The Divergence of Judaism and Islam. Interdependence, Modernity, and Political Turmoil

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Issues of Jewish History as Reflected in Modern Egyptian Historiography · 237

that spoken Hebrew disappeared around 200 bc, which, according to
him, proves the disappearance of an important national characteristic
of the Jewish nations already in antiquity.^18 This opinion was shared by
the historian Aḥmad Sousa, a Jew of Iraqi origin who converted to Islam.
The quotations from it by Egyptian historians show that his ideas were
obviously popular in Egyptian research. He claimed that the Jews never
had one specific language. According to his point of view, the Jews ad-
opted an ancient language and claimed that it was theirs even before they
entered Canaan. Like Ḥasanen Fu ̓ad ̔Ali and Ḥasan Ẓaẓ before him,
Sousa claims that the Children of Israel spoke the Egyptian language and
only when they came to Canaan did they adopt the Canaanite language.
Thus the language spoken by David and Solomon was Canaanite as well.
Sousa maintains further that during the Babylonian Exile, the exiles had
adopted Aramaic language in order to write the Bible. The Hebrew of
today, he says, is a later stage in the development of this Aramaic and has
no relation to the ̔Apiru language they had spoken about two thousand
years earlier.^19
Alongside language, the uniqueness of medieval Jewish secular and
religious writings was also doubted. According to Qasem ̔Abdu, for ex-
ample, the long period the Jews had lived in a foreign neighborhood
turned them culturally into an inseparable part of the surrounding so-
ciety. Qasem ̔Abdu and Shaḥata Rayya, who studied Jewish medieval
history in Egypt and the Mahgreb, respectively, claim that most of the
Jewish writings about linguistics or poetry and philosophy were influ-
enced by renowned Muslim scholars. Rayya examines the main writings
of Jewish philosophers and poets in medieval Spain as compared with
the Muslim writings and concludes: “We have found no specific Jewish
creativity but showed that Jewish creation is based on patterns of en-
lightenment and the Islamic Arab culture.”^20 Similar things were written
by Qasem ̔Abdu al-Qasem, who presented the writings of the greatest
Jewish philosophers as imitations of their Muslim peers:

Most of their works belong to the Egyptian literature with regard
to form and contents. The reason is that the language in which the
Egyptian Jews wrote was in most cases Arabic. Their poetry, too, is
Arabic with regard to meter, rhyme, sound, and melody. Moreover,
even what was written in Hebrew was an imitation of Arab poetry.
Also, if we examine the prose, we can see that it, too, was written
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