Diversity and multiculturalism in medieval times - part 1

"It might be surprising to imagine that the societies of the medieval Mediterranean were brimming with diversity.  (...) Linguistic and religious diversity were facts of everyday life throughout the medieval world. And—very much like today—diversity had its share of proponents and its discontents. In considering the religious diversity of the medieval Middle East, scholars often praise Islam for inclusive policies toward Christians and Jews, even when aspects of those policies were discriminatory. The concept of dhimma—the protection of the “people of the book”—meant that Christians and Jews could continue practicing their own religions even when conquered by Muslims.

In fact, the model of dhimma as defined in the Quran and in the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) stipulated that while Christians and Jews must pay a supplemental tax in exchange for exemption from military service, they were not to be forcibly converted to Islam. (...) Some descriptive sources from the medieval period (from the seventh through the fifteenth centuries) show that these prescriptions were not always followed. For example, in many cities under Islamic rule, Christians and Jews were compelled to wear specific colors and/or types of clothing in order to physically distinguish themselves from Muslims."

This blog quotes from "Diversity in the Medieval Middle East - Inclusions, Exclusions, Supporters, and Discontents" by Rachel Goshgarian, Chapter 9 in Lucia Volk's The Middle East in the World: An Introduction (Foundations in Global Studies) (Routledge, 2015) on www.academia.edu;; source illustration bywajtu.pl

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