Sol Hachuel (1817–1834) 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. She once said:
|“||A Jewess I was born, a Jewess I wish to die.||”|
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 El Martirio de la Jóven Hachuel, ó, La Heroina Hebrea (The Martyrdom of the Young Hachuel, or, The Hebrew Heroine) was first published in 1837, and republished in 1838. Hachuel's story was also the subject of a song by Françoise Atlan on the CD Romances Sefardies.
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.
Allegations of conversion to Islam
According to Eugenio Maria Romero's account, Tahra de Mesoodi, a devoted 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."
Arrest and execution
Based on a single and possibly 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:
|“||I will load you with chains...I will have you torn piece-meal by wild beasts, you shall not see the light of day, you shall perish of hunger, and experience the rigor of my vengeance and indignation, in having provoked the anger of the Prophet.||”|
The girl responded:
|“||I will patiently bear the weight of your chains; I will give my limbs to be torn piece-meal by wild beasts; I will renounce forever the light of day: I will perish of hunger: and when all the evils of life are accumulated on me by your orders, I will smile at your indignation, and the anger of your Prophet: since neither he, nor you have been able to overcome a weak female! It is clear that Heaven is not auspicious to making proselytes your faith.||”|
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.
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, Hachuel was urged to convert not only by the sultan and his persecutor, but also by the hakhamim (Jewish sages). The sultan's son, who was astonished by the girl's beauty, also tried to convince her to convert to Islam. The girl refused.
She was ordered to be beheaded in a public square in Fez.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:
|“||Do not make me linger—behead me at once—for dying as I do, innocent of any crime, the God of Abraham will avenge my death.||”|
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. 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."
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.
- Dov Noy, Dan Ben-Amos, Ellen Frankel, Arkhiyon ha-sipur ha-ʻamami be-Yiśraʼel (2006). Folktales of the Jews: Tales from the Sephardic dispersion. pp. 92,93. http://books.google.com/books?id=vW-9E_fFSOUC&pg=PA87&lpg=PA87&dq=sol+hachuel&source=bl&ots=AJNSv9-kJn&sig=h-hlWqZsQW2N0X7CO3Be7AHKDqI&hl=en&ei=lE8aTIfSO4fkNY6mpNIF&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CCsQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=sol%20hachuel&f=false.
- Andrew G. Bostom (Editor), Ibn Warraq (Foreword) (June 5, 2008). The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History. Prometheus Books. pp. 13–15. http://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Islamic-Antisemitism-Sacred-History/dp/1591025540/ref=pd_sim_b_7#reader_1591025540. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- Union of American Hebrew Congregations (1907). Young Israel, Volume 1. pp. 5–7. http://books.google.com/books?id=plgpAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=%22A+Jewess+I+was+born,+a+Jewess+I+wish+to+die%22&source=bl&ots=22Clql2PD2&sig=FOi8KOwDgGdaJwHYQTD2a9lFWg4&hl=en&ei=ohAiTIz4HdXungeY1tAm&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CCkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=%22A%20Jewess%20I%20was%20born%2C%20a%20Jewess%20I%20wish%20to%20die%22&f=false.
- Eugenio María Romero (1838). El Martirio de la jóven Hachuel, ó, La heroina hebrea. http://books.google.com/books?id=1AoQfRleFTcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22Eugenio+Maria+Romero%22+el+martirio&source=bl&ots=q7LP1yb0dc&sig=aNu6ed4UjmmvVyhOzgE5WZ9yvxU&hl=en&ei=1PAbTODBCYjONe-_7IsN&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Eugenio María Romero (1838). El Martirio de la jóven Hachuel, ó, La heroina hebrea. Imprenta A Cabgo De Diego Negrete. pp. 18. http://books.google.com/books?id=rXZHAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=Sol+Hachuel+chains&source=bl&ots=P4c3E9eEQg&sig=ibVgn3GoxxbkJZcX9o4Q2noN4Hg&hl=en&ei=7uEcTI-eFonONPCktO4M&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Sol%20Hachuel%20chains&f=false.
- Israel Joseph Benjamin (1859). "Eight years in Asia and Africa from 1846–1855". pp. 274–275.
- Charles Dickens, William Harrison Ainsworth, Albert Smith, George Cruikshank (1852). Bentley's miscellany, Volume 31. LONDON:RICHARD BENTLEY. pp. 89–140. http://books.google.com/books?id=rXZHAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=Sol+Hachuel+chains&source=bl&ots=P4c3E9eEQg&sig=ibVgn3GoxxbkJZcX9o4Q2noN4Hg&hl=en&ei=7uEcTI-eFonONPCktO4M&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Sol%20Hachuel%20chains&f=false.
- YEHUDA AZOULAY. "Suleika". http://www.sephardiclegacy.com/pdf/July09.pdf. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- León Godard (1860). Description et histoire du Maroc. p. 83. http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_vSHAqTOlYMs/S5lLn5NabKI/AAAAAAAACOU/XUL8uKDEUg0/s320/TumbaSolHachuelDr%2BDaniel%2BAldoTeveles.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.tangeryotrasutopias.com/2009/08/sol-hachuel-solica-la-santa.html&usg=__sDzxjqCdZjhzjGGJc16i3HqunKo=&h=320&w=241&sz=154&hl=en&start=2&sig2=sLF6ZxnM0rNIEpyOLK9T0w&itbs=1&tbnid=Gg6jdi8anBULdM:&tbnh=118&tbnw=89&prev=/images%3Fq%3DSol%2BHachuel%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=PdIgTIyfJeWznAel3NnaDw. ""Malgré leur intolérance, les Marocains, par une contradiction au moins apparente, honorent en certains cas les saints personnages des autres religions, ou demandent à ceux qu'ils nomment infidèles le secours de leurs prières. A Fez, ils rendent une sorte de culte à la mémoire de la jeune Sol Achouel, juive de Tanger, qui mourut de notre temps dans des supplices atroces plutôt que d'abjurer la loi de Moïse, ou de renouveler une abjuration qu'elle avait faite, en cédant aux séductions de l'amour""
- 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