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The Documents Of The Cairo Geniza As A Source For Islamic Social History

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Chapter Summary

Geniza (pronounce Gheneeza) denotes the store-room of a synagogue or any other place in which papers covered with Hebrew letters were discarded. For according to Jewish belief, which has its parallels in Muslim and Coptic customs, no paper on which the name of God is found should be destroyed. So far, only the Genizas of a synagogue in Fustat (Old Cairo) and of the nearby cemetery of al-Basatin have been found. These two are called, by a common designation, &t;The Cairo Geniza&t;. The Cairo Geniza is also a particularly rich source for the history of the Arabic language and of the changes affecting its morphology, syntax, vocabulary and style. Many types of Arabic are found in these documents, from the elaborate creations in purely classical Arabic, of the Spanish Jewish men of letters, to plain prose bearing the imprint of the Maghribi, Egyptian, Palestinian, or Yemenite dialects.

Keywords: Cairo Geniza; Muslim



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