Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Life Under Caliphs and Sultans



In the fall of 2006, a group of scholars who specialize in Jewish life under Islamic rule, in fruitful conversation with scholars in Arabic, Syriac, Persian, and Ottoman studies, converged on 420 Walnut Street. By bringing together experts who deal with aspects of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim life within premodern Islamic polities, we hoped to encourage a broad view of Islamic societies and to foster new approaches to their religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. Rich finds from the Cairo Genizah and new access to significant manuscript collections in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere spurred the work, at times forcing a scholarly reevaluation of the ways the fields of Islamic and Jewish studies intersect. The topic was timely and the themes and issues remain pressing for students of the world, no less than for historians of the Middle Ages and Early Modernity. The connections made have been lasting and significant. Some of the fruits of the research year are collected in the volume Beyond Religious Borders: Interaction and Intellectual Exchange in the Medieval Islamic World (2011), edited by David M. Freidenreich and Miriam Goldstein.