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Gaonic Society and Culture - Research Paper Example

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Gaonic Society and Culture Introduction “Geonim” were spiritual scholars belonging to the Jewish community accepted all over the world in the “early medieval era”. The period of Geonim scholars covers a span of almost 450 years between 589 and 1038…
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Gaonic Society and Culture
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Download file to see previous pages The first “Gaon of Sura” was Mar Rab who took the charge in 609 and the last was Samuel ben Hofni who died in 1034. The last “Gaon of Pumbedita” was Hezekiah Gaon who was agonized and he died in 10401. During the “Golden Age” of Arabs Jews were prominent in the society and their religious and cultural practices and economic living flourished. After 681, the Jews were severely victimized by “Christian Visigoths” and therefore they invited the Muslim Arabs mainly the “Berber” conquerors. These conquerors successfully removed the “Christian Visigoths” and brought an end to their tyranny, providing the Jews their religious autonomy2. Thereafter a period of tolerance began as Jews devoted themselves in studying the sciences, commerce and industry to augment the prosperity of the country. They engaged themselves in translating Arabic texts into Roman and Greek and Hebrew texts into Arabic. The involvement of the Jews was also found in several other disciplines such as “botany, geography, medicine, mathematics, poetry and philosophy.3” During this time Jewish ideas blossomed leading to partial Jewish autonomy. Again insecurity of the Jews developed around 976 and the situation further deteriorated in 1090 with the attack of “Almoravids”, a Muslim protestant sect from Morocco. Under their rule Islamic belief was imposed on the Jews. The famous educational bodies of the Jews were closed. Then by 1085 there was invasion by the Christian forces. Jewish community was still prominent. Some scholars such as Maimonides, born in 1135, were well-known figures in Judaism. Jewish existence still continued until they were powerfully debarred or converted by the “Christian Monarchs”4 The purpose of this paper is to show that the uniqueness of the gaons could be attributed to their piety and practices apart from their scholarly talents and achievements which reflect discipline, integrity and wisdom. The Gaons, their practice and religion During the Islamic period, due to the absence of corporate groups, the commercialized and crafted guild of the European variety was not restricted to those members having majority belief in Islamic culture. There was significant resemblance among the Muslim and Jewish practices. This encouraged flexible interactions between the Jews and Muslims in economic activities and led the Jewish to adopt liberal attitude towards the Muslims. They preferred to in developing business contracts and settling disputes in the Muslim religious courts as opposed to early Talmudic prohibition. According to one of the Babylonian Geonim this practice was implicitly recognized by the Jewish judiciary on account of mutual faith. “Ashkenazic rabbis” persisted on stringent observance of Talmudic controls. Therefore the Geonim and later halakhic authorities in the “medieval Arab world” objected on Jews relevance to Muslim courts and emphasized on continual Talmudic ban. The Gaon after considering many contradictory biblical verses exhibits that they do not include abrogation. Islamic religious expressions were used in “Judaeo- Arabic” writing of the Jewish scholars. Saadya Gaon, the first great “rabbinic” who wrote in Arabic referred deliberately to the “Torah”. His Arabic translation of the Bible reflected an integration of “Arabic-Islamic” culture. The considerable resemblance between the Jewish and Islamic law, the corresponding operation of both of their legal systems and their sharing of linguistic discourse across ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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