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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Arab Conquest of the Ancient East, the Orient -- Not All Fun & Kisses

The Islamomania so prevalent today in Western academia, following the lead of the mendacious Edward Sa`id of Columbia University --in particular-- often depicts the spread of Islam and the Arabs as a peaceful process welcomed by the native peoples. According to this rosey-colored view, it was not really a conquest but an excursion of love, no more aggressive than the poetry competitions called the jocs florals of the medieval troubadours of Provence in southern France, and of Catalonia.

Here is an account of the Arab conquest of the Land of Israel. The account or chronicle, composed in the year 640 CE, was translated from a Christian form of Aramaic, widely spoken in the Levant and Fertile Crescent countries before and after the Arab conquest, but becoming increasingly extinct as its speakers flee from Arab/Muslim brutality in their homelands.

On Friday, 4 February, at the ninth hour, there was a battle between the Romans [= Byzantines] and the Arabs of Muhammad in Palestine twelve 'miles' east of Gaza. The Romans fled, leaving behind the patrikos the son of YRDN [בר ירדן בסורסית], whom the Arabs killed. Some 4,000 village people of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews, and Samaritans. The Arabs ravaged the whole region. . .
The Arabs invaded the whole of Syria and went down to Persia and conquered it; the Arabs climbed the mountains of Mardin [now in southeastern Turkey, formerly considered part of Syria in the broad sense] and killed many monks there (in the monasteries of) Qedar [= קידר?] and Benotho. . . "
[Andrew Palmer, ed. & tr., The Seventh Century in the West Syrian Chronicles (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 1993), pp 18-19]

Here's another translation of the same passage:

In the year 945, indiction 7, on Friday 7 February (634) at the ninth hour, there was a battle between the Romans and the Arabs of Muhammad (tayyaye d-Mhmt) in Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza. The Romans fled, leaving behind the patrician bryrdn, whom the Arabs killed. Some 4000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews and Samaritans. The Arabs ravaged the whole region.
[Robert Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw It. . .]
Notes: "The year 945" refers to the Seleucid era which began in 312 BCE. The name "tayyaye" refers to an Arab tribe, the Tay. This name is often used as a name for Arabs in the documents excerpted by Bat Ye'or in her books The Dhimmi and The Decline of Oriental Christianity. . . The name "bryrdn" is בר ירדן explained in Palmer's translation.

Now, this is not the usual rosey colored peaceful, or sometimes chivalrously glorious, depiction of the Arab conquest that academic Islamomaniacs are pleased to favor the literate public with today. Note that the chronicle mentions Jewish villagers killed along with Christians and Samaritans. Unfortunately, the author used the name "palestine" to refer to the Land of Israel. The P word had been introduced by Emperor Hadrian after suppressing the Jewish Bar Kokhba Revolt circa 135 CE. The P name replaced Judea as the official Roman name for the country. The purpose was to punish the Jews for the revolt by no longer calling the country after them. It also meant to make any future Jewish revolt more difficult.

This passage helps answer the question of the impact of Islam on the Orient. Was it constructive or destructive? In our view, the Arab-Islamic conquests wrecked the ancient East, which was a center of civilization in ancient times. The Arabs submerged the pre-existing cultures, peoples, religions, and languages. The East has never recovered, although it did not totally decline all at once. Its light continued to shine brightly enough into the Middle Ages so that it gave honor to the Arabs/Muslims --its wreckers-- to whom a high civilization is attributed for that period, but which now seems to have been the mere embers of the ancient East, embers that became dimmer over the centuries and were extinguished for good with the death of Ibn Khaldun, Arab civilization's last notable representative, in 1406. Sa`id, as a base propagandist, could not recognize this. Was Sa`id justified in identifying the East tout court with the Arabs and Islam?

UPDATING: here is another version of the passage above, in Spanish translation, with some significant differences in detail.

“Y en el año novecientos cuarenta y cinco [se entiende, de la era de los griegos], en la séptima indicción, en el mes de Shebat, en el día cuarto, feria sexta, a la hora de nona, hubo una batalla de los romanos con los árabes de Mahoma en Palestina, a doce millas al oriente de Gaza. Los romanos huyeron, y abandonaron al Patricio, hijo de Iardan, y a éste lo mataron los árabes. Allí murieron unos cuarenta mil campesinos pobres de Palestina: cristianos, judíos y samaritanos. Y los árabes devastaron toda la región. Y en el año novecientos cuarenta y siete, en la novena indicción, los árabes invadieron toda Siria, y descendieron a la región de los persas y la sometieron. Y subieron al monte de Mardæ, y los árabes asesinaron a muchos monjes en Qedar y en BnÅtå...” [Francisco Javier Martinez, Archbishop of Granada, in a lecture before the Royal Historical Academy (Real Academia de la Historia), 29 April 2002]
The most significant difference is the number of local civilian victims among Christians, Jews and Samaritans. This translation gives the number of "40,000 poor peasants of Palestine," whereas the versions quoted above give the number of 4,000. This translation also identifies the month as Shebat rather than February. Shebat is one of the months of the Hebrew calendar. It usually overlaps January and February. The date is given as the 4th of Shebat, whereas Hoyland's version gives 7 February and Palmer's version gives 4 February.
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Coming: more on James Baker, on propaganda, Jews in Hebron & Jerusalem, peace follies, etc.

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  • Can you provide some context?

    The passage is describing a war/battle between the Romans and Arabs in which Jews and Christians were killed. Where the Jewish and Christian casualties "collateral damage" or was the primary intent of the war/battle to kill them? What were the overall casualties?

    Jeff B

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:48 PM  

  • In the year 634 CE, the Arabs started their invasions of the Fertile Crescent countries, including Israel, Syria, Lebanon, what is now Iraq, etc. They finished their conquest of Israel in 640 with the taking of Caesarea on Israel's Mediterranean coast. Recent Arab writings on this subject portray the conquest as relatively peaceful, as welcomed by the native peoples, including the Christians, etc. This was far from the truth. You can imagine how much physical damage and killing would have done by the war after six years of fighting [634-640].

    I suggest that you can find more background in Palmer's book, Hoyland's book, and in the book by Moshe Gil, which is called History of Palestine, 634-1099.

    You ask why the civilians [Jewish, Christian, and Samaritan] were killed. Without doing too much mind-reading, I think that the main purpose of the battle was conquest of the country. However, the Arab conquerors had no scruples about killing civilians, and this massacre may have been meant as a way of terrifying the population. I cannot give you overall casualty numbers. I suggest you study this subject with the help of genuine historians, rather than with clowns like Karen Armstrong, who is no more than a foolish apologist.

    By Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon, at 12:09 AM  

  • Eliyahu, acabo de leer el párrafo que este arzobispo menciona, el arzobispo es una persona muy documentada, tengo referencias de el por la prensa, creo que no me equivovo, es Martínez y su escrito data de 2002 cuando ingresó en alguna academia, o eso creo entender. Me maravilla que tenga usted acceso a esos datos ( por cierto, donde los ha consultado..? ), alguien que está tan lejos y me gustaría dominar mucho mejor el ingles para recrearme con su blog, de cualquier forma estaré atento a todo lo que escriba.
    He leido lo de Ganivet, Idearium español es su obra más conocida, realmente es por la que ha pasado a la historia, la he anotado con el fin de hacerme de ella y me conmueve la actualidad que tienen sus palabras, es algo sorprendente que ciento y pico de años después el problema persista aunque creo que de forma mucho más peligrosa. Estaremos en contacto. Un saludo muy cordial. Shalom

    By Blogger Iojanan, at 1:41 PM  

  • Eliyahu,

    The word "tayyaye" as refering to Arabs appears many times in the Talmud.

    The reasons that civilians were killed is because they were not Muslims and didn't want to become Muslims. It's called Jihad!

    By Blogger Cosmic X, at 3:17 PM  

  • Cosmic, thanx for the info about Tayayye in the Talmud. The Gemara is mostly Aramaic, which was the language [in the form of Syriac] of that account of the Arab conquest that I quoted. So it's not surprising.

    I believe that there's still a Tay tribe in Iraq to this day. I am sure that they are very active in the mutual slaughter going on there nowadays. Bloodthirsty like their ancestors.

    About the civilians massacred. Maybe the Tayayye didn't even give them a chance to convert but slaughtered them in order to terrify everybody else. The brutality of that period in Arab history is usually edulcorated or embellished [by idiots like Karen Armstrong & the like] in order to make the Arabs look good. The true history ought to be better known.

    By Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon, at 10:52 PM  

  • Brilliant post and useful information… Arabs and Jews is a eternal war. They need to change the ideas and try to live peacefully

    By Anonymous pay per head, at 2:45 AM  

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