At the end of the first article we talked about the religious toleration in the Levant area, how it moved to Andalusia, and how it had instilled the root of European civilization early, and then we wondered what happened?
I urge readers to refer to the book “The Jews of Syria in the Ottoman Era” published by the Ministry of Culture, the Syrian General Organization of Books, investigation of Mr. Akram Ullaby. This book offers us the history of Levant according to the records of the Religious Courts at the Historical Documents Center in Damascus, 991-1336 Hijri, 1909-1583 AD.
This book offers the greatest evidences of the splendid religious toleration in the Levant,presenting documents that cover all aspects of daily life of people, and also includes various aspects of economic, social, urban and religious life within 270 documents.
This means that we have historical facts that confirm what we say about the life of religious toleration between all religions and sects.
In addition, it provides a population census conducted in the 10thcentury AH, which sets the number of male Muslims as 22,174 men, the number of male Christians as 3,046 men, and the number of male Jews as 1132 men. While “Youssef Naisseh” mentions that the number of Rabbinic Jews in the middle of the 19thcentury was 2,500, and the number of Karaite Jews was 4,630.
They all lived in their homeland Syria and had special privileges and administrative positions such as the Soubashi (Commander of the Knights) of Qaboun, who was a Jew.
These documents talk about social, economic and other dealings among all members of the Syrian society without fanaticism. What followed was that the Arab nationalistic feeling began to arise among the Arabs of the three religions, especially among Christians and Muslims, as Jews began to immigrate to Europe.
It is worth mentioning that Arab Christians surpassed Arab Muslims with their sense of nationalism and this was so clear in the associationsthat were established to embrace the nationalistic sentiment, particularly by Nassif al-Yaziji, Ibrahim
al-Bustani, Suleiman al-Bustani, and others who have lived with Muslims equallysince the first Islamic century.
Even the Tribute imposed on the Arab Christians was called a charity, such as the charity imposed on Muslims.This nationalisticsenseled the Ottomans and the Wahhabis to madness, because both of them were against Arab nationalism!
In front of this growing nationalistic feeling among the Arabs in the Levant, the Ottoman Empire realized that it must defraud the youth and attract it to growbeards, and that those whogrew them had a monthly tender that is multiplied if they adhered to attending the mosques.
Among those masses, the Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood groups started operating very early, and gradually, the extreme religious fanaticism started emerging in the Levant.
The defeat of 1967 has helped beating thenationalistic sentiment as well. When Ba’ath Partycame to cleanse its Arabic name, many of those who developed it did not improve the nationalistic feeling.And what we have seen from those who betrayed their homeland in this unjust war on Syria is a proof of what we say.
The greatest lesson to be learned from the moral of war is that we should remain under the protection of the secular Arabism remembering the magnitude of the sacrifices of our martyrs and victims.
By: Dr. “Ali Al-Shuaybi” on the banks of Barada.