Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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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 Gikatilla/Ibn Jikatilla

(24 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
See Ibn Chiquitilla, Isaac (fl. 10th Century) , and Ibn Chiquitilla, Moses ben Samuel ha-Kohen (11th century) Norman A. Stillman

Ibn Ḥabib, Jacob

(627 words)

Author(s): Samuel Morell
Jacob Ibn Ḥabib was a rabbinical scholar and communal leader in Salonica. Born ca. 1445 in Zamora, Spain, Ibn Ḥabib studied under Samuel Valency, a student of the famed Isaac Confonton, and subsequently headed a highly respected yeshiva in Salamanca. He left Spain for Portugal in 1492, set out for the Ottoman East in 1497, and by 1501 was settled in Salonica, where he remained for the rest of his life. He died in 1515/16. As a founder and leader of the Sephardic community in Salonica, Ibn Ḥabib used his rabbinic authority to help his compatriots adapt to the conditions of the…

Ibn Hajar, David (ben ha-Ger)

(342 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Very little is known about the life of David ibn Hagar (ben Hagar, ben ha-Ger) except that he lived in Granada in the eleventh century and quite possibly was born and died there. He held the office of   dayyan in the era of Granadan Jewry’s apogee and was under the protection and patronage of Samuel ha-Nagid ibn Naghrella. Ibn Hajar belonged to a circle of intellectuals and scholars that developed different facets of Jewish legal and synagogal culture. In his capacity as a halakhist, he wrote an Arabic summary of the divorce laws, Mukhtaṣar al- Ṭalāq (Abridged Compendium of Divorce), which…

Ibn Ḥasan, Jekuthiel ben Isaac

(319 words)

Author(s): Angel Saénz-Badillos
Jekuthiel ibn Ḥasan was a Jewish communal leader, statesman, philanthropist, and patron of the arts who served in the Muslim court of the Banū Tujīb in Saragossa during the period of the party kings (Ar. mulūk al-ṭawā’if). He may have been a member of the Ibn Qapron family from Cordova, and it seems very likely that he studied philosophy in addition to traditional Jewish learning; he even apparently wrote some poetry. One of the young Jewish poets and scholars he supported was Solomon ibn Gabirol. The esteem between the two men was mutual and very deep. Ibn Gabirol praised hi…

Ibn Ḥasday, Abraham ben Samuel ha-Levi

(566 words)

Author(s): Lola Ferre
Abraham ben Samuel ha-Levi ibn Ḥasday lived in Barcelona during the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries and was a translator from Arabic to Hebrew, a poet, and an active partisan of Maimonides. Ibn Ḥasday corresponded with Judah ibn Alfakhar and Me’ir ha-Levi Abulafia, the principal anti-Maimonideans in Toledo, in a unsuccessful effort to persuade them to reverse their negative attitude toward the Rambam. He also came out in defense of David Qimḥi, who had been harshly criticized when he went to Castile seeking allies in favor of the Guide of the Perplexed. Ibn Ḥasday’s pro-Mai…

Ibn Ḥasday, Jonah (Abū ʾl-Walīd) ha-Levi

(433 words)

Author(s): José Martínez Delgado
Jonah (Abū ʾl-Walīd) ibn Ḥasday ha-Levi was a grammarian and poet in Lucena from the end of the tenth century through the early part of the eleventh. We know of him from later quotations. According to Moses ibn Ezra ( Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara, p. 31v), Ibn Ḥasday, to whom he gives the title rāʾīs ( nasi), lived and worked as a teacher in Lucena between the second and third generations, alongside Abū Zakariyya ben Ḥanīga and Abū ʿAmr (Abraham) ibn Yaqwā—that is, immediately after, or at the same time as, the disciples of Menahem ibn Sarūq and Dunash ben La…

Ibn Ḥasday, Joseph (Abū ʿAmr)

(440 words)

Author(s): Esperanza Alfonso
Abū ʿAmr Joseph ibn Ḥasday was a member of a prominent family of scholars and doctors. His father served the Umayyad Caliph al-Ḥakam II al-Mustanṣir (d. 976) as a physician. Following the violent upheavals in Cordova in 1031, Joseph and his family fled to Saragossa. His son, Abū ʿl-Faḍl (Ḥasday) ibn Ḥasday, was an Arabic poet of renown. In his ars poetica,   Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa- l-Mudhākara (36), Moses ibn Ezra praises Ibn Ḥasday, asserting that his poetic output, though not prolific, was nevertheless significant. Judah al-Ḥarīzī also praises Ibn Ḥasday in his Taḥkemoni (43) . As a Hebrew…

Ibn Ḥayyim, Aaron ben Abraham

(376 words)

Author(s): Joseph Tedghi
Descended from a family of scholars that had come to Morocco from Spai n, Aaron ibn Ḥayyim was born in Fez between 1555 and 1560. He first studied at his father Abraham’s school and went on to become a disciple of several famous rabbis, especially the dayyan Joseph Almosnino, whom he mentioned in his writings as his “master par excellence.”  Rabbi Aaron became a member of the bet dinthen headed by the eminent scholar Vidal Ṣarfati (1592–1617). Along with other rabbis, he signed taqqanot (rabbinic ordinances) dealing with ostentatious displays of finery and precious jewelry by women ( taqqana…

Ibn Ḥayyim, Aaron (II)

(326 words)

Author(s): Joseph Tedghi
Aaron ben David ibn Ḥayyim was born in Hebron in 1630 and was the grandson of Aaron ben Abraham ibn Ḥayyim, who had emigrated from Morocco to the Holy Land via Egypt and Italy. He was also descended from a distinguished rabbinical family on his mother’s side, for his maternal grandfather was Eliezer ben Arḥa. He apparently received his principal education in the yeshivot of Jerusalem. After serving as a dayyan (rabbinic judge) in his hometown, he was sent abroad by the city of  Hebron as a rabbinical emissary (Heb. meshullaḥ or shadar) to collect money for charitable purposes. From 167…

Ibn Ḥazm, ‘Alī

(1,784 words)

Author(s): Camilla Adang
Abū Muḥammad ‘Alī Ibn Ḥazm of Cordova (d. 1064) was a highly controversial theologian and legal scholar whose āhirī (literalist) approach to the sacred texts of Islam put him on a collision course with the religious and political establishment in al-Andalus. Nowadays best known for his treatise on love and lovers, Ṭawq al-Ḥamāma (The Ring of the Dove), Ibn Ḥazm left an enormous oeuvre that included works on law, theology, heresiography, history, genealogy, political theory, and religious polemics. Among the many groups, Muslim and non-Muslim, wh…

Ibn al-Hītī, David ben Seʿadel

(366 words)

Author(s): Marzena Zawanowska
David ben Seʿadel ibn al-Hītī was Karaite scholar and chronicler around the end of the fourteenth century and into the second quarter of the fifteenth. He was born in the town of Hīt on the Euphrates River in Iraq, but very little is known about his life except that he settled in Egypt, where he devoted himself to scholarship. Ibn al-Hītī’s only known work is a succinct chronicle of Karaite scholars written in the Arabic language. It was first published by Margoliouth in 1897 and later was translated into English by Nemoy. It contains short notes on distinguished Karaites from ʿAnan b…

Ibn Jāmiʿ, Samuel ben Jacob

(795 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Samuel ben Jacob, a scion of the Ibn Jāmiʿ family of Gabes, in Ifrīqiyā (Tunisia), was a jurist (Heb. dayyan) like his father and grandfather, both of whom received responsa from Hay Gaon, as well as a grammarian, lexicographer, and poet. His lifetime seems to have spanned almost the entirety of the twelfth century. Almost always referred to by his family name Ibn Jāmiʿ—but sometimes simply as Jāmiʿ or its Hebrew equivalent, Agur—Samuel was a close friend of Abraham ibn Ezra, whom he apparently met during the latt…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ibn Janāḥ, Jonah  (Abū ʾl-Walīd Marwān)

(1,745 words)

Author(s): José Martínez Delgado
Despite his great influence, we have little information about the life of Jonah (Abū ʾl-Walīd Marwān) ibn Janāḥ beyond what can be extracted from his writings. He was apparently born in Cordova between 985 and 990. The names that appear in later works have given rise to considerable discussion. His Hebrew name is thought to have been Jonah (Heb. dove), based on his Arabic surname, Ibn Janāḥ (winged). His designation in Latin sources, Rabbi Marinus, is apparently derived from his Arabic personal name, Marwān. Ibn Janāḥ was educated in Lucena, under the tutelage of such masters …

Ibn Jaw, Barukh

(431 words)

Author(s): Aurora Salvatierra Ossorio
Nothing is known of the life and work of Barukh ibn Jaw, whose name is preserved in the heading of a poem of friendship dedicated to him by Abraham ibn Ezra ( Diwân 1886, pp. 85 f.). This circumstance makes it possible to position him chronologically in the latter part of the eleventh century and the first decades of the twelfth. It has been suggested ( Schirmann 1997, p. 17), but cannot be corroborated, that he was a descendant of an Ibn Jaw family known to have lived in Cordova since the tenth century. A member of this family, Jacob ibn Jaw, succeeded Ḥasday ibn Shapruṭ as nasi of the Jews of al-Andalus…

Ibn Jaw, Jacob

(385 words)

Author(s): David J. Wasserstein
Jacob ibn Jaw lived in Cordova in the second half of the tenth century. He and his brother Joseph became rich in the silk trade and had government contracts that brought them into contact with the country’s rulers. According to our principal source, the Sefer ha-Qabbala (Book of Tradition) of Abraham Ibn Da’ud, the ḥājib (vizier) al-Manṣūr Ibn Abī ʿᾹmir (r. 976–1002) appointed Jacob civil head (Heb. nasi) of the Jews in the Cordovan state, “from Sijilmasa to the river Duero,” with administrative, judicial, and taxation powers, entitlement to public honors, and …

Ibn Kammūna, Saʿd                                                 

(2,387 words)

Author(s): Sabine Schmidtke
1. Life Saʿd ibn Manṣūr ibn Saʿd ibn al-Ḥasan ibn Hibat Allāh Ibn Kammūna al-Baghdādī was a Jewish philosopher who presumably held an administrative office in the Il-Khanid state.  He was presumably born in Baghdad and spent most, if not all, of his life there. Nothing is known about his early life and education, and much of his biography can only hypothetically be reconstructed. Born into a Jewish family, he must have received a thorough education in both Jewish and Islamic letters, as is evident from the …

Ibn Kaspi, Joseph

(1,217 words)

Author(s): Ram Ben-Shalom
The philosopher, Bible exegete, and Hebrew grammarian Joseph ben Abba Mari ibn Kaspi was born in Argentière, Provence, in 1280. He made his home in Arles and in Tarascon and also spent time in Catalonia, Majorca, and the Kingdom of Aragon. He wrote more than twenty works in Hebrew devoted to a broad range of subjects that included language, logic, ethics, politics, biblical interpretation, and theology. Ibn Kaspi was a philosophical follower of Maimonides and the author of two commentaries ( ʿAmmude Kesef and Maskiyyot Kesef) on the Guide for the Perplexed in which he filled the role …

Ibn Khalfūn (Ibn Ḥalfon), Isaac (Abū Ibrāhīm)

(976 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Isaac (Abū Ibrāhīm) ibn Khalfūn (Ibn Ḥalfon) was one of the first Hebrew poets in al-Andalus and also the first of them to make his living exclusively from poetry. He apparently was born in Iberia, perhaps in Cordova, around 970, but his father had only recently arrived from North Africa. Toward the end of his life he apparently moved to the city of Toledo, where he may have died sometime after 1020. Although he did not rank among the greatest Andalusian Hebrew poets like Ibn Naghrella, Ibn Gabirol, Ha-Levi, or Moses ibn Ezra, Ibn Khalfūn was talented, enjoyed great…

ibn Killis, Abū ʾl-Faraj Yaʿqūb

(737 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
One of the most outstanding statesmen, administrators, and intellectuals of the beginning of the eleventh century, Yaʿqūb ibn Killis was born in Baghdad in 930 into a Jewish family that was apparently of priestly origin. Around ten years later, along with many other Iraqi Jews, the family moved to Palestine. They settled in Ramle, where Ibn Killis eventually became involved in commerce and was appointed to the important postof wakīl al-tujjār (Ar. agent of the merchants). He was soon entangled in unsavory affairs, the substance of which is unclear. According to the Muslim chronicler Ibn …

Ibn Laṭīf, Isaac

(720 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Isaac ibn Laṭīf (ca. 1210-1280) from Toledo was a Jewish thinker in Christian Spain, well educated in Arabic and philosophy, who combined kabbalistic mysticism with philosophical rationalism. For  kabbalists, he was a gifted philosopher; whereas for philosophers, he was a kabbalist. Seven of Ibn Laṭīf's works are extant, and it is known through quotations that he wrote others. Extant Works Shaʿar ha-Shamayim (The Gate of Heaven) is Ibn Laṭīf's most famous and longest work. It was finished in 1238 and was wrongly ascribed to Abraham ibn Ezra. It is still i…
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