In his second edition book, Medieval Iberia, Olivia Remie Constable describes the Iberian history in relation to the relationship that existed between Muslims and Jews together with other religious groups of that time. This essay synthesizes the tributes and Jizya imposed by the Moslem rulers in the 12th century Medieval Iberia, based on Constable’s book as the main reference material.
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Tributes and Jizya imposed by the Moslem rulers
In understanding these tributes and Jizya, it is important to underscore the fact that this section of Iberian is vital in establishing the Jewish life history in Al-Andalus from between the 10th and 12th century. However, very little information is known about Abraham ibn Daud, who is believed to have died in 1181 (Constable 91).
The career of Jacob ibn Jau is equally essential in unraveling the truth behind these tributes and Jizya that were imposed by Moslem rulers. Jacob was a senior tax collector and renowned administrator after being appointed towards the end of the 10th century. One unique observation during this period is the fact that appointments were temporal as a leader would be in power today and land in jail the following day.
During the period, support and rebellion was a major determinant for the success or failure of a king. As such, resistance against the Rabbi tremendously fell even among close allies of Ibn Shamash. The two brothers Jacob Ibn Jau and Joseph also changed their stance by showing less resistance to the Rabbi. The two were merchants and manufacturers who found themselves in the King’s courtyard at a time when Muslims expressed their recognition of Rabbi’s kingship by reporting to him complaints against some of his officers.
Besides this peaceful mission, the elders thought it wise to prepare gifts for the king. However, none of these goals was achieved (Constable 91). What started as a peaceful visit, turned into harassment, humiliation and defilement. All the gold gifts were scattered in the courtyard, with their plea to have them landing on deaf ears. This describes the brutal nature of the Rabbi as he had the complainants hustled off to prison.
The two thousand pieces of gold were collected by Joseph and his brother before they left the courtyard. However, they chose to please the king and win his favor by taking back the money to the palace together with gifts and offerings. This was also aimed at escaping the wrath of their enemies (Constable 92). The idea won the king’s attention, who later supported them to become the most successful silk manufacturers in Spain.
Additionally, their generosity towards King Mansur and King al Mansur ibn Abi, earned them historic influence and power. Jacob ibn Jau was given power over Jewish people within a region covering from Sijilmasa to river Duero (Constable 92). He was therefore empowered to oversee all legal proceedings in the region, make any appointments and collect taxes as he wished.
During his early days in office, he threatened the Rabbi against his legal jurisdiction. In his brutal nature, King al Mansur ordered the imprisonment of Ibn Jau, after fearing to be overthrown. His jail term was cut short by King Hisham who ordered his release and restored him to power (Constable 92). From this analysis, it is clear that Muslim rulers imposed tributes and Jizya upon non-Muslims in order to make them humble. This also allowed them to evade paying of taxes.
Constable, Olivia. Medieval Iberia. Pennsylvania : University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. Print.