On the Issue of Kiddush Hashem – Accepting the Yishmaelite Religion is Like Accepting Idolatry

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Introduction: Solica (some spell her name Solika) A Young Jewish Martyr Who Sacrificed Her Life Rather than Convert to the Islamic Religion

Excerpts from: “Solika” at The Extended Family of Solika Hatchouel website

 

Solika’s Full Story

THE STORY OF SOLICA HATZADDIKAH

 

There are various spellings of her name and we will use the one that appears on her tombstone.

Though many variations of the details of Solica’s story exist, the basic core of the story remains the same. She was a young Jewish woman who refused to give up her religion and, because of that refusal, was put to death. Her legend has taken on a life all its own. Most of what we know of Solica’s story was written four to five years after she was murdered in 1834….

Comment at the outset: Muslims claim Solica initially took on their religion and then went back to Judaism. Jews assume that the claim is a lie and she never converted to Islam for a second. But even if the lie were true about Solica, we abide by the principle, that an Israelite, even if the Israelite sinned, remains an Israelite. But I stress the evidence that the Muslims used is absolutely worthless by Jewish standards.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Hachuel even some of the Muslims now recognize that she was a true martyr for Judaism and come to pray at her grave.

 

ARREST AND TRIAL

The authorities were convinced that Solica had converted to Islam and that she then recanted her conversion. Supposedly, when they came to her home to arrest her, the soldiers could not find her and instead arrested her mother. Upon hearing this, Solica surrendered to the authorities who brought her before a  kadi (judge responsible for sharia law) where she was accused by the rich neighbor of having converted to Islam and then wanting to recant her decision and return to Judaism. Under Islamic Law, this act of apostasy was punishable by death. She was ordered to declare her return to Islam or be executed.

Others say that the judge threatened her if she did not convert back: “How dare you convert to our faith, and then abandon it? I will load you with chains…I will have you torn piece-meal by wild beasts, you shall not see the light of day, you shall perish of hunger, and experience the rigor of my vengeance and indignation, in having provoked the anger of the Prophet”. To which Solica responded: “I will patiently bear the weight of your chains; I will give my limbs to be torn piece-meal by wild beasts;  I will renounce forever the light of day: I will perish of hunger: and when all the evils of life are accumulated on me by your orders, I will smile at your indignation, and the anger of your Prophet: since neither he, nor you have been able to overcome a weak female! It is clear that Heaven is not auspicious to making proselytes {to} your faith”.

Solica remained resolute maintaining, “Never, never did I leave my faith. I never became a Muslim, and I never, ever will! A Jewess I was born and a Jewess I wish to die.” They placed her in a dank, dark dungeon with chains around her hands and feet and an iron collar around her neck. Her parents appealed to the Spanish Vice Counsel, Don Jose Rico, for intervention, but his efforts were to no avail.

 

Some weeks later, the Pasha received an Imperial order to transfer Solica from Tangiers to Fez, and thus let the Sultan decide her fate. Her transfer and execution fee was to be paid by her father, who was threatened with 500 blows of the bastinado if he would not comply. Eventually the required sum was paid by Don Jose Rico as Solica’s father could not afford it. Solica was transferred from Tangiers to Fez, depending upon the account either dragged barefoot behind a donkey cart or tied to a mule. The journey took six days. Some of her relatives were allowed to accompany her.

The Sultan, Muley Abderrahman, had succeeded to the throne in 1822 and had exhibited protection of the Jewish community. He wished to calm the waters and reintegrate the Jewish communities of Fez and Tangier into the general society. The provocative nature of the situation roused passions and emotions in both the Muslim and the Jewish communities. Because of this, Solica was ordered to appear at court in front of the Sultan upon her arrival in Fez. Her beauty captured his imagination (or his son’s, depending on the tale) and he, supposedly, fell in love with her and proposed to raise her to the throne if she would revert to Islam and marry him. He commissioned a Muslim to conduct the delicate mission of catechizing the young Jewish woman. Solica held fast to her beliefs and refused to recant. She refused to eat the food in the prison because it was not kosher and appropriate food was provided by the Jewish community.

The Sultan handed the problem of the beautiful girl to Rabbi Rafael Hasserfaty, then the chief rabbi of Fez. The ha’cha’chamim and leaders of the Jewish community were ordered by the Sultan’s judge to extract a confession from the girl that she had previously converted to Islam. Though they were inspired by Solica’s dedication, they went to her and explained that the Jews of Morocco could be endangered if the authorities didn’t get what they want. They begged that she convert, and marry the Arab. Otherwise, they pleaded, the entire community would suffer. The pleading was to no avail. She remained resolved, responding that she would maintain her untainted commitment to Judaism until the very end. Some legends relate that the ha’cha’chamim rejoiced in their hearts.

According to Jewish versions of the story, prison guards were finally sent to brutalize and torture her, to forcefully persuade her to abandon her faith, convert and marry the Sultan. However, the torture, brute force, and terror fell short. “I cannot betray my God, the God of my ancestors, the God of the Universe.” The prison guards forcefully brought the Jewish leaders again to the prison, to command her to convert and marry the Muslim. She refused, outright. Solica remained strong in her heart and in her mind, and would not betray her faith.

According to recent articles, given the resolute attitude of Solica not to renounce her religion, the Sultan had no choice but to take into account the opinion of the Muslims of Fez, of Tangiers and of other parts of the empire. The political situation in Morocco was sensitive. France had conquered Algeria and was bearing down on Morocco. There had been widespread publicity of Solica’s case which had become a public issue and taken on a serious religious character. If it was clear that Solica could not be coerced into converting, any effort or attempt by a member of the court or by the Sultan himself to reverse the sentence would appear to be a reaction to outside pressure and therefore an insult to Islam and its laws. The moment that witnesses testified that Solica was an apostate Muslim, the matter became public, and within the Moroccan context of 1834, such publicity served to warn others that death is the appropriate treatment for apostates from Islam. Discretion was not in Islam’s interest or in the interest of the young Jewess. The Sultan therefore decided to refer the matter to the main religious court for a ruling under Sharia law.

The Kadi gave Solica one last chance to recant so that she could live happily. Otherwise, she would be executed. Solica restated that she had told the Kadi and the Pasha of Tangiers and the Sultan and the Kadi of Fez, as well as the rabbis of Fez, and anybody else who would listen that she had never renounced her religion. Stoic and impassive, she replied that she preferred death to conversion, as she was born Jewish and as a Hebrew she wished to die. The Kadi and his court ruled that the Jewess should be immediately beheaded, the event to take place in the public square, on market day, in the presence of an immense crowd of both Moors and Israelites. Romero described the emotions of the citizens of Fez on the day of the execution: “The Moors, whose religious fanaticism is indescribable, prepared, with their accustomed joy, to witness the horrid scene. The Jews of the city…were moved with the deepest sorrow; but they could do nothing to avert it…”

EXECUTION

The sultan instructed the executioner to wound Hachuel first and offer her one last chance to convert. He hoped that the girl would get scared, and accept the conversion, but Hachuel refused and preferred death to changing her religion. Her last words to the executioner were: “Do not make me linger—behead me at once—for dying as I do, innocent of any crime, the God of Abraham will avenge my death.” A very dramatic version of the story in Spanish relates, “With all his equipment, the executioner began his disgusting task. He abruptly parted the girl’s magnificent raven colored braids. With the well-sharpened knife, he made the first cut to the martyr’s neck. Solica, with her body bloodied from her wound, raised her eyes heavenward and muttered: Hear O Israel, Adonai our God, Adonai Unico. The right hand of the executioner separated the head from the trunk, which fell to earth in a pool of blood.”

After her head was severed, the sultan displayed it on a high wall in Fez for all to see, so that the population could learn the terrible lesson of “the justice meted out in this country” and to teach a lesson to Jewish women in particular. The Jewish community of Fez was awestruck by the life and the death of Hachuel. They had to pay for the retrieval of her corpse, and the bloodstained earth for a Jewish burial at the Jewish cemetery. She was declared a martyr. One version holds that the Jews of the Burial Society rushed in, picked up the corpse and the earth generously soaked with blood, and wrapped a canvas bag around her. The body was then loaded onto the shoulders of two of the men moving toward the door of the Jewish quarter. Others followed, carrying the sacred bundle of blood-soaked earth. In order to break through the threatening and pursuing crowd, the Jewish men threw handfuls of coins to the left and to the right. The crowd responded eagerly, stopping to retrieve the money, which widened the distance between the Jews and the rabble. Upon reaching the Mellah, they found the door locked, as the authorities had been afraid of an invasion and pillaging of the Jewish Quarter. The men of the Burial Society detoured around the city, constantly being pursued by the fanatical mob to which the Jews continued to throw silver coins to appease them. They arrived at the foot of the great outer wall of the city where the Jewish cemetery was located. The wrapped body was hoisted across the high wall and carried through the Mellah by the Jews who formed two lines. A public burial was held so that all the Jewish men, women, and children of the Mellah could participate.

According to Isaac Abecassis-Hachuel (interviewed in November 1996 in Tangiers by Dina Hatchuel and Leora Hatchwell), the story he was told as a boy was that the ha’cha’chamim took up a collection of gold coins from the Jews in the Mellah. At night, they snuck out of the gates to the area where soldiers were guarding Solica’s head which was posted on the city wall. They threw gold coins left and right before the soldiers. As the soldiers scrambled to grab the coins, the Jews stole Solica’s head and scurried back into the Mellah. They buried her head, body, and the blood-soaked earth in the grave of Rabbi Eliayu Hassarfati who had died not long before. When the soldiers came looking for the head in the Mellah, they could not find it.

Here ends the excerpts from The Extended Family of Solika Hatchouel website

 

A Halachic Analysis Justifying Solica’s Refusal to Convert to the Yishmaelite (Islamic) Religion

Ritva: Coercion to Join the Yishmaelite Religion is Coercion for Idolatry

Let it be known that the faith of Yishmaelites, even though they are Monotheists, it is considered to be complete Foreign Worship (Idolatry) to be killed and not convert, for one that admits to their faith, denies the Torah of Moshe, that it is not true as it exists in our hands and all that is similar to this is Foreign Worship (Idolatry).

See the insights of Ritva to tractate Pesachim 25b.

Radbaz Was Presented with a Similar Dilemma and Issued A Similar Ruling

And I exerted myself and found that the Ritva of Blessed Memory wrote in accordance to my words, and I quote:

Let it be known that the faith of Yishmaelites, even though they are Monotheists, it is considered to be complete Foreign Worship (Idolatry) to be killed and not convert, for one that admits to their faith, denies the Torah of Moshe, that it is not true as it exists in our hands and all that is similar to this is Foreign Worship (Idolatry).

Radbaz, then quotes that there are two types of coercion to violate the Sabbath on the penalty of death. One type of coercion does not demand sacrificing one’s life for Sabbath. However, there is a type of coercion that will be interpreted that the Jew is admitting that the Torah is not true and that the Holy One Blessed be He did not command the observance of Shabbat. That type of coercion does require self-sacrifice.

(from Questions and Answers of Radbaz Vol. 4 Response 92 (1163)

 

Tosafot: Those That Designate the Wrong Day of the Week as Their Sabbath Day Are Not Testifying about the Truth of the Holy One Blessed be He and Those that Deny the Uniqueness of Israel Are Not Testifying about the Truth of the Holy One Blessed be

Who is like your nation Israel, one people on the Earth – We say in the midrash, three things testify this one for that, Israel and Shabbat and the Holy One Blessed be He; Israel and the Holy One Blessed be He, testify regarding Shabbat, that it is the day of rest; and Israel and Shabbat testify regarding the Holy One Blessed be He that he is one; the Holy One Blessed be He and Shabbat testify regarding Israel that they are unique among the nations; and upon this do we rely to say, “you are one” in the Mincha prayer of Shabbat, even though it does not speak (directly) on the matter of the day, Shabbat in contrast to the Arvit and Shacharit prayers.

Tosafot Chagiga 3b

What Other Big Halachic Authorities Rule In Accordance to Ritva and Radbaz to Resist Forced Conversion to the Yishmaelite Religion with the Highest Level of Sacrifice

The Chafetz Chaim author of the Mishna Brura and other important halachic works, who often has final say on Halacha (at least for Ashkenazim) wrote a book to instruct Jewish youth who were drafted into the Russian army against their will. This book is called Nidchei Yisrael. In chapter 19 of Nidchei Yisrael, he sides with the opinion of Ritva and Radbaz brought earlier in this article.

Rabbi Yekutiel Halbershtam in his work Divrei Yatziv, Section Yoreh Deah, chapter 40 also rules in accordance to Radbaz (and Ritva). Among the points Rabbi Halberstam says in the name of Radbaz: one who is being forced to leave the entire Jewish religion and to be like one of the nations of the Earth and to deny all the Torah of Moshe, all the more so, he should be killed and not transgress; this and furthermore, that the person (being coerced into Islam) has to admit that there was a man by them whose stature was greater than the stature of Moshe Rabbeinu, peace be unto him and this is a destruction of the entire Jewish religion.

Rabbi Dov Lior who served as the Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba in a letter stating his opposition to the average Jew participating in Muslim Iftar parties cited Ritva’s opinion quoted earlier, as part of his justification for his halachic ruling.

What about Shulchan Aruch’s Viewpoint?

Rabbi Yosef Karo ruled in Shulchan Aruch, Y.D. 157:2 “it is forbidden for a person to say that he is a Gentile in order that they don’t kill him {note: in the uncensored Venice 5327 edition, it is written, Gentile and not “star and constellation worshiper”}.

Rabbi Karo further explains in his Beit Yosef commentary the source for his ruling is based on the Rosh in the beginning of his commentary to tractate Avoda Zara, chapter 2, siman 4.

It is also based on Midrash Rabba, Parshat Vayishlach (82:8) which describes an incident where 2 disciples of Rabbi Yehoshua changed their clothing during the time of religious persecution with the hope that the enemy would not discover their presence.

When they were in fact discovered by a government official, who had abandoned Judaism and gone over to the side of the enemy, these disciples of Rabbi Yehoshua refused to say the statement, “we are not the sons of Torah”, even to save their lives.

According to Rashi, Ramban and Kli Yakar, there is something lacking in the Yishmaelite Religion that Defines the Yishmaelites as Not Believing in our L-rd.

It is implied by Rashi, Ramban, and Kli Yakar, that those that believe in the Yishmaelite religion are rejecting the Holy One Blessed be He, because during the time that the Yishmaelite religion already existed, these rabbis expounded upon the verse “Hear O Israel, Hashem is our L-rd, Hashem is One”; Hashem who is our L-rd and not the L-rd of the peoples, he will in the future be the L-rd of the peoples for it is stated (Tzefania 3,9) “For then I will turn around to the nations, a clear language, that all will call out in the name of Hashem”, and it is stated, (Zechariah 14,9) “on that day Hashem will be one and his name one”.

Appendix: A disclaimer: One should not be hasty to make comparisons between the incident involving Solica (may Hashem avenge her blood) and modern cases. Sometimes small changes in the facts of the case can cause a tremendous change in the halachic results of how to act. I don’t have any particular rabbi to suggest for consultation, but maybe one of the organizations mentioned in Appendix 2, do.

Appendix 2: Yad L’Achim Helps Jewish Women and their Children – Escape from Islam

To learn more about their daring rescues, press here.

Another organization that helps Jewish women escape from Islam is Lehava

To learn more about them see https://lehava-us.com/jewish-woman-who-had-converted-to-islam-in-the-past-returns-to-judaism-thanks-to-lehava/

Appendix 3: Some web sites claim Solica (may Hashem avenge her blood) was executed June 5th 1934, which would correspond to the Hebrew date of the 27th of Iyar, 5594  (unless her martyrdom took place in the evening of June 5th, corresponding to the 28th of Iyar).