Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement

A Partnership between the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion,
Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation, & USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture


A listing of relevant publications relating to Muslim and Jewish relations, history, etc and/or interreligious dialogue generally

Interreligious Dialogue
The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue™ is a forum for academic, social, and timely issues affecting religious communities around the world. It is designed to increase the quality and frequency of interchanges between religious groups and their leaders. Highlights include:

The Muslim-Jewish Journal
The Muslim-Jewish Journal is a quarterly newsletter featuring religious content written by Muslim and Jewish contributors, with a twist: Jewish writers explore passages they find meaningful in the Qur'an and Muslim writers do the same with the Tanakh, each exploring the beauty of each other's holy book through the lenses of their own personal, cultural, and religious backgrounds.

Suggested Reading

Reflections on Engagement

Click on the above link for a collection of thought pieces on contemporary Muslim-Jewish Relations

Andalusia , Dialogue , Islam , Islam & the West , Judaism , Judaism & the Arab World , Religion

Andalusian Spain

Gerber, Jane.(1992) The Jews of Spain, The Free Press: New York, NY.

Gerber’s book provides a comprehensive history of Sephardi Judaism. It describes the Jewish origins in the Iberian peninsula beginning in Roman Times, Jewish life under Spain’s Christian and Muslim rulers, the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492, their dispersion into the greater Muslim world, and general Sephardi Jewish history up to and including the modern period. The book’s treatment of the Jewish Golden Age of Spain is especially in depth, detailing the lives of several of the era’s leading figures including Maimonedes, Yehuda Halevi, Hasdai ibn Shaprut, and Shmuel Hanagid. This is an important work in that it represents the only comprehensive history of Sephardi Judaism to date. Despite this, it has two major faults. First, it is ripe with historical anachronisms such as application of modern terms like anti-Semitism and pogrom to medieval times. Second, the language used when describing anti-Jewish riots and other events that resulted in the death or persecution of Jews is seemingly trying to equate those events with those of the Holocaust. This language includes words like “annihilation,” “massacre,” and “destruction.”

Perry, Mary Elizabeth. (2005) The Handless Maiden: Moriscos and the Politics of Religion in Early Modern Spain, Princeton: Princeton UP.

Perry, Mary Elizabeth. (1991) Cultural Encounters: The Impact of the Inquisition in Spain and the New World, co-editor with Anne J. Cruz, University of California Press.

On Dialogue

Heft, James. (ed.)(2006) Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims (Abrahamic Dialogues), NY: Fordham University Press.

Heft, James (2004) Beyond Violence: Religious Sources of Transformation, NY: Fordham University Press.

Hinze, Bradford and Irfan Omar.(2005) Heirs of Abraham, Orbis Books: Maryknoll, New York.

Heirs of Abraham seeks “to promote a three-way dialogue, a trialogue, among Jews, Christians, and Muslims” in the hope that such a dialogue will engender greater understanding of the other religions and more peaceful relations between them. After an introduction detailing the history and accomplishments of bilateral and trilateral discussions between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the book turns to three articles by adherents and scholars of the three religions—Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, Rabbi/professor Reuven Firestone, and professor Mahmoud Ayoub. Each article is followed by a response from both of the other contributors and then a reply by the writer, therefore presenting a form of written trialogue. The book’s conclusion shows how dialogue between these religions first generates greater respect and tolerance amongst the religions, which serves as a prerequisite for work toward “collaborating in the way of peace and justice.”

Magonet, Jonathan.(2003) Talking to the Other, I. B. Tauris and Co Ltd: New York, New York.

This book focuses on how Jews have and can contribute to interfaith dialogue with Christians and Muslims—it attempts to answer two questions: what can Jews do for interfaith dialogue and what has actually happened when Jews engage in interfaith dialogue. Another question kept in mind throughout the book is how to engage one’s “own co-religionists ‘back home’,” that is how to promote interfaith dialogue with those not directly engaged in it. The book is useful for Jews and non-Jews alike, informing non-Jews of the Jewish perception of history and other religions while helping Jews crystallize and pinpoint their own perceptions and beliefs. The first part of the book focuses on this first question, how Jews can contribute to interfaith dialouge, especially concentrating on Jewish self-perception and attitude as it relates to interfaith dialogue. The book then turns to Jewish perception of Jesus and Muhammed, and in turn to Christianity and Islam. After a section specifically related to the general Jewish view of interfaith dialogue, the book concludes with a segment devoted to interfaith dialogue as it relates directly to the Middle East.

On Islam

Abou El Fadl, Khaled. (2006) The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books, Lanham, Md: Rowman and Littlefield.

Abou El Fadl, Khaled. (2001) Speaking in God’s Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women, Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

A brilliant work on authority in Islamic law, and its application with particular regard to women and legal response (fatawa) on women. Includes a powerfully insightful analysis of many controversial fatawa on women, and illustrates why they may or may not hold authority. The book provides depth of analysis for the specialist, as well as engaging and enlightening discussion for the non-specialist.

Abou El Fadl, Khaled. (2001) And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses, Lanham, Md.: University Press of America/Rowman and Littlefield.

Beginning with the case study of a Muslim basketball player who refused to stand up while the American national anthem was playing, the author documents the disintegration of the Islamic juristic tradition, and the prevalence of authoritarianism in contemporary Muslim discourses. Anchoring himself in the rich Islamic jurisprudential tradition, Dr. Abou El Fadl argues for upholding the authoritativeness of the religious text without succumbing to authoritarian methodologies of interpretation. Ultimately, the author asserts that in order to respect the integrity of the Divine law, it is necessary to adopt rigorous analytical methodologies of interpretation, and to re-investigate the place of morality in modern Islam.

Armstrong, Karen. (1993) Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, New York: HarperOne.

Asad, Muhammad. (2000) The Road to Mecca, New York: Fons Vitea.

El Guindi, Fadwa (1999) Veil: Modesty, Privacy and Resistance, New York: Berg Publishers.

Dr. El Guindi’s Veil challenges the stereotypical western view of the meaning of veiling through thorough scientific research, using anthropological analysis and sailing through history; east and west. She has succeeded in disentangling the confusions that exist between cultural language as far as the veil is concerned and through her analysis, illustrates the layers and layers of meanings that are mixed with veiling in the past and present, in Muslim and non-Muslim countries.

Firestone, Reuven. 2008. An Introduction to Islam for Jews, Jewish Publication Society. Philadelphia, PA.

Firestone’s Introduction to Islam for Jews offers a detailed description of Muslim history, belief, and practice. Beginning with a survey of Muslim history spanning in pre-Islamic to modern times, the book then continues with a section on Muslim theology and belief by examining the role of the Qur’an, God, and the Prophet Muhammad. The book ends with a section on Muslim practice, describing the various Islamic traditions and outlining the differences in practice and belief found within Islam. As stated in the title, the book is intended for a Jewish readership. The book points out similarities between Islam and Judaism including linguistic parallels and common theological beliefs. Also of interest to a Jewish readership is the books coverage of some modern controversies such as “honor killings” and Muhammad cartoons.

Hathout, Hassan. (1995) Reading the Muslim Mind, American trust Publications.

This remarkable book about Muslims and their role in the United States and elsewhere is one of the most important books written in the last decade. A great book for anyone looking about Islam and Muslims.

Hathout, Hassan.(1984) Topics in Islamic Medicine, International Organization of Islamic Medicine.

The book covers separate subjects, starting with 'the Case for Islamic Medicine'. It looks back in history featuring some aspects and personalities of the era of Islamic Civilization, but also looks into contemporary issues such as the Islamic basis for the Red Cross movement and contemporary reproductive issues. It also includes the Islamic Code of Medical Ethics and the Doctor's Oath, that have been widely adopted.

Hathout, Hassan. (1972) Hajj Pilgrimage: Form and Essence, Scientific Research House.

Mattson, Ingrid. (2007). The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life, Wiley-Blackwell.

This wonderful introduction to the Qur'an offers an insightful and authoritative description of the book at the heart of Muslim life. Written by a well-known Islamic expert, this book is a knowledgeable account of the doctrines contained in the Qur'an and provides a comprehensive explanation of their significance to individual Muslims and the societies in which they live.

Works by Dr. Fathi Osman:

Ramadan, Tariq. (2007) In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford.

Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the century, Tariq Ramadan is a leading Muslim scholar, with a large following especially among young European and American Muslims. Now, in his first book written for a wide audience, he offers a marvelous biography of the Prophet Muhammad, one that highlights the spiritual and ethical teachings of one of the most influential figures in human history.

Islam in the West

Abdo, Geneive. (2007) Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in American after 9/11, Oxford University Press.

Homegrown, radicalized Islamists have set off bombs in Madrid and London; could it happen here? Given rising anxiety about the possible alienation of American Muslims, a readable book offering a responsible yet sympathetic profile of that community should be welcomed. Five years after 9/11, Geneive Abdo, who has reported skillfully on Islamism in Egypt and Iran, has produced just such a book.

Abou El Fadl, Khaled. (2005) The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, San Francisco, CA: Harper.

Dr. Abou El Fadl argues in this popular work that the extremist sects of Islam, mainly Wahhabism, blatantly defy the true values of Islam. He clarifies that Wahhabism was once an unpopular, fringe, cultlike movement, which only grew through a chance partnership with the Saudi Arabian ruling family. The discovery of oil created an unprecedented infusion of petro-dollars into the fledgling, conservative belief system. He focuses on the extremists' "puritan" view, exposing the hypocrisies and inconsistencies inherent in their "imagined Islam."

Abou El Fadl, Khaled. (2004) Islam and the Challenge of Democracy, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

The events of September 11 and the subsequent war on terrorism have provoked widespread discussion about the possibility of democracy in the Islamic world. Such topics as the meaning of jihad, the role of clerics as authoritative interpreters, and the place of human rights and toleration in Islam have become subjects of urgent public debate around the world. With few exceptions, however, this debate has proceeded in isolation from the vibrant traditions of argument within Islamic theology, philosophy, and law.Islam and the Challenge of Democracy aims to correct this deficiency. The book engages the reader in a rich discourse on the challenges of democracy in contemporary Islam.

Cohen, Jared.(2007) Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East, Penguin Books/Gotham Division.

Rather than globetrotting for pleasure like many post-collegiate backpackers, Cohen charms his way through Middle Eastern countries typically thought of as unfriendly to the West. This type of travel is not without its problems: he suffers intimidation, unauthorized searches and other threats over the course of his two years spent among the twentysomethings of Lebanon, Syria and Iran. While gamboling across the region, Cohen drops in on Palestinian refugee camps, chats up Hezbollah members at a McDonalds, talks nuclear power with Iranians over illegal moonshine and meets "Iraqis who like us" in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is often repeated that the colorful and gifted youth immortalized in this book are surprisingly similar to their class of American counterparts, valuing education, dreaming of the future, and tooling with emerging technologies to broaden their sense of the world. Cohen's accounts are sharp and his intentions admirable.

Esposito, John I. Mogahed, Dalia (2008) Who speak for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, New York: Gallup Press.

In a post-9/11 world, many Americans conflate the mainstream Muslim majority with the beliefs and actions of an extremist minority. But what do the world’s Muslims think about the West, or about democracy, or about extremism itself? Who Speaks for Islam? spotlights this silenced majority. The book is the product of a mammoth six-year study in which the Gallup Organization conducted tens of thousands of hour-long, face-to-face interviews with residents of more than 35 predominantly Muslim nations — urban and rural, young and old, men and women, educated and illiterate. It asks the questions everyone is curious about: Why is the Muslim world so anti-American? Who are the extremists? Is democracy something Muslims really want? What do Muslim women want? The answers to these and other pertinent, provocative questions are provided not by experts, extremists, or talking heads, but by empirical evidence — the voices of a billion Muslims.

Jackson, Sherman A. (2005) Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Towards the Third Resurrection, New York: Oxford University Press.

Sherman Jackson offers a trenchant examination of the career of Islam among the blacks of America. Jackson notes that no one has offered a convincing explanation of why Islam spread among Blackamericans (a coinage he explains and defends) but not among white Americans or Hispanics. The assumption has been that there is an African connection. In fact, Jackson shows, none of the distinctive features of African Islam appear in the proto-Islamic, black nationalist movements of the early 20th century. Instead, he argues, Islam owes its momentum to the distinctively American phenomenon of "Black Religion," a God-centered holy protest against anti-black racism. Islam in Black America begins as part of a communal search for tools with which to combat racism and redefine American blackness.

Ramadan, Tariq. (2003) Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, Oxford University Press.

As the number of Muslims living in the West grows, the question of what it means to be a Western Muslims becomes increasingly important to the futures of both Islam and the West. While the media are focused on radical Islam, Ramadan claims, a silent revolution is sweeping Islamic communities in the West, as Muslims actively seek ways to live in harmony with their faith within a Western context.

Ramadan, Tariq. (2000) Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity, The Islamic Foundation.

Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity attempts to demonstrate, using sources which draw upon Islamic thought and civilization, that Muslims have the means to respond to contemporary challenges without betraying their identity. The book argues that Muslims, nourished by their own points of reference, can approach the modern epoch by proposing a specific social, political and economic management that is linked to ethical values, a sense of finalities and spirituality.

Judaism in the Arab World

Bahloul, Joelle. (1996) The Architecture of Memory: A Jewish-Muslim Household in Colonial Algeria, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Beinin, Joel. (2005) The Dispersion Of Egyptian Jewry Culture, Politics, and the Formation Of A Modern Diaspora , Berkeley: University of California Press

In this provocative and wide-ranging history, Joel Beinin examines fundamental questions of ethnic identity by focusing on the Egyptian Jewish community since 1948. A complex and heterogeneous people, Egyptian Jews have become even more diverse as their diaspora continues to the present day. Central to Beinin's study is the question of how people handle multiple identities and loyalties that are dislocated and reformed by turbulent political and cultural processes. It is a question he grapples with himself, and his reflections on his experiences as an American Jew in Israel and Egypt offer a candid, personal perspective on the hazards of marginal identities.

Gottreich, Emily. (2007) The Mellah of Marrakesh: Jewish and Muslim Space in Morocco’s Red City, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Lewis, Bernard.(1987) The Jews of Islam. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ.

The Jews of Islam provides a thorough description of the history and culture of the Jews of Arab and Muslim lands. It details their community life and activities, focusing on the Jews relationship with their Muslim rulers. Lewis accomplishes this through a description of what he calls the Judea-Islamic tradition (as opposed to a Judea-Christian tradition). He argues that the Muslims and Jews who lived among them shared a common tradition. This shared tradition, Lewis writes, goes beyond the shared religious texts (the Torah) but also includes they way Jews and Muslims interpret theology, religious practice, Law, and mysticism.

Rejwan, Nissim. Beinin, Joel (FRW)(2004) The Last Jews in Baghdad: Remembering a Lost Homeland, University of Texas Press.

Once upon a time, Baghdad was home to a flourishing Jewish community. More than a third of the city's people were Jews, & Jewish customs & holidays helped set the pattern of Baghdad's cultural& commercial life. On the city's streets & bazaars, Jews, Muslims, & Christians--all native-born Iraqis--intermingled, speaking virtually the same colloquial Arabic & sharing a common sense of national identity. And then the state ofisrael was born, & the lines were drawn between Jews & Arabs. Nearly the entire Jewish population of Baghdad fled their Iraqi homeland, never to return. This beautifully written memoir recalls the lost community of Baghdad.

On Judaism

Einstein, Stephen J. Kukoff, Lydia (1989) Every Person’s Guide to Judaism, URJ Press, New York.

Every Person’s Guide to Judaism is a non-academic, colloquial and accessible text. Though not explicitly stated, the authors seem to be writing for a non-Jewish audience with little knowledge of Judaism. Einstein and Kukoff introduce Judaism through the “Cycle of the Year” including holidays and festivals, the “Cycle of Life” including the major events in Jewish life, the “Aspects of Faith” including God and prayer, and “Contemporary Jewish Life” including the movements in Judaism and the Jewish community. The text includes a helpful glossary of terms and an extensive bibliography for more focused study.

Firestone, Reuven.(2001) Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims, The American Jewish Committee and Ktav Publishing House, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey.

For a translation of the book in Arabic, click here.

Firestone’s Children of Abraham provides a thorough introduction to Jewish History, theology and practice. After a survey of Jewish history, spanning the Biblical to modern eras, Firestone describes the major Jewish beliefs regarding God, scripture, and the greater Jewish community. Following this section on Jewish beliefs and doctrines, Firestone turn to Jewish practice describing Jewish prayer, holidays, and life cycle events. In addition to devoting a section on individual Jew’s personal observance, throughout his description of Jewish practice Firestone notes the varying forms and levels of Jewish observance point out that Jewish practice varies greatly among individuals. As the title suggests, the book is intended for a Muslim readership highlighting many similarities between Islam and Judaism. These similarities include linguistic resemblances between Islamic and Jewish terms, comparable customs such as charity, dietary restrictions, and prayer, and theological similarities such as the belief in a singular, unified God. The book also reconciles contradictions between Qur’anic passages regarding Jews and Judaism with Jewish history and mainstream belief and practice.

Kertzer, Morris N. Hoffman, Lawrence.(1996) What Is a Jew?, Touchstone, New York.

In his book, revised by Rabbi Hoffman, Rabbi Kertzer attempts to tackle his daunting subject by giving succinct answers to over 100 of the most frequent questions about Judaism that he approached in his research and teaching career. The questions are grouped into nine categories spanning the issues of the Jewish community, Torah, rituals, customs, beliefs, ethics, Judaism in the West, etc. The book is engaging, written in the first person, and focuses on the facts, while includes some personal anecdotes as well. What Is a Jew? has been a very popular text, selling hundreds of thousands of copies and translated into numerous languages. This version is the 5th edition since it was originally published in 1953.

Mendez-Flohr, Paul, and Reinharz, Jehuda. (1980) The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History, NY: Oxford.

Orlinsky, Harry (1960), Ancient Israel, Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press.

Sacher, Howard Morley (1977), The Course of Modern Jewish History, NY: Delta.

Schiffman, Lawrence (1991), From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism, NY: Ktav.

Steinberg, Milton. (1965) Basic Judaism, Harvest Books.

Steinberg’s Basic Judaism is a concise volume written by a believing Jew for other Jews and for those curious about Judaism. The text is somewhat dated. The language is formal and not egalitarian. The only non-Jew the author can imagine is a Christian. He expends effort in explaining and differentiating Judaism from Christianity. However, the book spans the issues of: Torah, God, Israel, Practice, Law, Jewish Institutions, and the World to Come. It is a worthy resource, but not contemporary.

Stow, Kenneth (1992), Alienated Minority: The Jews of Medieval Latin Europe, Cambridge: Harvard University.

Religion - General

Petito, Fabio. Pavlos Hatzopoulos.(2003) Religion in International Politics. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, NY.

This compilation of articles argues that the discipline of international relations requires significant modifications if the West is to resolve its conflicts with other societies. It argues that international relations views religion as “a set of privately held beliefs and doctrines” and that this view is not in line with a non-western perception of religion. Non-western society, the book argues, views religion as “a community of believers” and that international relations must incorporate this view into its discipline in order to be successful.

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