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The Jews of Islam (Princeton Paperbacks) [Kindle Edition]

Bernard Lewis
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Probing the Muslims' attitude toward Judaism as a special case of their view of other religious minorities in Islamic countries, Bernard Lewis demolishes two competing stereotypes: the fanatical warrior, sword in one hand and Qur' an in the other, and the Muslim designer of an interfaith utopia. Available for the first time in paperback, his portrayal of the Judaeo-Islamic tradition is set against a vivid background of Jewish and Islamic history.

Editorial Reviews


"An elegant and masterly survey. It is a measure of Mr. Lewis's gift for synthesis that all the many findings of recent sholarship, including his own in the Turkish archives, are made to fit into a coherent and plausible pattern."--New York Times Book Review

"Lewis refuses . . . simplistic approaches and tries to explain the complex and often contradictory history of Jewish-Muslim relations over fourteen hundred years. He does this in prose that combines eloquence, dispassion, and wit."--Norman A. Stillman, New York Review of Books

"[A] pioneering and masterful primer."--Jacob Neusner, Boston Globe

Product Details

  • File Size: 5333 KB
  • Print Length: 282 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 140081023X
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (April 24, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028QHLM4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,913 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jews of Islam, Bernard Lewis April 9, 2000
This book examines the presence and role of the Jews in Islam, with a treatment that spans not only through the text of the Quran, but also an application of the laws and injunctions contained in the the practice of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, by the Islamic jurists.
While the book attempts to dispel the notion of muslims as being intolerant, it does not shy away to bring about a factual realization embodied in texts, particularly historical texts, that formed the basis of records maintained by the islamic governments, particularly during the Ottoman regime.
The role of the Jews, not only as a presence among the muslim communities, but also a treatment of the various traditions that served to be shared and transmitted in both the religions, is treated at length.
While the discussion of Jews as a religious minority forms the basis of the book, it is nevertheless impossible to treat them alone, since Christians and their attitude towards the Jews as well as Muslims, served to demonstrate the intricacy of the social fabric existent between them, interwoven with the many realities that spanned beyond the frontiers of the Islamic state. Growing tensions between Islam and Christianity and the relation and influence it exercised on the treatment of the Jews would amply support the later statement.
Over all, it is a book that offers a much needed outlook on Islam's position on minorities, with ample bibiliography for further research.
A must read!
-- Ali Abbbas
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars generally well done January 23, 2005
I was always vaguely aware that Jews sometimes got better treatment from Muslims than from Christians. But this book explains the roots in Muslim theology of Muslim/Jewish relations (under which non-Muslim monotheists were tolerated as second-class citizens), and shows how large some Jewish communities were.

I was surprised to learn that in the 15th century, Turkey was so attractive for Jews that Jewish writers wrote about Turkey as glowingly as later writers wrote about America. For example, Isaac Zarfati, a refugee from Germany, wrote: "I proclaim to you that Turkey is a land wherein nothing is lacking, and where, if you will, all shall yet be well with you . . . Here every man may dwell at peace under his own vine and fig tree. Here you are allowed to wear the most precious garments. In Christendom, on the contrary, you dare not even venture to clothe your children in red or in blue, according to our taste, without exposing them to the insult of beaten black and blue, or kicked green and red . . . O Israel, wherefore sleepest though? Arise! And leave this accursed land forever!" (p. 136)

Similarly, in the 16th century Portuguese refugee Samuel Usque described Turkey as "a broad and spacious sea which God opened with the rod of His mercy as He opened the Red Sea at the time of the exodus . .. here the gates of liberty are always open for the observance of Judaism" (Id.)

But the situation deteriorated in the last several centuries: it is not altogether clear why, and maybe Lewis isn't completely sure himself.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jews of Islam February 18, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very enlightening account of not only the Jewish experience in Islamic lands, but also of the overall treatment of non-Muslim subjects within Muslim territories. This historical background is essential to the understanding of present relations between Islam and the West, as well as Israel and its surrounding Muslim neighbours. Lewis writes in a style easy to read, and yet still academically rigorous. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to get beyond current media headlines and dwelve deeper into the roots of contemporary unease between the West and Islam. As for Jews like myself who grew up in Muslim countries, it is essential reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important, Complete and Insightful December 11, 2011
Make no mistake: this book is no apology-manual for the history of the Jews in Islam. Like always, Bernard Lewis presents the facts as he finds them and does not appear to have an agenda beyond that. He does not make the typical straw man argument that many other authors of recent times have made about Islam, that it is anti-semitic, violent, and bigoted, whereas Christianity is a religion of peace because Jesus preached passive resistance and the gospels have many peaceful quotations. To the contrary, he actually claims that ant-semitism never existed in Islam until it was introduced by Christian European colonialists during the 18th century upward.
Lewis defines anti-semitism as: A. The obsessive fanaticism of and about Jews. B. The assigning of Jews of cosmic evil and blaming all of the world's ills on them and C. Holding Jews to double-standards. According to him, persecuting the Jews and disliking them is not anti-semitism, it is a normal (and unfortunate) part of the human condition to dislike and persecute those who are different from us. That being stated, anti-semitism never existed in Islam up until recent times. However, persecution and hatred of the Jews did.
The "dhimmi" laws of Islam are well-known by many at the present time. However, Lewis describes how the dhimmi laws were applied at different times and across different Muslim societies. The Ottoman Turks were by far the best in their treatment towards the Jews. Jews were generally unmolested in their religious activities and had several opportunities to reach high social positions and prestigious professions. The Turks never saw the Jews as dangerous, and often saw the Jews as useful, because of their ties to Europe and their knowledge of European inventions and artillery.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars if u want to understand better the current situation
The book is clear , a synthesis of a few hundred years of Hystory , makes u understand better the actual situation between Jews and Islam
Published 4 months ago by marina Ergas
5.0 out of 5 stars The keen eye and mind of Bernard Lewis
The keen eye and mind of Bernard Lewis ! He is really and truly the Middle East's and the Arab world's expert.
Published 14 months ago by Reuven Fenichel
4.0 out of 5 stars Lewis Continues to Astound
I've read a fair number of Bernard Lewis's books. He continues to do astounding work (far better than other scholars in this field who are 1/2 his age); and "The Jews of... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Robert J. Pruger
4.0 out of 5 stars A different story today
How the world changes in a very short time! I am certain that had Bernard Lewis written this work today its emphasis and message would be slightly different. Read more
Published on February 2, 2005 by Shalom Freedman
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightfull read but not for the belligeratti
It's informative, interesting anthropological material, and well researched, this is certainly a book for those who wish to have a better cultural understanding of an interesting... Read more
Published on March 4, 2004 by shoayb adamm
3.0 out of 5 stars History has many faces
Bernard lewis writes brilliantly, as he with his knowledge in the topic. But what i noticed that to actually know the truth, which is naive, one has to read many objective books by... Read more
Published on October 19, 2003 by S. Kader
2.0 out of 5 stars The truth of the Jews under Islam is.......
I am a non-Muslim from a predominantly Muslim country. I grew up learning the traditions and history of Islam with my Muslim childhood friends. Read more
Published on April 10, 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Elegant prose, but superficial, inaccurate historiography
Even Professor Lewis' elegant prose cannot redress the serious limitations in this very disappointing book. Read more
Published on July 17, 2002 by Andrew G. Bostom
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for Jewish/Muslim relations
Antedote for common polemics about "ageless (therefore inevitable) conflict between Jew and Muslim". Read more
Published on June 12, 2002 by L. F Sherman
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise, well-written, informative
This book is fairly short and thus isn't intended to be the definitive book about Jews in Islamicate societies, but nevertheless, the Jews of Islam does provide a good introduction... Read more
Published on May 27, 2002 by JSB-Chicago
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