Against a vivid background of Jewish and Islamic history, Bernard Lewis portrays the Judaeo-Islamic tradition - a cultural relationship parallel to the Judaeo-Christian heritage. He traces its origins in the early Middle Ages, its flowering, and its ending, followed by the incorporation of most of the Jews of Islamic countries into the state of ...
Against a vivid background of Jewish and Islamic history, Bernard Lewis portrays the Judaeo-Islamic tradition - a cultural relationship parallel to the Judaeo-Christian heritage. He traces its origins in the early Middle Ages, its flowering, and its ending, followed by the incorporation of most of the Jews of Islamic countries into the state of Israel. The book examines the relations of Islam and other religions; the formative and classical periods of the Judaeo-Islamic tradition in medieval Islam; the development of the Ottoman Empire; and its eventual demise in the twentieth century. This book was originally published in 1984.
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Princeton University has re-issued Bernard Lewis 'Jews of Islam'. The book under review is the 1984 edition, however.
Lewis is well into his 10 decade of life. He is the grand old man of Turkish and Arab history.
'Jews of Islam' is a rich palette of Oriental Jewry, which really no longer exist, but in Israel today. Small communities remain in Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. The large Sephardic diaspora in Asia Minor perished in Nazi death camps, on the whole.
The role of Arab Jews in the cultural life of the early centuries of Muslim expansion has not escaped Lewis' scholarship. (For a more detailed account, see Levi Provancal.)
Islam offered Jews and Christians protection as 'People of the Book', albeit with second class citizenship or worse as the history of European Jewry attest.
Jews exercised all sorts of trade from the highest to the lowest, and even some like Ramban or Maimonides reached important positions.
Jews were the transmission belt of marrying Arabic to the works of the Greeks in philosophy, science and the arts.
Lewis is good on Turkish sources of teasing out the mark the expelled Jews from Spain in the Ottoman Empire.
Decline came with the decline of the Empire, the fragmentation of the Arab world and the loosening of ties of world Jewry as Europe with lust and energy in its global expansion.
The creation of Israel hastened the existence of Arab Jews. Even today, the melting pot that is Israel Arab Jews remain a step below Jews of European origin.
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