The Martyrdom of Sol Hachuel
The Martyrdom of Sol Hachuel
Ridda in Morocco in 1834
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter is a case in point, focusing on the problem of Jewish conversion under Islam. In 1834, Sol Hachuel, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl from Tangier, was beheaded, having been charged by a Shari'ah court in Fez with accepting Islam and then reverting back to Judaism—an accusation which she denied. Backed by source material in French, Judeo-Arabic, and Hebrew, hitherto untapped, this study analyzes Judeo-Muslim relations based on the concept of ridda (apostasy). It defines Hachuel's execution as martyrdom in the collective memory of Moroccan Jewry, while myths about her abounded. Thereafter, Jews in significant numbers regarded the Muslim court judges, Muslim witnesses who incriminated her, and even the Sharifian Sultan Abd al- Rahman as “losers,” “immoral men,” and “dishonest.” Whereas this chapter does not rule out that her sources may well be regarded as “apologetic literature” favoring Hachuel, there can be no doubt that her beheading affected Jewish-Muslim relations adversely in precolonial Morocco with long-range consequences.
In memory of my late brother, Raphael Hassine
Judeo-Muslim ties in Morocco deteriorated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. An important historical development that characterized the tense relationship between Jewish communal leaders and the Muslim authorities is the beheading of a Jewish maiden before a crowd for the crime of ridda (apostasy). As an initial step, it will be necessary to delineate the concept of ridda, how the law was applied in Morocco in 1834, and how the Jewish leaders reacted against this particular case.
The victim was 17-year-old Sol Hachuel of Tangier, also known by the members of her community as Sol Hatsadiqqah (Sol the Righteous).1 Jews in central and southern Morocco called her Lala Soulika (Dame Soulika). A Moslem court in Fez condemned her to death by beheading in the year 1834.2 Her prosecutors claimed that she converted to Islam and then reverted to Judaism. She firmly denied the charge.
Evidence for our arguments concerning the state of relations between Judaism and Islam at the time will be adduced from piyyutim (Jewish religious poetry) and texts written about her. Another important source for an examination of the credibility of the reservations of the Jews regarding the administration of justice and law in Morocco is a book by a French Christian traveler called A. Rey. His Souvenirs ďun voyage au Maroc, published in Paris in 1844, includes an important chapter describing the stages in the case, showing that each stage corresponds to the ridda (p.110) procedure as set out in Malikite law, still in force in Morocco today. A Muslim religious personality acquainted with the case almost certainly provided the author with the information.
The field of the relations between Jews and Muslims in Morocco has not heretofore been analyzed in the light of case studies such as the ridda event. Furthermore, no other researchers have described the execution of Sol Hachuel against the backdrop of the Islamic legal framework and Jewish sources (using some manuscripts not previously available). This research is thus the first of its kind.3
The reign of Sultan Abd al-Rahman, who confirmed the young girl's death sentence, has been studied and described on the basis of official documents by Ahmad Ibn Khālid Al-Nasiri Al-Salawī. The chronicle called Kitāb Elistiqsa liackhbari doual al Magrib Alaqsah (Book of the Chronicles of the Far Western Maghreb) is extremely important for understanding the social and legal structure surrounding the sultanate.4 The archives of the Muslim authorities of Fez remain closed to scholarly study.
Herein, we shall rely on rare Hebrew sources together with two manuscripts, one in Hebrew and the other in Judeo-Arabic, which until we discovered them were not previously known to scholars. We are referring to a piyyut in a manuscript by Rabbi Yedidiah Monsoniego, which opens:
Remember the righteousness of a woman of valor and discuss her formidable strength and tell it to your children.5
According to the laws of protection (dhimma), which defined the status of the Jews as dhimmi or a protected minority under Islamic rule, rulers and judges were not permitted to force a Jewess to become a Muslim.8 In this historic context, it was illegal to treat Sol as a Jewess accused of ridda.
(p.111) Therefore, in our opinion she was tried as a Muslim and brought to the scaffold as a Muslim, though she was a Jewess.
The crime of ridda constitutes a complex topic in Muslim law. Hanafi law states that if a Muslim denies his religion he is offered the opportunity to return to Islam. Thus he is given three days of grace because the judges believe there is an element of doubt and all doubt must be removed. The Malikite law of Morocco adds that if the defendant was a slave or a woman, the demand to recant must be presented within three days of the apostasy becoming public. The defendant should not be deprived of bread or water. Hanbali law contains similar provisions. The Imami law distinguishes two types of apostates. The first is referred to as a “deviant apostate,” that is, one who has Muslim parents and whose penitence is not accepted. Before his mandatory execution, he must be separated from his wife and deprived of the right to bequeath his property. The second type is called a “social apostate,” that is, one whose parents are not Muslims. This person converted to Islam as an adult but then reverted to his former religion.
The latter was Sol's case according to the prosecutors, and if she did not recant, she had to be executed.9 The three-day period of grace or tuba (days of penitence) allows the judicial authorities the opportunity to try to persuade the accused to recant. The appointees of the judicial instance try to convince the accused of the superiority of Islam over other religions. They are commanded to prove the truth inherent in the faith and in Muhammad's mission. The arguments are drawn from religious precepts, and the intention is to bring the accused to recognize his mistake.
A charge of ridda requires a rigorous interrogation of the witnesses by a religious court, a procedure apparently intended to deter Muslims from preferring false charges against non-Muslims living under Muslim rule.
To prove ridda, one needs at least two witnesses. These witnesses are usually male adult Muslims of upright character with no history of mental illness. They cannot be slaves. Witnesses can only give testimony after the qadi (Islamic judge) has established their fitness, after a private and public inquiry, and after he is convinced that their characters display no evidence of bias or prejudice. In this context, a person cannot be relied on to bear witness against his enemy.
If the accused is condemned to death based on evidence that is afterwards found to be false, the witness must pay diyah (compensation) and may even be condemned to death for perjury, according to Shaﬁi law. If a witness has a justifiable excuse not to appear before the court, then two (p.112) other witnesses can present his evidence, except in the case of slander and compensation. Testimony is recorded, and the witnesses must sign the record. The La ʿlami (court scribe), who writes up the documents, also signs them. Other witnesses may also add their signatures to the testimony of the two primary witnesses.10
According to the ordinances for prosecuting the crime of ridda, Sol
Hachuel was defined as a social apostate (a Muslim woman born of non-Muslim parents), whose age and healthy state of mind made her liable to the death penalty. Because she was female and because she was being tried under Maliki law in Morocco, Sol was given the prescribed three days to recant.
All the religious poetry written about her delves deeply into her incarceration and the judges' attempts to persuade her to recant. At the same time, none of the Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic texts showed that the Jews properly understood the concept of ridda in general or its application in Sol's case. The authors failed to comprehend that the aim of the persuasion as dictated by law constituted an attempt to get the accused to recant in the hope of averting the death penalty. In Ma῾ase ba-Na῾ara ha-Tsadeqet (A Tale of a Righteous Maiden), Yosef Ben-Na῾im recounts that she was not starved in prison but deprived of food because she refused to eat the prison fare as it did not accord with Jewish dietary laws; hence Rabbi Raphael Ha-Tsarfati smuggled food to her.11 Seemingly, Ben-Na῾im thought that the provision of food and water to prisoners was an act of goodwill and not dictated by the law.12
Both the piyyutim in Hebrew and the qəsā in Judeo-Arabic hint that there was a legal process including witnesses and official documents, for example, in “In Praise of the Fortunate Maiden” by Ya῾aqov Abihazirah:
- Together they plotted perjury
- They lied that she converted to the worthless religion
- They wrote and signed a wicked plot
- And she, perish the thought, had expressed no such words
(p.113) Note also the following reference to the witnesses in Bisam Allah qaomi:
On the day that they prepared the contract and came to their master and gave witness …
we wait for them to be destroyed for their perjury
These quotations from Jewish contemporaries show that the conduct of the trial followed the legal precepts of interrogation of the witnesses and signed statements witnessed by the court scribe. The authors' claims attack the witnesses. They cite perjury and forged documents in what may be called a “plot.” They view Sol as a pious Jewess who had never converted to Islam.
The piyyutim refer to signed affidavits. In the qəsā Bisam Allah qaomi, the anonymous poet mentions a kagt (document), which would be interpreted by the Jews as a signed affidavit or even a marriage contract.
Rey writes in his book that Sol admitted that she pronounced the Shahāda, i.e., declared her allegiance to Islam in a moment of weakness but immediately repudiated her words. She used these words in an attempt to prevail upon those who came to arrest her not to take her away with them. These men claimed that if she had something to repudiate, it was a sure sign that at some stage she had sworn allegiance to Islam and, as such, they had sufficient grounds to arrest her. When she resisted arrest, they tied her hands behind her back with a silk handkerchief and threatened that if she did not go willingly, they would take her by force.13
In a report received by the painter Alfred Dehodencq in the early 1850s, Sol fell in love with a Muslim and married him, but when her husband suddenly passed away, she decided to return to her faith and community.14
And thus the two events—the declaration of faith and the marriage—are included in the non-Hebrew traditions about Sol. However, these should be discussed as hypotheses and not as indubitable truth, given that to date no one has yet produced any documents confirming the theory. Therefore, in Sol's case we must relate to these hypotheses as possible accusations in the ridda trial.
(p.114) We would point out that Jews forced to convert to Islam during the oppressive rule of Sultan Mawlay Yazid (reigned 1790–92) were permitted to revert to Judaism by Sultan Sliman II (reigned 1792–1822). So here was a precedent for such a return to one's former religion in Moroccan history. Other examples include the rule of the Marinids in Morocco at the end of the thirteenth century, when converts were permitted to return to Judaism, even though Sharia law prohibited this. The qadi Ahmed al-Wansharisi, who lived in the fifteenth century, stated that Jews who were forcibly converted could go back to their faith. This precedent in Morocco accords with the laws of the dhimma, which state that compelling dhimmi to convert, even to Islam, is forbidden, and furthermore it abides by the dictates of the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad.15 Sultan Abd al-Rahman (reigned 1822–1859) probably knew of Sliman II's decision and thought that he could follow a similar practice in the case of Sol Hachuel.
Her sentence was passed by the members of the ῾ulamā' (the qadi could be a member of this council). In Morocco the sultan is the “commander of the faithful,” but he is not permitted to rule on matters of Islamic law. Rather, his responsibility lies only in implementing religious ordinances. When he is notified that a sentence has been passed, he is expected to authorize its execution. He has no right to veto a trial's outcome or a judge's sentence, except for legal reasons such as a flaw in the evidence, procedure, etc. Due process is his first priority in order to guarantee the rule of law.
If he is the sole instance for the authorization of a death sentence, one may ask why he did not use his privilege to delay the execution of the sentence for an indefinite period while Sol was held under arrest or even housed in the palace harem. But such a step might seem unsuitable for a pious Muslim in the eyes of members of the ῾ulamā' from the Bildiyyin (converted Jews) group.16 It appears that the contemporary Wahhabism of Sliman II's period influenced Abd al-Rahman, who valued the members of the Bildiyyin council of mostly Jewish origin. These “new Muslims” attended Sliman II from boyhood and served him as teachers and mentors. As an adult, he accepted them as arbiters of Muslim law. This group, which retained its influence during the rule of Abd Al-Rahman, did not advocate improvement in the social and economic conditions of the Jews.17 The legal case of Sol the Jewess presented an additional opportunity to deal harshly with the Jews. The pious sultan could not ignore (p.115) their recommendation to carry out the death sentence. In the malhun in the manuscript Bisam Allah qaomi, the influence of the ῾ulamā' and its expeditious action in the Sol trial is described in a pictorial manner:
- Morning and evening they met with the Islamia
- When the important people gathered together with the ῾ulamā'
- They said what a noble woman, it is a pity that you should remain
- A homeless Jewess and you such a beautiful example of God's creation
The qəsā emphasizes that they sent a Muslim woman to persuade her to practice Islam. The term Islamia is a synonym for Bildiya, a Muslim of Jewish origin. Abd al-Rahman, who was faithful to the laws of Islam, listened to the counsel of the ῾ulamā' and accepted their advice. The chronicle of Khālid al-Nasiri tells us that the ῾ulamā' prevented the execution of two thousand people from the Sherrarda tribe.18
Regarding Sol, he inclined toward the ῾ulamā', which included members of the Bildiyyin who favored the death penalty. Owing to his loyalty to this group, he apparently declined to use his authority to delay the execution.
The other factor that contributed to the adopting of the recommendation and the implementing of the death sentence forthwith (after the three-day wait) was widespread publicity. Sol's case had become a public issue. If it was clear that she was not coerced into converting, any effort or attempt by a member of the court or by the sultan himself to reverse the sentence could seem like a reaction to outside pressure and therefore an insult to Islam and its laws. According to Rey, the qadi in Tangier attacked Sol's parents for publicizing the matter. In his opinion, the publicity prevented his intervention in their daughter's favor.19 Would things (p.116) have turned out differently if the matter had been treated with discretion? We can never know. There are no grounds for the claim that the family's activity caused the publicity. One may claim that from the moment the witnesses testified that Sol was an apostate Muslim, the matter became public, and within the Moroccan context of 1834, such publicity served to warn others, viz., death is the appropriate treatment for apostates from Islam. Discretion, therefore, was not in Islam's interest or in the interest of the young Jewess.
The authors of the piyyutim about Sol, who were leading rabbis in Fez at that time, saw the sultan as the highest authority, capable of saving the young Jewess from a bitter end. In their opinion, if the sultan refused to postpone the death sentence indefinitely after an unjust trial, it was because of arbitrariness and cruelty and not because of loyalty and commitment to the laws of Islam.
In Ḥayyim Ḥaliwa's piyyut about Sol, the Muslims who tortured and condemned her to death are characterized as lions and bears, members of a false religion, unclean water, sexually perverted, brave as dogs and Datan and Aviram, who rebelled against Moses.20
The sultan's servants and advisors and the sultan himself are described in a somber way without any restraint or fear, for these texts were only comprehensible to the Jews and were passed from hand to hand within the community. Rabbi Shmuel Elbaz in his Shimekha yah qiddesha (Your Name, Almighty, she sanctified) describes how she was brought to the sultan's palace in Fez:
- To the criminal city
- She was sent with zeal
- To lie among the uncircumcised
- Where she would forget God's service.
Rabbi Elbaz, a resident of Fez at the time, called the town in which the sultan lived a “criminal city.”
In this context, focusing on the relations between Jews and Muslims in Morocco in 1834, we would like to bring attention to another salient point (p.117) in Rabbi Elbaz's piyyut. He calls the Muslims ῾arelim (uncircumcised), which is surprising given that Muslims circumcise males for religious reasons. The term is therefore not consistent with reality. An examination reveals that it is in accordance with Talmudic tradition (see especially Tractate Nedarim 31a, dealing with vows), where it is written that a person who swears not to benefit from an uncircumcised person may nevertheless benefit from an uncircumcised Jew, but not from a circumcised non-Jew.
In other words, the circumcision of a non-Jew does not alter his ῾arel status, nor does failure to circumcise a Jew prevent him from still being a Jew. Almost certainly then, in his piyyut, Rabbi Elbaz uses the word uncircumcised as a synonym for “non-Jewish.” Rabbi Elbaz was known asa great scholar and teacher of Torah and Talmud, who almost certainly knew the Talmudic source, and he used it to justify the word uncircumcised in describing the Muslims of his time. It is appropriate to add the last words of Sol to her executioner as they appear in Ḥayyim Ḥaliwah's piyyut, ῾Am asher nivḥaru (People who were chosen).
- Put on your sword
- So she spoke, I will be killed, and I will not sin against my religion
Sol encourages her executioner to kill her so that she may be made a martyr and not transgress any of the three prohibitions for which one should be ready to accept martyrdom rather than violate them. The three prohibitions are idolatry, murder, and sexual immorality (see the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 72b). Ḥaliwah sees Islam as idolatry and not as a monotheistic religion. In his opinion, Sol was right in preferring martyrdom to living as a Muslim. Ḥaliwah's conception of Islam is similar to that of Elbaz's, proving that the relations between the two religions, Islam and Judaism, were profoundly strained.
In both the piyyutim and qəsās, the Muslim community, witnesses, judges, and the sultan are described as a gang of losers, immoral and dishonest, lacking ethical standards and spirituality; therefore, the only alternative was to curse them for what they had done to a young, righteous Jewess. In the manuscripts of the Judeo-Arabic qəsās, Sol's mourners call (p.118) the Muslim judges “illegitimate” (al fsolim), which followed Maimonides, who referred to the prophet Muhammad as ha-Pasul (the illegitimate one).22
The poems mention documents produced in court and apparently presented to the sultan as well. Let us consider the declaration of allegiance to Islam. Did Morocco of 1834 require that conversion to Islam should be confirmed by a written document, as was the case in the Andalusia of Maimonides under the Muwaḥidūn (the “Unitarians”) and in later periods? At the time when the Muwaḥidūn also ruled in Morocco, the many incidents of conversion arising from oppression and persecution aroused suspicions of insincere conversion. Thus converting to Islam, it was decided, should be an act of free will and not merely a superficial act. Therefore, the converts declared fidelity to Islam before witnesses, and a document was drawn up to that effect, which was witnessed by a notary and signed by the convert. This procedure was like a statement or bearing witness, and its requirements created the assumption that the candidate understood the law with requisite awareness of the religious duties expected of him.23
In his book, Rey reviews the stages of conversion to Islam as carried out in Andalusia.24 It is reasonable to assume that his source of information believed that the Andalusian procedure from the Muwaḥidūn era was perhaps comparable to that followed in Morocco.
With regard to the procedures and laws relating to the age of a person condemned to death and the method of implementing the sentence, the concept of taklif (the imposition of duties on mankind by God) is of importance.25 Other legal concepts such as 'akl or state of mind and bulugh, i.e., physical and sexual maturity, according to Islamic law also should have played a role in Sol's case.26 Sol was 17 years old at the time her sentence was passed, and she was not pregnant, weaning, or menstruating. Under Islamic law, these factors should have been checked before carrying out the death sentence.27
According to Islamic law, tuba (the grace period of penitence) normally lasts three days, but it could have been extended to further investigate whether or not the condemned person's decision to revert to the former religion was freely made. Because a decision regarding the choosing of one's religion should not be coerced, torture is not permitted.
Tuba is part of a legal procedure and is common to both Hanbali and Maliki law current in Morocco of that day; it was not accepted in Sunni, (p.119) Shi῾a, or Hamami law. Yedidiah Monsoniego claimed that Sol was tortured for two months. Was this during the tuba period, which suggests it lasted two months? If this were indeed the case, it would have been exceptional and would also have represented a gesture of goodwill and an attitude of human kindness and consideration for the girl by the Muslim court. Rabbi Monsoniego, who composed his piyyut to mark the end of the thirty-day mourning period, did not see things this way.28
In some cases, the death sentence was considered insufficient, and the body was burned or thrown into a river. This decision was left to the qadis, who were always uncertain about how to dispose of the remains of heretics. To bury them in a Muslim cemetery is forbidden, nor should their bodies, unlike other Muslim departed, be treated with the respect required by Islamic teachings. For example, they did not say the Shahāda prayer over them while facing in the direction of Mecca. In the qəsā Bisam Allah qaumi, one of the Muslim women says:
Look at those features, they do not merit burning
These words confirm the popular custom that the body of one condemned to death for apostasy (ridda) was incinerated, for which there certainly was historical precedent.29 When the community found a Muslim guilty of betrayal, his body was burned and subsequently mutilated.30 In Sol's case, we find no evidence that her body was mutilated by the crowd present at the execution. Sol was sentenced as a Muslim, and the authorities responsible for disposing of her body could decide whether to bury it, burn it, or throw it into the river. If the body was buried in a Jewish cemetery, this would have been the result of an agreement between the Muslim authorities and the Jewish community and therefore a demonstration of goodwill.
According to Jewish sources, the crowd did not mutilate the body, proving that the Muslim judicial authorities in Fez remained in control of the execution. These authorities apparently agreed to give her body to the Jewish community, even though Sol was treated as an apostate Muslim (p.120) whose execution should have taken place before sunset immediately after the tuba period.
Rey's book describes the ridda process in detail, and he researched the subject in depth, seemingly with the help of Muslim legal experts. However, there are lacunae in the treatment of the laws of evidence in his book. The rabbis showed little knowledge or understanding of the workings of ridda. None of the poets or the authors of the qəsās at any time indicate that Sol converted to Islam; on the contrary, they say that she remained loyal to her religion. According to Yedidiah Monsoniego, the judges decided to torture her:
Perhaps she would convert when She cried out in suffering
Monsoniego became a member of the rabbinical court in Fez in 1840.31 He claimed that the judges forced Sol to convert to Islam. The ῾ulamā' and the sultan, however, knew that forced conversion was illegal. It went against the very notion of dhimma status, which governed the relations between Muslims and other “People of the Book.” Therefore, they made certain that the question of Sol's Judaism was not raised during the trial or during the tuba persuasion and torture period. In their opinion, these methods were employed to ensure that she remained a Muslim, whereas the Jewish poets saw them as an attempt to coerce her into converting to Islam.
Was this paragraph found in the Pact of Omar known to the Jewish poets? If they had known it was illegal to force a Jewess to convert, would they not have used this information to attack the sultan and the judges for their lack of compliance with the laws of Islam's founding fathers? This claim would have strengthened the protests against the Muslim authorities in Fez.
This argument, which does not appear in any of the poetry, proves that the laws of dhimma prohibiting the forced conversion of a Jew to Islam were not clear to the Jewish authors or even to the community leaders, who claimed only that Sol was forced to convert without mention of Islamic laws against such activity. This ignorance of Islamic law in the events surrounding Sol shows how deep the abyss was between the Jewish and Muslim communities. We are talking about two separate, (p.121) completely different worlds, different not only religiously and socially but also culturally.
Indeed, the Jewish writings about Sol Hachuel in the texts and manuscripts that we have quoted herein could be principally classified as apologetic literature, and consequently these poems should not be relied upon as historical documents faithfully reflecting the total system of relationships between the two communities. Therefore, literary criticism as cultural hermeneutics could assume that these same manuscripts and texts try to construct a narrative and a tradition about Sol Hachuel, and for that purpose, it was preferable to the authors to bring out matters such as incomprehension and barriers between the two communities rather than to deliver a balanced picture of this issue (Sol's case) in order to represent the broader relationships between the Muslims and Jews in Morocco in the first half of the nineteenth century.
(1.) Regarding the surname, we have adopted the form used by Eugenio Maria Romero in his play El Martirio de la Joven Hachuel (Gibraltar: Imprenta Militar, 1837), three years after Sol's execution.
(2.) The Jewish community of Fez has retained its official documentation of Sol Hachuel's execution, found in Yahas Fez, a collection of sources on the history of the Jews of Fez. In 1879 the leader of the Jewish religious court, Avner Israel Ha-Tzarfati, sent the material to Isidore Loeb, one of the heads of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. (I would point out that two poems about Sol were published earlier in 1844 in Qol Ya῾aqov by Ya῾aqov Berdugo in London.) The documents may be found in David Ovadiah's book Fez we-Khahameha (Fez and Its Sages), 2 vols. (Jerusalem: Beit Oved, 1979). Sol is referred to in 1:157.
(3.) This work is part of a wider research project on Moroccan Jewry in the first half of the nineteenth century, which has occupied me for more than six years. This discussion about the ridda issue forms part of a chapter dealing with the relations between Jews and Muslims during the period. I have published an article in Hebrew on Sol Hachuel, “Le-Itzuv Demuta shel Giborat Tarbut lefi Teqstim” (The formation of a popular heroine reflected in texts), which appeared in an anthology, Isha be-Mizraḥ, Isha mi-Mizraḥ (Woman of the Orient, Woman from the Orient), ed. Tova Cohen and Shaul Regev (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 2005), 35–54 (see especially the bibliography, 53–54).
(4.) The chronicle was translated separately by Eugène Fumey, orientalist and diplomat in the French diplomatic service, who served in Tangier between 1897 and 1903 (the year of his death) and it was published in parts 9 and 10 of Archives marocaines (Paris: Ed. Leroux, 1906, 1907).
(5.) This piyyut about the martyrdom of Sol Hachuel was only recently discovered, written on the last pages of one of the two manuscripts by Rabbi Yedidiah Monsoniego entitled Qupat ha-Rokhlim (The Peddler's Satchel), setting out that which is forbidden and permitted by Torah law. The contents are arranged in alphabetical order, summarizing sources and referring to them. The manuscript, which includes the piyyut about Sol, is in the possession of Rabbi Dr. Moshe Amar of Bar-Ilan University. In his poem, the author testifies that it was written on the thirtieth day after Sol's execution. Rabbi Monsoniego also served as a ritual slaughterer in Fez and was appointed a judge on the rabbinical court in 1840, replacing his father, Rabbi Raphael Monsoniego, after his death. For further biographical and bibliographical details, see Sefer Minkhat Ziqaron, ed. Moshe Amar (Lod: Orot Yahadut Ha-Maghreb, 1999), 1–9.
(6.) This qəsā about the righteous Sol came to me as a text found in a manuscript in the possession of Dr. Hayyim Bentov of Bar-Ilan University. Throughout this essay, we refer to the qəsā by its opening phrase, Bisam Allah qaomi (In the name of God my shelter).
(7.) The Arabic qassida in Morocco is called malhun. The qəsā is a less complex poetic form than the qassida and was adopted in popular Jewish literature in Morocco. The manuscript qəsā Bisam Allah qaomi was influenced by the Arabic qassida of the malhun type. The structure of the Sephardic Hebrew qassida is derived from the Arabic qassida. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, after the Arabic qassida of the malhun type became the primary poetic form in Morocco, even Hebrew verse accepted the form. The qəsā Bisam Allah qaomi belongs to the malhun genre and is characterized by a division into stanzas (aqsam) accompanied by a refrain (harba). The stanzas are composed of strings. Each string has two parts: the first part includes three lines whose rhyme changes in each stanza. The second part includes two couplets. The rhymes of the couplets are uniform in each stanza. For a discussion of the malhun, see Meir Nizri, “Ha-Prosodiyyah shel ha-qassida be-shir yedidut le-or ha-qassida ha-Aravit (al-Mallhun) be-Morocco,” PhD thesis, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, 1997.
(8.) Moroccan Jews were defined as dhimmis or a “protected minority” by the Muslim authorities. The delineation was common practice as regards non-Muslims and included both Jews and Christians, who were described as “People of the Book.” They were allowed to live under Muslim rule if they accepted a number of limitations embodied in the Pact of Omar, compiled in 687 CE (Muslim date, ah 78) and named after its originator, Omar b. al-Haṭāb. These precepts were designed to ensure the supremacy of Islam over the other religions. One of the clauses relevant to our discussion is the prohibition against discouraging anybody from converting to Islam. The dhimmis who obeyed these rules were guaranteed protection against threats to their lives and possessions and were permitted freedom to organize their religious and social life. The Pact of Omar in effect separated Muslims from other communities. This segregation deepened over time, so that by the early nineteenth century very little communication took place between the Jewish community and the Muslim authorities, a situation exacerbated by persecution. Jews could neither read nor write Classical Arabic, because as dhimmis they were forbidden to study the Quran. This explains the Jewish ignorance of complex legal matters such as ridda, under whose provisions Sol was sentenced to death. See Antoine Fattal, Le statut légal des non-musulmans en pays ďIslam (Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, 1958), (p.123) 18–20, 36–37, 61–63, and André Chouraqui, La condition juridique de ľIsraélite marocain (Paris: Presses du Livre français, 1950), 21–25, 47–55.
(9.) For a discussion of the various statutes of the law of ridda, see H. Ennaifer, Foi et justice (Groupe de Recherches Islamo-Chrétien) (Paris: Centurion, 1993), 104–13, and Fattal, Le statut légal, 141, 163–73.
(10.) For an explanation of the role of the witness in a ridda trial, see also the entry for Shahid (witness) in the Encyclopedia of Islam, CD-ROM edition V.I.I.
(11.) This text is included in Yosef Ben-Na῾im, Malkhe Rabbanan (Jerusalem: 1930). See my article in Isha be-Mizraḥ, Isha mi-Mizraḥ, 48 (see note 3 above).
(12.) See A. Rey, Souvenirs ľun voyage au Maroc (Paris: Bureau du Journal ľAlgérie, 1844), 152. Rey records that the governor gave instructions to provide Sol with food and drink during her three days of imprisonment. Prior to this, he explained to her parents that only after three days would the situation become clear whereupon he would be able to decide her future (148–49). This is in accordance with the tuba process within the ridda proceedings.
(13.) See the piyyut “Et godel shevaḥ na῾arah ashira, asaper” (The highest praise for a young woman, I will sing and tell), which is included in Ya῾aqov Avihazirah, Yagel Ya῾aqov (Netivot, 2001). We quoted lines 11–13.
(14.) See Rey, Souvenirs, 148–66. The painter Alfred Dehodencq, who visited Tangier in the 1850s, included accounts of Sol's case as told by her contemporaries living in Tangier in his memoir, as collected by Gabriel de Séailles, Alfred Dehodencq: Histoire ľun coloriste (Paris: P. Ollendorff, 1885), 113. He also portrayed her in his painting Execution of a Moroccan Jewess. For statutes concerning marriage in Islamic law, see under Nikah in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1995, viii), 26–35.
(15.) For further information about the return to Judaism of those forced to convert to Islam in Morocco, see H. Z. Hirschberg, Toldot ha-Yehudim be-Afrika ha-Tsefonit (The History of the Jews in North Africa) (Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1965), 1:84–85, 279–82 (Hebrew); Eliezer Bashan, Yahadut Morocco, ῾Avra ve-Tarbutah (Moroccan Jewry, past, and culture) (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuhad, 2000), 21, 62 (Hebrew); Rey, Souvenirs, 72–84. At this stage, it would be appropriate to make a number of comments on Malikite law, which is one of the basic elements of Moroccan Islam. The state has been administered using this body of law since the eleventh century (the Murabittin period). Spiritual leaders with mystical tendencies helped to spread the law and contributed to the expansion of a popular fundamentalist Islam. However, during the reign of the sultan Sliman II from the Alawite dynasty (1792–1822), the influence of Wahhabism increased, and this trend continued under his heir, Sultan Abd al-Rahman, while he remained loyal to Malikite law. Important historians specializing in Moroccan history, such as Abdallah Laroui, claim that the people were not shaped by Islam but rather by the form of Malikism that developed in Morocco. See Laroui, Islamisme, Modernisme, Libéralisme (Casablanca: Centre culturel arabe, 1997), 159. Other historians such as Mohammed Othman Benjelloun agree that Malikite Islam has distinctive features, being more tolerant not only of other religions but especially with the “People of the Book,” who settled in Morocco. See his book Projet national et identité au Maroc (Casablanca: Eddif, 2000), 79. To quote King Hassan II on the same subject: “Malikism is the intellectual backbone of (p.124) our culture. The Malikite teachings produced a number of great sages in Andalusia and the Maghreb, and we rely on them in the application of our legal principles. It is an open culture which borrows from other legal schools, aiding us to solve the problems that we encounter.” See Hassan II and Eric Laurent, Le génie de la modération (Paris: Plon, 2000), 110–11.
(16.) See Mohammed Kenbib's monumental Juifs et Musulmans au Maroc, 1859–1948 (Rabat: Université Mohammed V, Faculté des sciences humaines, 1994), 51, 61, 711.
(17.) We should emphasize that Sultan Abd al-Rahman was characterized by his loyalty to the religious institutions as set out in the Malikite laws, defined by both Moroccan historians and Sultan Hassan II as an open and tolerant body of law. Because his religiosity was influenced by Wahhabism, the combination is likely to create considerable tension and, as in Sol's case, perhaps even lead to the death penalty. This tendency was reinforced by the ῾ulamā' from the Bildiyyin group.
(18.) In his chronicle, Ibn Khālid al-Nasiri al-Salawi relates how Abd al-Rahman reconsidered his decision to behead two thousand members of the Sherrarda tribe who were accused of treason. Prior to acting on his decision, he consulted the ῾ulamā', whose members advised him not to spill so much blood. The sultan accepted their advice and canceled the mass execution. See Archives marocaines, 10:127. In Sol's case, apparently, a legal decision came down which called for the death sentence with a recommendation to carry out the execution as soon as possible. The British consul Drummond Hay wrote a letter to the Foreign Office in England from Tangier on June 9, 1834, a few days after Sol was executed in Fez. In the letter he cited the ῾ulamā's influence as one of the major causes for the implementation of her sentence. See the British Foreign Office Archive, Diary of the British Consulate, Tangier FO 174/218, vol. 8, 1834–1836. This letter was first published by Ph. Abensur in the periodical Etzi 3, no. 11 (December 2000): 1, 6.
(19.) Rey, Souvenirs, 152.
(20.) The pejorative epithets used against Sol's judges are found in a piyyut by Ḥayyim Ḥaliwah, which starts with the sentence “῾Am asher nivḥaru/le-shem ule-tehila” (A people chosen for fame and praise). The piyyut was included in Rabbi Ya῾aqov Bendugo, Qol Ya῾aqov (London, 1844), 129–31.
(21.) Shimkha yah qiddesha is found in a manuscript at Bar-Ilan University (no. 566).A scholarly edition of the piyyut was published in Yehuda Razhabi, Mi-Ginzat Shirat Qedem (Texts and Studies in Oriental Liturgical Poetry) (Jerusalem: Misgav Yerushalaim,1991), 87–93. Rabbi Shmuel Elbaz was a member of a family of religious judges and scholars from Sefrou, although he lived in Fez and was almost certainly present in the city when Sol Hachuel was executed.
(22.) The qəsā found in the manuscript at Bar-Ilan University (no. 142) opens with the sentence “shimu ya nash ma zra/fimdinat Fes lkahra” (Hear, gentlemen, what happened in the despicable city, Fez). In line 16, we read “get up, illegitimate witnesses, and testify.” The poet is referring to Muslims, whom the Jews saw as illegitimate. In general, the Jews of Morocco of every generation used this term (in Hebrew, pasul) to refer to Muslims. This phenomenon is anchored in Moroccan Jewish tradition and is derived from Maimonides' Igeret Teman (Epistle to Yemen), in which he preferred the epithet ha-Pasul instead of referring to Muhammad by his name. See Igeret Teman, Halkin ed., (p.125) trans. Boaz Cohen (New York: American Academy for Jewish Research, 1952), 28, 52. The authors of the piyyutim about Sol—all sages and rabbinical judges and well acquainted with Maimonides' religious thought and philosophy—were fully aware of these details. In fact, it appears they reread Maimonides' works, especially Igeret Teman, before writing their poetry.
For sources discussing Maimonides' attitude toward Islam and forced conversion in North Africa, see Nehamiah Levtzion's articles and also the articles by Menahem Ben-Sasson and Eliezer Schlossberg, which appeared in Pe῾amim 42 (Winter 1990): 8–60.
(23.) For sources on forced conversions in Andalusia in the Muwaḥidūn period, see Judit Taragona and Angel Saenz-Badillos, “Moshé ben Maimon sous le pouvoir almohade,” in Présence juive au Maghreb, ed. Joseph Tedgui and Nicole S. Serfati (Saint-Denis: Bouchère, 2004), 203–18. See especially 214–15.
(24.) Rey, Souvenirs, 147, 153.
(25.) See the entry for taklif in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 10:149–50.
(26.) In Rey's book, Souvenirs ďun voyage au Maroc, 153–54, the governor repeats in Sol's presence, “You are certainly not insane.”
(27.) We express our gratitude to the president of the Shari῾a court in Israel, Ahmed Natour, who explained the paragraphs relating to 'akl and bulugh in the laws of ridda, after checking the relevant sources in Muslim law books. The meeting took place in his office on January 7, 2004. The relevant paragraphs in the law will be examined in detail as part of a more extensive research project now in progress. Here we have only presented a summary of the law and general conclusions.
(28.) Line 12 of the manuscript reads, “῾inuha shne ḥodashim / yeme ῾onya umerudeha” (They tortured her for two months / the days of her suffering and her bitterness).
(29.) Fattal, Le statut legal, 165–66. In Souvenirs, Rey introduced the possibility of the body being burned or even that Sol might have been executed by burning (167).
(30.) See the Archives marocaines (1907), 10:155.
(31.) See the introduction to Minḥat Zikaron by Yedidiah Monsoniego, ed. Moshe Amar (Lod: Orot Yahadut Hamagreb, 1992).