The Jews of Medina and the Challenge of Early Islamic Historiography

Mazuz book cover

Cover of Mazuz, Religious and Spiritual Lives of the Jews of Medina (Brill, 2014). Image from brill.com.

In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research 2, no. 2, Michael Pregill reviews Haggai Mazuz’s The Religious and Spiritual Lives of the Jews of Medina (Leiden: Brill, 2014). This work not only seeks to establish the historicity of much of the data the traditional sources offer us on the culture, customs, and traditions of the Jewish communities of the Ḥijāz in Muhammad’s time, but proposes to offer a conclusive demonstration of the squarely halakhic nature of these Jews. According to Mazuz, much of what the classical Islamic sources relate about Muhammad’s Jewish contemporaries can be correlated with data about Jewish ideas and practices found in the Babylonian Talmud and other mainstream rabbinic sources, which he interprets as proof that these Arabian communities were essentially rabbinic in orientation.

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