The Popular Arabic Literature of the Jews

Arabic has been spoken by Jews since pre-Islamic times. They usually wrote it in Hebrew characters, with diacritic marks to represent the Arabic sounds which are missing in the Hebrew alphabet. Some works in the language have become classics, for example the Moreh Nebhukhim (Guide for the Perplexed) of Moses Maimonides. The medieval works were written in Middle Arabic, which is quite close to standard Arabic, and has been well documented by the works of Joshua Blau of the Hebrew University. The modern Judeo-Arabic literature has been less studied. It is mostly popular in nature and represents the welter of dialects which the Jews spoke. Since the Jews felt no compulsion to adhere to Koranic grammatical norms, the written Jewish texts are a closer reflection of the dialect actually spoken by the writers.

The following is a list of translations of various materials from Judeo-Arabic. All the translations are by Alan Corré except where noted. I have also included a passage from the work of Maimonides referred to above, although this is hardly a "popular" work. The reasons for doing so I give in the introduction to that text. Most of the books referred to may be found in the Jewish National Library in Jerusalem. New items will be added to this list from time to time.

Alan D. Corré