Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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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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Bābāī ben Farhād

(582 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Bābāī b. Farhād is the author of Kitāb-i Sar-Guzasht-i Kāshān dar bāb-i ʿIbrī va Goyimi-yi Sānī (The Book of Events in Kashan Concerning the Jews; Their Second Conversion), the second Judeo-Persian chronicle in verse known thus far. It covers selected events between 1721 and 1731 during the reigns of the Ṣafavid shahs (see Iran/Persia) Sultan Ḥusayn (1694-1722) and Ṭahmāsp II (1722-1731). Bābāī b. Farhād acknowledges that his inspiration to record mostly contemporary events, some of which he witnessed, came from Kitāb-i A nusī (The Book of a Forced Convert), the first …

Bābāī ben Luṭf

(688 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Bābāī b. Luṭf, the author of Kitāb-i A nusī (The Book of a Forced Convert), the earliest known Judeo-Persian chronicle, lived in Kashan and was probably a native of that town. Most of what we know about him comes from his sketchy introduction to the chronicle. Clearly an educated man, Bābāī b. Luṭf believed that the major persecutions he witnessed, beginning in 1656 and ending in 1662, during the reign of the Ṣafavid Shah ʿAbbās II (1642-1666), constituted but another chapter in the long history of persecutions endured by the Jewish people. He therefore called his work a megillah (Heb. scrol…

Bābāʾī ben Nūrīʾel

(291 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Bābāʾī ben Nūrīʾel, a rabbi from Isfahan, translated the Pentateuch and the Book of Psalms into Persian between 1740 and 1741 for Nādir Shah (r. 1736–1746). The shah’s religious convictions, which vacillated between the Shīʿī and Sunni versions of Islam, continue to be the subject of scholarly debate. His curiosity about religions induced him to commission Persian translations of the Gospels and the Qur’ān in addition to the Pentateuch and Psalms. The translators of the Gospels (three European and five Armenian pries…

Babovitch, Tuvia

(8 words)

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

Bacri, David Cohen

(454 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
David Cohen Bacri (1770–1811) was an influential Algerian merchant who played a significant role in the relationship between the Regency of Algiers and France at the turn of the nineteenth century. He was the son of Joseph Cohen Bacri, who founded, with his three brothers, the Salomon Cohen Bacri and Brothers trading company in 1782. The firm became much larger and changed its name to Bacri and Busnach in 1797, when Naphtali ben Moïse Busnach became a partner. That same year, David married Naphtali’s sister Aziza, further solidifying the already close relationship …

Bacri, Jacob Cohen

(406 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Jacob Cohen Bacri (1763–1836), a businessman from Algiers, was a partner in Salmon Cohen Bacri and Brothers, a family firm established in 1782 (renamed Bacri and Busnach in 1797). After a short stay in Livorno (Leghorn) from 1785 to 1789, Jacob was sent to Marseilles by his older brother Joseph Cohen Bacri, and there he was in charge of the firm’s dealings with Genoa and the Levant. Jacob had a very close relationship with Dey Ḥasan, acting as his agent, and doing business and traveling under his protection. Acting both for the company and the dey, Jacob Bacri loaned the French government 10…

Bacri, Jean-Pierre

(433 words)

Author(s): Dinah Assouline Stillman
Jean-Pierre Bacriwas born in Castiglione (now Bou Ismail), Algeria, on May 24, 1951. His passion for cinema started early in childhood; his father worked in a movie theater on weekends. His family immigrated to Cannes, France, in 1962. He studied Latin and French literature at the university, intending to become a teacher of French literature and classics, but eventually left for Paris to write instead, while taking acting classes at the famous Cours Simon. Bacri wrote several plays, and received the 1979 Prize from the Fondation de la Vocation for Le doux visage de l’amour (Love’s Sweet …

Bacri, Joseph Cohen

(451 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Joseph Cohen Bacri (1740–1817), one of the five sons of Michel Cohen Bacri, was a merchant-banker and the muqaddam (government-appointed president) of the Jewish community of Algiers from 1811 to 1816. Along with three of his brothers, Jacob  Bacri, Mardochée, and Salomon, he founded a trading company named Salomon Cohen Bacri and Brothers in 1782 . The company was spearheaded by Joseph in Algiers and Salomon in Livorno (Leghorn). The Algiers branch shipped raw materials (feathers, wax, coral, leather, wool) as well as great quantities of gold and silver to …

Bacri, Roland

(410 words)

Author(s): Dinah Assouline Stillman
Roland Bacri, one of France’s leading political satirists, was born on April 1, 1926 in the Bab-El-Oued quarter of Algiers. At the age of thirty, after having contributed to the Canard Sauvage in Algiers for several years, he was invited to Paris to join the staff of  Le Canard enchaîné, a weekly satirical magazine devoted to politics. He worked there for almost forty years, often using the pseudonyms Roro de Bab-El-Oued and Le petit poète. A prolific writer, Bacri published many books and wrote poetry abounding with puns and calembours (wordplays) on political or cultural topics of…

Badajoz

(365 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
The city of Badajoz is situated in western Spain near the Portuguese border. The name Badajoz is well documented in Arabic sources as Baṭalyūs and Baṭalyaws ,  probably an arabization of an earlier Latin name. According to the historiographer Ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī (1286), quoting Ibn Ḥayyān (d. 1076) in his Kitāb a l-Mughrib fī Ḥulā al-Maghrib, the city was refounded by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Marwān al-Jilīqī during the emirate of ʿAbd Allāh (r. 888-912). It became a breakaway region from Umayyad central authority and was only taken back by Caliph ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III in 930. In the taifa (party …

Baghdad

(4,343 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ayalon | Ariel I. Ahram
1. Medieval Baghdad was founded by the caliph al-Manṣūr (r. 754–775) as the new capital of the Abbasid state and served as the seat of the caliphs till the Mongol conquest in 1258. Jews apparently settled in Baghdad from the very beginning, most of them arriving at first from neighboring towns in Iraq, and later from distant lands as well. At some point in the eighth century, Baghdad became the largest Jewish center in Iraq. Although most of the Jews in Baghdad were concentrated in the Dār al-Yāhūd quarter, many, especially merchants and tradesmen, lived elsewhere. Al-Karkh, a co…

Bahaism, Conversion to

(629 words)

Author(s): Moshe Sharon
The Bahā’ī faith appeared in Iran in 1844 from within the fold of Shīʽite Islam and amid mounting messianic expectations. Iranian Jews, in massive numbers, were among the early converts to the new religion in the late 1870s and 1880s. After the execution in 1850 of the prophet-founder of the new religion, Sayyid ʽAlī Muḥammad, known as the Bāb (Ar./Pers. gate), the Bābī movement was rescued by Mīrzā Ḥusayn ʽAlī Nūrī (1817–1892). He styled himself Bahā’u’llāh (Ar. The Glory of God), thus changing the name of the movement from Bābī to Bahā’ī. Bahā’u’llāh emphasized his messianic role, which…

Bahar, Beki L.

(441 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Beki Luiza Bahar, born in Istanbul in 1927, is a well-known Turkish playwright from Ankara. Bahar and her family moved to Ankara, Turkey’s new capital, in 1937 because of her father’s job. She graduated from TED (Turkish Educational Association) Ankara College and attended law school for a while. She also spent some time in Marseilles with her family before returning to Ankara. Her first article was published in 1958 in the weekly newspaper Haftanın Sesi, her first poem was published in 1959 in the anthology Varlık Yeni Şiirler Antolojisi, and her first short story was published in…

Bahar, Ivet

(228 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Dr. Ivet Bahar was born in Istanbul in 1957. After completing her B.S. (1980) and M.S. (1983) in the Chemical Engineering Department of Bosporus University, and her Ph.D. (1986) at Istanbul Technical University, she joined the chemistry faculty of Bosporus University. She rose in the academic ranks from assistant professor (1986–1988) and associate professor (1988–1993) to full professor (1993–2001), and was the founding director of the university’s Polymer Research Center (1989–2001). In 2001 Ba…

Bahar, Mois

(156 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Mois Bahar was born on September 27, 1945 in Istanbul and graduated in 1971 from the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty at Istanbul University. Since 1991 he has been professor and department chairman of anesthesia and intensive care at the Istanbul University Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty Hospital. He is, in addition the director of the Department of Craniocerebrospinal Trauma and Rehabilitation at Istanbul University’s Institute of Neurological Sciences, director of the Department for Anesthesia and Gene…

Bahrain (Bahrayn)

(317 words)

Author(s): Jeremy L. Hirsh
Although a Jewish community in the geographical area of Bahrain (Bahrayn) is referred to in the Talmud, in Arabic sources, and by the twelfth-century travler Benjamin of Tudela, the modern Jewish community traces its origins to the late 1880s, when Saleh Eliyahou Yadgar left his home in Basra and settled in Manama, the capital.  Subsequently, Jewish families from Basra, Baghdad, and other places in Iraq, and from Iran settled in Manama, and a synagogue and at least two Hebrew schools were established. Jews faced few social or economic restrictions in Bahrain, enjoyed excellen…

Baḥuṣim

(368 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
Baḥuṣim (Heb. outsiders), or sometimes baḥūṣiyya, a slightly arabized variant of the Hebrew, was the name Jewish townsfolk gave to the semi-nomadic, tent-dwelling Jews who lived in duwwārs, or small encampments, in the area extending from the region around Jerid and Le Kef in western Tunisia to the province of Constantine across the border in Algeria, where they could be found between Suq-el-Ahras and Tébessa and in the southern oases. Muslims referred to them as Yahūd al-cArab (Ar. Bedouin Jews). The baḥuṣim were often allied with or under the protection of larger Arab tribal confed…

Baḥya (Pseudo)

(440 words)

Author(s): Josefina Rodríguez Arribas
Very little is known about Pseudo-Baḥya, the name generally applied to the author of the Judeo-Arabic treatise Kitāb Maʿānī al-Nafs (On the Essence of the Soul), a Neoplatonic work that for some time was attributed to Baḥya Ibn Paqūda. The dates of the sources it mentions, such as Nissim ben Jacob Ibn Shāhīn and Ibn Sīna [Avicenna], and the fact that it does not mention any writers of the second half of the twelfth century indicate that Maʿānī al-Nafs was composed sometime between the mid-eleventh and mid-twelfth centuries. The author refers to another work of his entitled On the Gradation …

Balat

(949 words)

Author(s): Onur Yildirim
The Balat quarter of Istanbul, situated on the southern shores of the Golden Horn, was heavily populated by Jews from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century. There were Jews living in Balat as early as the Byzantine period, and they were joined by a substantial influx of exiles from Spain in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, but Balat became the principal center of Jewish presence in Istanbul only after the Great Fire of 1660. This calamity caused the destruction of thousands of Jewish homes and shops in the districts of Eminönü, Bağçekapusu, T…

Bali, Rifat

(460 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Rifat Bali, born into a Sephardi family in Istanbul in 1948, is an independent scholar specializing in minority issues and the history of Turkish Jews and the Turkish Republic. He received his primary education in a Jewish school, and his secondary and high school education in the French lycées Saint-Michel and Saint-Benoît respectively. From 1970 and until the late 1990s, he worked as a sales executive and later on was a self-employed businessman. Always longing for intellectual activity, he be…
Date: 2015-09-03
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