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Old 12 Oct 2017, 09:08 AM   #678106 / #1
DrZoidberg
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Default Were the Vikings Muslim?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41567391

So they've found Islamic symbols in Viking graves. So were some of the Vikings Muslim?

I think this article does the old western mistake of equating religion with Christianity. As if all religion works the same way as Christianity.

Vikings were pagans. Just like Hindus they could add an extra god or two and their theological model is intact. When the Viking world became Christian in the 1000's ca, Viking bishops had a hard time making people understand that becoming Christian meant rejecting paganism. Most of them gave up trying. And most Viking Jarls/kings didn't give a rats ass either way.

Since Viking society had a weak authority and plenty of democratic elements, enforcing the singular god concept was virtually impossible. Which is why Sweden today still has plenty of old pagan ritual and traditions, surviving more or less intact. The same goes for all of Scandinavia and the Baltics.

Vikings were traders. They had every reason to be on friendly terms with those they were trading with. I have no problems believing that Vikings would convert to Islam without ever understanding that it meant giving up their pagan traditions. They just didn't think about gods in that way.

Pagans liked hedging their bets. People like that would want to be buried as devout Muslims along with everything needed to show that they also are devoted to the pagan gods.

It annoys me when critical information like this is left out of these kinds of articles. Few people understand paganism today. So it needs to be explained when writing about it.
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Old 12 Oct 2017, 02:13 PM   #678128 / #2
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The Norsemen were quite the travelers.
They sailed down the Volga to the Caspian sea, thence to the Black sea and to Constantinople on the Bosporus, where they were employed for many years as the elite Varangian Guard for the Byzantine emperors.(CF: Praetorian Guard.)
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Old 12 Oct 2017, 10:25 PM   #678166 / #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41567391

So they've found Islamic symbols in Viking graves. So were some of the Vikings Muslim?

I think this article does the old western mistake of equating religion with Christianity. As if all religion works the same way as Christianity.

Vikings were pagans. Just like Hindus they could add an extra god or two and their theological model is intact. When the Viking world became Christian in the 1000's ca, Viking bishops had a hard time making people understand that becoming Christian meant rejecting paganism. Most of them gave up trying. And most Viking Jarls/kings didn't give a rats ass either way.

Since Viking society had a weak authority and plenty of democratic elements, enforcing the singular god concept was virtually impossible. Which is why Sweden today still has plenty of old pagan ritual and traditions, surviving more or less intact. The same goes for all of Scandinavia and the Baltics.

Vikings were traders. They had every reason to be on friendly terms with those they were trading with. I have no problems believing that Vikings would convert to Islam without ever understanding that it meant giving up their pagan traditions. They just didn't think about gods in that way.

Pagans liked hedging their bets. People like that would want to be buried as devout Muslims along with everything needed to show that they also are devoted to the pagan gods.

It annoys me when critical information like this is left out of these kinds of articles. Few people understand paganism today. So it needs to be explained when writing about it.
This sounds much like my take on it, when I saw the story. Religious identity is more flexible than most people realize or admit, and religious symbols doubly so. And that there was contact between Viking and Persian polities is a fact long known.
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 02:49 AM   #678188 / #4
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Are not all people born Muslims?
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 05:45 AM   #678194 / #5
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I think that the pagans were required to convert.

I do not know if pagans were allowed jizya as were the other 'peoples of the book' (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians).
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 07:10 AM   #678196 / #6
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Good point, DrZoidberg. That's something that a lot of people seem to misunderstand about non-Abrahamic religions and belief systems. They are not exclusive -- they do not exclude other religions. In them, worshipping some god does not preclude worshipping some other god.

It was the same sort of thing in the Roman Empire, it seems. One could worship some deified emperor, be initiated into Mithraism, and worship Isis, all at the same time.

It's also the same sort of thing in alternative religions, like New-Age ones.
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 07:12 AM   #678197 / #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roo St. Gallus View Post
I think that the pagans were required to convert.

I do not know if pagans were allowed jizya as were the other 'peoples of the book' (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians).
That's in places where the leaders made Islam the official state religion. BTW, I like to call the jizya an infidel tax.

But there seems to be no evidence that any Viking leader ever made Islam an official leader.
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 07:30 AM   #678198 / #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roo St. Gallus View Post
I think that the pagans were required to convert.
Source? Early Muslims were very religiously tolerant. So I find this hard to believe. Later, Ottoman era Muslims forbade non-Muslims to convert to Islam. For tax collecting reasons. The Muslim persecution of non-Muslims is an extremely modern development.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roo St. Gallus View Post
I do not know if pagans were allowed jizya as were the other 'peoples of the book' (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians).
It didn't apply to traders. In practice, it only applied to farmers or urban specialist craftsmen. In the medieval world collecting taxes was quite a headache, since the use of money was limited.

And think about it. If you want foreign traders to come to your lands to trade, why would you punish them with an extra tax? Vikings primarily traded in slaves. Slaves were a valued commodity in the Middle-East. Powerful centralized governments and wide-spread peace, made the acquiring of slaves a problem. They had slave based economies. They had to get them from somewhere. So they would do everything they could to encourage foreign slave traders to come to them.

The Vikings weren't picky about who they sold slaves to. They preferred selling them to Muslims because they paid well.
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 07:35 AM   #678199 / #9
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Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
Good point, DrZoidberg. That's something that a lot of people seem to misunderstand about non-Abrahamic religions and belief systems. They are not exclusive -- they do not exclude other religions. In them, worshipping some god does not preclude worshipping some other god.

It was the same sort of thing in the Roman Empire, it seems. One could worship some deified emperor, be initiated into Mithraism, and worship Isis, all at the same time.

It's also the same sort of thing in alternative religions, like New-Age ones.
Yup. BTW, the Roman persecution of Christians, while real, was an extremely limited activity. Probably less than a hundred Christians lost their lives because of it. Our idea of Roman persecution of Christian is mostly later Christian propaganda.

Roman law meant that everybody was forced to show respect to other religions and gods than what you followed. The point of this was to ensure stability and harmony in the empire. When Christians refused this, they didn't quite know what to do about it. So they tried executing a couple to see what happens. When it didn't work, they reversed the policy. That's the extent of the persecutions. there's good evidence that plenty of the Christian martyrs are just made up.
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 02:03 PM   #678209 / #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roo St. Gallus View Post
I think that the pagans were required to convert.

I do not know if pagans were allowed jizya as were the other 'peoples of the book' (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians).
In places far from the seats of major Muslim powers, this is not always the case, even for explicitly Muslim peoples. One of the tensions that has fueled the civil wars ripping many parts of West Africa apart right now has been conflict between fundamentalist Muslims and more traditional syncretists who converted without giving up their traditional animist practices, magics, and family obligations.

And in any case, I don't think anyone is claiming that there was a Muslim state in Sweden, only perhaps some borrowed gods and symbols., maybe even some full-fledged converts but not a whole society. Most symbology from this time frame is not Muslim in character.
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 02:04 PM   #678210 / #11
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Quote:
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So they tried executing a couple to see what happens. When it didn't work, they reversed the policy. That's the extent of the persecutions. there's good evidence that plenty of the Christian martyrs are just made up.
Such as?
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 02:14 PM   #678211 / #12
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See also http://muslimheritage.com/article/vi...d-muslim-world. I'm reading that article with interest.
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 02:49 PM   #678212 / #13
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Originally Posted by Politesse View Post

And in any case, I don't think anyone is claiming that there was a Muslim state in Sweden, only perhaps some borrowed gods and symbols., maybe even some full-fledged converts but not a whole society. Most symbology from this time frame is not Muslim in character.
Ahem...Who fucking said anything about Sweden? We're talking Vikings. They were ALL over the stinking 8th to 11th century ancient European world, including the Varangian Guard in Constantinople, the Kiev Rus, subjugating Sicily, and hunting down and vexing the populations along most navigable rivers and coasts, far beyond the horizons of Sweden. I think we could expect to see Muslim symbology connected to those who had regular contact with the Muslim world.
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 05:39 PM   #678224 / #14
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I don't understand why there would be an inference of a religious connection here. Most Vikings would not have been able to read Arabic. The Swedish Vikings maintained lucrative trade routes to the Middle East. They dominated the Eastern Slavic (Byelorussian, Ukrainian, Russian) culture and were heavily involved in supplying slaves (hence, the etymology of "Slav") to Muslim lands until roughly the 10th century. Slavs called the Vikings "Varangians", and there is some controversy over whether the Kievan Rus ("Ruthenians") might actually have been Varangians.

Among the trade goods going back to Norse lands were highly-prized silks from China, but they also would have purchased Muslim clothing. Note that the items reported on contained silk, which would have come to the Middle East via one of the silk routes. Such goods would have served as status symbols in the Swedish homeland, not necessarily religious fetishes.

It is also true that pagans were very interested in Abrahamic religions, which dominated much of the former Roman Empire. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all competed with each other. Khazars (ethnic Turkic) actually adopted Judaism for a while. The Ruthenians have a legend that Ruthenians actually considered Islam. Their Ruler, Prince Vladimir, like the idea of having multiple wives. However, he liked drinking wine more, so he settled on Greek Orthodox. (See Russiapedia's Kievan Rus.)
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 08:11 PM   #678230 / #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
So they tried executing a couple to see what happens. When it didn't work, they reversed the policy. That's the extent of the persecutions. there's good evidence that plenty of the Christian martyrs are just made up.
Such as?
From a site I've quoted a couple of times recently- http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity....a_miracles.htm.
Quote:
Saints and their Miracles

The Christian religion not only was first attended by a miracle, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.
-David Hume, On Miracles
...
Other saints seem never to have existed at all — St Cross for example seems to have arisen through a confusion about the Holy (sancte) Cross, just as St Sophia had been created from a misunderstanding about Sancta Sophia, the Holy Wisdom. St Expeditus reputedly owes his existence to some French nuns who saw the word expeditus on the side of a crate full of bones from the catacombs, and assumed that they must have belonged to a saint called Expeditus. St Christopher was another saint who never existed and owes his reputation to a popular pagan story.

The story of St Ursula illustrates the later stages of how many such stories developed. In the early versions Ursula had a number of female companions who, like her, set-sail from England and were martyred for their faith in Cologne. Originally there were just a few of them, up to ten according to some accounts — making eleven martyrs including Ursula herself. Then in the tenth century someone seems to have misread XI MV ("unidecim martyres virgines" = eleven virgin martyrs) as XI M V, which they took to mean unidecim millia virgines = 11,000 virgins. Suddenly there were 11,000 women martyrs. In the twelfth century the bones of all 11,000 were discovered at Cologne, and these bones were distributed around Western Christendom as holy relics. A visionary confirmed that these were indeed the bones of the female companions of St Ursula, and all manner of other contemporary supporting evidence appeared. An astonishing number of miracles were carried out through these holy relics, which served to prove the story that they belonged to the 11,000 virgin martyrs. In modern times many of these bones have been identified as belonging to children and men, and hence not to female virgin martyrs at all — another miracle! St Ursula herself now seems never to have existed, and her feast day had to be removed from the Roman Calendar of saints in 1969.

St Uncumber, also known as St Wilgefortis, a bearded lady, owes her existence to another misunderstanding. Crucifixes before the twelfth century generally showed Jesus fully clothed and with a beard. When the fashion changed and he was shown clean-shaven and wearing only a loincloth, people assumed that the old figures were of someone else. The story arose that it was a bearded woman who had been crucified for failing to follow her father's wish for her to marry a non-Christian. God had furnished her with her beard to make her unmarriageable and to ensure her death as a martyr.

She became popular amongst women who wanted to be rid of their husbands. St Uncumber would miraculously eliminate the husband of any woman who could afford the price of a peck of oats. She is still revered and images of her can be found in churches throughout Europe.
Several others discussed there, most notably Saint Josaphat- who is none other than Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha.

And from another site Poli has seen me quote once or twice before- see the section 'The Fabricated Deaths of the Apostles' at http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/apostles.html.

[I know this is a derail from the thread topic- if it garners much commentary we'll split it off to its own thread.]
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Old 13 Oct 2017, 09:54 PM   #678239 / #16
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And in any case, I don't think anyone is claiming that there was a Muslim state in Sweden, only perhaps some borrowed gods and symbols., maybe even some full-fledged converts but not a whole society. Most symbology from this time frame is not Muslim in character.
Ahem...Who fucking said anything about Sweden? We're talking Vikings. They were ALL over the stinking 8th to 11th century ancient European world, including the Varangian Guard in Constantinople, the Kiev Rus, subjugating Sicily, and hunting down and vexing the populations along most navigable rivers and coasts, far beyond the horizons of Sweden. I think we could expect to see Muslim symbology connected to those who had regular contact with the Muslim world.
I take it you didn't bother to read the article before commenting on the thread.
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