While he was in Marv he refused to drink alcoholic beverages, doubting their ritual cleanliness.
The end of the 6th century is usually accepted as the time when the authority of the Babylonian academies began to be recognized beyond the limits of Mesopotamia, and, according to the early 10th-century chronicler Nāṯān “the Babylonian,” the Pūmbědīṯā academy was “in olden times” the supreme authority on religious law for the Jews of Khorasan (i.e., the entire eastern portion of greater Iran; Friedlaender, p. During 1954-56 excavations near Bayrām-ʿAlī (in the immediate vicinity of the ruins of ancient Marv) ossuaries datable to the 5th-7th centuries were found with inscriptions in square Hebrew script (Klevan’, pp. That there were Jews in Kāṯ (the capital of Ḵᵛārazm) in the 6th century can be assumed on the basis of a remark in the I, p. This statement is apparently traceable to an earlier legend aimed at explaining the presence of Jews there.
Further proof of Jewish presence in the city before the Arab invasion of Ḵᵛārazm (93/712) is a reference by Ṭabarī to among those consulted by the Ḵᵛārazmšāh (II, p.
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.
Data from various independent sources suggest that there were 6,000-6,500 Jews in the amirate of Bukhara, 4,000-4,500 of them in the city itself (Neymark, pp. 202, table 11; 223, table 13; 284, table 22; 295, table 24; 306, table 27; with somewhat misleading distribution among language groups), there were an estimated 40,000 Central Asian Jews in the USSR (corrected by about 15 percent for Central Asian Jewish native speakers of Russian).
An 8th-century Jewish merchant’s private letter in Judeo-Persian from Dandan Uiliq (Margoliouth; Utas) can be interpreted as proof that Persian-speaking Jews were engaged in barter of clothing or cloth for sheep, apparently with local Turks, in eastern Turkestan. Apparently some other taxes, not covered by regulations on s, could also be imposed upon a Jewish community: According to Abuʾl-Fażl Bayhaqī, sometime after 396/1006 a tax destined for the maintenance of a garden in Balḵ was shifted from the Muslim population of the city to the Jews (Barthold, I, pp. There is evidence that the Jews of Central Asia wore yellow garments in compliance with a requirement in the s 204, 206) and in the late 5th/11th-early 6th/12th centuries (de Fouche‚couf, p. As for conversion to Islam, it undoubtedly took place, though the relevant data are scarce. An episode mentioned in the biography of the Sufi Fożayl b. 187/803) involves conversion of a Jew from Bāvard (Abīvard; ʿAṭṭār, I, p. “little Jewish place”), in all probability a Jewish suburb of Balḵ (see below), for Balḵ itself—a change of residence probably reflecting a convert’s choice to live among those whose religion he had embraced. Nahārān Šansabānī obtained from Hārūn al-Rašīd (170-93/786-809) the governorship of Ḡūr after having learned from a Jewish merchant; as a condition for this instruction, Banjī promised that he and his heirs and vassals would allow Jews to dwell in Ḡūr and would protect them. Sometimes between 378/988 (the year of the 2nd version of Moqaddasī’s work, in which the form Yahūḏīya is found) the name of the town was changed to Maymana, which is already found in Bīrūnī’s .
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. 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. 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. Recent scholarship has revealed that, taken together, they may have constituted a long poem in Hebrew (Fleischer). 166-67) to Central Asia, where they gradually became integrated with local Jewish communities. 589), and Jews were forbidden to dwell outside its boundaries. On the eve of the Russian conquest Jews also lived in Seraḵs (Serakhs; Wolff, 1846, p. In the 3rd-4th/9th-10th centuries there were also Karaites among the Jews of the region (Qerqesānī, ed. 319), but nothing is heard about them after that time. References to Jews in Central Asia in the 7th-9th/13th-15th centuries are rather sparse. Family legends of Central Asian Jews suggest that by the end of the 8th/14th century or the beginning of the 9th/15th a number of Jewish silk weavers had been transferred by Tīmūr from Sabzavar (Yūsofov, p. When Iran became a Shiʿite state under the Safavids the links of Central Asian Jews with their coreligionists in Iran were almost entirely severed. At mid-century Central Asian Jews were joined by Jews who had fled forced conversion in Iran (Bacher, 1906, p. From the mid12th/18th century on hostility between the Dorrānī rulers of Afghanistan (1160-1258/1747-1842) and the Manḡït rulers of the Bukharan amirate (1160-1339/1747-1920) put an almost total end to ties between the Jewish communities ruled by the two houses. This natural increase, about 40 percent in eleven years, is to be explained by normalization in the composition of the procreative age group and a general improvement in socioeconomic conditions.