Article

Medieval Jewry in the World of Islam

Mark R. Cohen

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780199280322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199280322.013.0009

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Medieval Jewry in the World of Islam

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Islam arose in the seventh century in Arabia through the preaching of the prophet Muhammad (d. 632). Nineteenth-century Jewish historians of the ‘Wissenschaft des Judentums’ school painted the experience of medieval Jewry in the world of Islam in idyllic, almost mythic terms and in stark contrast to the sorrowful, oppressive, persecutory history of Jews living in medieval Christendom. This rosy comparison between the ‘Golden Age’ under Islam and the era of persecution under Christendom, sketched against the background of the political agenda of nineteenth-century Central European Jewish intellectuals, was carried forth into the twentieth century, reinforced by the brutal Nazi persecution of the Jews culminating in the Holocaust. On the other hand, the Arab-Jewish dispute over Palestine generated a fresh political issue which impacted on the historiography of medieval Jewry in the world of Islam.

Keywords: Judaism; Islam; interreligious polemics; Arabia; medieval Jewry; Holocaust; Arab-Jewish dispute

Article.  11925 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Studies ; Islam ; Interfaith Relations

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