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The Sarajevo Haggadah - Tolerance Revealed

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posted on Oct, 6 2012 @ 08:37 AM
The Sarajevo Haggadah
This relic/treasure is the one on which my recent post here touches. First, I humbly acknowledge that I "mistitled" the novel in the OP. It is People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (the link goes to her homepage).

A better description than the lame-o one I offered earlier:

[The novel] traces the journey of a rare illuminated Hebrew manuscript from Convivencia, Spain to the ruins of Sarajevo, Bosnia; from the Silver Age of Venice to the sunburned rock faces of northern Australia.

Inspired by the true story of a mysterious codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, People of the Book is a sweeping adventure through five centuries of history. From its creation in Muslim-ruled, medieval Spain, the illuminated manuscript makes a series of perilous journeys: through Inquisition-era Venice, fin-de-siecle Vienna, and the Nazi sacking of Sarajevo.

This precious book still lives, and it is a testament to the cooperation of religious people of different faiths; in particular, Muslims and Jews during their cohabitation in Spain; and collusion to save what would have been a "burn-it" order by the Inquisition. Happily, for whatever reasons (the novel is highly fictionalized), those who had possession of the tome, along with those who were ordered to burn every non-Catholic piece of religious, conspired to avoid that.

The astonishing and unique SarajevoHaggadah was created in the middle of the 14th century, the golden age of Spain. We still do not know the exact date and place of the book’s creation or the name of the artist who illuminated it. Was it perhaps a wedding gift on the occasion of the marriage of members of two prominent families called Shoshan and Elazar, since there are two coats of arms in the bottom corners, one representing a rose (shoshan) and the other a wing (elazar)? Perhaps we will never learn.

We do, however, know that in the eighteenth year after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, the Haggadah changed hands. A note mentions this fact but does not provide us with the names of either of the owners. There is another note, dated 1609, stating that the book does not speak against the Church, which saved it from being burned by the Spanish Inquisition. We know nothing further about it until it is mentioned in 1894. It is assumed that the manuscript came to Bosnia and Herzegovina either as part of a dowry or as a bribe, or simply as the property of those seeking sanctuary in Sarajevo, the “European Jerusalem”, where Jews have lived alongside other faiths since 1565. It was in this city that the Jewish cultural, educational and humanitarian society, “La Benevolencia”...

People of the Book (Arabic: أهل الكتاب‎ ‎ ′Ahl al-Kitāb) is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture[1] called, in Arabic, Ahl-Al-Kitab (Arabic: الكتاب ‎ "the people of the Book" or "people of the Scripture"). The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.

In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the Qur'an, is taken to represent the completion of these scriptures, and to synthesize them as God's true, final, and eternal message to humanity. Because the People of the Book recognize the God of Abraham as the one and only god, as do Muslims, and they practice revealed faiths based on divine ordinances, tolerance and autonomy is accorded to them in societies governed by sharia (Islamic divine law).

I happened across this little book in one of my bookshelves, and honestly did not know from where it had come until I showed it to my mom yesterday and she said, "Oh, that's mine!" She must have lent it to my daughter to read, and it got side-barred.

This story, though mostly fictitious, is based on a real book that is evidence that persons of various and seemingly very disparate faiths (although all Abrahamic) CAN and HAVE tolerated each other.

It also highlights the atrocities committed by the Inquisition, and the conflicted feelings of those ordered to live under its rule and do its bidding, no matter how brutal.

The conspiracies are multi-level; the Roman Catholic Church conspiring to suppress other faiths and evidence of them; Priests and Rabbis who actually appreciated one another's views, borrowing ideas for (or directly plagiarizing) sermons; Muslims willing to create illustrations of a precious Jewish codex when it was against their faith to do so; and military and police officials as well as Museum Curators and preservationists to enable the lovely piece of history to survive.

It was even forged by experts so the original could be held tightly locked up, but that was discovered as well, and the authentic book eventually was presented for the public to view.

I highly recommend perusing the links provided, if not reading the book; people, we can, we have as a species with ongoing conflict and wars, and we must learn to get along and respect one another, to understand one another, and to compromise for the well-being of all.

This book is, in my opinion, every bit as precious and important as the Nag Hammadi texts; and it's crucial for anyone interested in theology, history, and world peace to be aware of it.

Thanks for your attention. Hope this one gets at least a small bit of attention; I hope the links will interest all!

edit on 6-10-2012 by wildtimes because: formatting


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