Maimonides and the “Meshugga” Prophet

(This essay is based upon materials from my forthcoming, “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism”, 2008, on Prometheus Books.)
December 13th marked the 804th anniversary of the death of Maimonides (d. 1203, in Cairo), renowned Talmudist, philosopher, astronomer, and physician. The biography of this “second Moses,” is often cited by those who would extol the purported Muslim ecumenism of the high Middle Ages—particularly in “Andalusia,” or Muslim Spain, invariably accompanied by a denunciation of the fanatical intolerance of Christian Western Europe, during the same era.
A particularly egregious example of this genre of loaded comparisons was made by Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate economist, in his recent book Identity and Violence. Sen has the temerity to proclaim, “…the Jewish Philosopher Maimonides was forced to emigrate from an intolerant Europe in the twelfth century, he found a tolerant refuge in the Arab world.”
Sen’s ahistorical drivel aside, Maimonides (b. 1135, in Cordova) was but thirteen years old (in 1148) when Muslim Cordova fell into the hands of the particularly fanatical Berber Muslim Almohads, who invaded the Iberian peninsula from North Africa. Maimonides and all the dhimmi Jews in Cordova were compelled to choose between Islam and exile. Choosing the latter course, Maimonides and his family for twelve years subsequently led a nomadic life, wandering across Spain. By 1160 they crossed the Mediterranean, and settled at Fez, Morocco (also under Almohad control) where, unknown to the authorities, they hoped to pass as Muslims, while living as crypto-Jews. Maimonides’ dual life, however, became increasingly dangerous as his reputation was steadily growing, and the authorities began to inquire into the religious disposition of this highly gifted young man. He was even charged by an informer with the crime of having relapsed (apostasized) from Islam, and, but for the intercession of the poet and theologian Abu al-‘Arab al Mu’ishah, a Muslim friend, he would have suffered the fate of his colleague Judah ibn Shoshan, who had shortly before been executed on a similar charge. Given these precarious circumstances, Maimonides’ family left Fez, embarking in 1165 to Acre, then to Jerusalem, and on to Fostat (Cairo), where they settled, living once again as dhimmis, albeit under more tolerant Fatimid rule.
The jihad depredations of the Almohads (1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. A contemporary Judeo-Arabic account by Solomon Cohen (which comports with Arab historian Ibn Baydhaq’s sequence of events), from January 1148 C.E, described the Muslim Almohad conquests in North Africa, and Spain, as follows:
Abd al-Mumin…the leader of the Almohads after the death of Muhammad Ibn Tumart the Mahdi …captured Tlemcen [in the Maghreb] and killed all those who were in it, including the Jews, except those who embraced Islam…[In Sijilmasa] One hundred and fifty persons were killed for clinging to their [Jewish] faith…All the cities in the Almoravid [dynastic rulers of North Africa and Spain prior to the Almohads] state were conquered by the Almohads. One hundred thousand persons were killed in Fez on that occasion, and 120,000 in Marrakesh. The Jews in all [Maghreb] localities [conquered]…groaned under the heavy yoke of the Almohads; many had been killed, many others converted; none were able to appear in public as Jews…Large areas between Seville and Tortosa [in Spain] had likewise fallen into Almohad hands.
This devastation—massacre, captivity, and forced conversion—was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim “inquisitors”, i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries, removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. When Sijilmasa [an oasis town southwest of Fez] was conquered by the Almohads in 1146, the Jews were given the option of conversion or death. While 150 Jews chose martyrdom, others converted to Islam, including the dayyan [rabbi, or assistant rabbi] Joseph b. Amram (who later reverted to Judaism). The town of Dar’a suffered a similar fate. Abraham Ibn Ezra’s moving elegy Ahah Yarad Al Sefarad describes the Almohad destruction of both Spanish (Seville, Cordova, Jaen, Almeria) and North African Jewish communities, including Sijilmasa and Dar’a (along with others in Marrakesh, Fez, Tlemcen, Ceuta, and Meknes).
Ibn Aqnin (d. 1220), a renowned philosopher and commentator, who was born in Barcelona in 1150, fled the Almohad persecutions with his family, also escaping to Fez. Living there as a crypto-Jew, he met Maimonides and recorded his own poignant writings about the sufferings of the Jews under Almohad rule. Ibn Aqnin wrote during the reign of Abu Yusuf al-Mansur (r. 1184-1199), four decades after the onset of the Almohad persecutions in 1140. Thus the Jews forcibly converted to Islam were already third generation Muslims. Despite this, al-Mansur continued to impose restrictions upon them, which Ibn Aqnin chronicles. From his Tibb al-nufus (Therapy of the Soul), Ibn Aqnin, laments:
Our hearts are disquieted and our souls are affrighted at every moment that passes, for we have no security or stability…Past persecutions and former decrees were directed against those who remained faithful to the Law of Israel and kept them tenaciously so that they would even die for the sake of Heaven. In the event that they submitted to their demands, [our enemies] would extol and honor them. . . But in the present persecutions, on the contrary, however much we appear to obey their instructions to embrace their religion and forsake our own, they burden our yoke and render our travail more arduous. . . .Behold the hardships of the apostates of our land who completely abandoned the faith and changed their attire on account of these persecutions. But their conversion has been of no avail to them whatsoever, for they are subjected to the same vexations as those who have remained faithful to their creed. Indeed, even the conversion of their fathers or grandfathers…has been of no advantage to them.
If we were to consider the persecutions that have befallen us in recent years, we would not find anything comparable recorded by our ancestors in their annals. We are made the object of inquisitions; great and small testify against us and judgments are pronounced, the least of which render lawful the spilling of our blood, the confiscation of our property, and the dishonor of our wives.
the [Muslim] custodians are able to dispose of our young children and their belongings as they see fit. If they were given to an individual who feared Allah, then he would endeavor to educate the children in his religion, for one of their principles is that all children are originally born as Muslims and only their parents bring them up as Jews, Christians, or Magians. Thus, if this individual educates them in [what they state is] their original religion [i.e., Islam] and does not leave the children with those [i.e., the Jews] that will abduct them therefrom, he will obtain a considerable reward from Allah…
We were prohibited to practice commerce, which is our livelihood, for there is no life without the food to sustain our bodies and clothes to protect them from the heat and cold. The latter can only be obtained through trade for this is their source and cause, without which its effect, namely our existence, would disappear. In so doing their design was to weaken our strong and annihilate our weak…
Then they imposed upon us distinctive garments…As for the decree enforcing the wearing of long sleeves, its purpose was to make us resemble the inferior state of women, who are without strength. They were intended by their length to make us unsightly, whereas their color was to make us loathsome… The purpose of these distinctive garments is to differentiate us from among them so that we should be recognized in our dealings with them without any doubt, in order that they might treat us with disparagement and humiliation. . . Moreover it allows our blood to be spilled with impunity. For whenever we travel on the wayside from town to town, we are waylaid by robbers and brigands and are murdered secretly at night or killed in broad daylight…
Now, the purpose of the persecution of Ishmael, whether they require us to renounce our religion in public or in private is only to annihilate the faith of Israel and consequently one is bound to accept death rather than commit the slightest sin . . . as did the martyrs of Fez, Sijilmasa, and Dar’a.
Maimonides’ The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen was written in about 1172 in reply to inquiries by Jacob ben Netan’el al-Fayyūmi, who headed the Jewish community in Yemen. At that time, the Jews of Yemen were experiencing a crisis—hardly unfamiliar to Maimonides—as they were being forced to convert to Islam, a campaign launched in about 1165 by ‘Abd-al-Nabī ibn Mahdi. Maimonides provided the Yemenite Jewish communal leader with guidance, and what encouragement he could muster. The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen provides an unflinchingly honest view of what Maimonides thought of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, or “the Madman” as he calls him, and about Islam generally. Maimonides writes:
You write that the rebel leader in Yemen decreed compulsory apostasy for the Jews by forcing the Jewish inhabitants of all the places he had subdued to desert the Jewish religion just as the Berbers had compelled them to do in Maghreb [i.e.Islamic West]. Verily, this news has broken our backs and has astounded and dumbfounded the whole of our community. And rightly so. For these are evil tidings, “and whosoever heareth of them, both his ears tingle (I Samuel 3:11).” Indeed our hearts are weakened, our minds are confused, and the powers of the body wasted because of the dire misfortunes which brought religious persecutions upon us from the two ends of the world, the East and the West, “so that the enemies were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side.” (Joshua 8:22).
Maimonides makes clear that the unrelenting persecutions of the Jews by the Muslims is tantamount to forced conversion:
the continuous persecutions will cause many to drift away from our faith, to have misgivings, or to go astray, because they witnessed our feebleness, and noted the triumph of our adversaries and their dominion over us…
He then notes: “After him arose the Madman who emulated his precursor since he paved the way for him. But he added the further objective of procuring rule and submission, and he invented his well known religion.” Medieval Jewish writers often referred to Muhammad as ha-meshugga, Madman—the Hebrew term, as historian Norman Stillman has observed wryly, being “pregnant with connotations.”
Georges Vajda’s magisterial 1937 essay on the anti-Jewish motifs in the hadith, includes a fascinating discussion from Maimonides Teshuvot Responsa on the question of whether Jews should attempt to teach the Torah to Muslims, versus Christians. Although, in principle the response is negative, i.e., non-Jews were proscribed from formal study of the Torah per se, Maimonides makes this striking distinction between Christians and Muslims, regarding the teaching of the commandments and their explanations, because of the unique threat posed by Muslims due to their doctrinal intolerance:
it is permitted to teach the commandments and the explanations according to [rabbinic] law to the Christians, but it is prohibited to do likewise for the Muslims. You know, in effect, that according to their belief this Torah is not from heaven and if you teach them something, they will find it contrary to their tradition, because their practices are confused and their opinions bizarre mippnei she-ba’uu la-hem debariim be-ma`asiim [because a mish-mash of various practices and strange, inapplicable statements were received by them.] What [one teaches them] will not convince them of the falseness of their opinions, but they will interpret it according to their erroneous principles and they will oppress us. [F]or this reason…they hate all [non-Muslims] who live among them. It would then just be a stumbling block for the Israelites who, because of their sins, are in captivity among them. On the contrary, the uncircumcised [Christians] admit that the text of the Torah, such as we have it, is intact. They interpret it only in an erroneous way and use it for purposes of the allegorical exegesis that is proper to them Ve-yirmezuu bah ha-remaziim hay-yedu`iim la-hem [They would exchange secret signs known only to them.] If one informs them about the correct interpretation, there is hope that they will return from their error, and even if they do not, there is not stumbling block for Israel, for they do not find in their religious law any contradiction with ours.
Returning to The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen, Maimonides highlights one of the presumptive reasons for Muslim hatred of Jews:
Inasmuch as the Muslims could not find a single proof in the entire Bible nor a reference or possible allusion to their prophet which they could utilize, they were compelled to accuse us saying, “You have altered the text of the Torah, and expunged every trace of the name of Mohammed therefrom.” They could find nothing stronger than this ignominious argument.
Elaborating on the depth of Muslim hatred for the Jews, Maimonides makes a further profound observation regarding the Jewish predilection for denial, a feature that he insists will hasten their destruction:
Remember, my co-religionists, that on account of the vast number of our sins, God has hurled us in the midst of this people, the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us, as Scripture has forewarned us, ‘Our enemies themselves shall judge us’ (Deuteronomy 32:31). Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase and hate us as much as they …. Although we were dishonored by them beyond human endurance, and had to put with their fabrications, yet we behaved like him who is depicted by the inspired writer, “But I am as a deaf man, I hear not, and I am as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.” (Psalms 38:14). Similarly our sages instructed us to bear the prevarications and preposterousness of Ishmael in silence. They found a cryptic allusion for this attitude in the names of his sons “Mishma, Dumah, and Massa” (Genesis 25:14), which was interpreted to mean, “Listen, be silent, and endure.” (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, ad locum). We have acquiesced, both old and young, to inure ourselves to humiliation, as Isaiah instructed us “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair.” (50:6). All this notwithstanding, we do not escape this continued maltreatment which well nigh crushes us. No matter how much we suffer and elect to remain at peace with them, they stir up strife and sedition, as David predicted, “I am all peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” (Psalms 120:7). If, therefore, we start trouble and claim power from them absurdly and preposterously we certainly give ourselves up to destruction.”
Just over 800 years later, ignoring Maimonides sadly timeless observation about such feckless appeasement of Islamic supremacism—as the Israeli, most notably, and US governments are so wont to do—is truly “Meshugga,” with all the modern and ancient connotations of the expression.


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30 Responses to Maimonides and the “Meshugga” Prophet

  1. Law Professor Dr. Michael Krauss United States Windows XP Internet Explorer 7.0

    “Excellent work, Andy. Don’t get me started on Sen, the self-described male “feminist economist”. A nice synopsis of his warped view of reality can be found here: http://varnam.org/blog/archives/2006/04/on_amartya_sens_new_book.php

  2. Andrew, cogent writing as usual. I can see striking parallels to what the Hindu Brahmins had to undergo during the Jihadist forays in India during Middle ages.

    Regarding Amryta he is a typical Dhimmi intellectual on the Sauid payroll. Amryta’s Columbia University, Harvard, and Gerorgetown not only takes tens of millions in endowments every year from Wahhabis; they also have many such “professors” making millions in consulting fees “advising” Saudi corporation as they keep buying American companies.

    I look forward to regularly reading your blog.

  3. A fine post, and a cogent warning. In addition, let us recall a salient factor enabling the oppression and humiliation described by Maimonides and Ibn Aqnin: disarmament. Under the original dhimma (pact of “protection” for conquered non-Muslims), drawn up by the second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and quoted in the tasfir (Quranic commentary) of Ibn Kathir, the conquered Christians agreed (among much else) that “We will not … collect weapons of any kind nor carry these weapons.” (This is cited by both Robert Spencer in “Onward Muslim Soldiers” [p. 141] and Andrew Bostom in “The Legacy of Jihad” [p. 130]). This rule, which applied with equal force to Jews, is repeatedly mentioned throughout Bat Ye’or’s histories of dhimmitude; for example its application in 1454 in Cairo, where its strictures included “not possessing any weapon” (p. 114, “Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide”). And it was still in force against Christian Armenians in Turkey in the 19th century, as Vahakn Dadrian noted in “Warrant for Genocide” (p. 9) when writing of “the denial to them of the right to carry arms in a land full of outlaws armed to the teeth.” The denouement to which this led in the Armenian enclave of Zeitoun (renamed Suleymaniye after the annihilation of its inhabitants) is recounted here and here.

    Nor is the Islamic imperative to disarm the infidel a thing of the past. As recently as 2002 Ibn Kathir’s proscription was repeated almost verbatim in a sermon at a Mecca mosque by Sheikh Marzouq Salem al-Ghamdi, who specified “conditions” for resident infidels requiring that they “do not … arm themselves with any kind of weapon …”. Moreover, in the wake of the Virginia Tech killings last spring, an editorialist for the Saudi “Arab News” decried Americans’ “obsolete right to carry guns.”

    In light of this, the words of David in Verse 11 of Psalm 144 seem pertinent:

    Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

  4. As usual with Dr. Bostom’s work, this is richly informative and refreshing, since most history these days about these issues has buried older scholarship under what Hugh Fitzgerald calls “the Great Inhibition”.

    I have an off-topic suggestion for a relatively minor correction. In another essay, Dr. Bostom cites a very interesting quote by the great Greek Orthodox mystic and theologian, Gregory Palamas. Unfortunately, I have seen Bostom misspell his name three times in three different places as “Palamus”.

  5. heroyalwhyness United States Windows XP Internet Explorer 7.0

    Muslims were organized and already asking for gun controlin the US.

    The article was titled

    In the Fight Against Terrorism, Some Rights Must Be Repealed
    By Junaid Afeef
    ISPU Research Associate

    and ended with the following statement in 2005:

    “So long as guns remain available to the general public, there will always be the threat of terrorists walking into a crowded restaurant, a busy coffee shop or a packed movie theater and opening fire upon unsuspecting civilians.

    The Second Amendment is not worth such risks.”

  6. Although not the thrust of your fine article, it should be noted that Muhammad was not the only individual Maimonedes condemned. In the passage above, “After him arose the Madman who emulated his precursor . . . “, the “precursor” to whom he refers, is Jesus, whom Maimonedes regarded as little better.

  7. Woman completely covered by a Black Burka except for her two eyes.
    It’s one thing to see this on tv but in a small town in upstate NY – standing in the isle of a Wal-Mart store. Her husband or man beside her sort of looking around with a big grin on his face.
    They had no shopping cart, nothing in their hands.
    It was creepy! I got chills and the hair stood up on my body! I just stared at her as I walked by and I swear her eyes were meeting mine.
    I still get chills thinking about it.
    Who knows what was beneath the burka.
    At the same time I was feeling sorry for this pitiful woman I was revulsed by the smiling man beside her.
    Now I’m sure that in bigger cities around the US this might be a common sight but I was just thinking… what is going on here and why are they here in this little town. And why is she in this store… being displayed by this man.
    I wanted to walk over there and rip off the burka and smack the man in the face!
    This is the United States not a Muslim country.

  8. Yes, Ellis? Do you want
    to take the focus elsewhere?
    Divide the Christians
    and Jews, perhaps?
    Take the focus away
    from the words of a sage,
    and the historic connections
    to the jihad of our age?

    800 years ago,
    the philosopher wise man,
    Moses Maimonides,
    and the rest of the kafir,
    whose tears of jihad
    coursed down their cheeks
    molten metal eating away
    at the flesh and spirit of family and friends,
    jihad with our precious humanity stripped,
    our golden rule flipped,
    treated less than men.

    Kafir suffer in the jihad
    of the madman mohammed
    who wages his war as far as we can tell
    from the lowest circle of damnation and hell.

    Dr. Bostom performs delicate surgery
    on the mohammedan doctrine
    and applies an historic antidote
    to the dis-ease of dhimmitude.
    He is a gift from the Jews,
    one that they have yet to discover
    but they will soon find one another.

  9. What can possibly be done to free all of these “muslims” from the confusion and destruction that is Islam?

    This is an evil ideology

  10. Ellis
    I have no idea if Maimonedes did condemn christ at all. However, if he was familiar with the new testament he will have known the vast difference between what the prophet said and what his churches did and that the prophet had no part in these actions. However, with islam, every barbarity committed in its name is as per its prophet. Failure to recognise the disparity here totally undermines your comment. You might be this simple but Maimonedes wasn’t.

    This world, for all of its evil is the BEST that it has ever been for many more people than ever before and it is to the altuism and benevolence of jesus the man that this is due. Failure to recognise this and to lump all prophets together is a sin of ignorance and stupidity. Even Muslims laugh at the perceived weakness of those who follow jesus’s teachings as they exploit the altruism and the pacifism. But they do recognise it, if only to exploit it.

    Any agnostic(as I am) or atheist, who links the man Jesus and the criminal Muhammad in the same sentence is as guilty of ignorance as he is of stupidity and is but playing into the hands of the ridiculous radical left and supremacist muslims.

  11. Richard Garyson United States Windows Vista Internet Explorer 7.0

    Thanks for creating this blog, Dr. Bostom. You are my favorite anti-jihadist author and I cannot wait until your new book hits the shelves.

  12. Thank you. I have always looking for this material, and now have got it.
    Now can kick arse all those muslims on that non-sense about andalusia and that maimonides had a great opinion of islam.

  13. I am familiar with Bostom from the Jihadwatchblog. I have but one question: is Bostom anti-immigration? If not, he is as good as worthless. You can build the greatest possible case against Islam, but if you insist on allowing them to immigrate a fat lot of good it will do you.

  14. Ellis/Poetess: I don’t doubt that Maimonides regarded Jesus as a madman — many reasonable and firmly believing Jews would. As a christian I do not regard such a statement as a manifestation of hatred. Indeed, in my mind it would be surprising if he held any other view.

    Recall Lewis’ “trilemma”: Lord, Liar or Lunatic — the only three options for dealing with Jesus (well, except the more modern one of trying to trash his historicity altogether to escape from the trilemma).

    A believing Jew who accepts Jesus as a historical character and the Gospel narratives as being even vaguely historical, but rejects the theological claims of those Gospels, must opt for “Liar” or “Lunatic”. But it is hard to construe the Jesus of the Gospels as a charlatan. I find less offense in someone who, from a different faith, gravitates to the conclusion that Jesus was out of his mind (as, for example, “Jesus Christ Superstar” evidently portrays him) than in someone who simply refuses belief altogether, and dismisses the question of Jesus as a triviality, or something irrelevant.

    And, I far prefer it to the Qur’anic device of replacing the historical Jesus with a marionette-like yes-man for Mohammed’s twisted theology.

    As Maimonides himself was evidently not a Christian, what view of Jesus would you have have him subscribe to? Does regarding our Lord as a madman make him any less collegial toward Christianity than my Hindu friends who regard Jesus as a minor avatar; JW’s, who regard him as an angel; or my Buddhist friends who see him as one of many guides to enlightenment?

    Let us not be eager to cherish trivial injuries — how should others respond to our perspective on their beliefs? If Maimonides were alive today I’d love to discuss this point with him, and I believe it could be done collegially.

    My Jewish friends either try to deconstruct the historicity of Jesus or regard him as a somewhat wise and peaceful but misguided teacher — a loose cannon and tragic figure. Some are even a bit flattered, though flabbergasted, that we gentiles would choose to worship one of their kinsmen as G-d.

  15. Stunningly well-documented and well-argued article, as usual, Dr. Bostom. The Encyclopedia Britannica confirms YOUR version of the Muslim persecution of Maimonides and Almohad Spain — not Amartya Sen’s.

    My best wishes for your new blog! :-) Altho’ I have NO idea why the current subtitle is “uncreated, uncreative words.”

  16. “After him arose the Madman who emulated his precursor since he paved the way for him.”

    I agree with Archimedes2, with regard to Maimonides opinion of Jesus’ madness. It makes sense, given that Maimonides was a devout Jew, and I don’t find it offensive or troubling either.

    Here is where I think Maimonides to be in error.
    Mohammed plaigiarized from both the Old and New Testaments, but I can’t see much emulation of Christ in Mohammed’s behaviour, nor in that of his followers, today.

  17. Dr. Bostom,
    Thank you for providing intellectual ammunition in the struggle against ‘conventional wisdom’. The old bromide about tolerant Islam providing safe haven from a tyraniccal Christian inquisition needs to be put to rest. I look forward to checking on the issues you will cover this site.

  18. I wonder if the “inquisition” attitudes of the muslim overlords got into the fabric of Spain; and that therefore, this attitude led to the Spanish Inquisition.

    In other words, the muslims caused the Spanish Inquisition because of their continual inquisition against the non-muslims.

    And perhaps the muslims blaming the Jews for everything for 700 years got into the fabric of Spain; causing the Spanish to be anti-Semitic, and kick the Jews out after they defeated the muslims.

    Could this also explain why women are often treated poorly in Latin America? Maybe the Spanish picked up this attitude as well from their muslim overlords.

  19. Responding to Dr. Irish,

    I am an avid reader of Dr. Bostom’s books and articles and consider him to be one of the top 3 anti jihadists in our culture, noted others being Ms. Brigitte Gabriel and of course Mr. Robert Spencer. In answer to your question “Can’t something be done?”, They each have remarkable plans for overcoming jihad. And as a stand alone scholarly work, Dr. Bostom’s work cannot be refuted with logic.

    But in a more direct answer to your question, here is my answer posted on my blog at http://islamviolentcult.blogspot.com. Save Islam: Pass Anti Violent Cult Legislation Now!
    Islam disables its adversaries, that is, all who do not believe in the divinity of Allah via Muhammad, by presenting itself as opposites: a religion of peace on the one hand and a killer of disbelievers on the other. That double entendre splits the minds of, thus allows control over, its umma (practicing Muslims) and all competition. Induce a secular intervention on Islam through establishment of anti violent cult legislation. It will do for Islam what it can’t do for itself: end the violence.”

    I apologize for the advertising appearing reference to my blog on this subject. I don’t know how to address Dr. Irish’s question any other way. And it must be answered directly.

    Jesse Collins

  20. Dr Bostom, excellent article. The primary sources provide access to the facts, and facts are stubborn things.

    An aside to Abscedere and Archimedes2: from the Jewish point of view, the advantage of Christianity versus Islam, is that Christianity preserved the Holy Scriptures intact, and so Christians and Christian philosophers and theologians are able to return to the Source, as it were. Islamists, on the other hand, teach that both the Jewish and Christian Bibles are forgeries, and the Islamic holy writings present a very confused and garbled image of what is actually recorded in the Bible.

    As far as Jesus is concerned, when I read, for example, the Sermon on the Mount, I find nothing that a Jewish preacher would be embarassed to preach before a Jewish audience; which is not surprising, since the Sermon on the Mount was preached by a Jewish preacher to a Jewish audience. Where I think Christianity substantially departs from the Jewish tradition is in the theology of Paul, although I admit that is a controversial point.

    The most important point, ably made by Dr Bostom in this article, is that the flight of Maimonides and his family is widely –but falsely– represented by leftists and secularists in the West as a flight from an intolerant Christian regime to a tolerant Muslim regime. I look forward to the publication of Dr Bostom’s new book.

  21. While it is reassuring to some degree to read informed, objective commentary like Andrew Bostom’s (and I am thankful for it without measure myself) it is also depressing to have to consider that such excellent work remains the preserve only of those who already agree with it.

    The Andrew Bostoms of this world work away on behalf of us all, but their audience I fear will always remain small. They will be dismissed by the majority of literate people ,who are inured to the practice of substituting attitude for information, or of confusing “right” attitude with “right” information. I am beginning to fear that there is no cure for this.

    However, difficulties and challenges are never reason to do nothing, and I commend Andrew for his work, and assure him that someone is listening.

  22. Keep up the good work of presenting factual information that all of us can use to counter Takiyya and Kitman!

  23. Michael, Good post. It is very frustrating to see excellent scholarship and meticulous research ignored because it is associated with the ‘wrong’ attitude. Scholarly works, however, are destined to a small audience no matter what the attitude. What I think is needed is some mass media that portrays Islam, Mohammed, and jihad from a perspective that would be recognized by readers of Bostom, Bat Yoer, and Robert Spencer. TV and Hollywood will obviously not do this on their own. We desperately need a philanthropist willing to put up ( and possibly lose) a large sum in order to make movies of some of the stories the apologists want hidden. I think the controversy surrounding such a film would generate big box office. Once they see the movie, many people will not believe it, so the bibliographies and links to the supporting scholarship would be made available.

  24. To clarify my comment: I accused Ellis of diverting the focus of Dr. Bostom’s essay about Maimonides’ comments on mohammed and islam by finger-pointing at Jesus, and thus by implication, Christianity. This tactic is used constantly by jihadis and leftist dhimmis to deflect criticism from islam.

  25. The comments about Saudi/Muslim contempt for US freedom to bear arms statutes are very interesting. Hadn’t thought of it before but this is in perfect parallel to the common argument that speaking the truth about the nature of Islam is “fear mongering”– the favorite knee-jerk reaction to those who would demand absolute equality among all citizens.

    Agreed on immigration. In the long run separationism is the only peaceful solution between Islam and infidels. Getting to that state may not be so peaceful.

  26. I should clarify my reference to “Lewis’ trilemma”. The reference (in case anyone wondered) is to C. S. Lewis, not Bernard Lewis.

    I concur with subsequent posters on the topic — whatever Maimonides’ take on Jesus, as illustrated by several of the quotes provided by Bostom here, the Jewish scholar drew a clear, dramatic and qualitative distinction between affinity between Christianity and Judaism and the enmity of Islam to both. The rest are technical details.

  27. Pointing out Maimonides’ negative attitude toward Christianity is misleading in relation to the article above. While he no more approved of Yiska as the Messiah than he did of the Meshuggah as a prophet, he confessed as much only to quell a syncretistic apostate who was looked upon fondly by Nathanael ibn al-Fayyumi — the father of the fella to whom the Iggeret Teiman was addressed. Although, I’m sure the Rabbi would’ve been equally hostile toward Christianity had he lived later and in a Papal dominated area, the relevance of quoting Maimon here was to show that the Islamic approach to political relations hasn’t changed. The same can’t be said of Christianity.

    It was, however, conspicuous for Bostom to abbreviate the quotation as he did.

  28. More historical revisioning in order to apease the kabbah worshipers.

  29. Mats, what historical revisioning?
    Who are the kabbah worshipers
    who must be appeased?
    Are you on the right blog?
    Obviously, due to inferior intellect,
    I can’t see through your frontal fog.

  30. Archimedes2 // Dec 27, 2007 at 5:40 am , writes:

    A believing Jew who accepts Jesus as a historical character and the Gospel narratives as being even vaguely historical, but rejects the theological claims of those Gospels, must opt for “Liar” or “Lunatic”. But it is hard to construe the Jesus of the Gospels as a charlatan. I find less offense in someone who, from a different faith, gravitates to the conclusion that Jesus was out of his mind (as, for example, “Jesus Christ Superstar” evidently portrays him) than in someone who simply refuses belief altogether, and dismisses the question of Jesus as a triviality, or something irrelevant.

    Jesus depection in the Gospels is from the Greek perspective of devine and prophethood

    Paul, the Hellenist, however, knowingly or unknowingly, seems to have taken the heathen cult associations as his pattern while introducing new features into the Church (see Anrich, “Das Antike Mysterienwesen in Seinem Einfluss auf das Christenthum,” 1894; Wobbermin, “Religionsgeschichtliche Studien zur Frage der Beeinflussung des Urchristenthums Durch das Antike Mysterienwesen,” 1896, p. 153; Hatch, “Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church,” 1890, pp. 281-296; Cumont, “Die Mysterien des Mithra, Deutsch von Gehrich,” 1903, pp. 101, 118-119; Anz, “Ursprung des Gnosticismus,” 1897, pp. 98-107; Reizenstein and Kabisch, l.c.). To him baptism is no longer a symbolic rite suggestive of purification or regeneration, as in Jewish and Judæo-Christian circles (see Baptism), but a mystic rite by which the person that enters the water and emerges again undergoes an actual transformation, dying with Christ to the world of flesh and sin, and rising with him to the world of the spirit, the new life of the resurrection (Rom. vi. 1-10).

    Still more is the partaking of the bread and the wine of the communion meal, the so-called “Lord’s Supper,” rendered the means of a mystic union with Christ, “a participation in his blood and body,” exactly as was the Mithraic meal a real participation in the blood and body of Mithra (see Cumont, l.c.).

    http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=283&letter=S&search=Paul%20of%20Tarsus#976

    Paul who was Saul ws not Jewish rabbi, scholar or anything like that

    Nor is there any indication in Paul’s writings or arguments that he had received the rabbinical training ascribed to him by Christian writers, ancient and modern; least of all could he have acted or written as he did had he been, as is alleged (Acts xxii. 3), the disciple of Gamaliel I., the mild Hillelite. His quotations from Scripture, which are all taken, directly or from memory, from the Greek version, betray no familiarity with the original Hebrew text. The Hellenistic literature, such as the Book of Wisdom and other Apocrypha, as well as Philo (see Hausrath, “Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte,” ii. 18-27; Siegfried, “Philo von Alexandria,” 1875, pp. 304-310; Jowett, “Commentary on the Thessalonians and Galatians,” i. 363-417), was the sole source for his eschatological and theological system. Notwithstanding the emphatic statement, in Phil. iii. 5, that he was “a Hebrew of the Hebrews”—a rather unusual term, which seems to refer to his nationalistic training and conduct (comp. Acts xxi. 40, xxii. 2), since his Jewish birth is stated in the preceding words “of the stock of Israel”—he was, if any of the Epistles that bear his name are really his, entirely a Hellenist in thought and sentiment. As such he was imbued with the notion that “the whole creation groaneth” for liberation from “the prison-house of the body,” from this earthly existence, which, because of its pollution by sin and death, is intrinsically evil