p-relig-tol-msg – 12/26/04
Religious tolerance in period. The Pact of Ulmar.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
Subject: Religious Tolerance from The Daoist in the Corner
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999 06:51:12 -0500
From: Nicholas Malone <NicholasM at HCL-JMI.com>
To: "'SCA_Merry Rose'" <atlantia at atlantia.sca.org>
Religious tolerance is not really that new, It has been an accepted part of
attempts to live peacefully between many sects and groups. Usually it wasn't
practiced very well but occasionally it was even codified. On personal
level I can't proselytize unless asked directly. But hey if people want to
ignore truth and knowledge then more power to their ignorant bliss. Besides
it might be better to take a few extra lifetimes to reach a higher plane if
they can be blissful?
I found some info on a period attempt at tolerance:
The Pact of Umar is the body of limitations and privileges entered into by
treaty between conquering Muslims and conquered non-Muslims. We have no
special treaty of this sort with the Jews, but we must assume that all
conquered peoples, including the Jews, had to subscribe to it. Thus the laws
cited below and directed against churches apply to synagogues too. The Pact
was probably originated about 637 by Umar I after the conquest of Christian
Syria and Palestine.
By accretions from established practices and precedents, the Pact was
extended; yet despite these additions the whole Pact was ascribed to Umar.
There are many variants of the text and scholars deny that the text as it
now stands could have come from the pen of Umar I; it is generally assumed
that its present form dates from about the ninth century.
The Pact of Umar has served to govern the relations between the Muslims and
"the people of the book," such as Jews, Christians, and the like, down to
the present day. In addition to the conditions of the Pact listed below, the
Jews, like the Christians, paid a head-tax in return for protection, and for
exemption from military service. Jews and Christians were also forbidden to
hold government office. This Pact, like much medieval legislation, was
honored more in the breach than in the observance. In general, though, the
Pact increased in stringency with the centuries and was still in force in
the 20th century in lands such as Yemen. The Pact is in Arabic.
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate!
This is a writing to Umar from the Christians of such and such a city. When
You [Muslims] marched against us [Christians],: we asked of you protection
for ourselves, our posterity, our possessions, and our co-religionists; and
we made this stipulation with you, that we will not erect in our city or the
suburbs any new monastery, church, cell or hermitage; that we will not
repair any of such buildings that may fall into ruins, or renew those that
may be situated in the Muslim quarters of the town; that we will not refuse
the Muslims entry into our churches either by night or by day; that we will
open the gates wide to passengers and travelers; that we will receive any
Muslim traveler into our houses and give him food and lodging for three
nights; that we will not harbor any spy in our churches or houses, or
conceal any enemy of the Muslims. [At least six of these laws were taken
over from earlier Christian laws against infidels.]
That we will not teach our children the Qu'ran [some nationalist Arabs
feared the infidels would ridicule the Qu'ran; others did not want infidels
even to learn the language]; that we will not make a show of the Christian
religion nor invite any one to embrace it; that we will not prevent any of
our kinsmen from embracing Islam, if they so desire. That we will honor the
Muslims and rise up in our assemblies when they wish to take their seats;
that we will not imitate them in our dress, either in the cap, turban,
sandals, or parting of the hair; that we will not make use of their
expressions of speech, nor adopt their surnames [infidels must not use
greetings and special phrases employed only by Muslims]; that we will not
ride on saddles, or gird on swords, or take to ourselves arms or wear them,
or engrave Arabic inscriptions on our rings; that we will not sell wine
[forbidden to Muslims]; that we will shave the front of our heads; that we
will keep to our own style of dress, wherever we may be; that we will wear
girdles round our waists [infidels wore leather or cord girdles; Muslims,
cloth and silk].
That we will not display the cross upon our churches or display our crosses
or our sacred books in the streets of the Muslims, or in their
market-places; that we will strike the clappers in our churches lightly
[wooden rattles or bells summoned the people to church or synagogue]; that
we will not recite our services in a loud voice when a Muslim is present;
that we will not carry Palm branches [on Palm Sunday] or our images in
procession in the streets; that at the burial of our dead we will not chant
loudly or carry lighted candles in the streets of the Muslims or their
market places; that we will not take any slaves that have already been in
the possession of Muslims, nor spy into their houses; and that we will not
strike any Muslim.
All this we promise to observe, on behalf of ourselves and our
co-religionists, and receive protection from you in exchange; and if we
violate any of the conditions of this agreement, then we forfeit your
protection and you are at liberty to treat us as enemies and rebels.
Jacob Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World: A Sourcebook, 315-1791, (New
York: JPS, 1938), 13-15 Later printings of this text (e.g. by Athenaeum,
1969, 1972, 1978) do not indicate that the copyright was renewed)
Back to Medieval Source Book Medieval Sourcebook: Pact of Umar, 7th Century?
The Status of Non-Muslims Under Muslim Rule
After the rapid expansion of the Muslim dominion in the 7th century, Muslim
leaders were required to work out a way of dealing with Non-Muslims, who
remained in the majority in many areas for centuries. The solution was to
develop the notion of the "dhimma", or "protected person". The Dhimmi were
required to pay an extra tax, but usually they were unmolested. This
compares well with the treatment meted out to non-Christians in Christian Europe. The Pact of Umar is supposed to have been the peace accord offered by the Caliph Umar to the Christians of Syria, a "pact" which formed the patter of later interaction. We heard from 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam [died 78/697] as follows: When Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, we wrote to him as follows:
In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. This is a letter
to the servant of God Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from
the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked
you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property,
and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations
* We shall not build, in our cities or in their
neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks' cells, nor
shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are
situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
* We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and
travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way
for three days.
* We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our
dwellings to any spy, nor bide him from the Muslims.
* We shall not teach the Qur'an to our children.
* We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor
convert anyone to it. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering
Islam if they wish it.
* We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we
shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit.
* We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by
imitating any of their garments, the qalansuwa, the turban, footwear, or the
parting of the hair.
* We shall not speak as they do, nor shall we adopt their kunyas.
* We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird
swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our- persons.
* We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals.
* We shall not sell fermented drinks.
* We shall clip the fronts of our heads.
* We shall always dress in the same way wherever we
may be, and we shall bind the zunar round our waists
* We shall not display our crosses or our books in the
roads or markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers in our churches
* We shall not raise our voices when following our
dead. We shall not show lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in
* We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.
* We shall not take slaves who have been allotted to Muslims.
* We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of
(When I brought the letter to Umar, may God be pleased with him, he
added, "We shall not strike a Muslim.")
We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our
community, and in return we receive safe-conduct. If we in any way violate
these undertakings for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our
covenant [dhimma], and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and
Umar ibn al-Khittab replied: Sign what they ask, but add two clauses and
impose them in addition to those which they have undertaken. They are:
"They shall not buy anyone made prisoner by the Muslims," and "Whoever
strikes a Muslim with deliberate intent shall forfeit the protection of this
pact." from Al-Turtushi, Siraj al-Muluk, pp. 229-230.
Date: Sun, 07 Oct 2001 18:28:56 -0700
From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at efn.org>
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] An Apology (was A challenge to Duke Cariadoc)
Elizabeth A Heckert wrote:
> My understanding is that Moslems, Jews and Christian were able to
> live together peacefully for a time in Moorish Spain. Maybe we've been
> able to re-create a *really* good part.
Sicily also- especially during the reign of Frederick II who was
particularly 'flexible', around 1200. He's the one who got in trouble
with most of the Western World for going on crusade and then making
treaty with the Saracens instead of simply killing lots of them. If I
was going to start over in the SCA I might consider a persona in 13th c
Sicily... or Merovingian France... or late 12th c Outremer...
*sigh* So litle time, so many personae...
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 07:32:57 -0400
From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] An Apology (was A challenge to Duke Cariadoc)
Stefan li Rous wrote:
> The catch is the "for a time". There were other places where the three
> lived together peaceably for a period of time. Unfortunately, these
> periods didn't always last long. Sometimes it was the Moslems that
> broke things up, more usual the Christians. Palestine was another place
> where the three religions lived more or less peacefully together for
> a while. However, one religion was always supreme and making the rules.
> The Moslems just seemed to be a bit more tolerant of others than the
> Christians. However, until the late Roman period, the Romans did a
> much better job of this than any of the other religions mentioned here.
Oh, yeah, big time. The Romans were interested in keeping the peace, collecting their tax money, and building whatever they needed to integrate a place into their Empire. While they would build temples for their own use and invite the locals to practice their faith, they had little or no interest in forcing their religious beliefs on others, for the most part. I will always remember the first time I encountered Jesus as a theoretically historical figure as seen through the eyes of Rome. "We have here a race of notoriously argumentative troublemakers, and they're complaining about this guy who is so much of a troublemaker that even _they_ can't stand him. Better be on the safe side and execute him; we can fit him in on Friday. Oh, look, now that he's been executed he's _still_ posing a threat to our authority. Better execute his followers, too."
It's interesting to note that both the Roman religion and, as far as I
know, Judaism, contain no strictly built-in imperative to, um, propagate
the faith, while Christianity and Islam do. At least I'm assuming Islam
From: "Siegfried Heydrich" <baronsig at peganet.com>
To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Roman tolerance (was: An Apology)
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 08:46:21 -0400
What got the christians in trouble was first, they refused to
acknowledge social conventions. In their secret 'love feasts', patrician
would mingle with plebian or even slave. This was NOT done in polite
society, or even impolite society! The fact that these were secret rites
just fanned the flames of prurient speculation, and made people really
suspicious of them right off the bat. It was widely speculated that they
were engaging in cannibalistic practices. After all, why else would you have
your ritual dinners in secret?
Second, they refused to offer sacrifices to the state gods. Remember,
back then religion was simply one arm of the state. Nobody else had any
problems sacrificing; when the jews got upset about it, the Romans
accommodated them by allowing them to sacrifice by proxy. You could pay
someone to make a token sacrifice in your name, and by doing so, you
indicated your submission to the state.
The christians refused to do even this, indicating that they refused to
submit to the authority of the state, thus placing themselves in a really
unpleasant position. Almost all martyrs could have avoided death by simply
tossing a small cake onto an altar fire. In fact, the Romans really DIDN'T
want to kill most of them, at least in the early days. They were brought in,
it was explained to them what was expected of them, and what would happen to
them if they refused to comply. I very strongly suspect that the majority
did the sensible thing, and didn't try to make a grand statement.
The fanaticism of these martyrs was another factor in the persecutions -
they were that era's version of suicide bombers. People who were so opposed
to the state that they were willing to die rather than submit. The Romans
could NOT allow this sort of challenge to go unanswered, and the roman
answer was generally to send them to the circus to provide an object lesson
to the populace of what would happen those who defied the state.
The more fanatical the christians got, the more determined the Romans
were to suppress this cult. The Romans were amazingly tolerant of religions
in general - they even had a shrine in the Pantheon dedicated to the gods
that didn't have a shrine, just to make sure they had all their bets
covered. But they could in no way allow their authority to be superceded by
that of some resurrected jew whom they had executed for felony
From: "Mark S. Harris" <stefanlirous at austin.rr.com>
Subject: Re: Question on persona, name, ect.
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 06:30:46 GMT
Arval <arval at mittle.users.panix.com> wrote:
> Silvina <silvina at allegiance.tv> wrote:
> > How about a persona that has somewhat of a "split personality"? My
> > persona is an 1100's Italian merchant/merchant's wife and has been
> > adopted by a Turkish corsair/merchant as his sister since he has no
> > heirs. Upon adoption he gave me a turkish name...
> I don't know how historically likely that particular scenario is, but
> the underlying notion that a person who interacted with both Christian
> and Muslim cultures would be known by different names in each culture
> is probably sound: We have evidence of just that thing in medieval
> Arval arval at mittle.users.panix.com
We do? Interesting. More info please, Arval. And examples if you have
THLord Stefan li Rous Barony of Bryn Gwlad Kingdom of Ansteorra
Mark S. Harris Austin, Texas StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
From: Arval <arval at mittle.users.panix.com>
Subject: Re: Question on persona, name, ect.
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 13:41:39 +0000 (UTC)
> > I don't know how historically likely that particular scenario is, but
> > the underlying notion that a person who interacted with both Christian
> > and Muslim cultures would be known by different names in each culture
> > is probably sound: We have evidence of just that thing in medieval
> > Iberia.
> We do? Interesting. More info please, Arval. And examples if you have
There are a few examples in http://www.s-gabriel.org/1523
Arval arval at mittle.users.panix.com