Taking their inspiration from the Qur’an, Muslims refer to Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and a harder-to-define faith community, the Sabians, as “People of the Book.” These monotheistic neighbors of Muhammad (c. 570–632) and the first Muslims struck pagan Arabs of the period as distinct not simply because of their monotheism, so sharply different from the polytheism of pre-Islamic Arabs, but because of their religious literacy.
That literacy took concrete form in Jewish synagogue...
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