Scribal Terror: Who Was the “Educated Persian?”
Since the Papal Brouhaha erupted I have been very interested in identifying the “Educated Persian” with whom Manuel II Palaiologos carried on his famous religious debates. The answer is fascinating.
Manuel’s conversations about Islam therefore took place with an expert in Sharia law in the presence of the sultan. It was Manuel who was in a position of subordination to his Muslim overlords and was at the time a guest of the Qadi.
How interesting indeed, that in the old days of Muslim ascendency, no one offered to cut off the head of the questioning infidel, although they could easily have done so. Instead, his gracious hosts encouraged him to speak his mind and amused themselves by answering his objections and correcting his misconceptions, as they understood them.
The behavior of the Qadi and his Sultan, in my opinion, should be celebrated as one of the high points of Muslim civilization. Has that civilization declined so much in the intervening centuries, that the way debates are settled is now by vitriol and violence instead of by reasoned and dignified discourse?