The Right of Asylum Throughout History

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,075
USA
What do folks here know of The Right of Asylum Throughout History? I am interested for example in what Christian societies of the middle ages felt about the right of asylum? One can imagine perhaps a Church taking on any refugee, even a hardened criminal. But how many Churches performed such a task? One can also imagine Churches of the middle ages turning down refugees. That said there is documentation to showcase that The Right of Asylum was taken seriously across history. From the following,


The institution of sanctuary, whatever its origin and meaning, appears to have performed a social function. Although often abused, it prevented excessive use of capital punishment and safeguarded against uncontrolled blood vengeance and execution without trial. The sanctuary was also the source of parliamentary immunities and the custom of diplomatic asylum in embassies.


The concept of sanctuary predates Christianity, going back at least as far as Greek and Roman temples that offered protection to fugitives. Early Christian churches competed with these pagan temples by offering their own protections, and by the end of the 4th century, sanctuary was a part of Roman imperial law. If a person murdered someone and then ran to the church to claim sanctuary, no one could could come in and harm, arrest or remove her for punishment.

Even after the Western Roman Empire fell in 476, churches maintained their authority to protect people who had broken major secular laws. Roman Catholic leaders believed a consecrated church was “protected space,” says Karl Shoemaker, a professor of history and law at the University of Wisconsin and author of Sanctuary and Crime in the Middle Ages, 400-1500. “It would be inappropriate in the extreme to carry weapons into the church or to arrest someone or to exercise force within the church.”

 
Nov 2016
1,605
Germany
See my post from Nov 2016:

Now some words to the connection of lion and gazelle in the Allat symbolism. Here two different traditions are combined the symbolism of which can be traced back to (1) the far-spread association of the lion with kingship, as depicted by me in the post above, and to (2) the Arabic tradition of ´hima´ what was sort of a nature reserve, where animals (among them gazelles) and plants were by moral law protected from human exploitation, so ´hima´ means ´forbidden place´.

Now, the sanctuary of Allat in Palmyra (partly destroyed by ISIS fighters some years ago) was also seen as an asylum, a place of protection for refugees (but no criminals), as were all other temples of mother goddesses in the Ancient Near East. In the case of Allat, this protection was expressed by a lion (representing the power of the state) which takes care of a gazelle (representing weak or persecuted people). So, it is not the idea of a sanctuary as protection zone, but the symbolic language (gazelle = refugee) which can be traced back to the Arabic ´hima´ .
 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,075
USA
See my post from Nov 2016:

Now some words to the connection of lion and gazelle in the Allat symbolism. Here two different traditions are combined the symbolism of which can be traced back to (1) the far-spread association of the lion with kingship, as depicted by me in the post above, and to (2) the Arabic tradition of ´hima´ what was sort of a nature reserve, where animals (among them gazelles) and plants were by moral law protected from human exploitation, so ´hima´ means ´forbidden place´.

Now, the sanctuary of Allat in Palmyra (partly destroyed by ISIS fighters some years ago) was also seen as an asylum, a place of protection for refugees (but no criminals), as were all other temples of mother goddesses in the Ancient Near East. In the case of Allat, this protection was expressed by a lion (representing the power of the state) which takes care of a gazelle (representing weak or persecuted people). So, it is not the idea of a sanctuary as protection zone, but the symbolic language (gazelle = refugee) which can be traced back to the Arabic ´hima´ .
This is interesting. Would you say that in pre Islamic Arabia there were areas with statues of Lions or similar where upon refugees would gather for a right of asylum? If so Once the refugees gathered how would the powers at hand deal with the situation?

I can say when Islam came around in the 7th century, the leading Muslim Umar took on refugees. Umar was a Companion of Muhammad whom of course founded Islam. Umar helped the poor and even would at times dress as a poor man. Umar did not live a life of luxury though he could have. Umar was an early proponent of labor rights. Umar would live, sleep and eat among the poorest of people. Of course as it is with Christianity, throughout history one can note that Muslim and Christian leaders would allow for right of asylum(regardless of religion) while others would not.


We can perhaps see Islam and Christianity borrowed ideals from the ancient religions.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,667
Sydney
the famous Hakka of the New Zealand Rugby team was composed when a chief was hiding under the dress of a priestess while warriors were circling around wanting his blood

Sparta was always referring to the curse of the Alcmaeonides ,
a dig at Pericles whose ancestor had butchered enemies taking refuge in the temple of Athena

I suppose there is plenty of example of precincts through the world and History being honored with some asylum privilege

in Christendom it became a very elaborate affairs , only designated churches were supposed to have this right
a variety of conditions applied , either local , regional or national
England was pretty extreme , some public buildings had this right in London much to the chagrin of local cops

After the battle of Tewkesbury Edward IV had the survivors ,sheltering in the local abbey seized and decapitated , claiming the Abbey wasn't a designated place of Asylum
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,812
Australia
I believe in Britain there were large rings set into church doors and walls that allowed a fugitive to claim sanctuary as long as they held onto the ring. Presumably a churchman would soon come along and negotiate with the refugees pursuers.
 
Nov 2016
1,605
Germany
Would you say that in pre Islamic Arabia there were areas with statues of Lions or similar where upon refugees would gather for a right of asylum? If so Once the refugees gathered how would the powers at hand deal with the situation?
It was certainly the case that refugees went directly to the temple to ask for protection from persecution. People who were on the run from blood feud were especially recognized. Women who wanted to escape forced marriage or farmers who were in a precarious situation due to debt could also apply for asylum in a temple. In Egypt, under the rule of the Ptolemies, the right of asylum was officially recognized by the state for the first time, thus restricting the regional customary law that caused the problems. When the Romans took power in Egypt, the right of asylum was gradually abolished. In Greece, the right to asylum was recognized for some time by all city states, but only for locals. There were of course also attempts by persecutors to catch a refugee by setting fire to shelters. During the imperial period there was no official asylum in Rome, but the temples of non-Roman, mostly Greek deities served as shelters for refugees.

I can say when Islam came around in the 7th century, the leading Muslim Umar took on refugees.
I am not informed about Islamic asylum law. But I suspect that the conditions of acceptance were stricter than in polytheistic cultures. Are you sure that asylum was granted "regardless of religion"? Could you present one or two examples?
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,008
Cornwall
I would have said sanctuary was protection by the church, asylum by another state, but I guess they are interchangeable.

It's fairly hard to imagine who would get sanctuary in a church apart from criminals, or those thought to be so. If you think of the rabid persecutions of the church in Spain under firstly the Visigoths, then the Catholic Monarchs onward for the next 2 or 3 centuries - they wouldn't be letting any jews or muslims in, that's for sure.

And at the end of the day if the authorities were of a mind - they'd go in and get them
 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,075
USA
It was certainly the case that refugees went directly to the temple to ask for protection from persecution. People who were on the run from blood feud were especially recognized. Women who wanted to escape forced marriage or farmers who were in a precarious situation due to debt could also apply for asylum in a temple. In Egypt, under the rule of the Ptolemies, the right of asylum was officially recognized by the state for the first time, thus restricting the regional customary law that caused the problems. When the Romans took power in Egypt, the right of asylum was gradually abolished. In Greece, the right to asylum was recognized for some time by all city states, but only for locals. There were of course also attempts by persecutors to catch a refugee by setting fire to shelters. During the imperial period there was no official asylum in Rome, but the temples of non-Roman, mostly Greek deities served as shelters for refugees.



I am not informed about Islamic asylum law. But I suspect that the conditions of acceptance were stricter than in polytheistic cultures. Are you sure that asylum was granted "regardless of religion"? Could you present one or two examples?
Yes Umar in the 7th century allowed Jews to worship in Jerusalem. Muhammad allowed non Muslim peoples refuge.

Later on in the 12th century after achieving victory in Jerusalem... Saladin allowed Christian refugees safe passage out of the city. Its not the same thing as offering citizenship to those Christians buts it an act similar in nature to the right of asylum.


The custom of “aman” (safety) implies the protection of asylum-seekers, whether they are believers or non-believers. This is clearly stated in Surat “Al-Tawba” (repentance)): “And if anyone of the Mushrikin (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Qur’an), and then escort him to a place where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not”.(Ayah (verse) 6) The “istijara” featured as an overall umbrella for the asylum seeker, his or her family and property, and was particularly associated with holy places, as Surat “Al Baqarah” states: “And when We made the House (the Ka’bah at Makkah) a place of resort for mankind and a place of safety. And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim (Abraham) [or the stone on which Ibrahim (Abraham) stood while he was building the Ka’bah] as and We commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) and Isma’il (Ishmael) that they should purify My house (the Ka’bah at Makkah)) for those who are circumambulating it, or staying (I’tikaf), or bowing or prostrating themselves (there in prayer)”.(Ayaha 125). Also, the holy Hadith states, “He who enters the holy mosque is safe, He who enters the house of Abu Sufyan is safe; he who drops his weapon is safe; he who stays behind his closed door is safe”.1


Here is a modern example of Islam and its teachings as provided by Muhammad being used to support helping refugees regardless of their faith.

The European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR) held a session in 2015 aimed at “address(ing) Muslims in Europe stressing coexistence and positive integration and highlighting their duties towards the Syrian refugee brethren in terms of sponsoring their families and children” (ECRR 2015:3).[13] The ECFR drew from the Qur’an to highlight the need for Muslims to support refugees, regardless of their faith, or lack thereof.


“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” (Koran 9: 96).

 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,075
USA
I would have said sanctuary was protection by the church, asylum by another state, but I guess they are interchangeable.

It's fairly hard to imagine who would get sanctuary in a church apart from criminals, or those thought to be so. If you think of the rabid persecutions of the church in Spain under firstly the Visigoths, then the Catholic Monarchs onward for the next 2 or 3 centuries - they wouldn't be letting any jews or muslims in, that's for sure.

And at the end of the day if the authorities were of a mind - they'd go in and get them
Those are good points wrt Catholic leaders such as Queen Isabelle and King Ferdinand of Spain.

What do you know about Christian treatment of asylum seekers from the 1st to 15th centuries?
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,008
Cornwall
Those are good points wrt Catholic leaders such as Queen Isabelle and King Ferdinand of Spain.

What do you know about Christian treatment of asylum seekers from the 1st to 15th centuries?
Mostly times of sheer brutality as far as I can see where this sort of thing wouldn't mean very much except in theory

Christians have never really reconciled to me the fervent, almost rabid, Catholicism (formerly Arianism) of the Visigoths with the sheer brutality of their existence, both to each other and to any other religions.

Life was very cheap up to and including 15th century