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"Lā Yajūz an Yakūn Fī Al-Ālam Li-Llāhi Qiblatayn": Judaeo-Islamic Polemics Concerning the Qibla (625-1010)

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image of Medieval Encounters

The existence of the protracted, recurring dispute between Muslims and Jews over the qibla is well-documented in various medieval Arabic sources. According to Muslim traditionalists, this dispute apparently first arose at the very beginning of Islam, and continued in its various stages from the seventh to tenth centuries C.E. Whether or not the dispute was more a figment of the imagination of those who wrote about it than a true event, I regard it as part of the struggle of the young emerging Muslim community for self-identity and superiority over the other established community i.e. the Jews, first in the Hijāz and later on in the eastern provinces of the Caliphate. In this paper I attempt to reconstruct the sequence and contents of the polemical encounters that took place over the Godly chosen gibla, whether the Muslim or the Jewish one. Qur¸ān commentaries on the one hand and biblical commentaries on the other were the source materials that were used to reconstruct these medieval encounters.

Affiliations: 1: Bar Ilan University


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