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SOME NOTES ON 
"JEWISH ARABIC STUDIES" 

In his interesting article on the above mentioned subject 
in the October number of this Review, Prof. I. Friedlaender has 
thrown much light on the history of Jewish sectarianism and 
stimulated further study in the same field. He suggests (p. 187) 
the reading Almukammis. Steinschneider (Die Arab. Literatur 
der Juden, 37) reads Almikmos (yopK) and pxopD^K). There 
cannot, however, be any doubt that the name was Al-Mukammas, 
the N in the one form being mater lectionis. pDpDPN is also the 
reading in the little fragment of his work: "Fifty queries in 
refutation of the Christians," which I published JQR., XV, 682. 

As to the name Serene (p. 211), Dr. Friedlaender's deriva- 
tion from suryani is more ingenious than probable and cannot 
supplant the derivation given by Graetz from Serenus. The name 
was known to Arabs considerably earlier. A Copt slave-girl of 
the name of Sirin was given by Mohammed to the poet Hassan 
b. Thabit. Lastly Mohammed b. Sirin (born A. H. 33) was one 
of the fathers of Mohammedan tradition (see Ibn Khallikan, 
translated by De Slane, II, 586), the first author of a work on 
interpretation of dreams (see JQR., XV, 175). 

It is hardly appropriate to call the Jewish tribes of the B. 
IjCainoka, Al Nadhir, and Kheibar "sons of the desert, men of the 
sword, soldiers, warriors" (p. 210) and "ignorant nomads" (p. 
212). What we know from the early Arab sources points to the 
contrary. They were rather peaceful palm growers, craftsmen, 
and traders who lived in settled habitations round Medina and 
further north. The quarrels of which Arab authors have so 
much to relate should not be taken too seriously. Anyway we 
never read of Jewish victories, but only of defeat and slaughter. 

447 



448 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

There may have been a few warriors among them, but their pure 
Jewish blood is a matter of doubt. As to their alleged ignorance, 
such evidence as we possess does not bear out this statement 
(see my New Researches into the Composition and Exegesis of 
the Qoran, 103 ff.). The art of writing was much practised among 
them. They did not, indeed, produce any scholars, but they had 
a good knowledge of the Bible which they publicly interpreted in 
a Midras. They even seemed to have used an Aramaic version of 
the Pentateuch. This can be gathered from the Aramaic forms 
of many Jewish expressions which appear in the J£oran. They 
were well versed in the Haggadah of which ample evidence exists 
in the Ijforan and Sunna. Even the new poem by Al Samau'al, 
the prototype of an Arabioized Jew, has several haggadic ele- 
ments (see JQR., April, 1905). Ibn Khaldun on whom Dr. 
Friedlaender relies, even if we absolve him from religious bias, 
was no judge of Jewish learning, and on the proficiency of the 
Jews in Arabia eight centuries before his time he is no authority 
at all. Geiger, too, has misjudged this point completely. Dr. 
Friedlaender is not, therefore, justified in maintaining that the 
Arab Jews could not have promoted a new religious movement. 
Why not? Surely they did so, first indirectly, then directly. With- 
out the positive knowledge they imparted to its founder, it is 
doubtful whether Islam would have seen the light. 

London H. Hirschfeu)