The Condition of Jewish Minority in Medieval Egypt: A Study of Jewish Ṣūfī’s Tractate al-Maqālat al-Ḥawḍiyya

Leonard Chrysostomos Epafras

Abstract


During the reigns of Ayyūbids and Mamluks, a group of Jews developed a distinct Jewish spiritual system. The aim of this endeavor was to initiate spiritual renewal. The notable feature of the movement is the incorporation of substantial Ṣūfī elements into its spiritual system. By this unique feature the group might be tentatively called “Jewish Sufism.” This article explores the posture of this group and its understanding of Jewish diaspora and exile, particularly with regards Jewish minority status under Muslim rulers. As a study case, it focuses on the analysis of a Jewish Ṣūfī’s tractate entitled al-Maqālat al-Ḥawḍiyya (The Treatise of the Pool) written by ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Maymūn (1228-1263/65), the grandson of the prominent medieval Jewish philosopher and community leader (ra’īs al-yahūd), Mūsā ibn Maymūn (Moses Maimonides, 1135-1204). The article further argues that the tractate reflected Jewish struggle as minority under Islamic rulers and the contemporary socio-political upheaval. Besides the spiritual renewal, the discipline it endorsed was a way to cope with this minority status as well. Furthermore, the absorption of Sufism into Jewish spirituality may indicate a more dynamic interaction between Jews and Muslims in this period.

[Pada masa pemerintahan dinasti Ayubi dan Mamluk di Mesir, sekelompok anggota komunitas Yahudi mengembangkan wacana spiritualitas yang unik demi pembaharuan hidup rohani mereka. Keunikan kelompok ini adalah karena dalam wacananya menyerap unsur-unsur Sufisme Islam. Gejala ini karena itu disebut Sufisme Yahudi. Artikel ini mengeksplorasi keberadaan kelompok tersebut dan pemahaman mereka akan diaspora Yahudi, terutama dalam kaitannya dengan kondisi minoritas mereka. Sebagai studi kasusnya adalah traktat spiritual bertajuk al-Maqālat al-Ḥawḍiyya (Traktat tentang Kolam) yang ditulis oleh ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Maymūn (1128-1263/65), cucu dari filsuf dan pemimpin Yahudi Abad Pertengahan (ra’īs al-yahūd), Mūsā ibn Maymūn (Moses Maimonides, 1135-1204). Artikel ini mengungkapkan bahwa karya tersebut mencerminkan pergumulan kaum Yahudi sebagai minoritas dan ketegangan sosio-politis yang mereka alami. Disiplin rohani yang disarankannya juga dimaksudkan untuk mengatasi status minoritas tersebut. Lebih dari itu, penyerapan unsur Sufi ke dalam spiritualitas Yahudi ini mendorong ke arah hubungan Yahudi dan Muslim yang lebih dinamis pada masa itu.]


Full Text:

PDF

References


Abd Allāh ibn Maymūn, al-Maqālat al-Ḥawḍiyya, translated by Paul B. Fenton. London: The Octagon Press, 1981.

Adang, Camilla, Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible. From Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm, Leiden, New York, Koln: E.J. Brill, 1996.

Al-‘Attār, Farīd al-Dīn, Tadhkirāt al-Awliyā, translated by Arthur John Arberry, Ames: Omphaloskepsis, 2000.

Al-Bīrūnī, Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Kitāb al-Āthar al-Bāqiya ’an al-Qurūn al-Khāliya, translated by Eduard Sachau, London: W.H. Allen and Co., 1879.

Al-Ghazzālī, Abū Hāmid Muḥammad ibn, Iḥyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, translated by Fazl-ul Karim, 4 vols., Karachi: Darul-Ishaat, 1993.

Al-Hujwīrī, ‘Alī bin ‘Uthmān, Kashf al-Maḥjūb, translated by ReyNold Alleyne Nicholson, Lahore: Islamic Book Foundation, 1976.

Al-Kharrāz, Abū Sa‘īd Aḥmad ibn ‘Īsa, Kitāb al-Ṣidq, translated by Arthur John Arberry, London, etc.: Islamic Research Association, 1937.

Al-Qāshāni, ‘Abd al-Razzāq, Kitāb Iṣṭilāḥāt al-Ṣūfiyyah, translated by Nabil Safwat, London: Octagon, 1991.

Al-Qirqisani Center, An Introduction to Karaite Judaism: History, Theology, Practice, and Custom, Troy, NY.: al-Qirqisani Center for the Promotion of Karaite Studies, 2003.

Al-Qushayrī, Abū ’l-Qāsim al-Qushayrī, Al-Risala al-Qushayriyya fi ‘Ilm al-Tasawwuf, translated by Alexander D. Knysh, Reading, UK: Garnet, 2007.

Al-Shahrastānī, Muḥammad ibn ‛Abd al-Karīm, Kitāb al-Milal wa al-Niḥal, translated by Theodor Haarbrücker, Halle: C.A. Schwetschke, 1850.

Alon, Shlomo, “The Problem of Identity in Judaism,” in Th. Sumartana (ed.), Commitment of Faiths: Identity, Plurality and Gender, Yogyakarta: Dian Interfidei, 2002, 3-10.

Ariel, David S. “‘The Eastern Dawn of Wisdom’: The Problem of the Relation Between Islamic and Jewish Mysticism,” in David R. Blumenthal (ed.), Approaches to Judaism in Medieval Times, Chico, CA.: Scholars Press, 1985, II: 149-167.

Bareket, EliNoar, Fustat on the Nile: The Jewish Elite in Medieval Egypt, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 1999.

Barreto, Manuela, and Naomi Ellemers, “Multiple Identities and the Paradox of Social Inclusion,” in Fabrizio Butera and John M. Levine (eds.), Coping with Minority Status: Responses to Exclusion and Inclusion, Cambridge etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 269-292.

Ben-Rafael, Eliezer, “One People? Contemporary Jewish Identity,” in World Religions and Multiculturalism: A Dialectic Relation, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010, 279-314.

Ben-Sasson, Menahem. “Jews in Changing Empires of Medieval Islam: Not Only Eschatology and Messianism,” in Benjamin Hary and Haggai Ben-Shammai (eds.), Esoteric and Exoteric Aspects in Judeo-Arabic Culture, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006, 279-299.

Boyarin, Jonathan, and Daniel Boyarin, Powers of Diaspora: Two Essays on the Relevance of Jewish Culture, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

Burdah, Ibnu, “Indonesian Muslims’ Perceptions of Jews and Israel,” in Muslim Attitudes to Jews and Israel. The Ambivalences of Rejection, Antagonism, Tolerance and Cooperation, Eastborne: Sussex Academic Press, 2010, 230-246.

Butera, Fabrizio, and John M. Levine, “Introduction,” in Fabrizio Butera and John M. Levine (eds.), Coping with Minority Status: Responses to Exclusion and Inclusion, Cambridge etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 1-10.

Cohen, Mark R, Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.

De Lange, Nicholas, An Introduction to Judaism, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Durán, Khalid, and Abdelwahab Hechiche, Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews, Hoboken, NJ.: American Jewish Committee and KTAV Publishing House, 2001.

Epafras, Leonard C., “Damn! Beckham Is a Jew”: The “Jew” in the Indonesian Public Discourse, Saarbrücken, Ger.: LAP, 2010.

Fenton, Paul B, Deux Traités de Mystique Juive, Rieux-en-Val: Verdier, 1987.

----, “Introduction,” in Paul Fenton (ed.), The Treatise of the Pool of R. ‘Obadyah Maimonides, London: The Octagon Press, 1981, 1-53.

----, “Judaeo-Arabic Mystical Writings of the XIIIth-XIVth Centuries,” in Norman Golb (ed.), Judaeo-Arabic Studies: Proceedings of the Founding Conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies, Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1997, 87-102.

----, “Sufism and Judaism: Contacts through the Ages,” University of Chicago, Franke Center for the Humanities, 2011.

Firestone, Reuven, Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Fishbane, Eitan P., As Light before Dawn: The Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009.

Geiger, Abraham, Judaism and Islam, Edited by Gerson D. Cohen. New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1898.

Gilman, Sander L., Jewish Frontiers: Essays on Bodies, Histories, and Identities, New York: Palgrave, 2003.

Goitein, Shlomo Dov, “A Jewish Addict to Sufism: In the Time of the Nagid David II Maimonides,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 44, No. 1 (1953): 37-49.

----, A Medditeranean Society, 6 vols., Berkeley etc.: University of California Press, 1967-1993.

----, “A Treatise in Defence of the Pietists by Abraham Maimonides,” The Journal of Jewish Studies 16, No. 3-4 (1965): 105-114.

----, “‘Isra’īlīyyāt.” Tarbiẓ 6, No. 1 (1934): 89-101.

----, “New Documents from the Cairo Genizah,” in Roberto Almagià (ed.), Homenaje a Millás-Vallicrosa, Barcelona: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1954, I: 709-720.

Hadler, Jeffrey, “Translations of Antisemitism: Jews, the Chinese, and Violence in Colonial and Post-Colonial Indonesia,” Indonesia and the Malay World 32, No. 94 (2004): 291-313.

Haleem, M.A.S. Abdel, The Qur’an: A New Translation, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Hertzberg, Arthur, and Aron Hirt-Manheimer, Jews: The Essence and Character of a People, New York: HarperCollins, 1998.

Hodgson, Marshall G. S., The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, 3 vols., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.

Hofer, Nathan C., “Sufism, State, and Society in Ayyubid and Early Mamluk Egypt, 1173-1309,” PhD Dissertation, Emory University, 2011.

Ibn Dāud, Abrāham, Sefer ha-Qabbalah, translated by Gerson D. Cohen, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967.

Ibn Isḥāq, Muḥammad, Sīrāt Rasūl Allāh, translated by Alfred Guillaume, Lahore [etc.]: Oxford University Press, 1955.

Ibn Paquda, Baḥya ben Yosef, Al-Hidayāt ‘ilā Farā‘iḍ al-qulūb, edited by Abraham Shalom Yahuda, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1912.

----, Ḥovot ha-Levavot, translated by Daniel Haberman, 2 vols., Naunet, NY.: Feldheim Publishers, 1996.

----, Torot Ḥovot ha-Levavot, edited and translated by Yosef ben David Qāfaḥ, Yerusalem: Hava’ad ha-K’lali lihudei Teiman, 1973.

Ibrāhīm ibn Maymūn, Kifayāt al-‘Ābidīn, translated by Samuel Rosenblatt, 2 vols., Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1938.

Inzlicht, Michael, Joshua Aronson, and Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, “On Being the Target of Prejudice: Educational Implications,” in Fabrizio Butera and John M. Levine (eds.), Coping with Minority Status: Responses to Exclusion and Inclusion, Cambridge etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 13-37.

Ishaq, Emil Maher, “Sunday,” in Aziz Suryal Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopaedia, vol. V, New York, etc.: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1991.

Jewish Publication Society (JPS Tanakh) Hebrew-English Tanakh, Second Edition, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1999.

Langermann, Yitzhak Tzvi, “From Private Devotion to Communal Prayer: New Light on Abraham Synagogue Reforms,” Ginzei Qedem 1 (2005): 31-49.

Lazarus-Yafeh, Hava, “Judeo-Arabic Literature: Judaeo-Arabic Culture,” in Fred Skolnik and Michael Berenbaum (eds.), Encyclopaedia Judaica. Second Edition, vol. XI, Detroit etc.: Macmillan Reference USA & Keter Publishing House, 2007.

Lewis, Bernard, The Jews of Islam, London, Melbourne and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984.

Lobel, Diana, A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue: Philosophy and Mysticism in Baḥya Ibn Paqūda’s Duties of the Heart, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

Morray-Jones, Christopher R. A., A Transparent Illusion: A Dangerous Vision of Water in Hekhalot Mysticism, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 1999.

Nemoy, Leon, “Obadiah Maymūnī’s Treatise of the Pool,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 73, No. 1 (1982): 90-91.

Neusner, Jacob, Judaism: The Basics, London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Catholic Edition Bible Anglicized, New York: HarperCollins, 2009.

Newby, Gordon Darnell, A History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to Their Eclipse Under Islam, Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1988.

Paul, Shalom M., and Louis Isaac RabiNowitz, “Book of Life,” Fred Skolnik and Michael Berenbaum (eds.), Encyclopaedia Judaica. Second Edition, vol. IV, Detroit etc.: Macmillan Reference USA & Keter Publishing House, 2007.

Pesiqta Rabbati, edited by Meïr ben Jeremiah Friedmann, Wien: (self-published), 1880.

Pirqe Avot, translated by Ben-Zion (BenNo) Halper, New York: The American Jewish Book Co, 1921.

Ritter, H., “Abū Yazīd (Bāyazīd) Ṭayfūr b. ‘Īsā b. Surūshān al-Biṣṭāmī,” Peri J. Bearman, Thierry Bianquis, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Emeri van Donzel, and Wolfhart P. Heinrichs (eds.), The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Second Edition. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960-2005.

Russ-Fishbane, Elisha R., “Between Politics and Piety: Abraham Maimonides and His Times,” PhD Dissertation, Harvard University, 2009.

Rustow, Marina, “The Legal Status of Ḍimmī-s in the Fatimid East: A View from the Palace in Cairo,” in Maribel Fierro and John Tolan (eds.), The Legal Status of Ḍimmī-s in the Islamic West, Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2013, 307-332.

Scheindlin, Raymond P., “Ibn Gabirol’s Religious Poetry and Sufi Poetry,” Sefarad 54, No. 1 (1994): 109-142.

Scholem, Gershom, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, Jerusalem: Schocken Books, 1941.

Scholem, Gershom, “Sha’arey Tsedeq Me’amar be-kabbalah Me’askolet R. Abraham Abulafia,” Qiryat Sefer 1 (1924): 130-138.

Schulze, Fritz, “Antisemitismus in Indonesien – Die Idee der Jüdischen Weltverschwörung im Indonesischen Politischen und Religiösen Diskurs,” Orientierungen 18, No. 2 (2006): 123-144.

SheNoda, Maryann Magdalen, “Lamenting Islam, Imagining Persecution: Copto-Arabic Opposition to Islamization and Arabization in Fatimid Egypt (969-1171 CE),” PhD Dissertation, Harvard University, 2010.

Siegel, James T., “Kiblat and the Mediatic Jew,” Indonesia 69 (2000): 9-40.

Snir, Reuven, “‘Anā min al-Yahūd’: The Demise of Arab-Jewish Culture in the Twentieth Century,” Archiv Orientálni 74 (2006): 387-424.

----, “‘Arabs of the Mosaic Faith’: Chronicle of a Cultural Extinction Foretold,” Die Welt des Islams 46, No. 1 (2006): 43-60.

Solomon, Norman, Judaism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Steinschneider, Moritz, “An Introduction to the Arabic Literature of the Jews. I,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 9, No. 2 (1897): 224-239.

Stillman, Norman A., The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979.

Tritton, Arthur Stanley, The Caliphs and Their Non-Muslim Subjects: A Critical Study of the Covenant of ‘Umar, London, etc.: Oxford University Press, 1930.

The Babylonian Talmud, Hebrew-English edition, edited by Isidore Epstein, 28 vols., London: The SonciNo Press, 1994.

The Jerusalem Talmud: A Translation and Commentary, edited by Jacob Neusner, Hendrickson Publishers, 2008. CD-ROM.

Ünal, Ali, The Quran with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, Somerset, N.J.: The Light, 2006.

Vajda, Georges, “Isrā’īliyyat,” Peri J. Bearman, Thierry Bianquis, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Emeri van Donzel, and Wolfhart P. Heinrichs (eds.), The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, vol. IV, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960-2005.

Van Bruinessen, Martin, “Yahudi sebagai simbol dalam wacana pemikiran Islam Indonesia masa kini,” in Ahmad Suaedy (ed.), Spiritualitas Baru: Agama dan Aspirasi Rakyat, Yogyakarta: Dian Interfidei, 1994, 253-268.

Van Esbroeck, Michel, “Saint Pidjimi,” in Aziz Suryal Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopaedia, vol. VI, New York, etc.: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1991.

Wensinck, Arent Jan, and Clifford Edmund Bosworth, “Lawḥ,” P. J. Bearman, Th Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. Van Donzel, and W. P. Heinrighs (eds.), The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, vol. V, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960-2005.

WisNovsky, Robert, “Heavenly Book,” in Jane Dame McAuliffe (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān, vol. II, Leiden, Boston, and Köln: Brill, 2001-2006.

Yosef of PolonNoy, Ya’acov, Sefer Toledot Ya’acov Yosef, 5 vols., Monroe, N.Y.: Simon Weiss, 1998.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14421/ajis.2013.512.409-442

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Copyright (c) 2013 Leonard Chrysostomos Epafras