Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies
Executive Editor: Norman A. Stillman

The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World Online (EJIW) is the first cohesive and discreet reference work which covers the Jews of Muslim lands particularly in the late medieval, early modern and modern periods. The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World Online is updated with newly commissioned articles, illustrations, multimedia, and primary source material. 

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Ibn Shortmeqash

(9 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Ibn (al-)Muhājir Norman A. Stillman

Ibn al-Shuwaykh, Isaac ben Israel

(666 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Isaac ben Israel, whose full name in Arabic is given by the Baghdadi Arab historian Ibn al-Fuwaṭī (1334–1405) as Fakhr al-Dawla Abū ʾl-Fatḥ Isḥāq ibn Abū ʾl-Ḥasan ibn Abū ʾl-Barakāt ibn al-Shuwaykh, succeeded Isaac ha-Kohen ibn al-Awānī as gaon of the main Babylonian yeshiva in Baghdad (following the decline of the yeshivot in Pumbedita and Sura). He was already gaon by 1221, in which year a copy of Abū ’l-Barakāt Hibat Allāh’s commentary on Ecclesiastes was completed on his behalf in which he is described as “the head of the scholars’ yeshiva geʾon Yaʿaqov.” In addition to his halakhic…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ibn Simeon, Judah ben Joseph

(362 words)

Author(s): Daniel J. Lasker
Judah ben Joseph ben Isaac ibn Simeon was the student for whom Moses Maimonides ostensibly wrote his Guide of the Perplexed (and not Judah ben Joseph ibn ʿAqnīn as was once thought). Born in Ceuta, Morocco, in the mid-twelfth century, Ibn Simeon went to Alexandria and, after corresponding with Maimonides, arrived in Fustat to study with the Master sometime between 1182 and 1184. Maimonides praised his student’s poetry and his presumed ability to grasp metaphysics through diligent study. Ibn Simeon eventually left Egypt on business but continued to correspond with Maimonid…

Ibn Sughmār Family

(1,356 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
The Ibn Sughmārs were a prominent Maghrebi family of merchants and scholars whose activities from the 1040s to the 1090s are attested by several letters preserved in the Cairo Geniza. The members of the family whose existence is known from this source (each attested with the patronym Ibn/Ben Sughmār) are listed below. Note that the family name is rendered here per the plene spelling with vav, rather than “Sighmār,” as rendered by Goitein and an earlier generation of scholars. (Abū Zikrī) Judah (Yaḥyā) ben Moses, the most frequently mentioned member of the family, was a mer…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ibn al-Tabbān, Levi (Abu 'l-Fahm) ben Jacob

(673 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Levi (Abu ʿl-Fahm) ben Jacob ibn al-Tabbān was a poet and grammarian who was active in Saragossa under the taifa dynasty of the Banū Hūd in the latter part of the eleventh century. Very little is known about his life, but at this time Saragossa, the capital of the Upper March of al-Andalus, was one of the most important cultural centers on the Iberian Peninsula. During his lifetime Ibn al-Tabbān enjoyed a considerable reputation as a poet. He specialized in religious and synagogal poetry. Moses ibn Ezra, in his ars poetica, Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa 'l-Mudhākara, refers to him as “a famous te…

Ibn al-Taqāna, Moses ben Isaac

(424 words)

Author(s): Esperanza Alfonso
Moses ben Isaac ibn al-Taqāna (Abū ʾl-Ḥasan Mūsā ibn al-Taqāna), surnamed al-Tayyāh (Ar. the one who lost his way; the perplexed), was a contemporary of Solomon ibn Gabirol, and like Ibn Gabirol lived in Saragossa. He seems to have been close to Jonah ibn Janāḥ, who also settled in Saragossa, and to have taken the latter’s side in his grammatical dispute with the celebrated poet and courtier Samuel ibn Naghrella ha-Nagid. In his Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa ʾl-Mudhākara, Moses ibn Ezra (d. ca. 1135) indicates that Ibn al-Taqāna was a well-educated member of a noble family known…

Ibn Tibbon, Jacob ben Machir

(404 words)

Author(s): Josefina Rodríguez Arribas
Jacob ben Machir Ibn Tibbon (ca. 1236-1307) was a scion of the great Provençal family of Arabic translators whose members for several generations dedicated themselves to translating philosophical and scientific works from Arabic to Hebrew. Jacob's ancestor Judah ben Saul emigrated from Granada to Provence in the late twelfth century. Jacob's grandfather Samuel ben Judah Ibn Tibbon was the translator of several of Maimonides's works, and his father, Moses, translated a number of Aristotelian texts. Jacob ben Machir was also known as Don Profeit/Profiat Tibbon and Profat…

Ibn Tibbon, Judah ben Saul

(598 words)

Author(s): Lola Ferre
Judah ibn Tibbon was born in Granada in or around the year 1120. When the Almohads entered the city in 1148 and demanded the conversion of all Jews who wanted to stay there, Judah emigrated north to the city of Lunel in Provence. According to Benjamin of Tudela, Lunel was a center of Torah studies, and Judah ibn Tibbon, a physician by profession but learned in philosophy and thoroughly versed in Arabic, helped to support others who came there to study. His arrival in Lunel fortuitously coincided with a growing desire of the Jews of Souther…

Ibn Tibbon, Samuel ben Judah

(1,253 words)

Author(s): Lola Ferre
Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon was the son of Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon, “the father of translators,” who emigrated to Provence from Granada. Samuel was born in Lunel around 1160 and was educated in accordance with the curriculum in Islamic Spain—Hebrew, the Bible and rabbinic literature, Arabic, philosophy, and medicine—and rounded out his studies with the literary arts. He traveled during his lifetime, not only within Provence (Arles, Béziers, Marseilles), but also to Iberia (Toledo and Barcelona) and Egy…

Ibn Verga, Joseph

(441 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Joseph ben Solomon ibn Verga (d. 1559) was a rabbi, author, and scholar who was active in the Ottoman Empire during the first half of the sixteenth century. Probably born near Seville, Ibn Verga went to Istanbul with his family via Portugal after the expulsions from Iberia, and later settled in Edirne (Adrianople). He studied under Joseph Fasi and was a contemporary of Jacob Tam ben David Ibn Yaḥya (ca. 1475–1542) and Moses Hamon (ca. 1490–ca. 1554), both of whom were imperial physicians to Süleyman I Kanuni (Sul…

Ibn Yaḥya, David ben Solomon

(541 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
David ben Solomon Ibn Yaḥya (ca. 1440–1524) was a rabbi, grammarian, and scholar who fled Portugal at the end of the fifteenth century. After enduring many hardships, he eventually reached Istanbul and settled there. In his native Lisbon, as a member of a prosperous and distinguished family of rabbis, scholars, and communal leaders, Ibn Yaḥya had been the rabbi of the Jewish community and had taught numerous pupils. Noted for his wealth and generosity, he welcomed and helped many of the Spanish Jews who arrived in Portugal followin…

Ibn Yaḥya, Gedaliah ben Jacob Tam

(316 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Gedaliah ben Jacob Tam ibn Yaḥya (d. 1575), born into a distinguished Sephardi family of rabbis, intellectuals, and literati that originated in Spain, was one of the leading rabbis of Salonica during the second half of the sixteenth century. His father, Rabbi Jacob Tam ben David ibn Yaḥya (ca. 1475–1542) was a notable rabbi and intellectual, and the author of a book of responsa entitled Sheʾelot u-Teshuvot Ohale Tam (Responsa Tents of Uprightness). Both Gedaliah and his brother Joseph (d. 1534) studied medicine, Joseph apparently becoming one of the personal physicians of…

Ibn Yaḥya, Jacob Tam ben David

(760 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Jacob ben David Tam Ibn Yaḥya (ca. 1475–1542) was one of the leading Jewish scholars in Istanbul and indeed the Ottoman Empire during the first half of the sixteenth century. In addition to Judaica and rabbinics, he commanded a broad knowledge of medicine, Islamic law, and other subjects. Jacob was born in Lisbon into a prosperous and distinguished family of rabbis, scholars, and communal leaders. His father, David ben Solomon Ibn Yaḥya (ca. 1440–1524), was rabbi of the community, but was driven from the country under persecution by  King João II(r. 1481–1495) while Jacob was still…

Ibn Yaqwā, Abū ʿAmr (Abraham)

(409 words)

Author(s): José Martínez Delgado
Abū ʿAmr (Abraham) ibn Yaqwā was a poet and grammarian in Cordova in the late tenth century. Nothing of his written work survives, but we know of his existence thanks to two later sources, Moses ibn Ezra’s Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa ʾl-Mudhākara (ed. Abumalham, p. 31r) and Abū ʾl-Walīd Marwān ibn Janāḥ’s Kitāb al-Uṣūl (ed. Neubauer, p. 70). Ibn Ezra places him in the first generation of Cordovan authors along with Judah (Abū Zakariyyā) ben Ḥanigā, and says that he was influenced by Isaac Ibn Qapron and ha-Kohen ibn al-Muḍarram. Ibn Janāḥ’s Kitāb al-Uṣūl includes a commentary on Ibn Yaqwā (Ar. ahl al…

Ibn Yashūsh, Isaac (Abū Ibrāhīm) Ibn Qasṭār

(463 words)

Author(s): José Martínez Delgado
Born in Toledo around 982, Abū Ibrāhīm Isaac ibn Yashūsh died in the same city in 1056. He was a court physician in the service of ʿAlī ibn Mujāhid and his son Iqbāl al-Dawla, governors of the Denia taifa on the eastern coast of al-Andalus.  Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, in his biographical compendium on physicians, Ṭabaqāt al-Aṭibbāʾ, praised Ibn Yashūsh as a person of acute intelligence and genteel manners, well versed in grammar, philosophy, the Hebrew Bible, and Jewish law, and in addition a confirmed bachelor. Moses ibn Ezra thought it appropriate to name him alongside Ibn Janāḥ as a m…

Ibn Yuli, Elijah ha-Levi

(490 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
Elijah ha-Levi, born in the late 1730s or early 1740s, belonged to a distinguished Moroccan family of merchants, scholars and court Jews, and he himself was one of the most powerful Jewish retainers (Ar. aṣḥāb al-sulṭān) of the Alawid sultan Sīdī Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh (r. 1757–1790). His father,  Judah, was a prosperous merchant in Rabat-Salé and shaykh (nagid) of its Jewish community. Like his father, Elijah was one of the so-called sultan's merchants (Ar. tujjār al-sulṭān), not only conducting business on the ruler’s behalf, but also acting as an intermediary with foreign consuls…

Ibrāhīm ibn Mullah Abū ʾl-Khayr

(169 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
The short Judeo-Persian masnavī (narrative poem in rhymed couplets) known as Khudāidād does not bear an author’s name. According to Carl Salemann, its author was Ibrāhīm b. Mullah Abū ʾl-Khayr, about whom we lack any biographical information beyond the fact that he also wrote several other poems known thus far only by their titles. Scholars believe that Khudāidād was most likely written toward the end of the eighteenth century, possibly during the reign of the Bukhārān chieftain Amīr Maʿṣūm (d. 1802), although the events it recounts are yet to be corroborated. Khudāidād describes the …

Ibrāhīm, Istīrīna

(283 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Istīrīna (Esterina) Ibrāhīm, journalist and short story writer, was born in Baghdad in 1914. She was the daughter of Ibrāhīm Ḥayyim Mu‘allim Nissīm, a member of the Iraqi Parliament. She married the writer and poet Anwar Shā’ūl (1904–1984) while she was working as a journalist for al-Ḥāsid and he was its editor. She also published short stories there in which she revealed a sensitive feminist awareness of the difficulties of women in traditional Iraqi society. At the same time, she drew the attention of women to their responsibilities to th…

Identité et Dialogue

(14 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Azoulay, André; Assaraf, Robert; Berdugo, Serge Norman A. Stillman

Ifargan, Jacob

(467 words)

Author(s): Moshe Hallamish
Jacob ben Isaac Ifargan(also al-Fargān or Ifergan) was a noted rabbi and kabbalist in Morocco during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He was known as “the purifier” ( ha-ṣoref), and as the “son of Isaac known as Ibn Sannah.” The name Ifargan is discussed by Laredo (p. 358). Ifargan lived in Tarundant, but left in 1598 because of a plague and spent a period wandering between villages. In his works, he admiringly quotes his teacher, Moses ben Maimon Elbaz (known by his Hebrew acronym as Rambam Elbaz); he shows similar respect for his maternal uncle Judah ben Ḥanin (Ḥunayn), the book Avne …
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