History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to Their Eclipse under Islam

History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to Their Eclipse under Islam

by Gordon D. Newby

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Jews of Arabia have maintained a thriving, vital Diaspora community for centuries. While Muhammad was spreading Islam around Medina in the seventh century, there were Arabian Jewish merchants, poets, pastoral nomads, farmers, sculptors and warriors. One of the findings of this scholarly synthesis is that Arabian Jewry influenced Muhammad's developing vision of his prophetic mission. Newby, associate professor of history at North Carolina State University, focuses attention on the mystical strain among Arabian Jews; one sect, for example, apparently believed in an anthropomorphized creator-angel, while another fervently awaited an apocalyptic day of reckoning. We are given an interesting portrait of Dhu Nuwas, a sixth-century Jewish ruler in Yemen who died at the hands of Abyssinian invaders. By identifying a body of shared experiences of Jews and Muslims, Newby's dry study gives hope for peaceful coexistence in the Middle East. (August)
The Jewish communities of Arabia had great influence on the attitudes that Muslims hold toward Jews, and yet relatively little has been written about their history. The sources are sparse, and Arabic literary texts from the early period of Islam remain the greatest source of our understanding of Arabian Judaism. Through techniques borrowed from anthropology, literary criticism, sociology and comparative religion, Newby (history, North Carolina State U.) reconstructs some understanding of Jewish life in Arabia before and during the time of Muhammad. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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University of South Carolina Press
Publication date:
Studies in Comparative Religion

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