The Jews of Islam

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The Jews of Islam (1984) is a book written by Middle-East historian and scholar Bernard Lewis.

The book provides a comprehensive overview of the history and the state of the Jews living in the Islamic world (as contrasted to the Jews of Christendom). The first chapter, Islam and Other Religions, however, is broader in scope, and explains how medieval Islamic society viewed the Other.


  • Chapter I. Islam and Other religions
  • Chapter II. The Judaeo-Islamic Tradition
  • Chapter III. The Late Medieval and Early Modern Periods
  • Chapter IV. The End of the Tradition


Lewis notes that there was greater tolerance for Jews in Islamic lands than in Christian lands. Regarding Jews in Islamic lands, he states:

Generally, the Jewish people were allowed to practice their religion and live according to the laws and scriptures of their community. Furthermore, the restrictions to which they were subject were social and symbolic rather than tangible and practical in character. That is to say, these regulations served to define the relationship between the two communities, and not to oppress the Jewish population.[1]

The author also claims:

"For Christians and Muslims alike, tolerance is a new virtue, intolerance a new crime. For the greater part of the history of both communities, tolerance was not valued nor was intolerance condemned. Until comparatively modern times, Christian Europe neither prized nor practiced tolerance itself, and was not greatly offended by its absence in others. The charge that was always brought against Islam was not that its doctrines were imposed by force—something seen as normal and natural—but that its doctrines were false.[2]"


  • Stillman, Norman A. (October 1984). "Peaceful Coexistence". The New York Review of Books. 31 (16). Retrieved 2006-08-10.
  • Schroeter, Daniel J. (November 1989). "The Jews of Islam, Review". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 21 (4).
  • Patai, Raphael (June 1985). "Untitled review". The American Historical Review. 90 (3). doi:10.1086/ahr/90.3.743.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lewis, Bernard W (1984). The Jews of Islam
  2. ^ p.3-4