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The Jews of Arabia and the Making of Islam

Part IV

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Ka’b

In a specious complex in the city of Medina, surrounded by heavy golden trophies, reclining on a soft silk sofa (not unlike today’s Saudi-controlled OPEC), Ka’b ibn Asad, head of the Jewish Qurayza tribe, determines the next month’s international price for gold and wine. As the elected leader of the clan, he implements a strict separatist policy of “Qurayza first,” that also benefits the other Jewish tribes. After two of the Qurayza caravans are attacked and looted by armed men from Mohammed’s camp, a meeting is set with this new player who claims to be a prophet.

The meeting with the Hejaz’s rising star quickly turns into a marathon of interfaith dialogue during which the Qurayza sages bombard Mohammed with questions he can’t answer. “You have hidden what you were supposed to reveal,” he reprimands them for not sharing their religious knowledge.

Leaving the meeting somewhat worried, Ka’b summons two learned Jews, Zaid ben Thabet and Abdallah ben Salam, known to be advisors to Mohammed, in…

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