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What did the Muslims do for the Jews?

What did the Muslims do for the Jews?


Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth. The argument for it is double. First, in 570 CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Jews and Judaism were on the way to oblivion. And second, the coming of Islam saved them, providing a new context in which they not only survived, but flourished, laying foundations for subsequent Jewish cultural prosperity – also in Christendom – through the medieval period into the modern world.

By the fourth century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the Roman empire. One aspect of this success was opposition to rival faiths, including Judaism, along with massive conversion of members of such faiths, sometimes by force, to Christianity. Much of our testimony about Jewish existence in the Roman empire from this time on consists of accounts of conversions.

Great and permanent reductions in numbers through conversion, between the fourth and the seventh centuries, brought with them a gradual but relentless whittling away of the status, rights, social and economic existence, and religious and cultural life of Jews all over the Roman empire.

A long series of enactments deprived Jewish people of their rights as citizens, prevented them from fulfilling their religious obligations, and excluded them from the society of their fellows.

This went along with the centuries-long military and political struggle with Persia. As a tiny element in the Christian world, the Jews should not have been affected much by this broad, political issue. Yet it affected them critically, because the Persian empire at this time included Babylon – now Iraq – at the time home to the world’s greatest concentration of Jews.

Had Islam not come along, Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance and Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult

Here also were the greatest centres of Jewish intellectual life. The most important single work of Jewish cultural creativity in over 3,000 years, apart from the Bible itself – the Talmud – came into being in Babylon. The struggle between Persia and Byzantium, in our period, led increasingly to a separation between Jews under Byzantine, Christian rule and Jews under Persian rule.

Beyond all this, the Jews who lived under Christian rule seemed to have lost the knowledge of their own culturally specific languages – Hebrew and Aramaic – and to have taken on the use of Latin or Greek or other non-Jewish, local, languages. This in turn must have meant that they also lost access to the central literary works of Jewish culture – the Torah, Mishnah, poetry, midrash, even liturgy.

The loss of the unifying force represented by language – and of the associated literature – was a major step towards assimilation and disappearance. In these circumstances, with contact with the one place where Jewish cultural life continued to prosper – Babylon – cut off by conflict with Persia, Jewish life in the Christian world of late antiquity was not simply a pale shadow of what it had been three or four centuries earlier. It was doomed.

Had Islam not come along, the conflict with Persia would have continued. The separation between western Judaism, that of Christendom, and Babylonian Judaism, that of Mesopotamia, would have intensified. Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance in many areas. And Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult.

But this was all prevented by the rise of Islam. The Islamic conquests of the seventh century changed the world, and did so with dramatic, wide-ranging and permanent effect for the Jews.

Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms – all for the better.

First, things improved politically. Almost everywhere in Christendom where Jews had lived now formed part of the same political space as Babylon – Cordoba and Basra lay in the same political world. The old frontier between the vital centre in Babylonia and the Jews of the Mediterranean basin was swept away, forever.

Political change was partnered by change in the legal status of the Jewish population: although it is not always clear what happened during the Muslim conquests, one thing is certain. The result of the conquests was, by and large, to make the Jews second-class citizens.

This should not be misunderstood: to be a second-class citizen was a far better thing to be than not to be a citizen at all. For most of these Jews, second-class citizenship represented a major advance. In Visigothic Spain, for example, shortly before the Muslim conquest in 711, the Jews had seen their children removed from them and forcibly converted to Christianity and had themselves been enslaved.

In the developing Islamic societies of the classical and medieval periods, being a Jew meant belonging to a category defined under law, enjoying certain rights and protections, alongside various obligations. These rights and protections were not as extensive or as generous as those enjoyed by Muslims, and the obligations were greater but, for the first few centuries, the Muslims themselves were a minority, and the practical differences were not all that great.

Along with legal near-equality came social and economic equality. Jews were not confined to ghettos, either literally or in terms of economic activity. The societies of Islam were, in effect, open societies. In religious terms, too, Jews enjoyed virtually full freedom. They might not build many new synagogues – in theory – and they might not make too public their profession of their faith, but there was no really significant restriction on the practice of their religion. Along with internal legal autonomy, they also enjoyed formal representation, through leaders of their own, before the authorities of the state. Imperfect and often not quite as rosy as this might sound, it was at least the broad norm.

The political unity brought by the new Islamic world-empire did not last, but it created a vast Islamic world civilisation, similar to the older Christian civilisation that it replaced. Within this huge area, Jews lived and enjoyed broadly similar status and rights everywhere. They could move around, maintain contacts, and develop their identity as Jews. A great new expansion of trade from the ninth century onwards brought the Spanish Jews – like the Muslims – into touch with the Jews and the Muslims even of India.

A ll this was encouraged by a further, critical development. Huge numbers of people in the new world of Islam adopted the language of the Muslim Arabs. Arabic gradually became the principal language of this vast area, excluding almost all the rest: Greek and Syriac, Aramaic and Coptic and Latin all died out, replaced by Arabic. Persian, too, went into a long retreat, to reappear later heavily influenced by Arabic.

The Jews moved over to Arabic very rapidly. By the early 10th century, only 300 years after the conquests, Sa’adya Gaon was translating the Bible into Arabic. Bible translation is a massive task – it is not undertaken unless there is a need for it. By about the year 900, the Jews had largely abandoned other languages and taken on Arabic.

The change of language in its turn brought the Jews into direct contact with broader cultural developments. The result from the 10th century on was a striking pairing of two cultures. The Jews of the Islamic world developed an entirely new culture, which differed from their culture before Islam in terms of language, cultural forms, influences, and uses. Instead of being concerned primarily with religion, the new Jewish culture of the Islamic world, like that of its neighbours, mixed the religious and the secular to a high degree. The contrast, both with the past and with medieval Christian Europe, was enormous.

Like their neighbours, these Jews wrote in Arabic in part, and in a Jewish form of that language. The use of Arabic brought them close to the Arabs. But the use of a specific Jewish form of that language maintained the barriers between Jew and Muslim. The subjects that Jews wrote about, and the literary forms in which they wrote about them, were largely new ones, borrowed from the Muslims and developed in tandem with developments in Arabic Islam.

Also at this time, Hebrew was revived as a language of high literature, parallel to the use among the Muslims of a high form of Arabic for similar purposes. Along with its use for poetry and artistic prose, secular writing of all forms in Hebrew and in (Judeo-)Arabic came into being, some of it of high quality.

Much of the greatest poetry in Hebrew written since the Bible comes from this period. Sa’adya Gaon, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Ibn Ezra (Moses and Abraham), Maimonides, Yehuda Halevi, Yehudah al-Harizi, Samuel ha-Nagid, and many more – all of these names, well known today, belong in the first rank of Jewish literary and cultural endeavour.

Where did these Jews produce all this? When did they and their neighbours achieve this symbiosis, this mode of living together? The Jews did it in a number of centres of excellence. The most outstanding of these was Islamic Spain, where there was a true Jewish Golden Age, alongside a wave of cultural achievement among the Muslim population. The Spanish case illustrates a more general pattern, too.

What happened in Islamic Spain – waves of Jewish cultural prosperity paralleling waves of cultural prosperity among the Muslims – exemplifies a larger pattern in Arab Islam. In Baghdad, between the ninth and the twelfth centuries; in Qayrawan (in north Africa), between the ninth and the 11th centuries; in Cairo, between the 10th and the 12th centuries, and elsewhere, the rise and fall of cultural centres of Islam tended to be reflected in the rise and fall of Jewish cultural activity in the same places.

This was not coincidence, and nor was it the product of particularly enlightened liberal patronage by Muslim rulers. It was the product of a number of deeper features of these societies, social and cultural, legal and economic, linguistic and political, which together enabled and indeed encouraged the Jews of the Islamic world to create a novel sub-culture within the high civilisation of the time.

This did not last for ever; the period of culturally successful symbiosis between Jew and Arab Muslim in the middle ages came to a close by about 1300. In reality, it had reached this point even earlier, with the overall relative decline in the importance and vitality of Arabic culture, both in relation to western European cultures and in relation to other cultural forms within Islam itself; Persian and Turkish.

Jewish cultural prosperity in the middle ages operated in large part as a function of Muslim, Arabic cultural (and to some degree political) prosperity: when Muslim Arabic culture thrived, so did that of the Jews; when Muslim Arabic culture declined, so did that of the Jews.

In the case of the Jews, however, the cultural capital thus created also served as the seed-bed of further growth elsewhere – in Christian Spain and in the Christian world more generally.

The Islamic world was not the only source of inspiration for the Jewish cultural revival that came later in Christian Europe, but it certainly was a major contributor to that development. Its significance cannot be overestimated.

David J Wasserstein is the Eugene Greener Jr Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. This article is adapted from last week’s Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Source: The Jewish Chronicle

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Posted by on June 6, 2018 in Relax


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Can jews study the Qur’an?

Can jews study the Qur’an? Rabbi Chaim Mintz founder and director of answers…

via Can jews study the Qur’an? — Blogging Theology

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Posted by on January 13, 2018 in Truth & evidence, Video


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How do Jews get treated in the world’s largest Muslim country?

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in News, Video


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Christianity is 100% idol worship -Rabbi

AMAZING LECTURE By Rabbi Yehoshua Zitron: Christianity, christmas, christmas tree is 100% idol worshipping (Avoda Zarah)

via Christianity is 100% idol worship — Blogging Theology

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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Video


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Witnesses from Early Jews to the Prophethood of Muhammad

The Holy Book contains many prophecies about the prophet Muhammad; the Testament of Moses, a book which is not considered canonical, determines his birth year. Psalm” 84″ determines the place of the Muslims Hajj, the Book of Deuteronomy (3:23) determines the place on which the first revelation of the Holy Quran would shine.

Isaiah (21:13) determines the place to which he would migrate; it even refers to one of the important military confrontation between the expected prophet and his enemies. For all of these reasons the Jews are reported in the Islamic literature to have known the period in which the prophet Muhammad would be born, the place where he would be born, the place to which he would migrate to and many other events in the life of the prophet Muhammad. In this short article, we will choose some of these events that show that they knew the Prophet Muhammad.

God says in the Holy Quran what means:

Those to whom We gave the Scripture know him as they know their own sons. But indeed, a party of them conceal the truth while they know [it].(2-146)

Bahira, the Monk:

When the Messenger of Allâh was twelve years old, he went with his uncle Abu Talib on a business journey to Syria. When they reached Busra (which was a part of Syria, in the vicinity of Howran under the Roman domain) they met a monk called Bahira (his real name was Georges), who showed great kindness, and entertained them lavishly. He had never been in the habit of receiving or entertaining them before. He readily enough recognized the Prophet and said while taking his hand: “This is the master of all humans. Allâh will send him with a Message which will be a mercy to all beings.” Abu Talib asked: “How do you know that?” He replied: “When you appeared from the direction of ‘Aqabah, all stones and trees prostrated themselves, which they never do except for a Prophet. I can recognize him also by the seal of Prophethood which is below his shoulder, like an apple. We have got to learn this from our books.” He also asked Abu Talib to send the boy back to Makkah and not to take him to Syria for fear of the Jews. Abu Talib obeyed and sent him back to Makkah with some of his men servants.

The Madinese always heard the Jews say that a Prophet was about to rise, for the time for a new dispensation had arrived. Him they would follow and then smite their enemies as the children of ‘Ad and Iram had been smitten.

Abdullah Ibn Salam:

Abdullah bin Salam, the most learned rabbi among the Jews came to see the Prophet when he arrived, and asked him certain questions to ascertain his real Prophethood. No sooner did he hear the Prophet’s answers than he embraced Islam, but added that if his people knew of his Islamization they would advance false arguments against me. The Prophet sent for some Jews and asked them about ‘Abdullah bin Salam, they testified to his scholarly aptitude and virtuous standing. Here it was divulged to them that he had embraced Islam and on the spot, they imparted categorically opposite testimonies and described him as the most evil of all evils. In another narration ‘Abdullah bin Salam said, “O Jews! Be Allâh fearing. By Allâh, the only One, you know that he is the Messenger of Allâh sent to people with the Truth.” They replied, “You are lying.” … That was the Prophet’s first experience with the Jews.

On the authority of the Mother of believers Safiyah – may Allah be pleased with her – narrated: Safiyah, daughter of Huyayi bin Akhtab said: I was the closest child to my and my uncle Abi Yasir’s heart. Whenever they saw me with a child of theirs, they should pamper me so tenderly to the exclusion of anyone else. However, with the advent of the Messenger of Allâh and setting in Quba’ with Bani ‘Amr bin ‘Awf, my , Huyayi bin Akhtab and my uncle Abu Yasir bin Akhtab went to see him and did not return until sunset when they came back walking lazily and fully dejected. I, as usually, hurried to meet them smiling, but they would not turn to me for the grief that caught them. I heard my uncle Abu Yasir say to Ubai and Huyayi: “Is it really he (i.e. Muhammad)?” The former said: “It is he, I swear by Allâh!” “Did you really recognize him?” they asked. He answered: “Yes, and my heart is burning with enmity towards him”

Salama ibn Slama Albadry

Narrated Salama ibn Salama Albadry “while I was young, there used to be a Jewish neighbor living next door to us. Once he came to the place where our tribesmen used to sit and began to talk to us about resurrection, the Judgment day, reckoning, the measure, hell and paradise. I was the youngest of them at that time. He was talking to idolaters who do never believe that there will be resurrection, so they asked” damn! is that possible that people will be resurrected again and they will either go to hell or paradise and that they will be rewarded according to their deeds?”

“I swear in the name of God, this will happen.” He said

“How can we be sure of that you are talking about?” They said.

“A prophet will be sent soon, his locus will be there.” Pointing by his finger between Mekka and Yemen.” He said

“When can we see him?” They asked

“Looking at me, he said “If this boy became a young man, he will see him.” He said

Salam said” Not many years didn’t pass until the prophet was sent and this Jew was still alive among us, we believed in him but he didn’t out of envy and rancor.|

“We asked him” damn ! Aren’t you the one who told us about him?”

“Yes, I did. But he is not a prophet.”

In fact, the Jews, though many of them believed in Muhammad, refused to believe because they wanted this prophet to be from them.The Holy Quran commented on such approach of the Jews in the following verse:

And when the Book was sent to them by God verifying what had been revealed to them already even though before it they used to pray for victory over the unbelievers and even though they recognised it when it came to them, they renounced it. The curse of God be on those who deny! (2:89)

Also the Holy Quran comments on the attitude of the Jews in the following verse:

They disbelieved in him though they knew him exactly they recognized their children, The Holy Quran says commenting on their situation saying “The people of the Book know this as they know their own sons; but some of them conceal the truth which they themselves know. (2:146)

Prior to the advent of prophet Mohammed, the Jews emigrated to Madina and Tema because they understood the prophecies in their Holy Book especially those which refer to the locus of the Message and also the place of his determination.


Ibn Isaq,a well-known reliable biographer, says he was told by some of Madina dwellers, known as the supporters, that the reason behind their converting to Islam was that they used to hear from the Jews, we were idolaters and they had a Holy Book, they had knowledge that we did not have, there used to be skirmishes between us, if we defeated them, they would threaten us saying’ the advent of a new prophet is approximating and we will kill you the same way the nation of Aad and Aram was killed ( in large numbers), this threats were repeated several times in different occasions. When this prophet was sent, we believed in him when he called us to God but they disbelieved.” And for this reason the following verse was revealed:

And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them,- although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith,- when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognised, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without Faith. (2:89)

Khatada, one of the early scientists, says they Jews used to pray for victory in the name of Mohammed, and when Moahhamed was sent they disbelieved though the prophet was prophesied in their Holy Book because they thought he would be from among them.

The Rabbi ibn Al-Hayban

Short before the Islamic call dawned on the Arab Peninsula, a versatile pious rabbi by the name Ibn Alhyban came from Sham to the city of Madina, the city to which the prophet was destined to emigrate to; he read in the Holy Book that the city of Madina will be the place to which the prophet would emigrate, so he came to dwell in Madina to be among those who would follow and support.

Ibn Ishaq narrates that the leader of Bani Quriza, a chief tribe at that time, said that a rabbi from Sham came to live among us, his name was ibn Al-Hayban, I have never seen a man who perfect his prayer like him, he came to us two years before the advent of the prophet. When there is draught, we used to go to ask him to pray for rain, he would say’ I swear I won’t do unless you give some alms before you go, we would ask’ how much’, he says’ a measure of dry dates or barley. So we did what he asked. He would take us to the back of the mountain and there we ask for rain under his leadership, no sooner he left his place than rain fell down superfluously, he did twice or thrice.

When he was dying, we gathered around him, he said” O’ Jews, do you know what reason made me leave the land of Sham(Sham), the land of welfare to the land of hunger and hardships( Madina).

They said’ you know best.”

“I emigrated because I expected a prophet to appear and this is his time to appear, this town is the place where he will emigrate to. Believe in him, let nobody else precede you.” He died shortly after his words.

When it was the night on which Bani Quryza, a major Jewish tribe at that time, was defeated, three Jews left their fortresses and called the others” O’ Jews, we assure you that he is the prophet whom ibn Al- Hyban told you about.”

They said” what are your proofs?”

“We swear he is as was described”

And they all embraced Islam.


By Magdy Abdalshafy


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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Truth & evidence


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Jewish rabbi confirms: Muhammad is a great Prophet.


Posted by on November 23, 2016 in Know him !, Truth & evidence, Video


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The solution for Israel-Palestine conflict !

israel in US

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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in News


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