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The tragic story of Cinfa Cacavi


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Author Topic: The tragic story of Cinfa Cacavi  (Read 1106 times)
Zeynab
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« on: August 23, 2007, 05:33:34 am »

Salaams and hi to all ..


Have you ever heard or read of Cinfa Cacavi? She was a desperate young wife and mother whose family was torn apart by the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century.   If you're a history lover, I'm sure you'll read her story with interest.
 
Cinfa originally belonged to a Jewish family. The Spanish Inquisition started by the Roman Catholic Church was a horrific event in which which included Muslims, Jews and Christian of other sects who didn't want to recognize the authortiy of the Church were told to convert to the Catholic faith. If they refused, they were either exiled or executed. They were all termed as "heretics" by the Catholic Church.  Many of them converted out of fear but at heart they continued to love their former religion. In private they also followed the customs and traditions of their original faith. It was much the same with Cinfa. Under the dangerous and life threatening circumstances, she and her family had no other choice but to quit Judaism and convert to Christianity. But they secretly adopted the religion and customs of their ancestors. When she married the man she loved very dearly, officially they had a Christian marriage, but secretly they solemnised a private Jewish wedding. Somehow, perhaps through spying neighbours, this secret was disclosed and reached the Inquisitors for which Cinfa and her beloved husband had to pay dearly.
 
For more than 500 years Cinfa Cacavi remained one of the thousands of nameless, faceless victims of the Spanish Inquisition. She was a real person, a housewife and mother who lived in Zaragossa. Her inquisition file begins in 1482, when Cinfa Cacavi was first interrogated by the inquisitors on allegations of "judaizing" - continuing to observe customs and rituals of her Jewish ancestors. Following is an excerpt from the Inquisition dossier on Cinfa Cacavi in which she describes practicing some of her Jewish customs secretly before marriage.
 
In her own words:
 
"The wedding was scheduled for the spring. Three days before my wedding I took my bride's bath. I purified myself at the Mikve.
 
That day, we all met in my father's house, all my family and my sweetheart's family. They brought many presents. They filled my house with flowers and brought delicious meats for the meal of that day. All this was the prelude to the happiness, harmony and peace that were awaiting us in our life together.
 
The day I got married was the happiest of my life. I was very pretty. I was dressed in beautiful clothes. I was radiant with happiness."


Cinfa Cacavi was charged with heresy for continuing to observe Jewish customs after she is baptized. She was tortured horrifically to obtain her confession. Both she and her husband confessed under great duress. Later, she was also forced to watch her husband get burnt at the stake because for their secret Jewish marriage. She was finally acquitted of this charge. However, she continued to secretly practice her original faith. She was discovered doing so yet again. This time she's said to have been defiant. Her exact fate is not clear from the records but it's highly likely she was finally executed.
 

David Rabinovitch, director, SECRET FILES OF THE INQUISITION found Cinfa Cacavi's story in the municipal archive of Zaragossa, Spain. Since the Inquisition was a legal procedure, reportedly many of its interrogations were transcribed by notaries. There are said to be more than 85,000 files of the Spanish Inquisition still in existence some, like Cinfa's, more than 500 years old. One of these old files is supposed to have revealed Cinfa's haunting story.




This image is the photo taken from the Inquisitor's notebook detailing the trial of Cinfa
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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2007, 02:36:55 am »

I've got this 4-part documentary of Secret Files of the Inquisition on DVD.  Cinfa's story is very sad.  When her daughter was in her teens, she too was forcibly baptized by the Catholic Church.  Cinfa couldn't do anything to stop that.  But when she returned home with her daughter, she washed her according to Jewish traditions that was supposed to annul the Christian baptizm.  Seemed a bit funny too, as if washing off the sh*t to clean oneself  Smiley  It's strange that physical gestures matter so much to both Jews and Christians.  Neither of them can comprehend that it's the intent and devotion of the heart that are the determining factors in the Sight of Allah, not these physical gestures of sprinkling water or washing. 

The DVD of another nice docu-drama titled The Rise and Fall of Muslim Spain is also available at pbs.org
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2007, 04:44:50 am »

That's right.  It reminds me of the words of a revert brother.  At a get-together on the occasion of Eid-al-Fitr, we picked up a conversation with an American revert brother who was sitting at the same table as ours.  He said something really extra-ordinary that I never forgot.  He was talking about himself and mentioned that it's impossible for anyone to stop him from being a Muslim.  Even if a hundred people stood around him pointing their guns at his head, it wouldn't alter or weaken his Faith one bit.  He added that the only thing that can weaken or distract a person's faith is his own heart. If the person himself or herself falls into temptation or finds misguidance more comforting than guidance, that's when they are prevented from being a genuine Muslim. 

I'm truly proud that Islam is such a practical and rational Faith.  We have no such concepts as "holy water" etc.  The purification comes only from the heart and mind.  Alhamdulilah.
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