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The Ayatollahs' Final Solution? (Continued III) By: Andrew G. Bostom
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, July 05, 2004

22 Fischel, W.J. “The Jews in Medieval Iran”, p. 281.

23 Fischel, W.J. “The Jews in Medieval Iran”, p. 281.; The Chronicle of the Carmelites, records:

“As all were apprehensive of a great barrenness of the soil from a protracted drought, a general dearness of corn being already experienced, everyone began to pour out prayers to God, each in the fashion of his own religion to implore the gift and succor of rain. But certain zealots of the Muhammadan faith, anxious as they had been unable to obtain anything from God by the rites and prayers enjoined on their own sect, lest some possibly more fortunate result should happen to be attributed to the votive offerings of another religion, complained to the king that the Jews and the Armenians by the unbounded license of their tenets had contrived the harm of the Muhammadan faith, and brought to naught the national religious rites with alien sacrileges. So the Shah [Suliaman], not in possession of his wits, admitting as a serious crime what he had heard exaggerated by the pretended sincerity of the false accusers, orders on the tenth day of the month of May (1678) those of the Jews, whose flight could be forestalled, to be seized and, with a hasty sentence of his furious temper, that the abdomens of their principal men should be ripped open- which was at once put into execution. The bellies of the Rabbi or priest of the Hebrews and of two of their chief men having been slit open, they perished: and their corpses, thrown out into the great royal square, called the Maidan, lay for a week unburied, while for a burial permit a tax of four Tumans was being levied for each. Then for the rest if them (the Jews) fetters and chains were waived on payment of a fine of 600 Tumans (one Tuman is 15 scudi, or piastres). But the Armenians, who were involed with the same accusation and were in peril of being generally slaughtered, having a certain grandee to protect them with the king, obtained pardon by paying some hundreds of Tumans as the price of their remaining unharmed.” [emphasis added; p. 408, Isfahan, July 29, 1678]


“…by the arbitrariness of the now reigning Shah Sultan Husain, whom the flattery of certain of his officials in giving him the surname ‘Din Parwar’ [fosterer of the religion], i.e., ‘zealous promoter of religious law’, has instigated, all races, subjects of his dominions, are obliged to profess the Muhammadan religion; after having begun this by the forced circumcision of the Gabrs [Zoroastrians] of the ancient Persian belief, still remaining worshippers of the perpetual fire, who lived in a very populous suburb above Julfa; passing on to wanting to do the same to all the Christians of Julfa, some four or five years back the decree for which would already have been issued had it not been for its execution being preventedby the king’s grandmother who is the owner and overlord of Julfa: yielding therefore to such powerful patronage for the time being, they attacked the somewhat more remote villages, little short of a hundred, by exactions of an intolerable grievousness, in order to compel them to find escape from these by having recourse to the immunity of Islam…” [p. 474, June 13, 1702]



24 Fischel, W.J. “The Jews in Medieval Iran”, p. 282.


25 Fischel, W.J. “The Jews in Medieval Iran”, p. 283.


26 Fischel, W.J. “Isfahan”, p. 126.


27 Fischel, W.J. “Isfahan”, p. 127.


28 Fischel, W.J. “The Jews of Persia”, p. 121.


29 d’Beth Hillel, David. The Travels of Rabbi David d’Beth Hillel: from Jerusalem, through Arabia, Koordistan, Part of Persia, and India to Madras. p. 115; cited in, Fischel W.J. The Jews of Kurdistan A Hundred Years Ago, New York, 1944, Reprinted from Jewish Social Studies, Vol. VI, No.3,  p. 223.


There are many confirmatory 19th century reports of the strict application of najas regulations towards Jews. Appendix 2 includes Benjamin’s listing of mid-19th century “oppressions” related to najas. Also Fraser noted [Fraser, James B. Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan in the Years 1821 and 1822, London, 1825, p. 182.] that Jews were forbidden from using the public baths. Stern [Stern, Henry A. Dawnings of Light in the East, London, 1854, pp. 184-185.] described how in the holy Shi’ite city of Qom,


“…the few [Jews] who are allowed to reside here come from Koshan Isfahan, and the ostentatious vocation which they pursue is peddling; but as the pious living in the religious atmosphere of so many descendants of the Prophet would be shocked at the idea of touching anything  that has passed the hands of a defiled and impure Jew, they have had recourse to a more profitable traffic, the sale of spirituous liquors.” 


Napier Malcolm reported [Five Years in a Persian Town, p.108] ,


“It is more easy to get the Mussulmans to eat food with the Parsis than with the Jews, whose religion ranks higher than Zoroastrianism in the popular regard.”


And Adams reported [Adams, Reverend Isaac. Persia by a Persian, Washington, D.C., 1900, p. 120]:


“Christians and Jews are not subject to decapitation as they are considered unclean by the Mohammedans and not sufficiently worthy of this privilege.”


Regardless, as Soroudi notes with bitter irony [The Concept of Jewish Impurity”, p. 157]:


“The impurity of the non-Muslim and his belongings, however, never deterred Shi’ah Muslims from plundering Jewish or Zoroastrian quarters on the smallest pretext or as a result of clerical or official instigation.”


30 d’Beth Hillel, The Travels of Rabbi David d’Beth Hillel, pp. 74-75, cited in Fischel W.J. The Jews of Kurdistan, pp. 223-224. The missionary Asahel Grant reported [Grant, A. The Nestorians, New York, 1841, pp. 382-383.],


“During my residence in Ooroomiah, a Jew was publicly burned to death in the city by order of the governor, on an allegation of that pretended crime! [i.e., a blood libel] Naphtha was freely poured over him, the torch was applied, and the miserable man was instantly enveloped in flame!”


31 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Kurdistan, pp. 224-225. After exhaustive research on the late 18th century fate of the Jews of Tabriz, Amnon Netzer concluded [Netzer, A. “The Fate of the Jewish Community of Tabriz”, in: Studies in Islamic History and Civilization in Honor of Professor David Ayalon, Jerusalem, 1986, p. 419.],


“…that there was, indeed, a terrible massacre of the Jews in Tabriz at some time between the years 1790-1797, and that Tabriz ceased to become a dwelling place where Jews could have a communal life for many.”


32 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Persia, p. 124. Reverend Joseph Wolff  provided a contemporary travelogue account of events in Meshed [cited in Curzon, G.N. Persia and the Persian Question, Vol. 1, 1892, p. 166.]:


“The occasion was as follows: A poor woman had a sore hand. A Mussulman physician advised her to kill a dog and put her hand in the blood of it. She did so; when suddenly the whole population rose and said that they had done it in derision of their prophet. Thirty-five Jews were killed in a few minutes; the rest, struck with terror, became Mohammedans. They are now more zealous Jews in secret than ever, but call themselves Anusim, the Compelled Ones.”  


Fischel wrote this modern analysis of the Meshed pogrom and forced conversions (in, Fischel, W.J. “Secret Jews of Persia”, Commentary, January 1949, p. 29):


“The [Jewish] woman [see Wolff’s account above] hired a Persian boy to catch a dog in the street and then kill it in her courtyard. Following a dispute about payment, the boy ran off in a rage. A rumor that the Jews had killed a dog on the holiest of holy days [the day of mourning for Husain, the grandson of Muhammad] and had even called it Husain to insult the Mohammedans. When this rumor reached the thousands assembled in mourning at the Mosque of the Imam Riza, hundreds of the devout, together with Shaikhs, Mullahs, Sayyids, and other spiritual leaders, rushed to the Jewish quarter. There they plundered, robbed, and burned. Soon the synagogue and the scrolls of the Law stood in flames; many scores of Jews were wounded and some thirty-five were left dead in the streets. The mob would have destroyed the entire Jewish quarter had not a group of priests given their word that the survivors would be converted to Islam. For the remaining Jews the only chance of survival was to recite the Moslem confession of faith. This they did, and on the following day they were officially accepted into Islam…They were now called, ‘Jadid al-Islam’, or ‘neo-Moslem’. With this acceptance of Islam, the convert was immediately freed from all his previous restrictions; he was no longer required to wear a special hat or have his hair dressed in a special way or wear any particular Jewish badge on his clothes, nor was he required to pay the poll-tax (jizya). His ‘uncleanliness’ was gone- he was now a Moslem among Moslems…The mosque became the legal meeting place of the Jedidim. There, they were under the supervision of the chief priest, the Mujtahid, who exercised the dual role of instructor in Mohammedanism and inquisitor for Islam [emphasis added]. He acted as the official head of the Jews as well as their supreme judicial authority. Demanding the diligent study of the Koran and the traditional books, he forbade ritual slaughtering, circumcision on the 8th day, ordered mixed marriages between Jedidim and Moslems, and was empowered to grant permission for burial. In 1839, then, the Jewish community in Meshed officially ceased to exist. Yet this forced conversion could not extinguish Judaism in the hearts of the Jedidim; the hope that they might one day return to their own religion remained alive in them.”


33 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Persia, pp. 124-125. Loeb [Outcaste, p. 57] maintains that tax farming throughout the 19th century, “…reduced the Jews to virtual serfdom.” Wills illustrates this abusive practice in a contemporary late 19th century account [Wills, C.J. Persia As It Is. London, 1887, pp. 229-230]:


“The principle is very simple. The Jews of a province are assessed at a tax of a certain amount. Someone pays this amount to the local governor together with a bribe; and the wretched Jews are immediately placed under his authority for the financial year. It is a simple speculation. If times are good, the farmer of the Jews makes a good profit; if they are bad he gains nothing, or may fail to extract from them as much as he has paid out of pocket- in that case, woe betide them. During the Persian famine the Jews suffered great straits before the receipt of subsidies sent from Europe by their co-religionists. The farmer of the Jewish colony in a great Persian city (of course a Persian Mohammedan) having seized their goods and clothes, proceeded, in the cold of Persian winter, to remove the doors and windows of their hovels and to wantonly burn them. The farmer was losing money, and sought thus to enforce what he considered his rights. No Persian pitied the unfortunates; they were Jews and so beyond the pale of pity. Every street boy raises his hand against the wretched Hebrew; he is beaten and buffeted in the streets, spat upon in the bazaar. The only person he can appeal to is the farmer of the Jews. From him, he will obtain a certain amount of protection if he be actually robbed of money or goods; not from the farmer’s sense of justice, but because the complainant, were his wrongs unredressed, might be unable to pay his share of the tax.”


Wills also provides these acerbic descriptions of two of the most egregious forms of degradation, both public and private, suffered by the Jews throughout the 19th century:


“At every public festival-even at the royal salaam [salute], before the King’s face- the Jews are collected, and a number of them are flung into the hauz or tank, that King and mob may be amused by seeing them crawl out half-drowned and covered with mud. The same kindly ceremony is witnessed whenever a provincial governor holds high festival: there are fireworks and Jews.” [Persia As It Is , p. 23.]


“When a Jew  marries, a rabble of the Mahommedan ruffians of the town invite themselves to the ceremony, and, after a scene of riot and intoxication, not infrequently beat their host and his relations and insult the women of the community; only leaving the Jewish quarter when they have slept off the drink they have swallowed at their unwilling host’s expense.” [Persia As It Is, p. 24.]


34 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Persia, p. 134.


35 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Persia, p. 137.


36 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Persia, p. 142.


37 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Persia, pp. 143-144.; Loeb, L. Outcaste, pp. 289-291.


38 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Persia, p. 143.


39 Fischel, W.J. The Jews of Persia, p. 144.


40 Loeb, L. Outcaste, pp. 289-290.


41 Loeb, L. Outcaste, pp. 291.


42 Littman, D.G. “Jews Under Muslim Rule: The Case of PersiaThe Weiner Library Bulletin, Vol. XXXII, Nos. 49/50, 1979, p. 5. Littman provides a remarkably concise overview of the history of the Jewish community of Persia under Muslim rule, complemented by an impressive array of primary source documents from the archives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (pp. 5-15), translated elegantly by the author into English, with but one exception, for the first time. The full text of Littman’s landmark article (i.e., The Weiner Library Bulletin, Vol. XXXII, Nos. 49/50, 1979, pp. 2-15), from which Bernard Lewis borrowed liberally for his discussion of Persian Jewry in The Jews of Islam (Princeton, 1984, see especially pp. 181-183), is now available online: http://www.dhimmitude.org/archive/littman_jews_under_muslims_case_of_persia.pdf



43 Tabandeh, Sultanhussein. A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, English translation by F. J. Goulding, London, 1970.


44 Sanasarian, Eliz. Religious Minorities in Iran, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 173, footnote 92.


45 See earlier notes 10-12, and Seddon, C.N. (translator), A Chronicle of the Early Safawis [Being the Ahsanu’t-Tawarikh of Hasan-i-Rumlu], 1934, Vol. II, p. xiv.


46 Tabandeh, Sultanhussein. A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, p. 4.


47 Sanasarian, Eliz. Religious Minorities in Iran, p. 25.


48 Tabandeh, Sultanhussein. A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, p. 17.


49 Tabandeh, Sultanhussein. A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, pp. 18-19.


50 Tabandeh, Sultanhussein. A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, p. 37.


51 Sanasarian, Eliz. Religious Minorities in Iran, p. 28.


52 Sanasarian, Eliz. Religious Minorities in Iran, p. 85. Khomeini elaborated, his views non-Muslims and najas, here [Khomeini, S.R. Principles, Politiques, Philosophiques, Sociaux et Religieux. Translated into French and edited by J.-M. Xaviere, Paris, 1979; English translation of these excerpts in, Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi- Jews and Christians Under Islam, 1985, Cranbury, NJ, 1985, pp. 396-397.]   :


“Eleven things are unclean: urine, excrement, sperm, blood, a dog, a pig, bones, a non-Muslim man and woman [emphasis added], wine, beer, perspiration of a camel that eats filth…The whole body of a non-Muslim is unclean, even his hair, his nails, and all the secretions of his body…A child below the age of puberty is unclean if his parents and grandparents are not Muslims; but if he has a Muslim for a forebear, then he is clean…The body, saliva, nasal secretions, and perspiration of a non-Muslim man or woman who converts to Islam automatically become pure. As for the garments, if they were in contact with the sweat of the body before conversion, they will remain unclean…It is not strictly prohibited for a Muslim to work in an establishment run by a Muslim who employs Jews, if the products do not aid Israel in one way or another. How ever it is shameful [for a Muslim] to be under the orders of a Jewish departmental head.”


53 Sanasarian, Eliz. Religious Minorities in Iran, p. 85.


54 Sanasarian, Eliz. Religious Minorities in Iran, p. 84-85.


55 Bostom, Andrew. “Muhammad, the Qurayza Massacre, and PBS”, FrontPageMagazine.com, December 20, 2002. http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=5195


56 Sanasarian, Eliz. Religious Minorities in Iran, p. 29.


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Andrew G. Bostom is a frequent contributor to Frontpage Magazine.com, and the author of The Legacy of Jihad, and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.

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