Coexistence was the hallmark of Muslim civilisations, from China to the Philippines, from Malaysia to Africa and the Middle East. It was not isolated to Muslim Spain. Jewish, Christian and Muslim bread stamps, a practice from Roman times, thrived in Muslim-controlled Egypt. The gallery has a sample of remarkable stone stamps from between 1000 and 1200. Paintings and tile works, engravings on flasks, works by Sephardi Jews and Armenian Christians, but also perfume carriers from 11th-century Ismailis and 19th-century paintings from Bahais, show the diversity that thrived within Islamic civilisations.
Not coexistence, but brutal conquest, was the “hallmark of Muslim civilisations.” Ed Husain carefully refrains from mentioning the conquest of Hindu India, by far the most significant Muslim conquest beyond the Middle East. It’s understandable. That Muslim subjugation of the Hindus extended over many centuries, and caused the deaths, over several centuries of Mughal rule, of between 70-80 million Hindus, and resulted in the conversion of tens of millions more who, by becoming Muslims, could escape the difficult conditions imposed on dhimmis. That hardly qualifies as “coexistence.” Husain says such “coexistence” was “not isolated in Muslim Spain.” It turns out that modern scholars have definitely put paid to the myth of that famed “convivencia” — coexistence — in Islamic Spain. Ed Husain might take time to read Dario Fernandez-Morera’s The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise. Muslims in Spain massacred Christians and Jews. Sometimes those doing the massacring were soldiers, and sometimes they were ordinary Muslims, their rage sparked by some supposed affront to Muslims, causing them to go on a killing spree against Unbelievers. In 807, 700 Christian notables — civilians — were killed by a Muslim army in Toledo. In 1066 in Granada, the Muslims turned on their Jewish neighbors overnight, killing 4,000, or almost all of those living in the city, because the Muslim emir had appointed a Jew, Joseph ibn Naghrela, to be his vizier. A Jew helping an emir to govern Muslims? That was intolerable. No one ordered the Muslims to kill the Jews; they were just doing what came naturally. Jews were also the victims of Christians. In 1391, a Christian mob in Seville killed 4,000 Jews, and in the same year another Christian mob killed 2,000 Jews in Cordoba. These were only the big massacres; there were many other smaller atrocities committed, by Muslims against Jews and Christians, and by Christians against Jews and Muslims. None, apparently, were committed by Jews, who were always on the receiving end. Some convivencia.