The Black Death happened in the context of immense trade network. It originated in China, in about 1346, but due to the many trade routes, it was able to spread to many parts of Europe and Asia in just 4 years. Large trade networks such as the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean trade have lots of people, from different backgrounds, travelling back and forth. The plague was composed of three parts; bubonic, pneumonic, septicemic, no matter what they had, death was the end. Without the knowledge of airborne germs and vaccinations, many people were around the disease without knowledge. Both Muslims and Christians had the estimated death rate of 33%. Christian and Muslim responses to the “Black Plague” were predominantly different. They had different views on why God/Allah brought the plague, and their reactions were different in the way they acted toward minorities and authorities. Though they were similar in how they attempted to cure it and what they thought caused it.
One difference between Christian and Muslim responses to the Black Death was what they believed about God’s/Allah’s role in the plague. Even though both regions experienced the similar things, death in the streets, blood, and people suffering physically and emotionally. The Christians believed God was punishing them for their sins. They thought they should pray more so that they would stay on the right track, (Doc. 4). Counter to that Muslims saw the plague as a divine act from Allah. They found that prayer was almost despicable and should not be done. The also believed that the should accept Allah’s act, (Doc.4). Though Muslim opinions vary, they also pray with Ahl al-Kitab. The two religious groups even though going through the same thing, thought two completely differently. Both with an overall death rate of 33% (Doc. 2). They both watched their people suffering and dying in the streets, and they still believed different things. They were able to take their monotheistic beliefs and have a different outcome.
Another big difference in the reactions of Christians and Muslims is the way they treated others during the plague. The two groups treated church officials and minorities differently. Christians were commuting more sins and bad acts throughout the plague. There was nothing that could stop these acts. Even priests moved away to richer places(Doc. 6). On the other hand Muslims brought everyone together to prayed, fasted, and walked with the Qu’ran. There is also no evidence that the Muslims attempted to rebel against the church. (Doc.9) The way the Jewish minority were treated contrasted greatly. Christians blamed the Jews for the plague, claiming that they poisoned the wells. They were burned alive for things they didn’t do. The Christians showed no mercy and killed thousands and thousands of Jewish people. When the council in Strasbourg stepped in, they were forced out of office by the people of the town. (Doc.7). Even the Pope stuck up for the Jews, saying it was impossible for the Jews to have done it when they haven’t reached every place in the world affected by the plague. (Doc.8). In direct contrast to that Muslims came together with Jews and Christians. In Damascus, they would walk with their books, the Qu’ran, the gospels, or the book of the law (Doc.9). Muslims did not blame anyone for the acts of the plague, not even unassimilated groups like the Christians did. There is also no correlation to the Black Death and persecution of minorities. (Doc.10)
Though the two religions reacted differently, they still had some similarities like the remedies they made to treat the plague and what may have caused it. Both groups believed it may have something to do with the miasma winds from the south. They also believed it had something to do with astronomy, Christians believed it was because of the conjunction of Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. Muslims believed it could’ve been because of the abundance of shooting stars. The also had some different reasons, but the main two were very similar. They also believed in similar ways to cure the plague. They believed that building fires and drinking Armenian clay could possibly cure the plague. Christians believed that they should cover the window and Muslims believed they should stay indoors, both of them have a similar concept which is not interacting with the wind. (Doc. 5). They were both equally affected so it’s reasonable that they had similar causes and treatments.
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