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Jadid al-Islam

The Jewish "New Muslims" of Meshhed

by Raphael Patai

Anthropology, Israel and Middle East, Jewish Studies

Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology

Paperback
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 9780814340752
Pages: 344 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 34
Hardback
Published: December 1997
ISBN: 9780814326527
Pages: 344 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 34
eBOOK
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 9780814341858
Review

Raphael Patai shows in this book that he was one of those rare scholar-writers who had the gift of making historical canvases come to life and speak to is directly with immediacy and pathos.

— Arnold Ages

In 1839, Muslims attacked the Jews of Meshhed, murdering 36 of them, and forcing the conversion of the rest. While some managed to escape across the Afghan border, and some turned into true believing Muslims, the majority adopted Islam only outwardly, while secretly adhering to their Jewish faith.

Jadid al-Islam is the fascinating story of how this community managed to survive, at the risk of their lives, as crypto-Jews in an inimical Shi'i Muslim environment. Based on unpublished original Persian sources and interviews with members of the existing Meshhed community in Jerusalem and New York, this study documents the history, traditions, tales, customs, and institutions of the Jadid al-Islam—"New Muslims."

Raphael Patai (1911-1996) was a prominent cultural anthropologist, historian, and biblical scholar of international reputation. He was the author of more than three dozen books on Jewish and Arab culture, history, politics, psychology, and folklore.

Through a masterful examination of many sources, the book traces the history of Jewish life in Meshed before, during and after the Allahdad...The book offers a fascinating account of a little-known branch of the Jewish family tree whose roots date back 2,500 years to ancient Persia at the time of the first exile.

– The Canadian Jewish News

While much of his reconstruction of Meshhed Jewry inevitably focuses on Shi'ite Islam's dreadful persecution of a community it deemed unclean, Patai also unpacks from his narrative an absorbing mother lode of data about the folk customs, birth beliefs, education, business practices, emigration patterns, and burial customs of that little known Meshhed collective. Raphael Patai shows in this book that he was one of those rare scholar-writers who had the gift of making historical canvases come to life and speak to is directly with immediacy and pathos.

– Arnold Ages, University of Waterloo