Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Collaboration and Conflict in the Age of Diaspora

Edited by Sander L. Gilman
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 216
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
    Book Description:

    Islam, Christianity, and Judaism share several common features, including their historical origins in the prophet Abraham, their belief in a single divine being, and their modern global expanse. Yet it is the seeming closeness of these “Abrahamic” religions that draws attention to the real or imagined differences between them. This volume examines Abrahamic cultures as minority groups in societies which may be majority Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, or self-consciously secular. The focus is on the relationships between these religious identities in global Diaspora, where all of them are confronted with claims about national and individual difference. The case studies range from colonial Hong Kong and Victorian London to today’s San Francisco and rural India. Each study shows how complex such relationships can be and how important it is to situate them in the cultural, ethnic, and historical context of their world. The chapters explore ritual practice, conversion, colonization, immigration, and cultural representations of the differences between the Abrahamic religions. An important theme is how the complex patterns of interaction among these religions embrace collaboration as well as conflict—even in the modern Middle East. This work by authors from several academic disciplines on a topic of crucial importance will be of interest to scholars of history, theology, sociology, and cultural studies, as well as to the general reader interested in how minority groups have interacted and coexisted.

    eISBN: 978-988-8313-12-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: The Abrahamic Religions in an Age of Diaspora
    (pp. ix-xx)
    Sander L. Gilman

    In his 1922 explanation of what constitutes “ethnicity,” the German sociologist Max Weber claimed that “the belief in group affinity, regardless of whether it has any objective foundation, can have important consequences especially for the formation of a political community” (Weber 1922, 56). Today we understand that the key word here for Weber is “belief.” If you believe that you are part of a community, there is an affective aspect to your identification that then defines the group itself. Neither history, nor biology, nor national boundaries is primary; belief is central. One can add to this statement that this is...

  5. 1 Peoples of the Book: Religion, Language, Nationalism, and the Politics of Sacred Text Translation
    (pp. 1-34)
    Martin J. Wein and Benjamin Hary

    The following exposition is a cultural critique of the phenomenon of sacred text translation, centering on the enormous global Bible translation project, but also including comparative references to the Qur’an, and to sacred texts of religions other than Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This is framed by a general discussion of the triangular relationship of language, religion, and nationalism. We bring forward several propositions.

    First, we make the case that Jewish studies, with its linguistic access to the original Hebrew biblical text and its specific sensitivity to this triangular interaction of language, religion, and nationalism, can provide theory and models for...

  6. 2 Jews and Muslims: Collaboration through Acknowledging the Shoah
    (pp. 35-54)
    Mehnaz M. Afridi

    This chapter discusses tensions between Jews and Muslims concerning issues such as genocide and politics. My own personal and academic experiences have led me to explore opportunities of collaboration for these two groups, who have typically seen each other through the lens of conflict. This account of contemporary research and my own experiences—academic and personal—will conclude that collaboration can occur if one can create case studies of suffering of one group even when the other group denies this pain in contemporary life, whether through political or social means. This case study hopes to off set the imbalance of...

  7. 3 How Health and Disease Define the Relationship among the Abrahamic Religions in the Age of Diaspora
    (pp. 55-76)
    Sander L. Gilman

    During the twenty-first century an issue has reappeared that can help us focus on how the relationship between the Abrahamic religions, at least in Western Europe and North America, has continued to shift. Infant male circumcision, a ritual practice strongly identified with Judaism, has come to be a litmus test for cultural adaptability for Muslims in the West. The Princeton cultural anthropologist James A. Boon has argued “foreskins are facts—cultural facts whether removed or retained. Absent versus present, prepuces have divided many religions, politics, and ritual persuasions . . . (non) circumcision involves signs separating an ‘us’ from a...

  8. 4 Inimical Friendships? Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Franz Rosenzweig, and Dialogue between the West and Islam
    (pp. 77-98)
    Wayne Cristaudo

    Perhaps the most anti-natural injunction of the New Testament—in a religion that many have, not wrongly, defined by its anti-natural character—is the commandment to love one’s enemies. Enemies are naturally those who threaten our very existence—the extinction of the enemy is thus the most natural thing in the world.¹ By contrast, loving the enemy is one of the hardest.

    Loving the enemy is valuable even if, or precisely because, it involves a number of transformations. First, it involves striving to see or know the enemy. For how can one love what one does not know? Of course,...

  9. 5 Collaborating and Conflicted: Being Jewish in Secular and Multicultural Hong Kong
    (pp. 99-114)
    Zhou Xun

    Hong Kong’s Jewish Film Festival (HKJFF) is Asia’s only Jewish festival. Its current trailer begins with an image tracking a man wearing a Djellaba-style long robe and hat across the desert. On his journey he is first met by a Chinese girl, then a black man wearing a kippah, an Indian woman, and finally a Caucasian looking male joins the group. The trailer ends with all of them dancing together. This trailer is based on a story by HKJFF founder, Howard Elias, a Toronto-born Jew who is now the warden of the Hong Kong Jewish cemetery. It sets out to...

  10. 6 Terrorists in the Village? Negotiating Jewish-Muslim Relations in South Asia
    (pp. 115-130)
    Yulia Egorova

    In 2010, Pakistani-Canadian writer and journalist Tarek Fatah published a book under the titleThe Jew Is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism. The book aims to explore why Judaism and Islam are polarized in the contemporary world and offers a provocative critique of anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist rhetoric in Muslim communities. Fatah was prompted to embark on his project examining Muslim anti-Semitism by the Mumbai attacks of 2008, when the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center was taken over by members of a Pakistan-based extremist organization, and an Israeli-born rabbi, Gavriel Holtzberg, and his wife, Rivka, were murdered together...

  11. 7 The Damascus Affair and the Debate on Ritual Murder in Early Victorian Britain
    (pp. 131-152)
    David Feldman

    On February 5, 1840, two men disappeared from the streets of Damascus. One was a Capuchin monk, Padre Tommaso, the second his servant, Ibrahim Amara. The double-disappearance and possible murder required an investigation that was undertaken by the Ottoman governor-general of Syria, Sherif Pasha, and the French consul, Count de Ratti-Menton. The consul’s involvement arose from the capitulatory agreement between the French government and the Porte, under which the Roman Catholic clergy in the Ottoman Empire enjoyed the protection of France Within ten days Sherif Pasha had arrested, tortured, and interrogated three Jews. One died, but the two others confessed...

  12. 8 Interreligious Love in Contemporary German Film and Literature
    (pp. 153-164)
    Katja Garloff

    One of the most influential analyses of German Jewish relations before the Holocaust is Gershom Scholem’s 1966 essay “Jews and Germans.” Scholem, who had been born into an assimilated German Jewish family but became a Zionist and in 1923 immigrated to Palestine, delivers there a trenchant critique of what he calls the “false start” of German Jewish relations in the modern age. He argues against the idea that the process of Jewish emancipation and acculturation, which began in the late eighteenth century, had created something like a “dialogue” between Jews and non-Jews. In his view this dialogue had always been...

  13. 9 Interreogating Diaspora: Beyond the Ethnic Mosaic—Faith, Space, and Time in London’s East End
    (pp. 165-176)
    Jane Garnett and Michael Keith

    This is an essay about religion, diaspora, place, and history. Its vantage-point is the East End of London, a place in which long-standing self-conscious reflection on its history as a zone of transition has the potential to illuminate many broader theoretical questions about diaspora, religion, and religion-in-diaspora. Recent works on diaspora and on the interrelated fields of religion and diaspora have cautioned against too dispersed or essentialized a usage of either concept. There has been a call for a refocusing of attention both on the local and on the subjective nature of experience and formation of casts of mind. It...

  14. Conclusion: Symbolic Forms and the Abrahamic Religions
    (pp. 177-182)
    Sander L. Gilman

    The boundaries that exist between the Abrahamic religions are real because they are symbolic and are symbolic because they are real. The essays in this volume illustrate the debates recounted in Benedict Anderson’sImagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism(1983) about the borders of the modern state. Anderson notes that these borders are where such states (and in our case read: religions) are “fully, flatly, and evenly operative over each square centimeter of a legally demarcated territory. But in the older imagining, where states were defined by centers, borders were porous and indistinct, and sovereignties faded...

  15. Index
    (pp. 183-194)