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The Black Death and Michael Dols’s Theory Essay

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Updated: Jun 10th, 2020

It is necessary to say that the Black Death was a critical moment in the history of the world, and the number of casualties is astounding. The fact that it is a frequent topic of controversies and discussions should not be disregarded. It is paramount to mention that some authors have suggested theories that are particularly interesting. The work of Michael Dols titled “The comparative communal responses to the Black Death in Muslim and Christian societies” is especially fascinating, and the thesis that is suggested by the author can be regarded as reasonable. However, the issue is that he did not study the documents that were available and did not take into account different opinions on this situation.

The author notes that the dissimilarity between the responses to this disaster is significant and should not be overlooked. Michael Dolls thinks that plague epidemics in Muslim communities did not lead to the creation of movements and other issues that occurred in European countries at that time because of differences in cultures and traditions. He believes that they reacted like they did because they did not think that it was a punishment from God. The author also suggests that Muslims had an opinion that it was not necessary to take the measures to avoid the plague (Dols 275). He has studied a broad range of articles and literature and uses the knowledge that was gained as evidence to support his ideas.

“They were further asked to go on the fourth day, a Friday to the Mosque of the Foot to in order to humbly beseech God to take away this plague” (Albert 11). It is imperative to mention that this passage is especially important because it indicates that Muslims were worried about the situation, and the idea that it was a kind act from God was frequently questioned. The fact that the belief that it was martyrdom was widely spread should not be overlooked, but it is evident that there was no consensus on this issue. It is also quite interesting that it is believed that some rulers have taken advantage of the situation, and have taken control over the property that belonged to individuals that were infected (Necipoglu 69).

It needs to be said that this fact is especially fascinating, and it may mean that rulers intentionally did not try to educate the masses about this problem. Meri suggests that there is a contradiction that is present because plague cannot be perceived as both punishment and reward at the same time (236). It is necessary to note that many authors have tried to address this issue, but it is evident that many Muslims were confused by this event. The problem is that they did not have an understanding of the course of action that should be taken in such situations because it was not precisely stated in the holy books, and there were several interpretations.

“We pled with You, the most honored of the advocates, Mohammed, the Prophet of mercy, that you take away from us this distress” (Albert 114). It is paramount to note that this passage suggests that Muslims agreed that they have sinned and deserved it. However, they are asking for forgiveness, and they believe that the Prophet has the power to stop this pandemic. It is necessary to mention that it can be viewed as a regional problem, and an economic downturn has followed because of territorial aspects (Cohn 412). Another factor that should be noted is that it is believed that one should not enter the territory that is plagued, but cannot leave such area if he or she was there when the pandemic started.

It is necessary to mention that it is an interesting idea from the perspective of religion, but it has lead to numerous casualties. The fact that this caused many discussions among the scientists on the territory of Muslim lands should not be disregarded. It is paramount to note that it signifies that many understood that this issue needs to be addressed, and the population should have learned of what should be an appropriate response in such situations. It needs to be said that many individuals did not agree with this approach, and have escaped. It is paramount to mention that it is especially true for Christians, and many of them tried to educate the masses and they suggested that such behavior is not reasonable in such situations.

“Although the intent of the divine law is innocent of harm, when a problematic statement is contradicted by the senses and observation, it is incumbent upon us to interpret it in a way so that the hadith fits reality” (Albert 115). It is imperative to note that this passage suggests that there were issues with the understanding of the reasoning behind the plague. The biggest problem is that many believed that it cannot be contagious because of religious reasons, and it has led to numerous casualties. On the other hand, some understood that necessary measures should be taken to limit the spread of the disease.

However, the issue is that it was not possible to control the situation because of numerous disagreements. The biggest problem that should be noted is that an enormous number of individuals were illiterate, and did not want to listen to the ideas that were suggested by scholars (Ayalon 23). It is imperative to note that many have acknowledged the fact that it was possible to limit the spread of the disease, but they still believed that God has decided if the person becomes infected or not. Another interesting aspect that needs to be discussed is that some thought that it was a combination of different factors.

In conclusion, it is evident that the thesis that is suggested by Michael Dols. It is imperative to understand that one of the primary causes for the situation that occurred is that many Muslims were not properly educated at that time and were incredibly religious. It should be said that the dissimilarity between the cultures and traditions should not be viewed as the primary issue, and numerous internal and external factors should be taken into account. The core problem is that some of the opinions that were suggested by scientists were rejected, and it has led to severe consequences. It was not an easy task to deal with contradictions that were present, and many scholars were not able to justify what is the correct course of actions in such cases. It is imperative to note that the author was able to identify few possible reasons why Muslims demonstrated such behavior, but did not take some aspects into account.

Works Cited

Albert, John. The Black Death: the great mortality of 1348-1350: a brief history with documents. Boston, NY: Bedford, 2005. Print.

Ayalon, Yaron. Natural disasters in the Ottoman Empire. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Print.

Dols, Michael. “The Comparative communal responses to the Black Death in Muslim and Christian societies.” Viator: Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies. 5.1 (1975): 269-288. Print.

Kohn, Samuel K. “Book review: the Black Death in Egypt and England: a comparative study.” Med Hist. 50.3 (2006): 411-412. Print.

Meri, Josef W. Medieval Islamic civilization: an encyclopedia. London, UK: Routledge, 2005. Print.

Necipoglu, Gulru. Muqarnas: an annual on the visual culture of the Islamic world. Leiden, NL: Brill, 1996. Print.

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