710 AD to 730 AD, Psalm 83: Al Aqsa.

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Temple mount - holy place for judaism and islamThis generation is that of the 710s and 720s.

In Byzantium, the successors of Philippicos Bardanes (711-713) are Anastasius II (713-715), Theodosius III (715-717) before the establishment of the long reign of Leo III the Isaurian (717-741). The latter puts an end to a long period of instability mainly by defeating a new siege of Constantinople led by the Arabs which is running in rout.
On the side of the Umayyads, Al Walid 1st (705-715) initializes this generation. Then follow Suleyman (715-717), Umar Ibn Abd-Al Aziz (717-720), Yazid II (720-724) and Hisham (724-743).
Whereas the direct attacks of the Arab armies against Constantinople are vain, the Arab armies consolidate during this generation their conquests towards the east. Thus Samarkand falls and agrees to abandon the idolatrous worship for the benefit of Islam materialized by the construction of a mosque. This mosque will not be the only building to mark this generation.
On the sidelines of the policy of conquest of the Umayyad caliphs in Damascus, an initiative of the governor of Ifriqiya (the current Maghreb and mainly present-day Tunisia) changes the destiny of Europe.

Tarik_ibn_Ziyad_-While the Arabs have been trying in vain for a few generations to force Constantinople, the Eastern bloc of Europe, Tarik in 711, took advantage of the weakness of the Visigoth kingdom to quickly make most of the Iberian Peninsula the new Arab province of El Andalous.

The conquest of Visigoth Spain reveals hidden treasures. It was the Visigoths, under the command of Alaric, who had worked on the sack of Rome in 410. Rome had plundered the treasures of the Temple of Solomon when seizing Jerusalem in 70. The fact that Arab armies could discover some of these treasures during their conquest of Visigoth Spain is therefore quite plausible.
It is not impossible that Solomon’s table came to enrich a hidden room or a cellar of the different great constructions of this generation (Damascus, Medina or Jerusalem).

1024px-Steuben_-_Bataille_de_Poitiers

The successor of Abd Al Aziz tries to continue the conquests in « Europe ». Charles Martel put a stop there in 732 near Poitiers.
In fact, if in the Christian Empire of Byzantium, Jews have an inferior status and have suffered painful episodes, such as those mentioned in previous generations, there has never been a blatant desire to exterminate Jews from Eastern Christianity.
This is not the case of Christianity developed in the Visigoth kingdom, whose practices will unfortunately be imitated by all the future Christian kingdoms of the West.
The Muslim conquest ends this laboratory century of antisemitism:
  • With [1] the conversion of Reccared, appears the anti-Jewish legislation. It continues to strengthen until the fall of the kingdom of Toledo, because the rulers have the mission to defend the Catholic faith, and because the Jews are the only obstacle to total unification. Moreover, the profits they make in the big business appear as scandalous in a period of contracted economy.
  • In a first stage, which continues for a century, the authorities seek to isolate the Jews and convert them by persuasion or force. Councils and successive monarchs forbid them to have a Christian wife, to possess slaves or non-Jewish servants, to exercise public office and to attend converts; they punish Jewish proselytism with death. Sisebut, about 616, then Chintila decide to convert them en masse and are the instigators of the first persecutions against them.
  • With the radicalization of the social tension and the aggravation of the political and economic difficulties, then opens a second stage during which the monarchy, incited by the bishops like Julien de Tolède, a convert, seek to eliminate the Jews, become scapegoats for the crisis. No less than 40 anti-Jewish laws are enacted from 681 to 694! Ervige decides to extirpate « the Jewish plague » […]
  • In 711, the communities were decimated, but there are still Jews, whom the chronicles accuse of welcoming Muslims as liberators.
It is at the end of the Visigoth episode that the beginning of the psalm of this generation refers to:

(extract of the psalm 83 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 5 )

  • A psalm, a song of Asaph.
  • O God, have no silence, do not be silent and do not be still, O God.
  • For behold, Your enemies stir, and those who hate You raise their heads.
  • Against Your people they plot cunningly, and they take counsel against Your protected ones.
  • They said, « Come, let us destroy them from [being] a nation, and the name of Israel will no longer be remembered. »
The end of Visigoth Spain soon gives way to a Spain where the three monotheistic religions cohabit better than elsewhere.
This result may be due to the fact that the new masters of Spain were neither long-time Muslims nor vigorous followers of the religion of the Prophet:
  • The inhabitants [2] of these regions (Tunisia and Maghreb) are Berber tribes. The first conquest of Governor Ibn Abi-Sarh, who defeated them and the Christian Franks (Maghreb), had no lasting consequences. The Berbers rebelled and apostatized. The Muslims massacred them. Once Islam was firmly established in their homes, they revolted again and they adopted Kharijite heresy on several occasions. Ibn Abi-Zayd reports that the Maghreb Berbers rose twelve times and that it was not until Musa b. Nusayr became governor, so that Islam could establish itself solidly at home.
In fact after the defeats against the Byzantine Empire, Muslims decide to consolidate their empire rather than extend it. This goes through an increased rigor in Islamization which is actually in its infancy, since the canons of the Koran are only fixed since a few years.
The Berbers who had recently been converted to Islam by force were therefore likely to have sought a safe haven away from the caliphal authorities of Damascus. This is what they will find in the conquest of Spain.
This being done probably with the complicity of the Jews of the peninsula and also many Christian forces. The Caliphs of Baghdad will not be able to impose Islamic rigor on this new territory and will have to deal with this new balance of understanding between the three monotheistic religions. This agreement will be broken a few generations later when Muslims will really become the majority.
Many Jews are likely to seize the opportunity of these new conquests to emigrate from Syria (encompassing the land of Israel) and Mesopotamia to settle on lands controlled by Muslim Berbers (of which many Jewish tribes before their conversions): the Maghreb and Spain. This exodus follows many epidemics and thus amplifies the decline of the Jewish population of these territories:
  • In [3] that year, 79 AH, there was an epidemic in Syria, which took away an immense number of men. The mortality was so great in this country that it was almost depopulated.
It is probably this Jewish desertification of the ancestral land due to exodus and epidemics that prompted Suleyman Ibn Abd Al Malik (caliph 715-717) to build in the land of Israel (before his accession to the throne) the city of al Ramla (40 km north-west of Jerusalem) which will later serve as a Caliph residence. This city is the only Arab-Muslim city of importance founded in the land of Israel.
This appropriation of the land of Israel is accompanied by a tightening of conditions for Jews within the Muslim empire. The favorable conditions of the beginning of the Umayyad dynasty harden like the new rules imposed on dhimmis by the Omar Convention:
  • It is [4] probable that a number of the humiliating prescriptions contained in the Omar Convention were the work of the Umayyad Caliph Omar II (717-720), and this may be the cause of the confusion. The writing of the text in its most complete form must be the work of literary compilers of the third century of the Hegira, taking into account all the successive restrictions to the freedoms of the dhimmis, regardless of time and place.
  • Be that as it may, the text of the « chorouth » (meaning « stipulations », the Arabic name of the convention) is indicative of a state of Muslim legal thought with regard to minorities. This marks a considerable deterioration from the time of the Prophet and the conquest, which may seem characteristic of the at least theoretical attitude of the Islamic civilization at its peak. The list of prohibitions and various vexations is now very long: prohibitions to build or repair religious buildings; prohibition of public manifestations of worship, prohibition of carrying arms or riding saddles; the obligation of distinctive signs of dress, or of particularities of hairdressing; obligation of external marks of respect towards Muslims, etc. At the same time, there was the various outrages against the dhimmis in the payment of the capitation (humble and curt attitude of the taxpayers, who must make the payment in person, the seal affixed to the back of the taxpayer’s neck to serve as a receipt, etc.), which flow directly. as for them, the text of the Koranic verse (Surah IX, verse 29: « with humiliation ») and its rigorous interpretations. Finally, the various legal schools elaborated a whole series of regulations and a whole body of case law which led to many areas of private and public law (- special commercial taxes, special taxes on property taxes (kharâdj), restrictions on the ability to inherit, prohibition for a dhimmi to marry a Muslim, to own slaves not only Muslims but sometimes even pagan, at least theoretical exclusion of public jobs, nullity or poor value of the testimony, especially in case of trial with a Muslim, etc. -) to seriously affect the situation of non-Muslim minorities.
The Muslims (« Ishmaelites »), continuing the work of the previous empire, that of Rome and Byzantium (« Edom ») in the project of robbing the Jews of their promised land, thus virtually allied themselves with the enemies that the people of Israel had to face during from the exit of Egypt. Re-attribution of the inheritance of the Jewish people and transformation of the latter into pariah to prevent the latter from being able to claim his property again.
This is what the continuation of the psalm expresses:

(extract of the psalm 83 associated to this generation, verses 6 to 9 )

  • For they have taken counsel with one accord; against You they form a pact.
  • The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites.
  • Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre.
  • Also Assyria joined them; they were the arm of the children of Lot forever.
By the code of Omar (« against You they form a pact« ) they come to join the other peoples in the fight against the election of the people of Israel. Many elements of this code will be applied in the next centuries to the Jews and not only in the land of Islam

To curse this last act, the editor of the psalm refers to a biblical episode [5] of the Judges’ period (after the conquest of the land of Israel by Joshua and before the advent of the first kings of Israel), when they were confronted with Jabin, Canaanite king and his general Sisara who possessed a powerful army….

The Israelites relied on the prophetess Deborah who led Barak to victory. The Canaanite army was defeated at the stream of Kison, Sisara sought his safety in the flight:
  • Giaele_e_SisaraAnd Sisera  [6] ( – after the troops accompanying him were decimated – ) fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
  • And Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, « Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. » And he turned in to her into the tent, and she covered him with a garment.
  • And he said to her, « Give me now a little water to drink, for I am thirsty; » and she opened the flask of milk and gave him to drink, and covered him.
  • And he said to her, « Stand in the doorway of the tent; and it shall be, if any man comes and asks you and says, ‘Is a man here?,’ then you shall say, ‘There is not.’ « 
  • And Jael, the wife of Heber, took the tent-pin, and placed the hammer in her hand, and came to him stealthily, and thrust the pin into his temple, and it pierced through into the ground; and he was in a deep sleep and weary; and he died.
In the same way, the Umayyad dynasty will not resist the Abbassid revolution in the next generation, the troops of Marwan, the last Umayyad caliph will also be decimated during the Battle of Great Zab in January 750.
Marwan will also try to find his salvation in the flight, but he too will be pursued and executed:
  • Marwan [7] had stopped in a town called Ain as-Schams, ancient capital of Pharaoh. Amir (who was pursuing Marwan) arrived there during the night and saw a slave who would make a horse. He asked who owned this horse. « To Marwan, » replied the slave.  » Where is he ? » Amir asked again. The slave told him the church. Amir and his soldiers went to this place. Marwan, informed of their arrival, immediately got up, put on his cuirass, took his sword, went out, and tried to repel the attackers. Amir cried to his soldiers in Persian language: Fall on him! One of his officers named Abdallah, son of Schihab, threw his javelin and reached Marwan in the belly. Marwan fell, Amir’s horsemen immediately surrounded him, and a slave of Mohammed, son of Shihab, cut off his head.
As a result, any survival of the Umayyad dynasty will be destroyed, be it the remains of the previous caliphs or the last members of the former ruling family:
  • Abou’l-‘Abbâs, on his side [8], had ordered all members of Omayya’s family to be seized, old men, young men and children, in a place called Nahr -Tousî. When all were reunited, Saffhah had them massacred. Then he had a leather mat spread over the bodies, on which a meal was served to those who attended the scene, and who ate, while the victims groaned and died.
The final fate of the Umayyads, compared to that of Jabin’s troops is thus recalled in the rest of the psalm, the psalmist’s vow will be executed « literall » to the next generation:

(extract of the psalm 83 associated to this generation, verses 10 and 11 )

  • Do to them as [to] Midian; as [to] Sisera, as [to] Jabin in the brook Kishon.
  • They were destroyed in En-Dor; they were [as] dung on the ground.
Why, such anger? The measures of Omar’s code are not enough to justify such a curse on the part of the psalmist.
In fact this generation is also that of the final construction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (« permanent ») on the holiest place in Jerusalem:
  • Al Walid [13] 1st (675-715), had succeeded his father Abd Al Malik for a reign of ten years, between 705 and 715. Mostly known as builder, he was raised in Damascus, at the Inside the walls of an ancient temple, the famous Umayyad Mosque […]. He is also responsible for the reconstruction of the Great Mosque of Medina and the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem in front of the Dome of the Rock erected by his father Abd Al Malik whose work he completed.
The association of the two mosques on the site of the Temple of Solomon is the fault that the psalmist blames the Umayyad dynasty as indicated by the following psalm:

(extract of the psalm 83 associated to this generation, verses 12 to 19 )

  • Make them, their nobles, as Oreb and as Zeeb, and as Zebah and as Zalmuna all their princes,
  • Who said, « Let us inherit for ourselves the dwellings of God. »
  • My God, make them like thistles, like stubble before the wind.
  • As a fire that burns in a forest and as a flame that burns mountains.
  • So will You pursue them with Your tempest, and with Your whirlwind You will terrify them.
  • Fill their faces with shame, and they will seek Your countenance, O Lord.
  • Let them be ashamed and terrified forever; let them be disgraced and perish.
  • Let them know that You-Your name alone is the Lord, Most High over all the earth.
The end of this passage is reminiscent of the desperate escape of the survivors of the Umayyad dynasty which only escape Abd al-Rahman who founded the Umayyad dynasty of Cordoba after nearly five years of flight and cache:
  • Abd Al Rahman’s journey [14] from Iraq to Al Andalus lasted five years and he was never assured of being alive when the next day came. Wherever he went, he was wanted by the spies and henchmen of his enemies, the Abbassids, who had snatched the caliphate from his family.

The characters mentioned in this passage of the psalm correspond to a new episode of « judges » [15] during which the Midianites prevented the Israelites from living on their land. The building of mosques will have the same effect.

Dome of the Rock and Western Wall in Jerusalem, IsraelUntil today, these mosques prevent the people of Israel returned to their land from proceeding to the worship of their God in Jerusalem. Thus the conclusion of the psalm echoes the prophecy of Isaiah which also refers to the yoke of the Midianites which illustrates the psalm:

  • The people [16] (Israel) who walked in darkness, have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, light shone upon them.
  • You have aggrandized this nation; you have magnified the joy for them; they have rejoiced over You like the joy of harvest, as they rejoice when they divide spoils.
  • For, the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of the one who oppressed him have You broken, as on the day of Midian.
  • For every victory shout sounds with clamor, and garments wallow in blood, but this shall be burnt, consumed by fire.
  • For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, called his name, « the prince of peace. »
  • To him who increases the authority, and for peace without end, on David’s throne and on his kingdom, to establish it and to support it with justice and with righteousness; from now and to eternity, the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall accomplish this.

 

 

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[1] Denis MENJOT: « The medieval Spain / 409-1474 ». Chapter: « Spain of the Visigoths: The Kingdom of Toledo 569-711. (French: « Les Espagnes médiévales / 409-1474 ». Chapitre : « l’Espagne des Wisigoths : Le royaume de Tolède 569-711. (p.33/34) ).

[2] Ibn Khaldûn: « Discourse on Universal History » (French translation by Vincent Monteil). Chapter: « Dynasties, Monarchy, Caliphate. 9: A dynasty rarely settles in heterogeneous countries « . (French: « Discours sur l’Histoire universelle » (traduction de Vincent Monteil). Chapitre : « Dynasties, Monarchie, Califat. 9 : Une dynastie s’installe rarement dans des pays hétérogènes » (p. 252) ).

[3] TABARI: « The Chronicle, The Umayyads ». Chapter: « Government of Haddjadj, son of Yousef, in Iraq » (French: « La Chronique, Les Omeyyades ».  Chapitre : « Gouvernement de Haddjadj, fils de Yousef, dans l’Iraq » (p. 112) ).

[4]  Xavier de Planhol: « Minorities in Islam ». Chapter: « General Introduction / The multiplication of restrictive measures: the » Omar Convention « . (French: « Minorités en Islam ». Chapitre : « Introduction générale / La multiplication des mesures restrictives : la « convention d’Omar ». (p.37) ).

[5] According to: Shoftim – Judges – Chapter 4

[6] JUGES, Chapitre 4, versets 17 à 21

[7] TABARI: « The Chronicle / The Golden Age of Abbasids ». Chapter: « Abdullah, son of Ali, invades Syria. Death of Marwan « . (French: « La Chronique / L’âge d’or des Abbassides ». Chapitre : « Abdallah, fils d’Ali, envahit la Syrie. Mort de Marwân » (p. 26) ).

[8] TABARI: « The Chronicle / The Golden Age of Abbasids ». Chapter: « Abdullah, son of Ali, invades Syria. Death of Marwan « . (French: « La Chronique / L’âge d’or des Abbassides ». Chapitre : « Abdallah, fils d’Ali, envahit la Syrie. Mort de Marwân » (p. 28) ).

[9] TABARI: « The Chronicle / The Umayyads ». Chapter: « Conquest of Gorgan and Taberistan by Yezid, son of Muhallab ». (French: « La Chronique /Les Omeyyades ». Chapitre : « Conquête du Gorgān et du Taberistan par Yezîd, fils de Mouhallab ». (p. 201) ).

[10] TABARI: « The Chronicle / The Umayyads ». Chapter: « Conquest of Gorgan and Taberistan by Yezid, son of Muhallab ». (French: « La Chronique /Les Omeyyades ». Chapitre : « Conquête du Gorgān et du Taberistan par Yezîd, fils de Mouhallab ». (p. 202) ).

[11] Janine Sourdel and Dominique Sourdel: « Historical Dictionary of Islam ». (French: « Dictionnaire historique de l’Islam » ).

[12] JUGES, Chapitre 5, versets 21 et 31

[13] Janine Sourdel and Dominique Sourdel: « Historical Dictionary of Islam ». (French: « Dictionnaire historique de l’Islam » ).

[14] Antonio Munoz Molina: « Cordoba of the Umayyads ». Chapter: « The Fugitive Prince » (French: « Cordoue des Omeyyades ». Chapitre : « Le prince fugitif » (p. 50) ).

[15] According to: Shoftim – Judges – Chapters 6 to 8

[16] ISAÏE, Chapitre 9, versets 1 à 6