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Silencing the Jews

Posted By Andrew G. Bostom On March 19, 2010 @ 12:00 am In FrontPage | 24 Comments

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Samau’ al al-Maghribi converted to Islam from Judaism in 1163 C.E., and shortly afterward wrote an anti-Jewish polemic entitled Silencing the Jews. Al-Maghribi’s “Silencing” — ostensibly a “philosophical” tract — employs Islamic Biblical criticism to characterize the Jews as ignorant, unreasonable, and hypocritical, complemented by their Koranic depiction as accursed prophet-killers who transgress Allah’s will, corrupt his message, and harbor the most intense hatred for the Muslims. Moshe Perlmann (d. 2001) translated al-Maghribi’s tract into English and was the preeminent scholar of Islam’s medieval polemic against the Jews. In his introduction to Silencing, Perlmann (in 1964) observed that this literature was redolent with motifs from the Muslim creed’s foundational texts:

The Koran, of course became a mine of anti-Jewish passages. The hadith did not lag behind. Popular preachers used and embellished such material.

In an earlier study (published 1948) of 11th century Muslim Spain — idealized, falsely, as the paragon of Islam’s ecumenism — Perlmann had described how such polemical tracts and sermons incited the mass violence which destroyed the Jewish community of Granada during the catastrophic 1066 pogrom. Its death toll of some 3000 to 4000 Jews exceeded the number of Jews reportedly killed by the Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland, some thirty years later, at the outset of the First Crusade.

Last week, the National Post of Canada published an editorial and subsequent comments (see comments section, 7:20 PM) by Tarek Fatah — self-proclaimed “hardened secular Muslim” and much-ballyhooed Muslim moderate — addressing Canada’s Jews and the Jewish community at large. Nearly 850 years after al-Maghribi, Fatah’s defamatory screeds abandon any façade of philosophical debate in his transparent effort to silence discussion of Islam by modern Jews.

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