The Divergence of Judaism and Islam. Interdependence, Modernity, and Political Turmoil

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Issues of Jewish History as Reflected in Modern Egyptian Historiography · 243

been expressed in every message sent by Muḥammad to the leaders of
the countries he was going to fight against, as well as in the peace agree-
ments signed with them after they surrendered. As proof of this, one
verse of the Quran was mentioned at the head of every message sent by
Muḥammad to his commanders on the front: “Prepare yourselves against
your enemy as much military in cavalry as you can in order to scare them
and deter others... but when they tend to peace, do so too and put your
trust in Allah.”^35
Further proof for the tolerance of Islam in its early period is the taxa-
tion policy. The common policy was that the taxes were fair and levied in
a friendly manner, taking into consideration what the protected charges
could afford. One of the examples for that was the verse quoted from the
Quran that forbids mistreating taxpayers: “Allah does not require from a
person something he cannot afford.”^36 In addition, the researchers men-
tioned the pious sage Abu Joseph, who was employed as a judge [qadi]
in the court of Harun al-Rashid and who advised the caliph to treat the
People of the Book with compassion according to the spirit of the Quran
and the Ḥadith. To prove this, Nariman Abd al-Qarim quoted from his
book the words attributed to the Prophet: “So said the Prophet to whom
we pray and wish peace: ‘Anyone who discriminates against an ally or
forces upon him to pay more than he can afford or humiliates him or
takes anything from him not out of his own free will, shall have to stand
before me on the day of judgment and explain his doings.’“^37
Yet another proof of the tolerant atmosphere is the freedom granted
to the Jews regarding residence and worship. All this is based on the de-
scriptions of Arab chroniclers such as al-Maqrizi and Qalqashandi, who
documented in their books the Jewish neighborhoods in Fustat and Cairo
with their houses of prayer and bathhouses. But what was emphasized,
above all, was the freedom of employment enjoyed by the Jews. Proof
of this is the list of court physicians, the most important of whom was
Maimonides, who served as a doctor in the court of Saladin, and Abu
Sa ̔d Yitzhak al-Israeli, the physician of ̔Ubayd Allah. Other figures men-
tioned were those responsible for the treasury and the counselors who
served in the courts of the rulers, like Yaacov Ibn Qlas in the court of Qa-
fur al-Ahshidi, Abu Sa ̔d al-Tastari, who was the head of the office of the
wife of the Fatimid caliph al-Muntasir, and also Hasdai ibn Shaprut, Ibn
Nagrila, and Shmuel Ha-Nagid, who served in high-ranking positions in
the courts of the Arab rulers in Spain.

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