The Ghaznavid court poet Manūčehrī likened the singing of birds to utterances in Syriac and Hebrew (p. Furthermore, his report about the writings of his teacher Abuʾl-ʿAbbās Īrānšahrī, who must have been a resident of Kāṯ, suggests that the latter had there good informants on Christianity, Manicheism, and Judaism, but bad ones on Indian beliefs ( the legend of a Jewish sage who showed its residents how to work wood, to build big buildings, to tile their walls, and to build a leaden aqueduct (Vyatkin, p. Central Asian Jews undoubtedly participated in the activities of the Jewish Rādhānīya (Rāhdānīya) traders: One of their routes crossed Central Asia (Gil, p. 307), and two documents from the Cairo Geniza contain evidence of cooperation between Khorasani, North African, and Spanish Jewish merchants in the international trade (Goitein, p. Nezáāmī ʿArūżī’s reference to a certain “Esḥāq the Jew” in connection with a lead mine in Varšād (, p. Calculations based on the Soviet census of 1979 (, pp. 99), when Babylon, with its large Jewish population, was absorbed into the empire, and it can be suggested that at the same period they reached parts of Central Asia that also belonged to the empire. 691, 802) that Jews dwelled “in all the provinces” (3:6, 8; 8:5, 12; ) of the kingdom of Persia, Parthia (covering approximately the territory of the southwestern part of the Turkmen Soviet republic and the northern part of the modern Iranian province of Khorasan), the hereditary domain of the Arsacid dynasty, would certainly have been included among them. Gamlīʾēl the Elder, an early 1st-century president of the Sanhedrin (the supreme religious Jewish legislative body, based in Jerusalem), is said to have addressed a letter “to our brethren, sons of the exile in Babylon and our brethren that [dwell] in Media, and to the rest of the exile of Israel” (Babylonian Talmud, “Sanhedrīn,” 11b). 126), Āq-Masjed (Perovsk, Kzyl-Orda; Dobrosmyslov, 1912a, p.
99-101/717-20), which defined the rights of and restrictions on them. ʿOmar had forbidden both destruction of synagogues existing in Khorasan since pre-Islamic times and construction of new ones (Fischel, p. 130/747 the Jews (as well as the Zoroastrians and Christians) of Marv had been recognized as , an autonomous fiscal entity with an administrative head responsible to the Muslim administration for payment of relevant taxes by the community. This title also appears in the inscription on a tombstone in the 11th-13th-century Jewish cemetery near the village of Jām, close to the site of Fīrūzkūh in Ḡūr (Rapp, 1971, p. In the early 6th/12th century Mōšē Ebn ʿEḏrā quoted a conveyance that “[there are] in … These figures, fantastic as they are, attest to a contemporary belief that the Jewish population was quite numerous. As far as is known the majority of Jewish population centers in the region were situated south of the Oxus, extending as far as Ḡazna. The Jewish presence in Varšād probably ended soon after the destruction of the city by the Mongols in 619/1222: The last known burial inscription is dated in the year 1557 of the Seleucid era (A. 276f.), but there were others whose names Bīrūnī did not give. In the 4th/10th century a settlement named Yahūḏleq (Yahulïq), on the frontier between Farḡāna and Īlāq, is mentioned without further details (.
About 400 years later an apparently identical structure was attested in Samarkand: The late 12th-century Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela (Hebrew text, p. Ḡazna about 40,000 Jews and in other inhabited places of Khorasan approximately the same number” (ed. The poet ʿOnṣorī reported that Jews were one of four religious communities addressing praises to Sultan Maḥmūd Ḡaznavī (p. 4), which suggests that they formed a noticeable segment of the population in the early 5th/11th-century Ghaznavid state. It is likely, however, that he relied on one or more Jews from Kāṯ in one of the suburbs of which he was born. Finally, in the 4th/10th century Abū Dolaf mentioned a settlement named Bahī in what is today Xinjiang (Sinkiang): It was inhabited by Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and idolaters (listed in that order; Yāqūt, V, p. This Jewish settlement in a territory inhabited mainly by Turks appears to have been unique.
The Tang-e Āzāo inscriptions, in Persian in Hebrew script dating from the beginning of the Islamic period (1064 Seleucid era/135/753-54; Henning) in the Ḡūr (Ḡōr) region of Afghanistan, suggest that Jews may also have been present in that area somewhat earlier (Henning).
There may have been a Jewish population in the Kabul region as well: The grandfather of Abū Ḥanīfa Noʿmān (founder of the Hanafite ) from Kabul named Zūṭā (Aramaic “little”; Schacht, p. Although no known source mentions a Jewish presence in Jahūḏān in the Middle Ages, the name itself indicates that Jews had founded it or had constituted a substantial part of its population at some point.
Despite a ban since the mid-1920s, a pejorative derivative (member of a national [ethnic] minority). In 1832 an Anglican missionary of Jewish origin, J. 55, table 23), of whom 18,172 were dwelling in the Uzbek SSR (including Tajikistan; Amitin-Shapiro, 1933, pp. They were already outnumbered even there, however, by Ashkenazis (Jews of European origin, 19,611; ibid., p. Samarkand, with 7,740 Central Asian Jews, was the largest center of concentration (ibid., p. The low natural increase between 19 is to be explained by emigration beginning in the late 1920s and by a long-term lowering of the birthrate caused by the Great Terror and World War II (see below), when males of procreative age were separated from women and many of them were killed.
Wolff (1795-1862), who seems to have undertaken a kind of census of Jews “in Toorkestaun,” stated their number to be “13,600 souls” (p. The first census of the Russian empire (1897) counted 11,463 adherents of Judaism in Central Asian territory under Russian sovereignty (Troĭnitskiĭ, p. It can be estimated that at least 9,500-10,000 of them were Central Asian Jews. In 1970, according to data from the Soviet census (, pp.
It is unlikely that this trade was new in that turbulent period; it must have continued a tradition. The example of Zūṭā, Abū Ḥanīfa’s grandfather, has been mentioned (see above). The head of the Karrāmīya in late 4th/10th century Khorasan, Abū Yaʿqūb Esḥāq b. 383/993), is said to have converted to Islam more than 5,000 Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians (Barthold, II/1, p. It may be assumed that the proselytizing activities of the Karramites were carried on throughout the eastern part of greater Iran. The Jewish element in this legend was undoubtedly aimed at explaining the presence of Jews in the Mandēš area of Ḡūr, where the Šansabānīs were chieftains. There is no information on Marv aside from Ṭabarī’s report (see above) of a Jewish presence there at the beginning of the Islamic period.
No matter where the author of this document and other traders came from, they may have made sabbath stops in Jewish communities along the way. The absorption of part of Central Asia into the caliphate (completed ca. However, Jews are the only pre-Islamic religious group in Central Asia to have survived in that region to the present. Attribution of the role of to a Jewish merchant may reflect the functioning of Jews as transmitters of the “larger” culture that they knew from trade contacts to the remote, still pagan population of mountainous Mandēš. Abīvard, too, must have had Jewish inhabitants, but the only reference to them is the story of Fożayl’s conversion of a Jew from the town (see above). This legend predates the Mongol conquest of Samarkand in 614/1220, after which the section of the city where the aqueduct was situated was abandoned.
It was first adopted by Russian travelers to Central Asia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, then, apparently independently, by early 19th-century British and Indian travelers. The total of all Central Asian Jews at the end of the 19th century was probably between 16,000 and 17,000.
Members of the group call themselves [Y]Isroʾel (refined style) or Yahūdī (official/neutral style); the latter term was also applied to them in official Persian (Tajik) and Chaghatay (Ùaḡatāy, Uzbek) terminology before the Russian conquest of Central Asia. There are no reliable statistics on Jews in Central Asia before the 19th century. In 1926, according to the Soviet census, the number of Central Asian Jews in the USSR was 18,698 (Lorimer, p. The first Soviet census after World War II, conducted in 1959, listed 25,990 Central Asian Jews who were native speakers of Tajik (, p. At a cautious estimate, about 10 percent of Central Asian Jews who abandoned the Jewish dialect of Tajik in favor of Russian (or Uzbek in a very few instances) must be added to this figure, bringing the estimate of all Central Asian Jews within the borders of the USSR to between 28,000 and 29,000.
123), who must have been either a Jew or a Christian. During this period Jewish communities all over Central Asia were clearly structured on the pattern that had emerged in the 8th century. Neither is mentioned in connection with the Jews again until the 19th century, when the former was still being collected (see below). 553; his son Marwān has a reputation as a poet in Arabic). 184), about the middle of the 3rd/9th century Šahīd Balḵī’s father, Ḥosayn, left his native Jahūḏānak (lit. The middle of the 9th century is the for the emergence of this toponym.