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. 

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Mhamid El Ghozlan

(307 words)

Author(s): Sarah Frances Levin
Mḥamid El Ghozlan (Ar. Maḥāmīd al-Ghazlān) is the southernmost oasis of the Draa (Ar. Darʿa) Valley of Morocco, located where the Draa riverbed bends southwest toward the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated on what was once a direct route to Timbuktu and long served as an important staging point for the trans-Saharan trade. Mḥamid has historically been populated by diverse sub-Saharan African groups, Jews, and Berber- and Arabic-speaking tribes. There is no evidence confirming legends of an ancient Jewish kingdom in the Draa, but the Jewish presence in Mḥamid El Ghozl…

Michael, Sami

(631 words)

Author(s): Nancy E. Berg
Born Saleh Kemal Menashe Mejaled in 1926, the  Israeli writer Sami Michael grew up in the Jewish quarter of Baghdad before moving to the suburbs. Active in the Communist underground as a young man, he fled to Iran and was later sentenced to death in absentia. Airlifted to Israel in 1949, he joined the editorial staff of the Arabic newspaper al-Ittiḥād and published stories in the journal al-Jadīd under the name Samir Mārid. After completing his compulsory army service, he joined the Israel Hydrological Service, where he worked until taking early retirement in 1…


(9 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Atlas Mountains (Morocco) Norman A. Stillman

Midrash and Aggada - activity and reception in the Islamic era

(1,348 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
Aggadic midrash is a Jewish literary form which encompasses Bible-related rabbinic teachings arranged in anthological collections. This literary type was originally created and developed by the tannaitic and amoraic sages of Late Antiquity in Roman and Byzantine Palestine, but it continued to play a cultural role in the Jewish world under Islam. New works were compiled, earlier works were adapted and redacted; midrashic ideas, images, and interpretations were subjected to ongoing adaptation and …

Midrash Rabba in the Islamic domain

(693 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
From the beginning of  Jewish printing in the fifteenth century, Midrash Rabba has been the most popular collection of midrashim on the Pentateuch and Five Scrolls, and the most frequently studied and interpreted midrashic text. However, Midrash Rabba is not a unified work.  Rather, it represents a collection of early and late works, differing from each other in style, structure, and context, that span the period from the fifth to the twelfth century. The discussion in this article focuses on components o…

Midrash Tanḥuma in the Islamic Cultural Milieu

(1,247 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
Midrash Tanḥuma (sometimes also called Yelammedenu) is the name given to a family of homiletical midrashic works on the Pentateuch. Its earliest versions were probably produced in Palestine of the Byzantine period, prior to the Muslim conquest. However, the Midrash continued to evolve after the Muslim conquest and was disseminated in a variety of editions, some of which absorbed features and elements that represent the cultural tendencies, as well as the literary preferences, of the Jews in Islamic lands at the turn of the first millennium. The c…

Mīkhāʾīl , Murād

(666 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Murād Mīkhāʾīl was an Iraqi/Israeli  poet, short story writer, literary historian, and educator. Born in Baghdad in 1906, he was educated at the Raḥel Shaḥmūn and Alliance Israélite Universelle schools; in 1938 he graduated from the Baghdad Law College. Between 1928 and 1940 he taught Arabic language and literature at the Shammāsh School in Baghdad, and in 1941 he was appointed its headmaster, continuing in that position until 1947. From the early 1920s, Mīkhāʾīl  showed a strong interest in poetry and, to a lesser degree, in fiction. In 1922, he published his fi…

Mikve Israel Agricultural School

(493 words)

Author(s): Derek Penslar
Mikve Israel was an agricultural school in Palestine founded in 1870 by the Alliance Israélite Universelle. It was the brainchild of  Charles Netter (1826–1882), an Alsatian-Jewish merchant, who believed that an agricultural school would promote the economic and moral regeneration of Jewish youth in Palestine, and eventually throughout the Middle East, in anticipation of eventual large-scale Jewish migration to Palestine. The school, built on 243 hectares (600 acres) of land southeast of Jaffa (Yafo), was financed largely by Netter until 1873, when  Baron Maurice de Hirsch (1…


(7 words)

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


(853 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
An agricultural and market town inhabited mainly by Berbers, Miliana (Ar. Milyānā) is located at an altitude of 740 meters (2,428 feet) and is 160 kilometers (99 miles) southwest of Algiers, on the southern flank of Mount Zakkār Gharbī. Miliana developed in the tenth century on the site of the ancient Roman town of Zucchabar. The origins of its Jewish community date from at least the fourteenth century, when it became a destination for Jewish refugees from Spain. Some Jews from Miliana later settled in Oran when the Algerians recaptured the town from the Spanish in 1792. Before …


(3,989 words)

Author(s): Avigdor Levy
The Turkish term millet (from Ar. milla; Ott. Tur. pl. milel; mod. Tur. pl. milletler) originally meant both a religion and a religious community. In the nineteenth century, while retaining its original meanings, it also came to denote such modern concepts as nation and nationality. The term “ millet system” is used in reference to the set of administrative arrangements that allowed non-Muslim religious communities in the Ottoman Empire to enjoy a wide measure of religious and cultural freedom, as well as considerable administrative, fiscal, and legal auto…


(1,300 words)

Author(s): Sasha Goldstein-Sabbah
The Mimouna (Mīmūna) is a minor noncanonical holiday that marks the end of the Passover festival. It was traditionally celebrated in Morocco and western Algeria. Jews from eastern Algeria, Tunisia, and Tripolitania had similar customs related to the end of Passover but not specifically those of the Mimouna. From ancient times, minor celebrations known as Isru Ḥag (lit. bind the sacrifice; Psalm 118:27) marked the day following each of the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Sukkot, Shavu’ot) throughout the Jewish world, but they usually only e…

Mīrzā Menahem

(337 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Rabbi Menahem Samuel Halevy, known as Mīrzā Menahem (an honorific roughly equivalent to Mr. Menahem) in the Jewish communities of Iran, was born in Hamadan in 1884. He began his education in his father’s yeshiva and continued it at the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) school and the public schools in Hamadan. At the age of twenty he became a Hebrew teacher at the AIU school. From 1912 through 1922 he was its principal, and also taught French in the public schools and to the children of elite families. In 1921 some of Mīrzā Menahem’s Hebrew poetry was published in Hamadan (with Judeo-…

Misbāḥ (Baghdad), al-

(437 words)

Author(s): Orit Bashkin
Al-Misbāḥ (Ar. The Lamp; the masthead also had the Hebrew equivalent, Ha-Menora) was a Jewish journal in Arabic published in Iraq. It first appeared in April 1924 and survived until July 1929. Its first editor was the Jewish intellectual and lawyer Anwār Shā’ul (1904–1984), but in February 1925 the  publisher, Salmān Shīna (1899–1978), took over as editor. Issues of concern to the Iraqi Jewish community were regularly discussed in al-Misbāḥ. It advocated integration into Iraqi cultural and political institutions, called for greater rights for Jewish women, report…

Mishael ben Uzziel

(839 words)

Author(s): Aharon Maman
Mishael ben Uzziel was active from the end of the tenth century into the first half of the eleventh, a little after the time of the Masoretes Aaron ben Asher and Moses ben Naphtali. He is known mostly for two important literary worksBib: (a) The corrections of the magnificent Torah manuscript preserved in the Cairo Karaite Synagogue (no. 18 in Gottheil’s list; Q3 in Penkower), written soon after the Aleppo Codex (MS Ben-Zvi 1) and a little before the St. Petersburg (Leningrad) MS B19a of the Bible, finished in 1008; and (b) the  Kitāb al-Khilaf, a composition in which he drew up a list of the differ…

Mishʿan, Elijah

(265 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Elijah ben Abraham Mishʿan (d. 1882) was the most influential kabbalist of the Aleppo community in the nineteenth century, and his students, most notably Ḥayyim Saul Duwayk, had enormous influence in the Jerusalem Jewish community into the period of the British Mandate. Mishʿan was regularly consulted by the Jerusalem kabbalists of the Bet El school, especially Jedidiah Raphael Ḥayy Abulafia, as well as by Moses Galante of Damascus. He played an instrumental role in determining the standard version of Shalom Sharabi’s prayerbook, for which the Aleppo version is viewed as p…

Mīshawayh al-ʿUkbarī

(796 words)

Author(s): Yoram Erder
Mīshawayh al-ʿUkbarī founded a sect in Babylonia/Iraq in the second half of the ninth century that is known mainly from Karaite texts (see Karaism). The name Mīshawayh indicates that he was of Persian origin. ʿUkbara is not far from Baghdad. Some Karaite sources refer to him as Baʿalbeqi, which perhaps indicates that he emigrated from Babylonia to the vicinity of Baalbek in northern Lebanon. Although Mīshawayh was later attacked by the Karaites, he appears to have been associated with the Karaite Mourners of Zion sect at the beginning of his career. The Mourners held that si…


(399 words)

Author(s): Rachel Simon
Mislata (Mesallata, Qusabat) is 225 kilometers (140 miles) southeast of Tripoli, Libya. It had an ancient Jewish community which was persecuted under the Almohad dynasty in 1150 and had to temporarily move to the island of Jerba (as mentioned in the addition to Ibn Ezra’s famous lament for communities that suffered under the Almohads). From then on the Jews kept their homes closed to foreign visitors during the first two days of Passover and the two days of the New Year. Following another tradition, Jewish men rode…


(407 words)

Author(s): Rachel Simon
  Misrata lies in a large palm oasis 220 kilometers (124 miles) east of Tripoli, Libya.  The town bears the name of a Berber tribe, the Miṣrāta (or Misrāta).  In modern times consisted of two quarters,  Matin, built in  the Ottoman period, and the older village of Yidder.   Its ancient Jewish community was persecuted in 1150 by the Almohad dynasty. The poet Abraham ibn Ezra asks God, in his elegy to the victims of the Almohads: “And the stricken community of Misrata hast Thou forgotten / Whose suffering was so great, and whose tongues are weary with lament…


(7 words)

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