The Crippled Ummah: Toward Redefining Golah in Ezra-Nehemiah

Jeremiah Cataldo

Abstract


The main objective of this investigation is an articulated definition of the term and concept golah that is tenable within social-scientific method. Through a cross-cultural comparison of the nature and organisation of the ummah under Muhammad in Yathrib/Medina with the nature and organisation the golah community in Yehud, this investigation will argue that the golah community (as portrayed in Ezra-Nehemiah) compares in many ways with the ummah, a ‘religious tribe.’ As a result, the ummah can be used as a cross-cultural model against which to refine a definition of golah, comparing the idealised portrait of the community in Ezra-Nehemiah with the ‘portrait’ arrived at through cross-cultural analysis. By analysing key structural components of the ummah and comparing those components with those of the golah community, this study will highlight some of the structural and characteristic traits of the golah community. It should be noted that my discussion of the term ummah focuses on its structure and purpose in Yathrib rather than on the more evolved and evolving theological usage of the term in the Quran.

Keywords


golah; ummah; Ezra-Nehemiah

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391