to thank you on behalf of the United Nations Army." - General Walton H. Walker, Commander, Eighth Army

          "The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade." - General Douglas MacArthur - United Nations Forces Commander in Chief

          "The military situation in Korea is being followed with concern by the whole American public. But in these concerned days, the heroism shown by the Turks has given hope to the American nation. It has inculeated them with courage. The American public fully appreciates the value of the services rendered by the Turkish Brigade and knows that because of them the Eighth American Army could withdraw without disarray. The American public understands that the United Nations Forces in Korea were saved from encirclement and from falling in to the hands of the communists by the heroism shown by the Turks." - 2

          December 1950, from the commentary of a US radio commentator The Turkish Brigade, as can be understood from the summary of the Kunuri battles and the echoes it produced in the world, had successfully accomplished its mission. The Brigade was proud to have informed the country of the news of success which the state and nation expected, at the highest level. A handful of soldiers had provided the state with power, great opportunities and esteem.



            By Stanford J. Shaw,

            "While six million Jews were being exterminated by the Nazis, the rescue of some 15,000 Turkish Jews from France, and even of some 100,000 Jews from Eastern Europe might well be considered as relatively insignificant in comparison. It was, however, very significant to the people who were rescued, and above all it showed that, as had been the case for more than five centuries, Turks and Jews continued to help each other in times of great crises."

            STANFORD J. SHAW
            Professor of Turkish History
            Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey

            The French and foreign Jews interned in the camp formed two hostile groups:

            the French Jews affirmed that their being there was the fault of the foreigners, and they hoped for a special treatment by the authorities which never came....The French Jews believed that they would be freed soon, and so they did not want to be seen in solidarity with the foreigners.... The French Jew believed that it was because of the former that he was in the camp. He spoke of the foreign Jew with disdain.... Their deception brought even more bitterness when they waw that the Germans made no distinction between Jews and Jews.... The foreign Jews in turn reproached the French Jews for the attitude of France. This led to interminable discussions that ended in tumult and dispute....When Turkish Jews not yet in the camps were ordered to join other foreign Jews in forced labor gangs, the Turkish consulate advised them not to report, and sent protests to the French government, which usually led to the Turkish Jews being exempted. To quote a report from Turkish Ambassador Behiç Erkin (Vichy) to Ankara on 15 Decmber 1942:

            I have wired the French Foreign Ministry by telegram asking that Turkish Jewish subjects not be included in the decision recently published in the newspapes by the Prefecture of Marseilles that all foreign Jews who entered France since December 1933 and who are without work or in need be gathered in foreign worker groups....

            At the same time, Erkin sent the following instructions to the Turkish Consul-General in Marseilles, Bedi'i Arbel:

            Jewish citizens whose papers are in order cannot be subjected to forced labor, and if such situations arise, it is natural that we should provide them with protection. The prefects of police should be reminded of the relevant instructions, and it is necessary to intervene with the competent authorities when necessary.

            Turkish diplomats in France also spent a good deal of time organizing 'train caravans' to take Turkish Jews back to Turkey. This actually was encouraged by the Vichy government was well as the French authorities in German-occupied France as the only way to make sure that Turkish Jews were not subjected to the anti Jewish laws applied to French Jews, because the Nazi occupation officials themselves were increasingly unhappy about the exemptions and were regularly demanding that they be brought to an end. Thus the French Foreign Ministry wrote to the Turkish Embassy at Vichy on 13 January 1943, after the French finally had accepted the Turkish argument that it was illegal for them to discriminate among Turkish citizens of different religions:

            To avoid the application of these measures to Turkish citizens, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be disposed to look favorably on the return of the interested parties to their countries of origin.

            In the middle of 1943, the Nazi occupying authorities, inspired by Adolph Eichmann, finally issued an ultimatum to Turkey and other neutral countries that they would have to repatriate all their Jewish citizens in France, after which all those who remained would be treated the same as French Jews.

            Most of the neutral countries agreed to this right away and evacuated their Jews quickly because they were able to send them home directly without having to send them through third countries. Turkey was unable to do the same because with the Mediterranean closed to shipping, the only way to send Turkish Jews back was by train through Southeastern Europe. The Nazis issued group visas for the Jews being evacuated, but the various countries located along the path of the trains were not at all anxious to help Jews escape extermination. The most notorious of these were Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria, which caused many difficulties to prevent the trains from passing through their territory on their way to Turkey. Finally, however, the Turkish diplomats were able to organize some four train caravans during 1943 and eight more in 1944, which together transported some 2,000 Jews to Istanbul. Other Jews were helped to flee to the areas of southern France under Italian occupation, where they were treated much better unti Mussolini fell and Italy was occupied by the Germans in the middle of 1943. They also fled across the Pyranees into Franco's Spain, where they were given refugee despite Spain's alliance with Germany, or across the Mediterranean to North Africa. There they were interned but not persecuted, except in Algeria, where the French colons were even more anti-Semitic than were the Germans. In 1944, when the Vichy government was thinking of deporting all 10,000 Turkish Jews living in its territory to the East for extermination, Turkish Foreign Minister Numan Menemencioglu intervened with the French government, on the direct orders of President Ismet Inönü, stating that such an act would be considered unfriendly by Turkey and would cause a major diplomatic incident, including perhaps a complete break in diplomatic relations. This convinced Vichy to abandon the plan and saved these Jews from almost certain death. The original correspondence on this matter has not yet been uncovered. Turkey's key roll in this matter is, however, well documented in other sources. The American Ambassador at Ankara, Laurence Steinhart, himself a Jew, wrote the head of the Jewish Agency office in Istanbul, Chaim (Charles) Barlas on 9 February 1944:

            ... It has been a great satisfaction to me personally to have been in a position to have intervened with at least some degree of success on behalf of former Turkish citizens in France of Jewish origin. As I explained to you yesterday, while the Vichy government has as yet given no commitment to the Turkish Government, there is every evidence that the intervention of the Turkish authorities has caused the Vichy authorities to at least postpone if altogether abandon their apparent intention to exile these unfortunates to almost certain death by turning them over to the Nazi authorities.

            This is confirmed in the memoirs of Steinhart's German counterpart in Ankara, Ambassador Franz von papen, who, of course, emphasized his own role in the affair:

            I learned through one of the German émigré professors that the Secretary of the Jewish Agency had asked me to intervene in the matter of the threatened deportation to camps in Poland of 10,000 Jews living in Southern France. Most of them were former Turkish citizens of Levantine origin. I promised my help and discussed the matter with m. Menemencioglu. There was no legal basis to warrant any official action on his part, but he authorized me to inform Hitler that the deportation of these former Turkish citizens would cause a sensation in Turkey and endanger friendly relations between the two countries. This demarche succeeded in quashing the whole affair.

            Finally, one of Barlas's associates at the Jewish Agency office in Istanbul, Dr. Chaim Pazner, stated to the Second Yad Vashem International Historical Conference on Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust, held in Jerusalem in April 1974:

            In December 1943, Chaim Barlas notified me from Istanbul that he had received a cable from Isaac Wiesman, representative of the World Jewish Congress in Lisbon, that approximately ten thousand Jews who were Turkish citizens, but had been living in France for years and had neglected to register and renew their Turkish citizenship with the Turkish representation in France, were in danger of being deported to the death camps. Weismann requrested that Barlas contact the competent Turkish authorities and attempt to save the above-mentioned Jews. Upon receiving the telegram, Barlas immediately turned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara, submitted a detailed memorandum on the subject, and requested urgent action by the Turkish legation in Paris.... We later received word from Istanbul and Paris that, with the exception of several score, these ten thousand Jews were saved from extinction.

            In addition to providing material assistance to Turkish jews persecuted in France and other countries occupied by the Nazis in Western Europe, Turkey also helped East European Jews persecuted in countries such as Greece, Lithuania, Rumania, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Right from the start of the war, the Turkish government permitted the Jewish Agency to maintain a rescue office at the Pera Palas and other hotels in the Tepebasi section of Istanbul, overlooking the Golden Horn, under the direction of Chaim (Charles) Barlas, as we have seen. Ina ddition, other Jewish organizations based in Palestine were allowed to maintain representative offices in Istanbul. Many were sent by kibbutzim wanting to rescue members from persecution or death in Eastern Europe. First, however, they had to learn what was going on in those countries. Fore this purpose they sent their agents from Istanbul to these countries to gather information. They used the Turkish post office to send letters to Jews in these countries and toreceive responses. They sent packages of clothing and food to help out when needed. In all of these activities, the Turkish Ministry of Finance, despite Turkey's severe financial problems resulting from the war, provided them with the hard currency needed to meet their expenses, and the Turkish diplomats stationed in these countries allowed their facilities to be used when needed.

            With this help, the Jewish rescue groups based in Istanbul were able to organize trains and steamships which carried to safety in Turkey and beyond as many refugees that could leave their homes. In this they were vigorously opposed, not only by the Nazis, but also by the British government, which correctly feared that most of the refugees arriving in Turkey would go on in Palestine. Turkey as a matter of fact made this a condition of its agreement to allow these refugees to enter its territory. It would not support large number of immigrants of this sort since people in Turkey were already starving as a result of wartime shortages and blockades in the Mediterranean. It did allow the Jewish Agency and other organizations to bring these refugees through Turkey on their way to Palestine, however, permitting the Mossad organization to send them in small boats across the Mediterranean from southern Turkey. When the British were successful in preventing some of these refugees from going to Palestine, instead intering them on Cyprus, the Turkish government allowed them to remain in Turkey far beyond the limits of their transit visas, in many cases right until the end of the war.

            The Vatican's reluctance to help the persecuted Jews of Europe is well documented. This was not the case, however, with the Papal Nuncio in Istanbul from 1935 until 1944, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII. Roncalli was a very unusual person. When he first came to Turkey even before the war, he taught his parishioners, including many Greeks and Armenians, that they should forget their prejudices against Turks and Muslims, that they should follow the precepts of Christian charity and love in dealing with them, that they should forget the bigotries of the past and work together with their fellow Turkish citizens to build a new and modern Republic. Roncalli learned Turkish himself and recited the Christmas mass in Turkish at least one in Istanbul. This greatly pleased the Turkish people, who had become increasingly disgusted with the insistence of Christians in Turkey to continue using Greek, Italian, French or Armenian in preference to Turkish, unlike the Jews who had emphasized the ue of Turkish instead of French and Ladino since the mid 1930's. During the war Roncalli went much further. He got the Sisters of Sion order of nuns to use their own communications network in Eastern Europe to help the Jewish Agency pass communications, clothing and food to Jews in Hungary in particular. Other Vatican couriers going from Istanbul to Eastern Europe did the same thing as the result of Roncalli's orders. He even got them to carry false Certificates of Conversion to Hungarian Jews to help save them from the Nazis. A remarkable person indeed, early in the year 2000 was recognized as a Saint by the Catholic Church.

            Turkey also acted to help the Jews of Greece during the Holocaust. Just as was the case in the areas of southern France occupied by Italy, so also in Greece, during the time it was under Italian occupation early in the war, Greek Jews did reasonably well, despite pressure from Greeks themselves, whose long tradition of anti-Semitism led them to hope that the foreign occupation would at least enable them to get rid of their Jewish fellow-citizens. Even after German troops entered Greece to help the Italians against Greek guerilla resistance. The Italian troops protected Greek Jews from persecution at the hands of the Germans and the Greeks. Once Italy fell out of the war in 1943 and the Germans took over, however, the situation of Jews in Greece became worse than anywhere else in Europe, since while many Frenchmen and Dutchmen, and egven Germans had helped the Jews to escape the Nazi persecution, most Greeks did none of this due to their long history of pervasive anti-Semitism. The only Greeks who helped Jewswere the partisans fighting against the Nazis, who did help Jewish groups spiriting Jews out of Greece, either across the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean to Turkey or Palestine, or by land across the Maritza river into Turkey. Most Greek jews were in fact exterminated by the Nazis. Jewish synagogues and schools were systematically destroyed. Even the great Jewish cemetery at Salonica was wiped out. After the war, instead of restoring it, Greece built the new Aristotle University of Salonica on the cemetery lands.. The Turkish consuls in Greece, at Athens, Salonica and Gümülcine as well as on the islands of Midilli and Rhodes provided the same sort of assistance that the Turkish consuls did in France, also organizing boats to carry Jews to safety in Turkey and intervening with the Germans to exempt Turkish Jews from persecution and extermination. The most outstanding example of this came with the activities of Consul Selahattin Ülkümen in Rhodes, who got the Nazis to spare the Turkish Jews on the island, andwho as a result was subsequently imprisoned by the Nazis after his consulate was bombed and his pregnant wife killed by the Germans. The Turkish guards on the Greek-Turkish border allowed Jews coming from Greece as well as Bulgaria to enter turkey even though most of them had no papers at all. Camps were set up for them near Edirne, and ultimately they were allowed to pass on to Istanbul, and, for most of them, to join the other refugees doing by small boats from the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey to Palestine.Turkey thus provided major assistance to Jews being persecuted by the Nazis, despite pressure from the British, who wanted to stop Jewish immigration to Palestine, and by the Nazis, who demanded not only that this rescue work be stopped, but also that all Turkish Jews, as well as the refugees, be sent to Germany for extermination. Turkey steadfastly refused these demands and continued to assist European Jewry to escape from the Holocaust and in most cases go to Palestine. . Only after it was asured of an Allied victory, and the impossibility of a German invasion, by late 1943, was it ready to enter the war. Even then, however, it reacted to appeals for delay from the Jewish Agency, which understood that immediate Turkish entry would cut off the escape routes through Turkey which were enabling thousand of Jews to escape the Nazis throughout Europe, postponing its entry for almost a year.While six million Jews were being exterminated by the Nazis, the rescue of some 15,000 Turkish Jews from France, and even of some 100,000 Jews from Eastern Europe might well be considered as relatively insignificant in comparison. It was, however, very significant to the people who were rescued, and above all it showed that, as had been the case for more than five centuries, Turks and Jews continued to help each other in times of great crises.

            Stanford J. Shaw is Professor Emeritus of Turkish History, University of California Los Angeles Professor of Turkish History, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey

            Bibliography :

            Stanford J. Shaw, Turkey and the Holocaust: Turkey's Role in Rescuing Turkish and European Jewry from Nazi Persecution, 1933-1945.

            Stanford J. Shaw, The Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. Both books were published both by the New York University Press and by MacMillian publishers in England (now called Palgrave Publishers).Unfortunately the American editions, which were in paperback, are out of print, but I understand that the British editions (only in hardcover) are still available.


              Re: Tolerance in Islam

              yeah turks helped the jews and killed the kurds and armenians....thats tolerence

              political correctness is sickning


                Re: Tolerance in Islam

                Allahuakbar-A Beautiful Story!
                Pray 4 me and forward it for sadqa jariya

                A young man had been to Wednesday Night Class of Quranic Studies. The Mualim had shared about listening to Allah and obeying Allah through intuition.The young man couldn't help but wonder, 'Does Allah still speak to people through intuition?'

                After Lessons, he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how Allah had led them in different ways and that at the end you'll know it was Allah(SWT) Who has directed you.

                It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, 'Allah...If you still speak to people, speak to me. I will listen.

                I will do my best to obey.' As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, 'Allah is that you?' He di dn't get a reply and started on toward home.

                But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk came into his head.
                'Okay, Allah, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.' It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home.

                As he passed Seventh Street , he again felt the urge, 'Turn Down that street.'This is crazy he thought, and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street . At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, 'Okay, Allah, I will.'He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either.

                The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something, 'Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street.' The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. 'Allah, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid.'

                Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door, 'Okay Allah(SWT), if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay.

                I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something, but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here.' He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, 'Who is it? What do you want?' Then the door opened before the young man could get away.

                The man was standing there in his jea ns and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep. 'What is it?' The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, 'Here, I brought this to you.' The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face.

                The man began speaking and half crying, 'We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking Allah(SWT) to show me how to get some milk.' His wife in the kitchen yelled out, 'I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?' The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that Allah (SWT) still answers prayers.

                NOW HERE'S THE TEST....

                If you believe that Allah (SWT) answers prayers, send this to everyone you care about and also the person that sent it to you!!!!!!!!!
                If you do not send nothing will happen to you, but if you send you might just be sending someone hope and belief that Allah (SWT) hears our prayers and give hope to those who have already lost faith considering the situation most people.

                That's it!That's the test!
                It's just that simple!

                Sometimes it's the simplest things that Allah (SWT) asks us to do, that enable us to understand His words clearer and better than ever. Please listen, and obey!

                It will bless you and others.This is a n easy test - you score 100 or zero.

                I scored 100 because you have it! .
                Jeevay Jeevay PAKISTAN