Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

Get access 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. 

Subscriptions: see brill.com

Maimonides, Moses

(3,626 words)

Author(s): Joel L. Kraemer
Moses ben Maimon, generally referred to as Maimonides or by the Hebrew acronym Rambam, was born in Cordova in 1137/38. He was the son of the scholar Maimon ben Joseph, and the scion of an illustrious succession of sages which he traced back seven generations (Kraemer, p. 421). A popular tradition relates that he was a descendant of R. Judah ha-Nasi, redactor of the Mishna, thereby having his genealogy go back to King David. Maimonides, however, makes no mention of this in his writings, and we may regard it as legendary. N…

Maimonides, Obadiah ben Abraham

(390 words)

Author(s): Paul Fenton
Obadiah ben Abraham Maimonides (1228–1265), one of the three known grandchildren of Moses Maimonides, was a pietistic mystic who lived in Cairo. Very little is known about him, the only substantial account having been written in the seventeenth century by the Egyptian Jewish chronicler Joseph Sambari. More is known about his elder brother David (1222–1300), who succeeded their father, Abraham, as head of Egyptian Jewry (Heb. nagid; Ar. raʾīs al-yahūd). Although mentioned together with David in a letter found in the Cairo Geniza as one of “the two great luminaries, the two ta…


(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Polemics (general) Norman A. Stillman

Majlis (Iran), Jews in

(1,367 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Iran’s first constitution was enacted in 1906 and a Majlis (parliament) was established. The constitution gave the Jewish, Armenian, and Zoroastrian religious minorities civil rights almost equal to those of Muslims.Each of the minority groups was given the right to elect a representative to the Majlis. Under the 1906 constitution, a Jew could only be elected to parliament as a representative of the Jewish community. They voted in elections to the Majlis as members of an ethnic group and not as individuals. There was, however, a slate of ca…

Majlisῑ, Muḥammad Bāqir, al-

(579 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
Muḥammad Bāqir al-Majlisῑ (d. 1699/1700) was one of the most important scholars of Imāmῑ (Twelver) Shīʿīsm in premodern Iran in sociopolitical matters as well as religious sciences. He mastered various fields of Islamic studies but was best known as an expert on ḥad th (Islamic traditions). Under his auspices, numerous Shīʿī ḥad ths were collected and compiled in Persian and Arabic books; the most famous and voluminous of these is Biḥār al-Anwār (Ar. Oceans of Lights), which in its modern edition runs to 110 volumes. One scholar maintains that this book explains …


(912 words)

Author(s): Jonathan P. Decter
Málaga (Ar. Mālaqa) is a port city on the Mediterranean coast of southern Iberia between Algeciras and Almería, positioned at the base of Mount Gibralfaro (Ar. jabal fāruh). The city was noted by medieval geographers for its international mercantile activity, the architectural beauty of its buildings, baths, and marketplaces, and the agricultural productivity of its environs. Its strategic location gave it a significant role in the political development of al-Andalus. Muslim historians note that Hispano-Jews in Málaga were mobilized into the militia during the conques…

Malchi (Malkhi) Esperanza

(280 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
Esperanza Malchi (Malkhi) was the third Jewish kira ( kiera, kyra), a Greek honorific title meaning lady, given to the women who attended to matters outside the palace for the queen mother ( valide sultan) and other influential women in the Ottoman royal harem. As a personal agent for Safiye, the consort of Murad III (r. 1574–1595) and the mother of Mehmed III (r. 1595–1603), Malchi played a part in the correspondence between Safiye and Queen Elizabeth I of England. At least once, in 1599, she addressed a letter in Italian to Elizabeth, dealing with the exchange of g…

Maleḥ, Jacques

(316 words)

Author(s): Ovadia Yeroushalmy
Jacques Maleḥ (Elmaleḥ) was a banker, writer, and journalist, born in Cairo in 1906. He began his literary career with a book entitled Chimères, published in Paris in 1927, and in 1935 published the novel Deux cœurs et dieux. He was a member of the Essayistes literary circle in Cairo, founded by Elian J. Finbert (1899–1976), who in the course of time became a noted author in France. In July 1931 Maleḥ took over as chief editor of the weekly L’Aurore in place of Lucien Sciuto (1858–1947), its owner and editor, who was experiencing economic and personal difficulties. Maleḥ obtained support from B’…

Malik al-Ramlī     

(638 words)

Author(s): Fred Astren
Malik al-Ramlī was the leader of a nonrabbinic Jewish movement in the mid-ninth century. Most of what is known about him comes from the tenth-century Karaite Jacob al-Qirqisānī, who states that Malik lived in Ramle in Palestine, as is indicated by his name. His followers were known in al-Qirqisānī’s time as al-Ramliyya or al-Malikiyya. He is treated in al-Qirqisānī’s heresiography in the same section as Abū ʿImrān al-Tiflīsī, and it is noted that neither “composed a book on the Law,” an observation that marks them in contrast to other nonrabbinic leaders, esp…

Malka, Solomon

(516 words)

Author(s): Naḥem Ilan
  Solomon Malka was born in Asfelou, in the Tafilalet region of Morocco, on August 14, 1878, and studied in his youth at a yeshiva in his hometown. In 1896, he married Hannah Assouline (1882–1952) from Tinghir, and two years later the couple immigrated to Palestine. Malka studied in Tiberias and Safed, was ordained as a rabbi, and served as a dayyan (rabbinical judge) in Tiberias. At the suggestion of Elijah Bekhor Ḥazzan, the chief rabbi of Alexandria, he set out in 1906 for Omdurman in what was then the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. In 1908, he brought his wife and two…


(458 words)

Author(s): Emily Gottreich
Specifically Jewish residential quarters, whether established by law or by custom, were found in towns and cities in many parts of the Islamic world. Depending on the locality, the Jewish quarter was designated as ḥārat al-yahūd, qāʿat al-yahūd, qāʿa, or maḥalla. The name used in Morocco since the fifteenth century is mallāḥ. Though often conflated with the European ghetto, the mallāḥ (Mor. Ar. mellāḥ) has a sufficiently distinct origin, morphology, and history to be considered an exclusively Moroccan institution. The term is derived from the salt marsh area in Fez where the first s…

Malul, Nissim Jacob

(598 words)

Author(s): Amy Jacobson
Nissim Jacob Malul (1892–1959) was born in Safed and studied at the American College in Tanta, Egypt and the Egyptian University, Cairo. An advocate of understanding and cooperation between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, he wrote for Arabic newspapers in Palestine, Egypt, and Lebanon, and worked for the Zionist Office in Jaffa. Nissim Jacob Malul was born in Safed in 1892 to a family of Tunisian descent. In 1900 his family moved to Egypt, where his father, R. Moses Ḥayyim, was appointed rabbi by the Jewish communities of Tanta and Cairo. Malul comp…

Mamālik al-Imām

(258 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
Mamālik al-imām (Ar. property/slaves of the imām) is a juridical concept in Shīʿī ḥad th, familiar to some eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Muslim legal scholars ( ulamāʾ), whereby the People of the Book are regarded as property or slaves of the Imām. This meant that if a member of a dhimm (see Dhimma) community killed or wounded someone, the dhimm community was not required to pay the blood money for the victim, and instead it would be taken from the perpetrator's property. If the perpetrator had no property, the indemnity for the felony would be claimed from the Imām, since dhimm s wer…

Maman, Joseph

(332 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Joseph Maman (1741–1825), the great spiritual leader of Bukharan Jewry, was born in Tetouan, Morocco. He went to Palestine in 1770 and settled in Safed. In 1792, he was sent as a rabbinical emissary (Heb. shaliaḥ de-rabbanan or shadar) to Iran to collect charitable funds. While there he spent a few months in Mashhad, where he met and developed cordial relations with  Siman Ṭov Melammed (d. 1800, 1823, or 1828),according the town’s learned spiritual leader. According to some sources, Maman learned about the deplorable religious state of the Jews of Bukhara …


(9 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Monastir (Bitola, Manastir) Norman A. Stillman


(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Great Britain Norman A. Stillman

Mandel, Irvin

(127 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Irvin Mandel, an Ashkenazi Jew, was born on November 20, 1956 in Istanbul. He holds a B.A. from the Higher Education Hospitality and Tourism Management program of the Glion Institute in Montreux, Switzerland, and is a partner in a tourism company. In addition, since 1992 he has drawn the “Mozotros Family” cartoon strip in Şalom, the only newspaper of the Turkish Jewish community. Mozotros is a Judeo-Spanish expression that means “our people.” The comic strip is a satirical depiction of the daily life of the  Jews of Istanbul. Mandel published his collected cartoons in five albums called Moz…

Mandel, Nil Molinas

(180 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Nil Molinas Mandel was born in Istanbul on December 1, 1955 and received her medical training at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty of Istanbul University. Following a year working in the Cardiology Institute at Istanbul University, she undertook a four-year residency in internal medicine at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty. She then spent two years at the Malatya State Hospital before returning to the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty in 1987 as an associate professor in its Department of Internal Medicine. She became a full professor in 1994. Her vis…

Mangūbī, Shabbetay Elijah

(9 words)

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

Mani, Elijah ben Sulayman

(378 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Elijah ben Sulayman Mani (1818–1899, known as the Re'em) was one of Baghdad’s most prominent rabbis. His career was emblematic of the movement of Baghdad’s rabbinic elite to the land of Israel in the nineteenth century. He was educated by Rabbi Abdullah Somekh, and fell under the influence of Rabbi Joseph Ḥayyim al-Ḥakam, the Ben Ish Ḥayy, who encouraged him to emigrate to Jerusalem. Among the duties Mani took up on arriving in Israel in 1856 was the management of Joseph Ḥayyim’s estate. He truly flourished in Hebron, however, and after the death of Moses Pereira in 1865 became it…
▲   Back to top   ▲