Exile in the Maghreb: Jews under Islam …997–1912 By Paul B. Fenton, David G. Littman

Exile in the Maghreb: Jews under Islam …997–1912 By Paul B. Fenton, David G. Littman

“When a Jew passes before a mosque, he is obliged to take off his slippers or sandals. He must do the same when he passes before the house of the Kaid, the Kadi, or of any Mussulman of distinction. At Fez and, in some other towns they are obliged to walk barefoot. When they meet a Mussulman of high rank they are obliged to turn away hastily to a certain distance of the left of the road, to leave their sandals on the ground several paces off, and to put themselves into a most humble posture, their body entirely bent forward, till the Mussulman has passed to a great distance; if they hesitate to do this, or to dismount from their horse when they meet a Mohometan, they are severely punished. I have often been obliged to restrain my soldiers or servants from beating these poor wretches, when they were not active enough in placing themselves in the humble attitude prescribed on them by the Mahometan tyranny.”

“Notwithstanding these inconveniences, the Jews carry on a considerable trade at Morocco and have even several times farmed the customhouse; but it happens almost always that in the end they are plundered by the Moors, or by the Government. On my arrival, I had two Jews amongst my servants; when I saw that they were so ill-treated and vexed in different ways, I asked them why they did not go to another country; they answered me, that they could not do so because they were slaves of the sultan. This town [Fez] contains about two thousand Jewish families whose quarter is in the suburbs of New Fez.”

“They live in the most abject state; the contempt of the Moorish inhabitants is so great for them that they are not permitted to come into the town, whether male or female, without walking bare foot. When they meet even the most common soldier, or the most miserable negro belonging to the King’s house, whether in town or country, they are obliged to take off their slippers. Notwithstanding this degrading state, and the continual vexations they every day receive, I have seen a Fez a great number of handsome Jewesses, elegantly dressed, and also some Jews, who had a very prosperous appearance, which I never remarked at Tangier: this is a proof that they are not so poor and miserable here as they appear to be in the other city.”

“They have several synagogues in their quarter, a marketplace which is well provided, and are almost all either artisans or merchants. The quarter for the Jews [in Marrakesh] was by itself about a mile round and is situated between the enclosure of the palace and of the city. It was, like the others, half ruined, and contained nothing remarkable, but a well-stocked market place. The gate, which was shut during night and on Saturdays, was kept by a Kaid. Morocco [Marrakesh] is said to contain about two thousand Jews, who all live in their quarter, and, of whatever age or sex they be, they dare not come into the town unless bare foot. They are treated with the utmost contempt.”

“Their dress is black and shabby, such as the Jews of Tangier. Their chief seems to be a good kind of a man, he often came to me and was as miserably dressed as all the rest. Among the women of this religion who go into the streets with unveiled faces, I have seen some that were handsome, and even of great beauty. Most of them are of a fair complexion. Their rose and jasmin faces would charm Europeans; their delicate features are very expressive, and their eyes enchanting. These perfect beauties, worthy to serve as models to a Grecian sculptor, are treated with disdain, and, like all the others, obliged to walk bare foot, and to prostrate themselves before ugly negro women who live with the Musulmen. The male infants of the Jews are also handsome, but as they grow up, they get common, and the Jews of a certain age are all ugly. It is possible that the shocking slavery in which they live many causes this change in their countenances. The Jews exercise several arts and professions. They are the only goldsmiths, tinmen, and Taylors that are at Morocco [Marrakesh] (p. 155).” 

Source: Exile in the Maghreb: Jews under Islam, Sources and Documents, 997–1912 By Paul B. Fenton, David G. Littman

El Aemer El Mujaddid

American born Moor, Author, History Researcher, Modernist, 720 Entrepreneur/ Corporate Mogul in the making; who observes & analyzes human nature for data mining purposes. Knowing is Half the Battle, Wisdom is needed for appropriate application of knowledge and right reasoning.

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