The Black Death: Responses of Christians and Muslims

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It started with a headache. Then, death. The Plague, a severe epidemic that caused the death of millions, received varying replies from varying peoples. Many interpretations were made, and differing actions occurred based on these explanations, religious or non-religious, some more severe than not. Christians often turned the blame on others, while the majority of the Muslims decided that there really was no reason to associate other peoples with the cause of the Great Plague (Documents 8 & 10). While there are generalizations, responses to this catastrophe are different depending on religion and world views. The Black Death originated in Asia and spread to Europe, possibly going through Persia to reach Asia Minor, and making its way across the Mediterranean. The Byzantine Empire, the Mongol Empire, and Turkestan were also infected. The Plague swept through parts of Arabia, Armenia, North Africa, Bavaria, England, France, Italy, and Poland. However, the Saharan Desert was spared (Document 1). During the fourteenth century, bacteria and viruses were mostly unknown to doctors, which meant they were most certainly unheard of for the majority of the population. Now, it is widely believed that it was caused by bacterial strains. Back then, however, people had to produce their own reasons for the Plague. In Europe, the causes of the Black Death were said to be miasma (impure air) carried by the warm southern winds. The event of March 20, 1345, the conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, and excessively atrocious clothing were thought to add to the ubiquitous disease. In contrast, the people near the East believed that the said disease was supposedly caused by miasma as well, but due to wind carrying the vile odor of Mongol bodies... ... middle of paper ... ... burn them, destroying Jewish communities along with them (Document 7). The Pope justified it by saying that since the Plague was afflicted on people associated with Jews, it must be their fault (Document 8). But in Islam, they stated that there was no evidence showing that the Black Death was caused by other communities, and that they are not held responsible (Document 10). Therefore, the responses of Christians and Muslims to the Black Death greatly differed from each other. Responses to this calamity are different because of faith and world perspectives. Both thinking that it was their God’s will, they accepted it, but thought it was brought upon them for varying reasons. Of course, nowadays, doctors and scientist know it is from bacterial strain, and with the increasingly advanced technology, it will hopefully be prevented if another outbreak ever occurs again.

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