Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Translating the Judeo-Arabic Tradition

 by Bennett Gordon

Tags: spirituality, Judaism, Islam, Judeo-Arabic, reconsiliation, interfaith,

Judeo-Arabic WritingAs much as there is dividing Jews and Muslims, the two religions have more in common than their belief in Abraham. Writing for Tikkun, (article not available online) Zalman Schachter-Shalomi calls attention to the large body of Judeo-Arabic writings that could point the way toward greater conciliation between the two groups.

Largely unknown to both Jews and Muslims, Judeo-Arabic literature was written in an Arabic dialect with Hebrew script by Jews living in Islamic countries. The famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides, in fact, wrote in both standard Arabic and in Judeo-Arabic. The authors of the texts were undoubtedly influenced by Muslim scholars, Schachter-Shalomi writes, and influenced the Muslim scholars in turn. Schachter-Shalomi envisions a website where Muslims and Jews could read and study the texts, translating the writing for the Muslim world at large and creating a greater understanding between the two religions.