Sol Hachuel

Sol Hachuel (1817, Tangier–1834, Fes) was a Jewish heroine, who was publicly beheaded when she was 17 years old. She was executed for alleged apostasy from Islam—apparently without ever having converted to Islam.[1] She once said:

Hachuel's sacrifice served as an inspiration to painters and writers. One of the most detailed accounts, based on interviews with eyewitnesses, was written by Eugenio Maria Romero. His book

In 1860 the French artist Alfred Dehodencq, inspired by the life and death of Hachuel, painted "Execution of a Moroccan Jewess".[3][4]

Life

Hachuel was born in 1817 in Morocco, to Chaim and Simcha Hachuel, and had one older brother. Her father was a merchant and Talmudist. He conducted a study group in his home, which helped Sol form and maintain her own belief in Judaism. Sol’s mother was a housewife.[5]

Allegations of conversion to Islam

According to Eugenio Maria Romero's account, Tahra de Mesoodi, a devout Muslim girl and Hachuel’s friend and neighbor, falsely claimed she converted Hachuel to Islam (which was considered a particularly pious deed under the code of Maliki Islamic Law).

According to the account of Israel Joseph Benjamin, a Jewish explorer who visited Morocco in the middle of nineteenth century, "never had the sun of Africa shone on more perfect beauty" than Hachuel. Benjamin wrote that her Muslim neighbors said that "It is a sin that such a pearl should be in the possession of the Jews, and it would be a crime to leave them such a jewel."[6]

Arrest and execution

Based on a single and probably false claim of her conversion to Islam, Hachuel was brought to the court and told to kneel before the governor. If she promised to convert, she was promised protection from her parents, silk and gold, and a marriage to a handsome young man. As an alternative the pasha promised Hachuel: The girl responded: True to his promise, the pasha put the girl to a windowless and lightless cell with chains around her neck, hands, and feet. The girl’s desperate parents asked for assistance the Spanish vice-consul Don Jose Rico. Don Jose Rico did what he could to free the girl, but all his efforts were unsuccessful.[7]


The pasha decided to send Hachuel to Fez, and let the sultan decide her fate. Her transfer and execution fee was to be paid by her father, who was threatened with 500 blows of the bastinado if he would not comply. Eventually the required sum was paid by Don Jose Rico, because Sol’s father could not afford it. In Fez, the Sultan appointed the Qadi to decide her punishment. The Qadi summoned the Jewish sages of Fez and told them that if Sol did not agree to convert, she will be beheaded and their community would be punished. Despite the hakhamim's urges to convert in order to save herself and their community, she refused and was found guilty. The Qadi stated that the cost of the funeral would be borne by her father.[8] The sultan's son, who was astonished by the girl's beauty, also tried to convince her to convert to Islam. The girl refused.[6]

She was ordered to be beheaded in a public square in Fez.[9] Romero described the emotions of the citizens of Fez on the day of the execution: "The Moors, whose religious fanaticism is indescribable, prepared, with their accustomed joy, to witness the horrid scene. The Jews of the city...were moved with the deepest sorrow; but they could do nothing to avert it..."

Apparently the sultan instructed the executioner to wound Hachuel first. He hoped that the girl would get scared, and accept the conversion, but Hachuel refused. Her last words to her torturers were:

The Jewish community of Fez was awestruck by the life and the death of Hachuel. They had to pay for the retrieval of her corpse, her head and the bloodstained earth for a Jewish burial at the Jewish cemetery. She was declared a martyr.[7][8]

The Jews called Hachuel "Sol ha-Tzaddikah" (The righteous Sol), the Arabs called her Lalla Suleika (Holy lady Suleika). Her grave became a place of pilgrimage for both Jews and Muslims alike.[1][10] It might seem rather strange that Moroccan Arabs consider the girl to be their saint, but as it was explained by Léon Godard in his "Description et histoire du Maroc: "Despite their intolerance, Moroccans, however contradictory this may appear, do in some cases honour the holy people of other religions, or beg the aid of their prayers from those whom they call infidels. In Fez, they render a kind of worship to the memory of the young Sol Hachuel, a Jew of Tangier, who died in our time of terrible torture rather than renounce the Law of Moses, or alternatively renew an abjuration previously made, by yielding to the seductions of love."[11]

Her tombstone has inscriptions in both Hebrew and French. The French text reads: Here rests Mademoiselle Solica Hachuel born in Tangier in 1817 refusing to enter [rentrer] into the Islamic religion. The Arabs murdered her in 1834 in Fez torn away from her family. The entire world mourns this saint child.[1]

References

Cite error:

External links

  • Scholarship Online: January 2012
  • The Moorish Empire: a historical epitome (page 523)
  • L'autre juive – Lalla soulika, La tsadika by Saïd Sayagh
  • Soulika Morocco's Jewish Joan of Arc by By Alma Rachel Heckman

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