Charles Reginald Haines.

Christianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) online

. (page 13 of 15)
Online LibraryCharles Reginald HainesChristianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) → online text (page 13 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Hakem I., by the instrumentality of Yahya ibn Yahya Al Seythi, Abu
Merwan Abdulmalek ibn Habib,[3] and Abdallah Zeyad ibn Abdurrahman
Allakhmi, three notable theologians of that reign. Yahya returned from a
pilgrimage to the East in 827, and immediately took the lead in the
opposition offered to Hakem I. on the ground of his being a lax
Mussulman, but, in reality, because he would not give the faquis enough
power in the State.[4]

In the reign of Mohammed (852) these faquis had become powerful enough
to impeach the orthodoxy of a well-known devout Mussulman, Abu
Abdurrahman ibn Mokhli, but the Sultan, with a wise discretion, as
commendable as it was rare, declared that the distinctions of the Ulema
were cavils, and that the expositions of the new traditionist "conveyed
much useful instruction, and inculcated very laudable practices."[5]

Efforts were made from time to time to overthrow this priestly
ascendency, as notably by Ghàzali, the "Vivificator," as he was called,
"of religious knowledge." This attempt failed, and the rebel against
authority was excommunicated.[6] Yet the strictly oxthodox party did not
succeed in arresting - to any appreciable extent - the progress of the
decay which was threatening to attack even the distinctive features of
the Mohammedan religion.[7] It is a slight indication of this, that the
peculiar Moslem dress gradually began to be given up, and the turban was
only worn by faquis,[8] and even they could not induce the people to
return to a habit once thought of great importance.[9]

[1] Al Makk., i. 403. De Gayangos' note.

[2] Died 780. Al Makk., i. 113, 343, ascribes the change to
Hakem I.; and an author quoted, i. p. 403, ascribes it to
Abdurrahman I.

[3] Al Makk., ii. 123.

[4] Al Makk., i. 113, implies the reverse of this. Dozy, ii. p.
59.

[5] Conde, i. 294.

[6] Dozy, iv. 255.

[7] In spite of Al Makkari's statement, i. 112, where he says
that all innovations and heretical practices were abhorred by
the people. If the Khalif, he says, had countenanced any such,
he would have been torn to pieces.

[8] Dozy, iii. 271.

[9] Al Makkari, ii. 109.

But in other and more important respects we can see the disintegrating
effect which intercourse with Christians had upon the social
institutions of the Koran.[1]

_(a.)_ Wine, which is expressly forbidden by Mohammed,[2] was much drunk
throughout the country,[3] the example being often set by the king
himself. Hakem I. seems to have been the first of these to drink the
forbidden juice.[4] His namesake, Hakem II. (961-976), however, set his
face against the practice of drinking wine, and even gave orders for all
the vines in his kingdom to be rooted up - an edict which he recalled at
the instance of his councillors, who pointed out that it would ruin many
poor families, and would not cure the evil, as wine would be smuggled in
or illicitly made of figs or other fruit. Hakem consequently contented
himself with forbidding anew the use of spirituous liquors in the most
stringent terms.[5] Even the faquis had taken to drinking wine, and they
defended the practice by saying that the prohibition might be
disregarded by Moslems, who were engaged in a perpetual war with
infidels.

_(b.)_ Music was much cultivated, yet a traditionary saying of Mohammed
runs thus: "To hear music is to sin against the law; to perform music is
to sin against religion; to enjoy music is to be guilty of
infidelity."[6] Abdurrahman II. (822-852) in especial was very fond of
music, and gave the great musician Ziryab or Ali ibn Nafi a home at his
Court, when the latter was driven from the East by professional
jealousy. Strict Mohammedans always protested against these violations
of their law. The important sect of Hanbalites in particular, like our
own Puritans, made a crusade against these abuses. They "caused a great
commotion in the tenth century in Baghdad by entering people's houses
and spilling their wine, if they found any, and beating the
singing-girls they met with and breaking their instruments."[7]

_(c.)_ The wearing of silk, which had been disapproved of by Mohammed,
became quite common among the richer classes, though the majority do not
seem to have indulged themselves in this way.[8]

_(d.)_ The prohibition of sculptures, representing living creatures, was
disregarded. We find a statue, raised to Abdurrahman's wife Zahra, in
the Medinatu'l Zahra, a palace built by Abdurrahman III. in honour of
his beloved mistress. Images of animals are mentioned on the
fountains,[9] and a lion on the aqueduct.[10] We also hear of a statue
at the gate of Cordova.[11]

_(e.)_ The Spanish Arabs even seem to have given up turning towards
Mecca: for what else can we infer from a fact mentioned by an Arab
historian,[12] that Abu Obeydah was called Sahibu l'Kiblah as a
distinctive nickname, because he did so turn?

_(f.)_ A reformer seems even to have arisen, who wished to persuade his
coreligionists to eat the flesh of sows, though not of pigs or
boars.[13]

[1] Al Makkari, ii., App. 28. Author quoted by De Gayangos: The
Moslems in the eleventh century "began to drink wine and commit
all manner of excesses. The rulers of Andalus thought of
nothing else than purchasing singing-women and slaves,
listening to their music, and passing the time in revelry and
mirth."

[2] Kor. v. 93 - "Surely wine, lots, and images are an
abomination of the work of Satan ... avoid them."

[3] Al Makkari, ii. p. 171.

[4] Cardonne, i. p. 252.

[5] Al Makkari, i. p. 108; ii. p. 171.

[6] Yonge, "Moors in Spain," p. 71.

[7] Sale, Koran, Introduc., p. 122. (Chandos Classics.)

[8] Al Makkari, ii. p. 109. In 678 Yezid, son of Muawiyah, was
objected to as a drunkard, a lover of music, and a wearer of
silk. See Ockley, p. 358. (Chandos Classics.)

[9] Al Makkari, i. p. 236.

[10] _Ibid._, p. 241.

[11] Akbar Madjmoua. Dozy, ii. p. 272.

[12] Al Malckari, 1. 149.

[13] Hamim, a Berber, in 936. He was crucified by the faquis.
Conde, i. 420.

There is good reason to suppose that all this relaxation of the more
unreasonable prohibitions of the Koran was due to contact with a
civilised and Christian nation, partly in subjection to the Arabs, and
partly growing up independently side by side with them. But in nothing
was this shewn more clearly than in the social enfranchisement of the
Moslem women, whom it is the very essence of Mohammed's teaching to
regard rather as the goods and chattels than as the equals of man; and
also in the introduction among the Moslems of a more Christian
conception of the sacred word - Love.

Consequently we become accustomed to the strange spectacle - strange
among a Mohammedan people - of women making a mark in the society of men,
and being regarded as intellectually and socially their equals. Thus we
hear of an Arabian Sappho, Muatammud ibn Abbad Volada, daughter of
Almustakfi Billah;[1] of Aysha, daughter of Ahmad of Cordova - "the
purest, loveliest, and most learned maiden of her day;"[2] of Mozna, the
slave and private secretary of Abdurrahman III.[3]

Again, contrary to the invariable practice elsewhere, women were
admitted into the mosques in Spain. This was forbidden by Mohammedan
law,[4] the women being obliged to perform their devotions at home;
"if," says Sale, "they visit the mosques, it must be when the men are
not there; for the Moslems are of opinion that their presence inspires a
different kind of devotion from that which is requisite in a place
dedicated to the service of God." Sale also quotes from the letter of a
Moor, censuring the Roman Catholic manner of performing the mass, for
the reason, among others, that women were there. If the evidence of
ballads be accepted, we shall find the Moorish ladies appearing at
festivities and dances.[5] At tournaments they looked on, their bright
smiles heartening the knights on to do brave deeds, and their fair hands
giving the successful champion the meed of victorious valour.[6] Their
position, in fact, as Prescott remarks, became assimilated to that of
Christian ladies.

[1] Murphy, "Hist. of Moh. Empire in Spain," p. 232.

[2] Conde, i. p. 457.

[3] For others see Conde, i. 483, 484.

[4] Sale, Introd., Koran, p. 84. (Chandos Classics.)

[5] Prescott, "Ferd. and Isab.," p. 158.

[6] See a picture in the Alhambra, given in Murphy's "Moorish
Antiquities of Spain," Lockhart, Pref., p. 13; and the ballad
called "The Bullfight of Ghazal," st. v. p. 109.

The effect of this improvement in the social position of women could not
fail to reflect itself in the conception of love among the Spanish
Arabs; and, accordingly, we find their gross sensuality undergoing a
process of refinement, as the following extract from Said ibn Djoudi,[1]
who wrote at the close of the ninth century, will shew. Addressing his
ideal mistress, Djehama, he says: -

"O thou, to whom my prayers are given,
Compassionate and gentle be
To my poor soul, so roughly driven,
To fly from me to thee.

"I call thy name, my vows outpouring,
I see thine eyes with tear-drops shine:
No monk, his imaged saint adoring,
Knows rapture like to mine!"

Of these words Dozy[2] says: - "They might be those of a Provençal
troubadour. They breathe the delicateness of Christian chivalry."

This Christianising of the feeling of love is even more clearly seen in
a passage from a treatise on Love by Ali ibn Hazm, who was prime
minister to Abdurrahman V. (Dec. 1023-Mar. 1024). He calls Love[3] a
mixture of moral affection, delicate gallantry, enthusiasm, and a calm
modest beauty, full of sweet dignity. Being the great grandson of
Christian parents, perhaps some of their inherited characteristics
reappeared in him: - "Something pure, something delicate, something
spiritual which was not Arab."[4]

[1] Killed, 897.

[2] II. 229.

[3] Quoted by Dozy, iii. 350.

[4] Dozy, 1.1.




CHAPTER XI.

INFLUENCE OF ISLAM ON CHRISTIANITY.


We have so far investigated the influence of Christianity on the social
and intellectual character of Mohammedanism; let us now turn to the
analogous influence of Mohammedanism on Christianity under the same
aspects. This, as was to be expected, is by no means so marked as in the
reverse case. One striking instance, however, there is, in which such an
influence was shewn, and where we should least have thought to find it.
We have indisputable evidence that many Christians submitted to be
circumcised. Whether this was for the sake of passing themselves off on
occasion as Mussulmans, or for some other reason, we cannot be certain:
but the fact remains.[1] "Have we not," says Alvar,[2] "the mark of the
beast, when setting at nought the customs of the fathers, we follow the
pestilent ways of the Gentiles; when, neglecting the circumcision of the
heart,[3] which is chiefly commanded us, we submit to the corporeal
rite, which ought to be avoided for its ignominy, and which can only be
complied with at the cost of no small pain to ourselves."

Even bishops did not shrink from conforming to this Semitic rite,[4]
whether voluntarily, or under compulsion, we cannot say; but we know
that the Mohammedan king, under whom this occurred, had at one time the
intention of forcing all his Christian subjects to be circumcised.[5]

Another sign of an approximation made by Christians to the outward
observances of Moslems, was that some among them thought it necessary to
abstain from certain meats,[6] those, namely, forbidden by the
Mohammedan law.

A bishop, being taxed with compliance of this kind, gave as his excuse
that otherwise the Christians could not live with the Saracens.[7] This
was, naturally, not considered a good reason by the stricter or more
bigoted party, who regarded with alarm and suspicion any tendency
towards amalgamation with Mohammedans. If we can credit certain
chroniclers, a council was even held some years before this time by
Basilius, Bishop of Cordova, for considering the best method of
preventing the contamination of the purity of the Christian faith by its
contact with Mohammedanism.[8]

[1] See John of Cordova, in the "Life of John of Gorz," above,
p. 89.

[2] Alvar, "Ind. Lum.", sec. 35.

[3] Romans ii. 29; Galatians v. 2.

[4] See "Life of John of Gorz," sec. 123.

[5] See "Life of John of Gorz," sec. 123; Samson, "Apolog.,"
ii. c. 4. Cp. "Loys de Mayerne Turguet," xvii. 13. The king,
Halihatan (Abdurrahman III.), 950 published an edict, "par
lequel il estait mandé a tous Chrestiens habitans és terres et
villes a luy subjectes de laisser la religion de Jesu, et se
faisans circoncire prendre cette de Mahomet, sur peine de vie."

[6] See Appendix B, p. 167; and Koran v. _ad init._ - " You are
forbidden to eat that which dieth of itself, and blood, and
swine's flesh ... and that which hath been strangled."

[7] "John of Gorz," 1.1.

[8] "Pseudo-Luit.", sec. 341. Cp. "Chron. Juliani," sec. 501.
"Viritanus coegit concilium Toleto ad inveniendum remedium ne
Muzarabes Toletani, imo totius Hispaniae, Saracenis conjuncti,
illorum caeremoniis communicarent."

Sometimes, however, the contact with Islam acted by way of contraries,
and Christian bigots, such as the monks often were, would cling to some
habit or rite of their own from a mere spirit of opposition to a reverse
custom among Moslems. Thus we know that the monks in the East became the
more passionately devoted to their image-worship, because Iconoclasm
savoured so much of Mohammedanism. In the same way, but with far more
objectionable results, the clergy in Spain did their best to impress the
people with the idea that cleanliness of apparel and person, far from
being next to godliness, was incompatible with it, and that baths were
the direct invention of the devil.[1] Later on we know that Philip II.,
the husband of our Queen Mary, had all public baths in his Spanish
dominions destroyed, on the ground that they were relics of
infidelity.[2]

Celibacy of the clergy, again, was strongly advocated as a contrast to
the polygamy of Mohammedans; and an abbot, Saulus, is mentioned with
horror as having a wife and children, one of whom afterwards succeeded
him, and also married.[3]

One of the last acts of a Gothic king had been to enforce the marriage
of the clergy, and though this act was repealed by Fruela I. (757-768)
in the North, yet concubinage became very common among the clergy;[4]
and it was perhaps to remedy a similar state of things that Witiza
wished to compel the clergy to have lawful wives.

[1] Miss Yonge, p. 67.

[2] Lane-Poole, "Story of the Moors," p. 136.

[3] Florez, "Esp. Sagr.," xviii. 326 - "Conventus Episcoporum
pro restoratione monasterii." The children are called "Spinae
ac vepres, nec nominandi proles."

[4] Prescott, "Ferd. and Isab.," p. 16. From Samson, "Apol.,"
ii. cc. 2, 6, we learn that Christians had begun to imitate the
Moslems in having harems.

We have left to the last the great and interesting question of the
origin of chivalry. Though forming no part of the doctrines of
Christianity or Islam, chivalry and its influences could not with
justice be wholly overlooked in a discussion like the present. The
institution known by that name arose in the age of Charles the Great
(768-814),[1] and was therefore nearly synchronous with the invasion of
Europe by the Arabs. Its origin has been, indeed, referred to the
military service of fiefs, but all its characteristics, which were
personal and individual, such as loyalty, courtesy, munificence, point
to a racial rather than a political source, and these characteristics
are found in an eminent degree among the Arabs. "The solitary and
independent spirit of chivalry," says Hallam,[2] "dwelling as it were
upon a rock, and disdaining injustice or falsehood from a consciousness
of internal dignity, without any calculation of the consequences, is not
unlike what we sometimes read of Arabian chiefs or American Indians."

Whatever the precise origin of chivalry may have been, there can be no
doubt that its development was largely influenced by the relative
positions of Arabs and Christians in Spain, and the perpetual war which
went on between them in that country.

Though not a religious institution at the outset, except perhaps among
our Saxon forefathers,[3] chivalry soon became religious in character,
and its golden age of splendour was during the crusades against the
Moslems of Spain and Palestine. Spain itself may almost be called the
cradle of chivalry; and it must be allowed that even in the first flush
of conquest the Arabs shewed themselves to be truly chivalrous enemies,
and clearly had nothing to learn from Christians in that respect. The
very earliest days of Moslem triumph, saw the same chivalrous spirit
displayed at the capture of Jerusalem, forming a strange and melancholy
contrast to the scene at its recapture subsequently by the Crusaders
under the heroic Godfrey de Bouillon.

[1] Hallam, "Mid. Ages.," iii. 392.

[2] _Ibid._ Cp. p. 402. "The characteristic virtues of chivalry
have so much resemblance to those which Eastern writers of the
same period extol, that I am disposed to suspect Europe for
having derived some improvement from imitation of Asia."

[3] Hallam, "Mid. Ages" (1.1.).

Similarly the last triumph of the Moors in Spain, at the end of the
tenth century, furnished an instance of generosity rarely paralleled.
The Almohade king, Yakub Almansur, after the great victory of Alarcos
(1193), released 20,000 Christian prisoners. It cannot, however, be
denied that the action displeased many of the king's followers, who
complained of it "as one of the extravagancies proper to monarchs,"[1]
and Yakub himself repented of it on his deathbed.

In many passages of the Arabian writers we find those qualities
enumerated which ought to distinguish the Moorish knight - such as piety,
courtesy, prowess in war, the gift of eloquence, the art of poetry,
skill on horseback, and dexterity with sword, lance, and bow.[2]
Chivalry soon became a recognised art, and we hear of a certain Yusuf
ben Harun, or Abu Amar, addressing an elegant poem to Hakem II.
(961-976) on its duties and obligations;[3] nor was it long before the
Moorish kings learnt to confer knighthood on their vassals after the
Christian fashion, and we have an instance of this in a knighthood
conferred by the king of Seville in 1068.[4]

[1] Conde, iii. 53.

[2] Al Makk., ii. 401, from Ibn Hayyan. Cp. Prescott, "Ferd.
and Isab.," p. 159.

[3] Conde, i. 477.

[4] Conde, ii. 173.

As the ideal knight of Spanish romance was Ruy Diaz de Bivar, or the
Cid, so we may perhaps regard the historic Almanzor as the Moorish
knight _sans peur et sans reproche;_ and though, if judged by our
standards, he was by no means _sans reproche_, yet many are the stories
told of his magnanimity and justice. On one occasion after a battle
against the Christians, the Count of Garcia being mortally wounded, his
faithful Castilians refused to leave him, and were hemmed in by
Almanzor's men. When the latter was urged to give the word, and have the
knot of Christians put to the sword, he said: "Is it not written? 'He
who slayeth one man, not having met with violence, will be punished like
the murderer of all mankind, and he who saveth the life of one man,
shall be rewarded like the rescuer of all.'[1] Make room, sons of
Ishmael, make way; let the Christians live and bless the name of the
clement and merciful God." [2]

On another occasion Almanzor is asked by the Count of Lara for wedding
gifts for an enemy[3] of the Arabs, another Christian count, and he
magnanimously sends the gifts; or we see him releasing the father of the
Infantes of Lara, on hearing of the dreadful death of his seven sons.[4]

It must be admitted that these instances savour too much of the romantic
ballad style, but anecdotes of generosity do not gather round any but
persons who are noted for that virtue, and though the instances should
be false in letter, yet in spirit they may be eminently true. However
this may be as respects Almanzor's generosity, of his justice we have
unimpeachable evidence. The monk who wrote the "Chronicle of Silo," says
that the success of his raids on the Christian territories was due to
the large pay he offered his soldiers, and also to his extreme justice,
"which virtue," says the chronicler, "as I learned from my father's
lips, Almanzor held dearer, if I may so say, than any Christian."[5]

[1] Koran, v. 35.

[2] Yonge, p. 110.

[3] _Ibid._, p. 80.

[4] Johannes Vasaeus, 969.

[5] "Chron. Sil.," sec. 70.

In connection with chivalry there is one institution which the Christian
Spaniards seem to have borrowed from the Moors - those military orders,
namely, which were so numerous in Spain. "The Rabitos, or Moslemah
knights," says Conde,[1] "in charge of the frontier, professed
extraordinary austerity of life, and devoted themselves voluntarily to
the continual exercise of arms. They were all men of high distinction;
and bound themselves by a vow to defend the frontier. They were
forbidden by their rules to fly from the enemy, it being their duty to
fight and die on the spot they held."

In any case, whether the Christian military orders were derived from the
Moorish, or the reverse, one thing is certain, that it was the Moors who
inoculated the Christians with a belief in Holy Wars, as an essential
part of their religion.[2] In this respect Christianity became
Mohammedanized first in Spain. Chivalry became identified with war
against the infidel, and found its apotheosis[3] in St. James of
Compostella, who - a poor fisherman of Galilee - was supposed to have
fought in person against the Moors at Clavijo.[4] In the ballad we hear
of Christian knights coming to engage in fight from exactly that same
belief in the efficacy and divine institution of holy wars, as animated
the Arab champions. The clergy, and even the bishops, took up arms and
fought against the enemies of their faith. Two bishops, those of Leon
and Astorga,[5] were taken prisoners at the battle of Val de Junqueras
(921).[6] Sisenandus of Compostella was killed in battle against the
Northmen (979); and the "Chronicle of the Cid" makes repeated mention of
a right valiant prelate named Hieronymus.[7]

[1] Conde, ii. p. 119, note - "It seems highly probable that
from these arose the military orders of Spain in the East." Cp.
Prescott, "Ferd. and Isab.," p. 122. The military orders of
Spain were mostly instituted by papal bulls in the last half of
the 12th century.

[2] Islam made Christianity military, Milman, "Lat. Chr.," ii.
pp. 220-2. Lecky, "Hist. Eur. Moral," p. 262, ff.

[3] Presc., "Ferd.," p. 15.

[4] Mohammed also imagined celestial aid in battle, see Kor.
iii., ad init.

[5] "Rodrigo of Toledo," iii. p. 4. Johannes Vasaeus says they
were the bishops of Tuy and Salamanca.

[6] Mariana, viii. 5. See also _Ibid._, c. 6.

[7] "Chronicle of Cid" (Southey), p. 371.

Yet, in spite of all this, in spite of the fanaticism which engendered
and accompanied it, chivalry proved to be the only common ground on
which Christian and Moslem, Arab and European, could meet. It was in
fact a sort of compromise between two incompatible religions mutually
accepted by two different races. Though perhaps not a spiritual
religion, it was a social one, and served in some measure to mitigate
the horrors of a war of races and creeds. Chivalry culminated in the
Crusades, and Richard I. of England and Saladin were the Achilles and
the Hector of a new Iliad.

With this short discussion of the origin and value of chivalry as a
compromise between Christianity and Mohammedanism, we will now conclude.
In discussing the relations between Christianity and Mohammedanism, we
have been naturally led to compare not only the religions but their
adherents, for it is difficult to distinguish between those who profess
a creed, and the creed which they profess; but at least we may have thus
been enabled to avoid missing any point essential to the proper
elucidation of the mutual relations which existed between the two
greatest religions of the world, and the influence they had upon each
other.




APPENDIX.

A.

THE JEWS IN SPAIN.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15

Online LibraryCharles Reginald HainesChristianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) → online text (page 13 of 15)