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Sigrid wrote:

>According to Andreas Kaplony, a Swiss Arabist reading Geniza texts here
at the British School, Xaver in became a title in Islam from the
examplar of Abraham, called the friend (Xaver) of God. By
extension it came to be applied to the learned. <

With due respect to your friend, I would place a heavy bewt that this is
"midrash" -- or at any rate a folk etymology!>

With ref. to what Herb wrote about *Gueber* (which I've never seen, and
which doesn't look like a transliteration from Arabic, as I am currently
discussing privately with herb, and which we are lookingg into further),
there are reasons for rejecting this too as a likely origin for Habr
(though there are complex technical reasons why it may be derived FROM

I will now add further, the following:

I have read (sorry, can't pinpoint the book or article at this moment)
that Islamic law knows a distinction between Xabr (Habr) and 'Amm, which
is virtually identical to the distinction in talmudic law between Xaber
and 'Am  Ha'aretz (well attested at least from mishnaic times, see, e.g.
M. Shebi'it 5:9).  This is the distinction between a learned person and
a lay-person.  The term 'Am-(really 'Amm-) Ha'aretz literally means
"people of the land." (i.e., hoi polloi).  Now this is cognate (indeed
identical) with Arabic 'Amm, but in Arabic that word does not mean "people"
but "husband's brother"  [How the same word in Hebrew comes to mean "the
people"--i.e. a whole bunch of related persons--is selbstverstaendlich.]

My point is that since it isn't used for "people" in Arabic, the use of it
in the technical connotation of 'Amm ha'aretz is more than likely derived
from rabbinic sources of one kind or another.

It's not at all surprising that Arabic should use habr not merely for a
talmudic academician but also for equivalent-type scholars in Christianity
and Zoroastrianism!

It's also not impossible that the Hebrew term Xaber, in this technical sense,
comes from a foreign source (perhaps even Zoroastrianism, given the ancient
historical and geographic links between Israel and Persian Babylonia).  But
even if that were so, this would not alter the logic of my argument above,
which depends entirely on Islamic characterization of the scholar/layman
dichotomy as a distinction between *Habr* and *'Amm."

Judith Romney Wegner, Connecticut College