Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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Executive Editor: Norman A. Stillman

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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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(501 words)

Author(s): Jacques Taïeb
Nabeul (Ar. Nābul) is a small coastal town located 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Tunis. Its first Jewish families settled there around 1700, attracted by the economic boom the town was undergoing. Some came from Tunis, such as the Ghez and Koskas families, others from Jerba, such as the Cohen, Haddad, Mamou, and Uzan families. Others, such as the Chiche family, came from Algiers around 1810, or from the Holy land, like the Karila family around 1835. The Hayoun, Paienti, Taïeb, and Temam fami…

Naccache, Gilbert

(409 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Gilbert Naccache was born in 1939 to a Jewish Tunisian family. After completing high school at the Lycée Carnot in Tunis, he studied agronomy in France, under the guidance of René Dumont at the National Agronomy Institute in Paris. Upon his return to Tunis in the early 1960s, he worked as an agricultural engineer for the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture from 1962 to 1968. But Naccache is best known for his political and literary activities. At the age of fifteen, he joined the Tunisian CommunistParty, but was expelled in 1959 for his Trotskyite leanings. In the mid-1960s, h…

Nādir Shāh

(960 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Nādir ShāhAfshār (r. 1736–1747), born Nādir Qulī Beg, was a member of the Turkoman Afshār tribe in Khurāsān. He was chiefly responsible for bringing about the final disintegration of the Ṣafavid dynasty (1501–1736), briefly replacing it  with his own Afshārid dynasty (1736–1795).A victorious warrior from his youth, Nādir’s numerous military campaigns can only be highlighted here. He and his band rose to prominence during the Afghan occupation of Iran (1722–1730). Nādir came to the attention of the Ṣafavid prince Ṭahmāsp II (r. 1722–1732) as a potential savior of his dynas…

Nadi, Yunus

(432 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu (1945) was an influential Turkish journalist, publisher, and politician. Born in 1879 in the town of Fethiye in the province of Muğla, he attended the Medrese-i Süleymaniye in Rhodes and later transferred to the Galatasaray Lisesi (Galatasaray High School) in Istanbul. Subsequently, he attended Istanbul University and obtained a degree in law.            Nadi began his journalistic career in 1900 at the newspaper Malumat. In 1901, he was sentenced to three years in prison for his alleged connection with an anti-government organization. In…

Naggiar, Mardochée (Mordechai Ibn al-Najjar)

(367 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
Mardochée Naggiar, also known as Mordechai (Murdikhay) Ibn al-Najjar, was one of the few Jewish scholars from a Muslim land who actively contributed to the European orientalist scholarship of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Born in Tunisia, he lived in Paris from the last years of the eighteenth century until 1812, during which time he made his assistance available to many famous European scholars from France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. Naggiar translated documents, co-authored dictionaries, and…


(2,370 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
The Hebrew title nagid, derived from a biblical term meaning ruler (I Kings 1:35), was the designation in the Middle Ages of the head of a Jewish community, first in North Africa and later in al-Andalus, Egypt, and Yemen. In post-medieval and early modern North Africa, it became the standard title for a person recognized by the government as the secular head of a Jewish community, a position known in Arabic as muqaddam (Algeria), qāʾid (Tunisia), and shayk al-yahūd (Morocco and elsewhere). 1.  The First Nagids in the Maghreb In the Maghreb, the term nagid first came into use in Ifrī…

Nahmany, Ḥaim

(485 words)

Author(s): David Guedj
Haim Nahmany (Ḥayyim Naḥmani) was born in February 1902 in Settat, Morocco. As a child he attended traditional Jewish schools in the mornings and in the evenings learned French and general studies. As a young man he moved to Casablanca, where he made a living from importing household utensils from France and Russia.Nahmany played an important role in the expansion of Zionist and Hebrew activity in the mid-1930s.  He was a member of the organizing committee of the main association for the dissemination of Hebrew in Casablanca, Magen David. During …

Nahmias Family

(1,416 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Naḥmias (also Ibn Naḥmias) was a common Sephardi family name in various parts of the Ottoman Empire from the late fifteenth century on. Individuals bearing the name have been found in Istanbul, Salonica, the Holy Land, Morocco, and elsewhere. While it is possible that the Naḥmias families, particularly the ones in Istanbul and Salonica, were related, scholarly research has so far failed to demonstrate any familial ties. Various Naḥmias families have attributed their origins to different cities in the Iberian Peninsula, including Toledo, Lisbon, and Majorca.The name Naḥmias first…

Nahon, Moïse

(361 words)

Author(s): Colette Zytnicki
Moïse Nahon was born in 1870 in Tangier to a family of notables. He attended the school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and was trained as a teacher at the École Normale Israélite Orientale in Paris. His first position was in Fez in 1889, and in 1899 he inaugurated a new AIU school in Casablanca. He was then sent to Algiers to head continuing education programs. In 1900, he became director of the farming estate of the AIU in Regaia, Algeria, which trained young Jews in agricultural work. While in Algeria, he published a long, detailed article on Moroccan Jewry in the French journal Revue de…

Nahoum (Nahum), Haim (Ḥayyim)

(874 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Haim Nahoum (Ḥayyim Nahum) was born in 1873 in Manisa, Turkey. In 1881, he moved to Tiberias with his grandfather and studied at a yeshiva where he learned the Talmud in Hebrew and the Qurʾān in Arabic. In 1886, after completing his studies in Tiberias, he returned to Manisa, where he mastered Turkish and French. Later, he enrolled at the Mekteb-i Sultani, a government lycée  in Izmir (Smyrna), and then at the Imperial School of Law in Istanbul, where he studied Islamic law and diplomacy. In 189…

Nahray ben Nissim

(404 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Nahray ben Nissim (ca. 1025-1098), nicknamed Abū Yaḥyā, was a North African merchant and communal leader. More than 350 letters, notes, and accounts from the Cairo Geniza are either addressed to him or emanate directly from his hand, comprising the largest corpus of documentary sources from the Geniza concerning a single individual.Born around 1025 and descended from a leader ( nagid) of the Qayrawan community, Nahray migrated to Egypt around 1040, where he entered the patronage of his relative Barhūn b. Isḥaq Tahertī. At the center of a network of traders plying the Mediterranean …

Nahshon bar Zadok Gaon

(316 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Nahshon bar Zadok was gaon of the academy of Sura for eight years in the second half of the ninth century. The precise chronology is in question, but his incumbency began between 865 and 871. His patronymic is also uncertain; it is given as Isaac in some versions of the Epistle of Sherira Gaon.Nahshon wrote many responsa, including one explaining the proper usages of magic. He also wrote commentaries on several tractates of the Talmud, as well as a monograph explaining difficult words therein, and has been misidentified as the author of Sefer Re'u Ma, a ninth-century work on ritual slaughter.A…

Nahum, André

(819 words)

Author(s): Gilat Brav
André Nahum (1921–2015) was born in Tunis and graduated Lycée Carnot High School. Immediately following his graduation, on the eve of World War II, he emigrated to France to study medicine, but during one of his vacations in Tunis war was declared, and his parents refused to allow his return to Paris. He instead continued his studies at the University of Algiers and after the war returned to complete his studies in Paris. He married, and in 1951 returned to Tunis with his wife and two children, …

Nahum ben Jacob ha-Ma‘aravi

(302 words)

Author(s): Angel Saénz-Badillos
Nahum ben Jacob ha-Maʿaravi was a Hebrew poet and translator in the thirteenth century. Nothing is known about his life. His name suggests that he was born in the Maghreb. Apparently he traveled from one place to the other, probably spent some time in Castile, and finally established himself in Fez.As a poet, Nahum left his name in the acrosticon of some liturgical poems in the Sephardi style. They are, above all, strophic poems, dealing with such themes as Creation and penitence. Yonah David published thirteen poems attributed to Nahum in 1974. Two of them are particularly beautiful muwashs…

Nahum, Halfallah

(539 words)

Author(s): Maurice Roumani
Halfallah Nahum was born in 1879 into a prominent and well-to-do Jewish family in Tripoli, Libya. He received his primary and advanced technical-business education in Italian schools in Tripoli and in Manchester, England, where his uncle resided.In 1917, after renouncing the Dutch citizenship held for generations by his family, Halfallah became a naturalized Italian citizen and was elected the first president of the Jewish community of Tripoli, which had been reconstituted under the Italian colonial administration. Soon after, his leadership and the Com…

Nahum, Jan

(180 words)

Author(s): Romina Meric
Jan Nahum was born in Ankara in 1950. He attended Robert College, a renowned American school in Istanbul, and in 1973 received an M.Des. degree in automotive design from the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. Since 1973, he has worked in various companies in the automotive industry and has sat on the executive boards of several companies. Nahum’s main areas of expertise include industrial engineering, industrial design, automotive strategic planning, and management.After working in numerous administrative positions at the Koç R&D Center (1975–1984; head of design,…


(4 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see NagidNorman A. Stillman

Naʼīm, Azizullah

(256 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
ʽAzīzullāh ben Yūnā Naʼīm (1889–1946), a leader of the Iranian Jewish community at the beginning of the twentieth century, was born in Damāvand and died in Tehran. Also known as Rāb (Rabbi) Naʼīm, he led and inspired the first generation of young Zionists in Iran.By profession Naʼīm was a merchant. He was one of the founders of Ha-Histadrut ha-Ṣiyyonit, the first Zionist committee in Iran, in 1919, and became its second president. In December 1920, Naʼīm published in Tehran Tārikh-i Junbish-i Ṣiyonit (Pers. The History of the Zionist Movement), the first book on Zionism writ…

Najara, Israel ben Moses

(887 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Israel ben Moses Najara, born in Safed in 1550, was a rabbi and scholar who was educated by his father, Moses Najara, and his grandfather, Rabbi Israel ben Me’ir di Curiel.  The family was of Iberian origin, probably from the Spanish town of Nájera.  In the Arabic-speaking Levant, the name was sometimes pronounced Najjāra, and in one poem, he actually says of himself in Aramaic Yisraʾel ʿavdakh hen ana naggara u-var naggara (Israel your servant I am indeed a carpenter the son of a carpenter) and in Hebrew naggar u-var naggar (see Mirsky, Sefunot 6, pp. 261-262).   In 1575, when Israe…


(438 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
Najāsat (Ar./Pers. impurity) is an Islamic legal concept that classifies certain items and classes of people as impure. In Imāmῑ (Twelver) Shīʿīsm, “infidels” (non-Muslims) are usually held to be agents of impurity, and the definition of infidel sometimes includes the kitāb , a person who belongs to a People of the Book. Shīʿī ʿ ulamāʾ (religious scholars) have sometimes explicitly held Jews to be impure. Qurʾān 9:30 ascribes to the Jews the belief that ʿUzayr (usually identified with the biblical prophet Ezra) was the son of God, a conviction that would tra…
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