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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Spain 02: Jews in the Muslim parts of Spain since 711

Jews coming back from Africa to Muslim Spain - Umayyads - Berbers - Abbasids - Almoravids - anti-Jewish Berber Almohads - Arab kingdom of Granada

Encyclopaedia
              Judaica: Spain, vol.15, col.224, tombstone with Jewish
              inscription of 1100: Hebrew inscription on a tombstone
              from Léon province, Spain, 1100. Madrid, National
              Archeological Museum. Photo M. Ninio, Jerusalem
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Spain, vol.15, col.224, tombstone with Jewish inscription of 1100: Hebrew inscription on a tombstone
from Léon province, Spain, 1100. Madrid, National Archeological Museum. Photo M. Ninio, Jerusalem

from: Spain; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 15

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)

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<MUSLIM SPAIN

When Tarik b. Ziyad in 711 crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, and overran the Visigothic Kingdom, there were no communities of openly professing Jews in Spain. But there remained in the country many secret Jews who welcomed the Muslims as their savi ors from long oppression and flocked to join them.

According to reliable Arabic sources the Muslim invaders made it their custom to call together the Jews wherever they found them and to hand towns which they had conquered over to them to garrison. They mention that this happened at Córdoba, Granada, Toledo, and Seville. Since the number of Muslim soldiers was relatively small, there can be no doubt that they appreciated the military help of the Jews who enabled them to continue their campaigns without having to leave behind them sizable divisions.

So the situation of the Crypto-Jews changed abruptly and they occupied the enviable position of a group allied with the new rulers of the peninsula. Probably their economic situation changed too, since most of the Visigothic nobles had fled and they could appropriate abandoned estates.

[Jews coming back from Africa to Muslim Spain - bad development: taxes and civil wars]

The immediate sequel of the conquest of Spain by the Arabs was apparently that many Jews who had left Spain at the time of the religious persecutions by the Visigothic kings or their descendants returned from North Africa where they had found shelter. But soon the Jews began to suffer from the exactions of the new rulers who imposed on them (as on the Christians) heavy taxes. Even the party strife and civil wars which flared up among the Arabs brought down many calamities upon them.

UMAYYAD RULE. [755-1030s]

[Tolerant Umayyad rule and flourishing Jewish communities - Bishop Bodo converts to Judaism - Jewish and Arab culture - "Jewish cities"]

The *Umayyad kingdom in Spain was established by 'Abd al-Rahman I in 755 with its capital at Córdoba in Andalusia. There was relative economic prosperity throughout Umayyad rule and Jews were represented in many occupations, including medicine, agriculture, commerce, and crafts. Jews continued to work in these fields after the fall of the Umayyad regime. The tolerance of the Umayyad regime rendered Muslim Spain a refuge for the Jews and their numbers increased within the country. In 839 the Frank Bishop *Bodo converted to Judaism in *Saragossa, married a Spanish Jewess, and wrote a tract against Christianity to which Alvaros of Córdoba replied.

Jewish scholarship and culture flourished alongside its Arab counterpart and was influenced by it. The Babylonian geonim corresponded with rabbis and scholars in the centers of *Lucena and *Barcelona. R. *Amram Gaon sent his prayer book to Spanish scholars. The academy at Lucena flourished into the 12th century and is mentioned in responsa as early as the ninth. Later Arab geographers cited Lucena, Granada, and *Tarragona as "Jewish cities".

[Main town Córdoba - center for Arab and Jewish culture]

The real Jewish cultural revival began in the tenth century under 'Abd al-Rahman III (912-961), who assumed the title of caliph in 929 in Córdoba. At that time Córdoba was a center of both Arab and Jewish culture. This was the time of the political rise of the court physician *Hisdai ibn Shaprut, who attained the position of chief of customs and foreign trade. Hisdai was also a diplomat who negotiated with Christian rulers on behalf of the caliphate. In addition, he was a patron of the two leading Hebrew philologists *Dunash b. Labrat and *Menahem b. Saruk.

[Jewish literature - Jewish statesman Hisdai - rabbis in Spain - philologist Hayyuj]

The Jewish literati acquired a sense of aesthetics and an appreciation of physical beauty from the artistic accomplishment of the (col. 222)

Arabs in Spain. This sensitivity took root in the mid-tenth century and found expression in the Hebrew poetry of medieval Spain almost right up to the general expulsion in 1492.

As head of Spanish Jewry, Hisdai appointed *Moses b. Hanokh, who came from Italy, chief rabbi and head of a yeshivah [[religious Torah school]] at Córdoba. Thus, Spanish Jewry's reliance on the Babylonian geonim in halakhic matters decreased. Hisdai is the first example of the many-faceted Jewish statesman, communal leader, and intellectual who was characteristic of the community in Muslim Spain.

After his death the post of rabbi of the Córdoba community was disputed by Joseph b. Isaac *ibn Abitur, supported by the wealthy silk merchant *Ibn Jau, and R. *Hanokh b. Moses. The latter emerged victorious and his appointment was sanctioned by Caliph al-Hakam II, the patron of the Jewish geographer *Ibrahim b. Ya'qub. During the reign of al-*Mansur (d. 1002) the great Hebrew philologist *Hayyuj (Abu Zakariyya Yahya b. Da'ud), who established the principle of the trilateral root, led in Córdoba.

THE PETTY PRINCIPALITIES.

[since 1013: Southern Spain under Berber rule - Jewish positions - Jewish philosophers Samuel ha-Nagid and Joseph ha-Nagid - Granada pogrom and massacre of 1066]

With the decline of Umayyad rule after al-Mansur's death, the Berber conquest of Córdoba (1013), and the demise of the dynasty in the 1030s, Córdoba lost its former prominence and the capitals of the various Berber and Arab principalities became cultural and commercial centers. Jewish tax farmers, advisers, and physicians served at the different courts. The relatively tolerant rulers welcomed and esteemed Jewish financiers, advisers in matters economic and political gifted writers, scholars, and scientists.

The ethos of this Jewish upper class was distinguished by several features: the desire for and attainment of political power, the harmony of religion and secular culture, the study of the Talmud along with poetry (col. 223)

and philosophy, equal proficiency in Arabic and Hebrew, the epitome of the fulfillment of this ideal was the poet and halakhist *Samuel ha-Nagid, a refugee from Córdoba who served as vizier and commander of the army of Granada from about 1030 to his death in 1056; he was also head of the Jewish community. His remarkable career and military exploits are recorded in both Hebrew and Arabic sources including his own poetry.

Samuel was succeeded by his son *Joseph ha-Nagid, whose pride and ambition aroused the enmity of certain Muslims who assassinated him in 1066. Inspired by fanatics, Muslims then attacked Granada Jewry and many survivors moved to other towns, particularly Lucena. The Granada massacre marked the first persecution of Jews in Muslim Spain.

[Jews in Muslim Sevilla under the Abbasids - Lucena - Saragossa and others - Toledo Christian since 1085]

Prominent communities in the middle to late 11th century also included Seville, then ruled by the Abbasid dynasty. Jewish courtiers included Abraham b. Meir ibn *Muhajir, to whom Moses *ibn Ezra dedicated his Sefer ha-Tarshish (Sefer ha-Anka). Under al-Mu'tamid [[al-Mutamid]], Isaac ibn *Albalia served as court astrologer and as chief rabbi of Seville, and the scholar Joseph *ibn Migash was sent on diplomatic missions.

Lucena remained an important center of learning. Its academy was led by the great talmudist Isaac *Alfasi. His successors were Isaac *ibn Ghayyat and Joseph ibn Migash.

During Samuel ha-Nagid's term of office, the Jew *Jekuthiel, who was later murdered by political rivals, served as vizier in Saragossa. A dynamic cultural center, Saragossa was the home of the philologist and grammarian *Ibn Janah, the controversial Bible commentator Moses ha-Kohen ibn *Gikatilla, the important neoplatonic philosopher and poet Solomon ibn *Gabirol, and the ethical writer *Bahya ibn Pakuda. The latter's major work, Fara'id al-Qulub (Heb. Hovot ha-Levavot, "The Duties of the Hearts"), shows the influence of Muslim ascetic ideals.

Other important communities were *Denia, a major port in eastern Spain and the residence of the talmudist R. *Isaac b. Reuben al-Bargeloni, *Tudela, *Almeria, and *Huesca.

Eleventh-century Toledo, capital of a Berber kingdom had a Jewish population of 4,000 and a Karaite community as well. It was taken by the Christians in 1085.

THE ALMORAVIDS.

[Muslim Victory at Zallaka against Castilian armies - Jews at the Muslim courts - poets at Seville]

The advance of the reconquest prompted al-Mu'tamid [[al-Mutamid]] of Seville to request the aid of Yusuf ibn Tashfin of North Africa, the leader of the fanatic *Almoravid sect. In 1086 the latter led the Muslim armies to victory at Zallaka against the Castilians commanded by Alfonso VI. Yusuf attempted to force Lucena Jewry to convert to Islam, but payment of a large sum of money caused him to rescind his decree.

Under his son, Ali (1106-43), Abu Ayyub Sulayman ibn Mu'allim served as court physician and Abu al-Hasan Abraham b. Meir ibn Kamaniel was sent on diplomatic missions. During Ali's reign the poets Abu Sulayman ibn Muhajir and Abu al-Fath Eleazar ibn Azhar lived in Seville. Córdoba continued to prosper and was a cultural center and the residence of the gifted poet Joseph b. Jacob *ibn Sahl (d. 1123) and the philosopher Joseph ibn *Zaddik.

THE ALMOHADS.

[Berber Almohad dynasty from Morocco in Spain: Jewish cultural institutions closed - forced Islamization]

In 1146 the *Almohads, an even more fanatic Berber dynasty of Morocco, led by 'Abd al-Mu'min, began their conquest of Muslim Spain, which put an end to the flourishing Jewish communities of Andalusia. The practice of the Jewish religion was forbidden by the authorities. Synagogues and yeshivot [[religious Torah schools]] were closed and Jews were compelled to embrace Islam. Many emigrated to Christian Spain; others outwardly professed Islam but secretly observed Judaism, an ominous portent of the Conversos in Christian Spain a century later.

R. *Abraham ibn Ezra composed a moving elegy on the demise of the Andalusian communities. In 1162 these secret Jews were (col. 225)

active in a revolt against the Almohads, particularly in deposing them in Granada. Almohad rule in Spain lasted longer than a century.

[Castilian conquests - Jews in the Arab kingdom of Granada]

<In the mid-13th century  the Castilians conquered a great part of Andalusia. The Muslims retained only the kingdom of Granada in southeastern Spain. This kingdom, which was ruled by the Arab dynasty of Banu al-Ahmar and existed for nearly 250 years, contained the important communities of Granada, *Málaga, and Almeria. Although there were periods when the rulers of Granada inclined toward religious fanaticism, they employed Jewish counselors and court physicians.

Jews from Christian Spain emigrated to Granada as their situation deteriorated. The poet, historian, and talmudist Saadiah b. Maimon *ibn Danan was rabbi of Granada in the late 15th century. At that time Isaac *Hamon was court physician and very influential in government circles.

When Granada surrendered to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, the last Muslim king stipulated that Jews enjoy the same rights as other subjects, i.e., judicial autonomy, freedom to practice their religion, and permission to emigrate. According to this treaty, Conversos who had come from Christian Spain could leave within a month. The Catholic monarchs, however, did not keep their word and proclaimed the edict of the expulsion of the Jews in Granada.

[E.A.]> (col. 226)
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Sources
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Spain, vol. 15,
                          col. 220
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Spain, vol. 15, col. 220
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Spain, vol. 15,
                          col. 221-222
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Spain, vol. 15, col. 221-222
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol.
                          15, col. 223-224
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 223-224
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol.
                          15, col. 225-226
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 225-226
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol.
                          15, col. 227-228
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 227-228
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol.
                          15, col. 229-230
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 229-230
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol.
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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 231-232
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol.
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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 233-234
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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 235-236
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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 237-238
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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 239-240
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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 241-242
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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 243-244
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol.
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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Spain, vol. 15, col. 245-246





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