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Jewish Scholorship In Cordoba

The Jewish physician Øasdai Ibn Shaprut (905-975) was an official in the court of the Umayyad Caliph of Spain based in Córdoba, serving as a diplomatic representative for the Caliphs Abd al-Raøman III and al-Hakam II.

This excerpt from a Muslim history describes how Øasdai, inspired by the Muslim court, imported books of Jewish scholarship and established a community of Jewish scholars in Córdoba. The historic result was that Iberian Jews broke away from the religious authority of the Jewish academies in Babylonia.

There were a number of Jewish men of science in Spain. Among those who took an interest in medicine was Øisdai b. Isaac [Ibn Shaprut], who was in the service of Al-Hakam b. Abd al-Raøman al Nasir li-Din Allah. He specialized in the art of medicine and had an exemplary knowledge of the science of Jewish law. He was the first to open for Andalusian Jewry the gates of their [i.e., Muslim] science of jurisprudence, chronology, and other subjects. . . .

When Øisdai became attached to al-Hakam II, gaining his highest regard for professional ability, his great talent, and his culture, he was able to procure through him the works of the Jews in the East which he desired. Then he taught the Jews of Spain that of which they had previously been ignorant. They were able as a result of this to dispense with the inconvenience [of having to rely on the Jewish authorities in Babylonia] which had burdened them.