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A Jew on Java, a Model Malay Rabbi and a Tamil Torah Scholar: Representations of Abdullah Ibnu Salam in the Book of One Thousand Questions



In contrast to many regions of the Middle East, where Jewish communities existed at the time of the Prophet and throughout the centuries following his death, the Tamil region of south India and the Indonesian-Malay world lacked such populations. The absence of Jewish communities did not, however, imply a complete unfamiliarity with Jews and Judaism. Rather, their image emerged from a variety of textual sources in lieu of direct encounters. In addition to their depictions in the Qur'an and hadith literature, Jewish figures occasionally appeared in texts produced in these regions' local languages. The Book of One Thousand Questions, composed in Arabic and translated thereafter into many languages – including Javanese, Malay and Tamil – offers a glimpse to portrayals of Jews and Judaism in lands where their actual presence was virtually unknown.



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Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • ISSN: 1356-1863
  • EISSN: 1474-0591
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