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 · 241

lem Talmuds and their renown in the Jewish world—an accomplishment
described as the height of Jewish achievement of all times.^31

Jewish History in the Middle Ages

Egyptian historiographers, in writing about the history of the Jews in the
Middle Ages, made intense efforts to refute the claim of Jewish suffering.
This was expressed by a tendency to absolve the Arabs and Islam of the
charge of tyranny attributed to them in Western and Jewish historiogra-
phy. Early research that dealt with the Egyptian Jews of that period was
conducted at Zaqaziq University in the 1980s by Qasem ̔Abdu Qasem.
The research examines the period between the Arab conquest of Egypt up
to the arrival of the Ottomans. About a decade later, the publishing house
Al-Hay ̓a al-Misriyya al- ̔Aama lilkitab started publishing a research se-
ries based on doctoral theses, each of which dealt with the situation of
the Jews in Egypt in any one of the periods from the Arab conquest up
to the end of the Ottoman period. These works presented a detailed pic-
ture of social, economic, and religious Jewish life in Egypt. Among them
was also the thesis of Zubayda ̔Aṭa, who also dealt with the period re-
searched by Qasem ̔Abdu; the thesis of Nariman ̔Abd al-Karim Aḥmad,
who concentrated on the beginning of the Islamic period; that of Faṭima
al- ̔Amer, who dealt with the period from the Arab conquest to the end
of the Fatimid period; and Maḥasen Muḥammad al-Waqqad, who wrote
about the Mamluks based on archival documents.^32

(^) The common interest of these works is the need to respond to claims
made in Jewish research about the social and religious discrimination of
Jews imposed by the ̔Umar Convention. The above-mentioned research-
ers used similar means and methods to refute these claims. The first part
of each research presents the tolerant approach of the Quran and the
Ḥadith toward the protected charges, reviewing the relevant important
Shari ̔a approach. The second part of the research presents a number of
capitulation contracts that determined the relations between the Muslims
and the conquered nations. By analyzing the clauses of these contracts,
the researchers wish to demonstrate that the spirit of tolerance described
in the first part was in fact at the very core of Islam. In this context the
̔Umar Convention is presented as one of the capitulation contracts that
had no intention of limiting or humiliating their protected charges. On
the contrary, its entire purpose was to allow them to live their lives safely

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