Muslim-Jewish history is inspiring
TheSpec.com - Opinions - Muslim-Jewish history is inspiring
(Apr 30, 2009)
It was a big question from a little child: "Have Muslims and Jews always hated one another?"
The question came recently when I gave a talk at a public elementary school about the religion of Islam. I have given these types of talks many times before, but I have never been asked this question.
I was stunned, for two reasons: First, I do not think that most Muslims and most Jews hate each other today and, second, the historic relationship between the Muslim community and the Jewish community has been one of mutual respect and tolerance.
The idea there has been an ancient enmity between Jews and Muslims is completely without historical perspective or context. Those groups and individuals who promote such a view seem to be unaware of the long history of co-operation between the two religions.
Much has been written in recent years about the Golden Age
of Jews in Muslim Spain (
In commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day on April 21, I would like to share some stories that often do not get mentioned when discussing the Holocaust: Muslims who saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust.
In his recent book, Among The Righteous (Public Affairs Press), Robert Satloff, who has served since 1993 as executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, unearths the lost stories of Arabs who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
When the Nazis occupied the countries of
Nor was it only in
Satloff quotes reports describing the mosque "as a
virtual Grand Central Station for the Underground Railroad of Jews in
Norman Gershman has profiled many Albanian Muslims in a photography exhibition and book titled Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II. Besa is a code of honour inspired by the Holy Qur'an and deeply rooted in Albanian tradition demanding one take responsibility for the lives of others in their time of need.
The time has come to understand the real history of Muslim-Jewish relations -- and those who are leading efforts to achieve mutual understanding between the two faiths are showing the way in this effort.
The stories of Muslims who saved Jewish lives, whether it was in the time of the Holocaust or at the time of the Inquisition, should be shared with all youth.
Freelance columnist Hussein Hamdani lives in
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