Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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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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Ibb

(1,003 words)

Author(s): Ari Ariel
Located approximately 140 kilometers (87 miles) southwest of Ṣan‘ā, in Lower Yemen (Ar. al-Yaman al-Asfal), Ibb is the name of a town which lies on the southwestern spur of the Baʿadan massif, and also the name of the province composed of areas to its northwest and southeast. Ibb town is the administrative center of the province. The Indian Ocean monsoon system provides regular rainfall in the late spring and summer, and as a result Ibb’s climate is the wettest in southern Arabia and produces the highest per u…

Ibn ‘Abbās, Judah ben Samuel

(435 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Judah ben Samuel ibn ‘Abbās was born in Fez, probably in the early twelfth century. Although he was not of Iberian origin and spent most of his life in Aleppo, he was counted as one of the great Andalusian poets by Judah al-Ḥarīzī, who wrote in the Taḥkemoni:  “And R. Judah ben ‘Abbās, too, turned his steps toward the East, and brought to Song’s feast lines succulent and fat, if others less than that; and still others dry and flat.” Further on, in describing the people of Aleppo, al-Ḥarīzī says: “And some of them feel proud of Ibn ‘Abbās’s poems, and they say that there was no oth…

Ibn Abī ʾl-ʿAysh, Moses (Abū Harūn)

(342 words)

Author(s): Aurora Salvatierra Ossorio
Almost nothing is known about the poet Moses ibn Abī ʾl-ʿAysh. The only reference to him is made by Moses ibn Ezra in the Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa ʾl-Mudhākara (ed. Halkin, p. 74). His name is mentioned after an excursus on memory as a notable quality of Judah ibn Balaam of Toledo, linguist and author of commentaries on almost all of the books of the Bible, who was active in the second half of the eleventh century. Ibn Abī ʾl-ʿAysh is introduced as a native of Toledo, along with Abraham (Abū Isḥāq) ibn al-Ḥarīzī, a poet dated to the beginning of the twelfth century. With this scant inf…

Ibn Abītūr, Joseph ben Isaac

(1,313 words)

Author(s): Judit Targarona
Joseph ibn Abītūr (ca. 939–after 1012) was born in Merida in al-Andalus in the mid-tenth century. He had an Arabic last name (Abītūr) and a Romance appellative (Satanas, Santas, or Santos). His family had been in Sepharad for more than six generations. In a letter to Samuel ha-Kohen, Ibn Abītūr says that “although his great-grandfather was not an erudite man, he was a powerful one who imposed five death penalties,” quite exceptional for a Jewish judge and only possible in the exile. He explains that his Romance family name, Ibn Shaṭnash, came from Heb. shoṭ enosh (scourge of humanity), an…

Ibn Abi Zimra, David (Radbaz)

(1,073 words)

Author(s): Samuel Morell
Rabbi David ben Solomon Ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz) was born in Spain in 1479/80. He left Spain during the expulsion in 1492, settled in Safed, Palestine, and later, perhaps soon after his arrival, relocated to Jerusalem. In 1513 or a bit earlier he moved to Mamluk Egypt, first briefly to Alexandria, but by 1514 he was in Cairo as a member of the rabbinic court of the official head of Egyptian Jewry, the nagid Isaac Shulal. In 1517, Egypt was conquered by the Ottomans, and the centuries-old office of nagid came to an abrupt end. Radbaz was accepted by the Egyptian Je…

Ibn ʿAqnīn, Joseph ben Judah ben Jacob

(804 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Joseph ben Judah ben Jacob Ibn ʿAqnīn was born in Barcelona around the middle of the twelfth century but emigrated to Fez during the Almohad period. Little is known about his personal life. In his commentary on the Song of Songs (fol. 129a), he says that he converted outwardly to Islam, but in the same passage he expresses his desire to leave Fez and openly return to Judaism. It is unknown whether he did so or remained in Fez. While in Fez, Ibn ʿAqnīn became acquainted with Maimonides and wrote a poem on the great sage's departure for Egypt. Maimonides profoundly influenced Ibn ʿAqnīn's work,…

Ibn ʿAṭāʾ, Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm (Abraham ben Nathan)

(471 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm Ibn ʿAṭāʾ (Abraham ben Nathan) was leader of Qayrawanese Jewry in the first third of the eleventh century. He was a member of a wealthy elite that included the Ben Berekhiah, Tahertī, and Ibn al-Majjānī families. His father, Nathan, may have been a communal official, although this is not clear. He was a major supporter of the academy ( bet midrash) in Qayrawan and was also a generous contributor to the Babylonian yeshivot, particularly to the Sura yeshiva, the renewal of which he helped to finance. Ibn ʿAṭāʾ served as court physician to the Zirid amirs Bādis (r. 996–10…

Ibn ʿAṭṭār, Ḥayyim

(11 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Ben ʿAṭṭār, Ḥayyim Norman A. Stillman

Ibn ʿAṭṭār Judah b. Jacob

(16 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Ben ʿAṭṭār (or Ibn ʿAṭṭār) Family Norman A. Stillman

Ibn ʿAwkal Family

(1,242 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
The Ibn ʿAwkals were an important merchant family in Fustat. Apparently of Persian origin, they arrived in the Maghreb following the Fatimid conquest at the beginning of the tenth century. The mashāriqa (easterners), as they were called by Maghrebis, were not liked by the local residents, and many of them moved to Egypt with the Fatimids after 969. Jacob, the head of the family, most likely also went to Egypt at that time, but left some family members in the Maghreb to develop his commercial interests. The correspondence of the Ibn ʿAwkal family extends over four generations. The…

Ibn Azhar, Eleazar (Abū ʾl-Fatḥ) ben Naḥman

(389 words)

Author(s): Aurora Salvatierra Ossorio
According to his somewhat older contemporary Moses ibn Ezra in the Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa ʾl-Mudhākara (Halkin ed., p. 74), Eleazar (Abū ʾl-Fatḥ) ben Naḥman ibn Azhar lived during the eleventh century in Seville. Some scholars think that Seville was his birthplace, but others propose Granada. Ibn Azhar is mentioned with Abū Sulayman ibn Muhājir, a member of one of the noblest Jewish families in Seville. Both are described as poets and as authorities in certain branches of learning who belonged to the circle of intellectuals that made Seville a center of Jewish culture after the decl…

Ibn Bābshād, Saʿīd

(406 words)

Author(s): Marzena Zawanowska
Saʿīd ibn Bābshād ha-Kohen was a Hebrew poet, probably a Karaite, who lived in Iraq or Persia at the end of the tenth century and in the first two decades of the eleventh. His major composition, known only from fragments found in the Cairo Geniza, is a compendium of Wisdom proverbs that appears to have been written in the second decade of the eleventh century (Fleischer, 1990; Sklare, 1996). Portions of this work were published by Solomon Schechter in 1903 and have been quoted by scholars as an example of anonymous Jewish Wisdom literature written in Hebrew (Allony, 1969). In the 1960…

Ibn Balaam, Judah (Abū Zakariyyā Yaḥyā) ben Samuel

(533 words)

Author(s): José Martínez Delgado
Judah (Abū Zakariyyā Yaḥyā) ben Samuel ibn Balaam was a prolific author of philological and exegetical works in Judeo-Arabic. He also composed Hebrew liturgical poetry and was a student of halakha. Born in Toledo, he always felt like an Andalusi, and for that reason established himself in Seville after Toledo fell to Alfonso VI in 1085. Judah’s surname has been the subject of lengthy debate; the most appropriate reading seems to be Bilʿam (from ben-al-ʿam, son of his paternal uncle). Meticulously educated in Arabic and Hebrew, Judah began writing in earnest during the secon…

Ibn al-Barqūlī Family

(472 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Members of two generations of the Ibn al-Barqūlī family are mentioned in several letters from the Cairo Geniza (all composed during the first decade of the thirteenth century), as well as in the poetry of Eleazar ben Jacob ha-Bavli and Judah al-Ḥarīzī. From what is said in these sources, it is apparent that the Ibn al-Barqūlī family played a central role in the communal and spiritual life of the Jewish communities in Baghdad and Wāsiṭ (in central Iraq) and also contr…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ibn Barūn, Isaac (Abū Ibrāhīm) ben Joseph

(775 words)

Author(s): José Martínez Delgado
Isaac (Abū Ibrāhīm) ben Joseph ibn Barūn was a philologist and linguist from Saragossa. The dates of his birth and death are not known, nor are any details of his life, except that he was a disciple of the poet and grammarian Levi ibn al-Tabbān. Ibn Barūn’s magnum opus was his   Kitāb al-Muwāzana bayn al-Lugha al -ʿIbrāniyya wa ʾl-ʿArabiyya (Book of Comparison between the Hebrew and Arabic Languages). Written after 1128 and not preserved in its entirety, it is an outstanding work of comparative Semitics, building upon the contributions of Ibn Quraysh, Ibn Janāḥ, and other earli…

Ibn Barzel, Joseph

(405 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Joseph ibn Barzel was a physician and  poet in al-Andalus in the twelfth century. Very little is known about his life, and only three of his poems are extant. In the chapter of the Taḥkemoni dedicated to the poets of Spain, Judah al-Ḥarīzī praised Ibn Barzel’s poetry in these words: “Like the poems of Ben Barzel, which are necklaces to every neck . . . they are strong as iron (Heb. barzel) and soft as honey.” Ibn Barzel is also mentioned in a Geniza letter written by Judah ha-Levi to a friend in Egypt, Ḥalfon ben Nethanel ha-Levi. In the letter Judah ha-Levi states that “the illus…

Ibn Baṭash, Aaron (Hārūn)

(351 words)

Author(s): Maya Shatzmiller
Aaron (Hārūn) ibn Baṭash was a courtier and confidant of the last Marīnid sultan of Morocco, ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq al-Marīnī (r. 1420–1465). After a prolonged association with the court as a banker or tax collector, he was appointed vizier in 1464, effectively in control of the state administration once his patron, the Marīnid sultan, managed to shake off the prolonged tutelage of the Waṭṭāsids. Ibn Baṭash was perceived as grossly violating the code for dhimmis (see Dhimma) by riding on horseback and wearing a sword engraved with verses from the Qu’rān. He also brought seve…

Ibn Borgil, Abraham ben ʿAzīz

(202 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Abraham ben ʿAzīz Ibn Borgil (d. ca. 1595) was a rabbi and religious teacher in the Ottoman Empire. He may have been born in Salonica, where he studied with the renowned Samuel ben Moses de Medina (known as the Maharashdam, 1506–1589). However, for most of his life he headed a yeshiva in Nikopol (Bulgaria). Borgil was a prominent scholar of Talmud. His chef d’oeuvre was the Leḥem Abbirim (Bread of the Mighty; Venice, 1605), published after his death by Joseph ben Judah de Novis. The book reflects his deep knowledge of all matters relating to the Talmud and cont…

Ibn Bulat, Judah

(308 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Judah ibn Bulaṭ  (ca. 1475–ca. 1540), also known as Judah ben Joseph Bulaṭ, was a Talmud scholar who settled in Istanbul after the expulsion from Spain. In 1510, he published the second, corrected edition of the Halikhot ʿOlam (Ways of the World) by Joshua ben Joseph ha-Levi, one of Joseph Caro's mentors, together with the appended text of the Mevoʾ ha-Talmud (Introduction to the Talmud) attributed to Samuel ha-Nagid Ibn Naghrella. Ibn Bulaṭ served as a dayyan in the Rabbinical court in Constantinople. He opposed the practice of basing judgments solely on the halakhic …

Ibn Bundār, Ḥasan , Abū ‘Alī (Japheth)

(662 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Abū ‘Alī Ḥasan (Japheth) ibn Bundār, in the second half of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth, was the “representative/trustee of the merchants” (Heb. peqid ha-soḥerim; Ar. wakīl al-tujjār) in Aden and “head of the [Jewish] communities” (Heb. roshar ha-qehillot; Ar. rayyis) in southern Yemen. The name Bundār (Pers. established, intelligent, rich) indicates that either he or his predecessors came to Yemen from Iran—the former scenario being more likely, because Ḥasan is the first member of the Bundār family in Yemen attested in the extant records (Goitein, Yemenit…
Date: 2015-09-03
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