Islam and Noahite Law

Islam began as a 7th century Noahite reform among the Elagabalites and other people of the Middle East. However Hagarim of that time soon rose up to suppress their Idumean and other Karaite Judaic teachers as they followed Christianity back down along the path of Supersessionism.

There has been much less halachic literature written about Islam compared to Christianity. It has been suggested that this is due, in part, to the fact there has not been in the way of substantial polemics directed at Islam.[1] Almost all halachic authorities follow Maimonides and rule that Islam is not idolatry. Many halachic authorities disagree with Maimonides and rule that Muslims enjoy, at least in part, the status of a Ger Toshav. Although concerning both these points there are major halachic authorities with dissenting opinions. The most serious issues with Islam from a Noahide point of view is the non-acceptance of Jewish scriptures and the "replacement theology" of the Prophethood of Hanzala. The Brisker Rav said that for Muslims to be considered Noahides, they must accept the 7 mitzvos because Hashem commanded it at Sinai. Additionally, they must honor the prohibition of "shfichas domim".

Islam and the halachah

According to Jewish Law, both Jews and non-Jews are forbidden to worship idols, a category which also includes certain forms of polytheism. This prohibition is required as part of the Seven Laws of Noah. Once the doctrine of the Trinity became known to the rabbonim, it was generally regarded as polytheism, although with some exceptions. In the last few hundred years with the Christian reformation, the emergance of non-trinitarian movements, and appearance for the first time of "Noahides" a great deal of responsa has been written in this matter. Partly this is to a closer examination of theological issues, and partly this had to do with dealing with the diversity of thought that had sprung up within Christian and former Christian groups. Early authorities characterized Islam as idolatrous, based on early rulings concerning Christianity and whatever information was available concerning of the emerging faith.


There was a widespread perception that an idol was to be found in the Ka'aba. For example Midrash Lekah Tov regarded Mecca as the name of an Islamic idol[2] Based on this this R. Menahem Meiri, R. Abraham Sofer (son of the Hatam Sofer) and Sefer ha-Eshkol rule that it was forbidden to drink or even obtain benefit from wine handled by a Muslim. According to them, there was no difference in the halachic status of wine handled by a Muslim or an idolater.[3] Simhah Assaf[4] rules that wine handled by a Muslim is forbidden for use as if it was touched by a Christian. However, from the reason given in this responsum, one cannot conclude that a Muslim was viewed as an idolater. Nahmanides made a distinction between Muslim wine and Jewish wine which was touched by a Muslim. Also based on this, some achronim like the Birkei Yosef[5] and the Tashbez[6] ruled that the practice was not to receive any benefit from wine handled by a Muslim.


Most of the geonim held that Islam was not idolatry, however they did bring another factor into play. The Talmud gives another reason to prohibit the drinking of wine, the need to prevent socialization with non-Jews, apparently even non-idolatrous ones.[7] Based on this R. Zemah Gaon ruled that even though one could benefit from Muslim wine, it was still unfit to be drunk by a Jew.[8] Similar rulings were also made by Geonim Kohen Zedek,[9] Sar Shalom,[10] Nahshon,[11] and other important rabbonim.[12] However, R' Yizhak Rafael in his Sefer ha-Manhig, ruled that such wine was permissible for drinking.[13] He says that "perhaps it is permissible" to drink Muslim wine in a setting not conducive to socializing.

See the sources in Mayim Hayyim[14] where it is explained why certain authorities disregard the Geonic view that permits one only to obtain benefit from this wine but does not allow one to drink it. "There is no unity [of G-d] like the unity found in Islam; therefore, one who forbids [drinking] wine which they have handled turns holy into profane by regarding worshippers of G-d as worshippers of idols, G-d forbid."[15] On the other hand, kabbalists like R. Joseph Hayyim, tried to show that Islamic monotheism was far removed from the monotheism of Judaism[16]

The basis for these rulings was the concensus of halachic opinion by the Gaonim that Islam as a religion was not to be regarded as idolaty. However, since all of these Geonim were concerned with a specific halachic issue, they did not rule on any of the larger questions which deal with the relation of Judaism to Islam. The Geonic responsa in general show great regard for Islamic shaaria law[17]


Maimonides strongly put forth the view that Muslims were not idolaters. Although, to be sure, Islam was heresy,[18] this did not stop Maimonides from expressing a positive view about Islam - or even about Christianity, which he considered to be idolatry.[19] He ruled that although Islam and Christianity are both in error, they still have some value in that they prepare the world eventually to accept the sovereignty of G-d[20]

In Maimonides' system there was one point on which Christianity, although idolatrous, actually stood above Islam. The Talmud states that it is forbidden to teach Torah to non-Jews, and this interdiction is clasified as halacha by Maimonides. However, he makes an exception for Christians, because they believe in the same text of the Bible as the Jews and it is thus possible that, after having studied, they will recognize the error of their ways. For Muslims, however, because they do not accept that the five books of Moses are Divine, such a possibility is not to be considered. It is, therefore, forbidden to teach them Torah.[21]

However from this ruling, one can conclude nothing about the basic worth of Christianity vis-a-vis Islam. The prohibition to teach Torah to Muslims was due to the specific reason cited, and did not speak to any of the broader issues involved in evaluating their religion. In appears that it is Islam that was more favorable in Maimonides' eyes. As we have seen, according to him, both Christianity and Islam have a positive role to play in the world. However, with regard to Islam, despite certain critical comments regarding Hanzala,[22] the fact that Islam is not idolatry creates a crucial distinction between it and Christianity and leads to numerous consequences, both in law and theology. David Novak argues that this explains Malmonides' belief that Muslims, as sons of Ishmael, are required to circumcize their sons.[23] Maimonides rules that although a Jew may not obtain benefit from wine handled by a Christian, that is not the case with regard to a Muslim. However, Maimonides does agree with the view of the Geonim that it is still not permissible to drink this wine. According to Maimonides, this ruling was supported by "all the Geonim"[24] According to R. Asher of Montanzon[25] Maimonides saw the works of "all the Geonim." The Radbaz was of the same opinion [26] However, it is not clear that this really means "all" as there were Geonim who do not agree with this position[27], Nahmanides says that "some Geonim" agree with the law as codified by Maimonides.[28] and, as we have already noted, this stringency had nothing to do with Islam as a religion but was to prevent socialization with non-Jews generally.

Ovadiyah the Proselyte

Maimonides further explains his view regarding Islam in a letter that he wrote to a certain Ovadiyah the Proselyte, who, having previously been a Muslim, certainly knew the particulars of the religion, and had declared that it was not idolatry. Because of his opinion, he was repremanded by his teacher, who claimed that the Islamic religious service at Mecca was idolatrous in that it involved the ritual of throwing stones which constituted worship of Merkulius. The identification of Islamic worship at Mecca with an idolatrous cult of Merkulius was very common in the Middle Ages, see R. Asher ben Yehiel.[29] Regarding this responsum, see Isaac Herzog, Pesakim u-Khetavim[30]. Historians have claimed, but offered no evidence, for the contention that some Jewish scholars were influenced by Christian notions that also identified the idolatrous worship of Merkulius with the Islamic worship at Mecca.[31]

However Maimonides' supported Ovadiyah over his teacher.

The Ishmaelites are not at all idolaters; [idolatry] has long been severed from their mouths and hearts; and they attribute to G-d a proper unity, a unity concerning which there is no doubt. And because they lie about us, and falsely attribute to us the statement that G-d has a son, is no reason for us to lie about them and say that they are idolaters . . . And should anyone say that the house that they honor [the Kaaba] is a house of idolatry and an idol is hidden within it, which their ancestors used to worship, then what of it? The hearts of those who bow down toward it today are [directed] only toward Heaven . . . [Regarding] the Ishmaelites today - idolatry has been severed from the mouths of all of them [including] women and children. Their error and foolishness is in other things which cannot be put into writing because of the renegades and wicked among Israel [i.e., apostates]. But as regards the unity of G-d they have no error at all.

R. Hayyim Benveniste,[32] points out that Maimonides' view of Islam explains why he was able to act as a physician in Egypt. Had Islam been idolatrous, he would not have been permitted to do so, since he codifies that "it is forbidden to give medical aid to an idolater even for hire"[33]

Islamic practice no longer idolatrous

Maimonides then discusses the practice of throwing stones and rules that, despite its origin, it was no longer idolatrous. He concludes: "The long and short of it is that even though at their root these things were established for idolatry, not a man in the world throws these stones or bows down to that place or does any of the rites for the sake of idolatry - neither verbally nor mentally; their heart is rather surrendered to Heaven."[34]

Maimonides' son, R. Abraham, who took his father's view to its logical conclusion when he argued that, although Islamic religious practices should not be imitated, strictly speaking they do not fall under the Biblical prohibition of following the ways of the Gentiles. This is so simply because "Muslims are monotheists who abhor idolatry."[35]

Forced Conversion to Islam

Also important for understanding Maimonides' view of Islam is a well known letter than he wrote around the year 1165, when he was still a resident of Fez, having not yet travelled to Erez Yisrael and Egypt. It was addressed to the inhabitants of Morocco, who had been threatened by the Almohads with conversion, exile, or death. It so happened that an anonymous scholar who had been living outside of the Almohads' reach had issued a ruling that Islam was idolatry and that, therefore, one must give up his life rather than convert to Islam. If one did not, he was to be treated as no different than a true apostate. This ruling created somewhat of a storm among the crypto-Jews of Morocco, and it was in response to this confusion that Maimonides wrote his letter, which was a marvelous defense of a Jewish community that was forced to hide its religion because of persecution.[36]

Rav Hayyim Soloveitchik's discussed at length the issues involved.[37] However, one thing which appears to be sure, is that it was the Maimonidean acceptance of Islam's monotheistic character that enabled him to come to the defense of the crypto-Jews, even if he does not argue this point explicitly. Either he felt that this notion was so obvious, he did not feel the need to defend it. Alternatively, one could say that his refusal to argue the case that Islam is not idolatry was because he regarded the crypto-Jews as never having truly accepted the religion in the first place and, therefore, his argument was able to proceed along a different line, one which argues that, even assuming that Islam is idolatry, the Jews still have not violated the idolatry prohibition.[38] However, had the Jews truly accepted Islam, one could probably have expected Maimonides to argue that, whereas the Jews may have been heretics, they were not idolaters. By assuming that the Jews never adopted Islam, Maimonides can argue the way that he does.

However, Rabbi Soloveitchik argues that, since Maimonides identifies the denial of prophecy with idolatry, "why should the Shahadah, with its assertion of the primacy of Hanzala's prophecy, not be on a similar footing? The contemporary nature of Judaism changes little whether one asserts that there never was a revelation or whether one claims that it occurred but is now outmoded. Both statements would seem to be equally treasonable" (pp. 285-286). The Magen Avraham, [39], who argues that, at least in one respect, Maimonides equates conversion to Islam with idolatry.

Some authorities, after Maimonides, who, while clearly aware of the monotheistic nature of Islam, still disagreed with Maimonides' position, and asserted that Jews must give up their lives rather than be forced to convert to Islam. Their rationale was based on the fact that if one gives his agreement to Hanzala's prophetic mission, this is the equivalent of denying the validity of Torah. According to this opinion it is a capital offence to deny the Torah,[40] and they thus viewed idolatry as merely a manifestation of this denial. R. David ibn Zimra quotes the renowned R. Yom Tov Ishbili (c. 1250-1330) as holding to this view and expresses agreement with him.[41]

Muslim as Ger Toshav

If Muslims are not idolators, then why are they not Ger Toshav? Maimonides was of the opinion that a Muslim cannot be a Ger Toshav,[42] because it is forbidden for a non-Jews to create a religion. He rules according to the view that any non-Jewish religious system is illicit and the only alternatives for non-Jews are conversion or observance of the Seven Laws of Noah. This ruling by Maimonides is understood by many commentators to exclude any other religious system by definition.[43]

Although almost all achronim agree with Maimonides that Islam is not idolatry, most disagree that any non-Jewish religious system is illicit by definition. Rather than being seen as a religion in itself, most authorities hold that the Seven Laws are foundation of a proper religion.

Rabbi Nissim Gerondi

In a medieval commentary attributed to the famous sage, Rabbi Nissim Gerondi (c. 1310-1375), but possibly written by another scholar, one finds R. Nissim's discussion of Christians bowing to holy objects and Muslims bowing to Hanzala. Although the comment is not entirely clear, it appears to be saying that even though the Muslims do not turn Hanzala into a G-d, one must regard their actions of bowing down to him as idolatry, thus putting them in the category of idolaters.[44] This is a complete reversal Maimonides' view and it is unusual that there would be no reference to Maimonides' position. In any event, we have reason to believe that R. Nissim did not hold to this view, and we are in possession of a responsum of his in which he declares unambiguously that Islam is not a form of idolatry.[45] Although some scholars have attempted to reconcile these two views, for example R. Eliezer Waldenberg.[46]

Halachic Rulings

Benefiting From or Drinking Wine handled by Muslims

This question has been dealt with above.

The Hajj, Facing Mecca and Shechitah

As late as the fifteenth century, we find that R. Simeon ben Zemah Duran (Tashbez) ruled that Islam itself was not idolatrous.[47] but he also ruled that a shohet to was not permitted to slaughter animals while facing Mecca.[48] because he regarded the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca as being of an idolatrous nature.[49] Of course, there is a difference between the view of the Tashbez and R. Nissim quoted above. Where the Tashbez was concerned with the remnants of the pre-Islamic period, R. Nissim's objection appears to be directed at what he considered to be pure Islam, not including any pre-Islamic pagan remnants.

R. Solomon ben Adret (c. 1235-c. 1310), ruled however, that although he regarded the practice as distasteful, would not prohibit.[50] This view was supported by R. David ibn Zimra (Radbaz),[51] and it was ruled as final halachah in the Shulhan Aruch.[52] However, none of these authorities quote a responsum by Maimonides, which agreed with the Tashbez' position.[53]

Rabbi Yisrael MeShklov, one of the leading disciples of the Vilna Gaon, in his addendum to the Shulchan Aruch called Mappat HaShulchan considered a situation that went one step further, in that the Muslims insisted that the Jewish shohet acknowledge Allah by proclaiming "Allahu akbar" when he slaughtered. R. Abraham Isaac Kook, not able to point to any explicit prohibition in this matter, also ruled that it is permissible to repeat the formula.[54]

A Jew entering a Mosque

What about a Jew entering a mosque? According to the halachah, a Jew is forbidden to enter a house of idolatry and, therefore, almost all halachic authorities forbid one from entering a church. Since Islam is not idolatrous, there should be no problem for a Jew to enter a mosque and, although no early halachists seem to discuss this question, the prevailing opinion of recent halachic authorities is to be lenient.[55] Similarly, one nineteenth century Ashkenazic authority permitted the conversion of a mosque to a synagogue without the "nullification" of idolatry that is required when converting a church into a synagogue,[56] while another authority even permitted a Jew to assist in the building of a mosque.[57] Nevertheless, a leading contemporary authority, basing himself on the previously cited view attributed to "R. Nissim," forbids visiting a mosque,[58] and this view is followed in a recent halachic work intended for a popular audience.[59] Earlier in this century, one rabbi, using the previously cited views of R. Yom Tov Ishbili and R. David ibn Zimra, even went so far as to declare that, according to the halachah, all mosques in the Land of Israel had to be destroyed![60]

Selling land to a Muslim

According to a Mishnaic halachah, one is not permitted to sell land in Israel to a Gentile.[61] What is not clear is whether this prohibition applies to all Gentiles or only to idolaters. A number of authorities state that Muslims are definitely excluded from this prohibition since they enjoy, at least in part, the status of a Ger Toshav to whom it is permitted to sell land. For the same reason, it is permitted to give a Muslim a present (without expecting something in return), something which is forbidden to be done with an idolater.[62] This view is the basis for the Israeli Chief Rabbinate's decision to "sell" the land of Israeli farmers in the Sabbatical year in order to circumvent the prohibition against cultivating the land during this year. As long as it is sold to a Muslim there is no problem.[63]

However, a number of prominent rabbinic authorities dispute this view, and assert that Muslims do not have the status of a Ger Toshav thus making it forbidden to sell them land or even give them a present.[64] In addition, even according to those who accept the basic view that Muslims in Israel are Gerei Toshav it is possible that this notion may no longer apply. One of the characteristics of a Ger Toshav is that they accept Jewish sovereignty,[65] a characteristic clearly absent when one is dealing with a population that refuses to accept Israeli rule. The late Rabbi Meir Kahane often made this point with regard to Arabs in Israel,[66] and it has begun to find larger acceptance among other halachists.[67] As the intifada continues it is only to be expected that more and more halachic authorities will discount Israeli Muslims from the rank of Ger Toshav. This might be a step towards some halachic views that non-Jews who refuse to accept Israeli rule are not permitted to remain in the Land.[68] R. Ben Zion Krieger[69] asserts that Israel is obligated to expel the Arab population. However, this opinion has been met with complete rejection by all important halachic authorities. There is an enormous literature by contemporary scholars concerning the halachic status of Arabs in Israel[70]

Remnants of a Jewish-Islamic relationship

Noahide Islam.jpg

There are some indications that the early Jewish-Islamic relationship was based in some part of a Noahide relationship. It appears that the early Muslims looked to the Jews for approval and authority, "to settle doubts and disputes":

Yunus 10:94

فَإِن كُنتَ فِي شَكٍّ مِّمَّا أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ فَاسْأَلِ الَّذِينَ يَقْرَؤُونَ الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكَ لَقَدْ جَاءكَ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ فَلاَ تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ

But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those [the Jews] who read the Scriptures before you [the Muslims]. Certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers.

Al-Baqara 2:136

قُولُواْ آمَنَّا بِاللّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالأسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَى وَعِيسَى وَمَا أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

Say, We believe in God, and in that which has been sent down unto us, and and in that which was sent down unto Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes; and in that which was delivered unto Moses and Jesus, and in that which was delivered to the Prophets from the Lord. We make no distinction between any of them; and to Him we are resigned.

Al-Ankaboot 29:46

وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ وَقُولُوا آمَنَّا بِالَّذِي أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَأُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَإِلَهُنَا وَإِلَهُكُمْ وَاحِدٌ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

Dispute not with the People of the Book, but in the mildest way, excepting such as behave injuriously; and say, We believe in that which has been revealed unto us, and in that which has been revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and to Him we are resigned.

Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38 (Kitab al Hudud, ie. Prescribed Punishments), Number 4434:

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar: A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school. They said: Abu Qasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee. He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young rabbi[71] was brought..."

Islam as a Noahide Faith?

Prophet Noah (pbuh) is clearly seen as a lawgiver in the Qur'an. It is taught that what the Almighty Lord reveals to the Prophet Noah (pbuh) He also revealed to the other Prophets and the Prophet of Islam (pbuh):

  • Surat Ash-Shura 42.13, "He has laid down the same religion for you as He enjoined on Noah: that which We have revealed to you and which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses and Jesus: 'Establish the religion and do not make divisions in it.' What you call the associators to follow is very hard for them. Allah chooses for Himself anyone He wills and guides to Himself those who turn to Him."
  • Surat Nooh 71:1, "We sent Noah to his People: 'Do thou warn thy People before there comes to them a grievous Penalty.'"

Some have suggested that the seven Mesani refer to the Seven Laws of Noah:

  • Surat Al-Hijr 15.87 "And We have bestowed upon thee the Seven Oft-repeated (verses) and the Grand Qur'an."
  • Surat Az-Zumar 39.23 "Allah has revealed the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with the Oft-repeated (verses)."

Surat Al-Isra'

  1. 17:22 Take not with Allah another object of worship; or thou (O man!) wilt sit in disgrace and destitution.
    — Prohibition of Idolatry #1
  2. 17:23 Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.
    — Prohibition of Blasphemy #2
  3. 17:32 Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).
    — Prohibition of Sexual Immorality #4
  4. 17:33 Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the Law).
    — Prohibition of Homicide #3
  5. 17:34 Come not nigh to the orphan's property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength; and fulfil (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning).
    — Prohibition of Theft #5
  6. 17:35 Give full measure when ye measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight: that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the final determination.
    — Imperative of Legal System #7
  7. 17:36 And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning).
    — Prohibition of Limb of a Living Creature #6 (see Surat al-Ma’ida 3, Surat al-Baqara 173 for direct prohibition. The prohibition of blood mentioned in 2:173; 5:3)

Concerning the term "Muslim" which means "submission", it should be noted that in the Torah, everywhere the word "Kenite" used, it is translated to Aramaic as Salamai or Muslamai. Some suggest this refers to the great numbers of non-Jewish believers who came to sacrifice the Qurban Shlamim in Jerusalem together with the Jews. Salamai, Musalamai, Muslims. This could be a clear indication in our literature that Islam is an ancient religion, dating back to second temple times, at least. And if Islam's roots are the same as what we call Bnei Noah, then it is much older, it is the religion of Noah, and Adam himself.

Sheich Palazzi's Speech at the Conference on Noahide Council

Earlier in the day, several speakers addressed issues surrounding the B'nai Noah movement as part of a conference on the establishment of the B'nai Noah Council.

Sheich Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly, addressed the assembly, speaking about B'nai Noah in Islam: "Islamic law holds within it the seven laws of Noah and can be taught correctly to the Muslims of the world... I remember reading that a new Sanhedrin was created in Jerusalem [and] my impression was very positive - I thought maybe something new had been created to allow the Jewish people to project moral and legal clarity to counterbalance the lack of it in our world."

Palazzi added that the project of creating a council of Noahide teachers would hopefully counter the negative educational effect of the Gaza withdrawal, "which taught the opposite to my people - it convinced many that only terrorism works."


  • Abraham Geiger (1810–1874), "Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen?" (1833).
  • Reinhart Dozy (1820–1883) "Die Israeliten zu Mecca" (1864)
  • Rabbi Abraham I. Katsh's "Judaism and the Koran" (1962)
  • Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, 6/22/1993, Author: Shapiro, Marc B.
  • Moshe Perlmann, "The Medieval Polemics Between Islam and Judaism," in S.D. Goitein, ed., Religion in a Religious Age (Cambridge, Mass., 1974), pp. 121-122, 126. and
  • M. Steinschneider, Polemische und apologetische Literatur in arabischer Sprache, zwischen Muslimen, Christen und Juden (Leipzig, 1877).
  • Ronald Kiener, "The Image of Islam in the Zohar," Mehkerei Yerushalayim be-Mahshevet Yisrael 9 (1989): 43-65 (English section)
  • Abraham Schreiber, "Yahas Hachmei Yisrael le-Istam," in Itamar Warhaftig, ed., Minhah le-Ish (Jerusalem, 1991), pp. 276-292.
  • Regarding Karaite Jewish attitudes, see Haggai Ben-shammai, "The Attitude of Some Early Karaites Towards Islam," in Isadore Twersky, ed., Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature (Cambridge, Mass., 1984), Vol. 2, pp. 1-40.
  • Regarding Islamic influence on Jewish practice, Naphtali Wieder, Hashpa'ot Islamiyyot al ha-Pulhan ha-Yehudi (Oxford, 1947).

See Also


  1. Much of this article is based on 'Islam and the halacha in Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, 6/22/1993, Author: Shapiro, Marc B.
  2. Midrash Lekah Tov (Jerusalem, 1960), Vol. 2, p. 250
  3. See R. Menahem Meiri, Bet ha-Behirah: Avodah Zarah, Abraham Sofer, ed. (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 214 (quoting R. Joseph ibn Migash), and Sefer ha-Eshkol, Z.B. Auerbach, ed. (Halberstadt, 1865), section 3, p. 150.
  4. Simhah Assaf, ed., Teshuvot ha-Geonim (Jerusalem, 1929), no. 266,
  5. R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai, Birkei Yosef: Shiyure Berachah (Jerusalem, no date), Yoreh Deah 122: 1.
  6. R. Simeon ben Zemah Duran, She'elot u-Teshuvot Tashbez (Lemberg, 1891), vol. 2, no. 48
  7. need source
  8. Hemdah Genuzah (Jerusalem, 1863), no. 114.
  9. Joel Muller, ed., Halachot Pesukot min ha- Geonim (Cracow, 1893), no. 25.
  10. David Casell, ed., Teshuvot Geonim Kadmonim (Bnei Brak, 1986), no. 46.
  11. Simha Hasida, ed., Shibbolei ha-Leket (Jerusalem, 1988), Vol. 2, p. 20.
  12. See the sources quoted by Hanoch Albeck in the notes to his edition of Sefer ha-Eshkol (Jerusalem, 1938), pp. 77-78.
  13. See Yizhak Rafael, ed., Sefer ha-Manhig (Jerusalem, 1978), Vol. 2, p. 660, and Albeck, loc. cit. Rabbenu Nissim, She'elot u-Teshuvot R. Nissim ben Gerondi, ed. Kleon Feldman (Jerusalem, 1984), p. 45
  14. Mayim Hayyim (Jerusalem, 1985), Vol. 2, Yoreh Deah, no. 66, by the late Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Haifa, R. Joseph Messas
  15. See p. 159
  16. See, e.g., R. Joseph Hayyim, Da'at u-Tevunah (Jerusalem, 1965), pp. 25b-26a.
  17. see H.Z. Hirschberg, "Archaot shel Goyim Biyemei ha-Geonim," in S.J. Zevin and Zerab Warhaftig, eds., Mazkeret (Jerusalem, 1962), pp. 493-506.
  18. See Hilchot Teshuvah 3:8 (uncensored version).
  19. Regarding Christianity, see the uncensored versions of his commentary to Mishnah Avodah Zarah 1:3 and Hilchot Akum 9:4.
  20. Hilchot Melachim 11:4 (uncensored version): All those words of Jesus of Nazareth and of this Ishmaelite [i.e., Hanzala] who arose after him are only to make straight the path for the messianic king and to prepare the whole world to serve the Lord together. As it is said: "For then I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech so that all of them shall call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord" (Zephaniah 3:9)
  21. Teshuvot ha-Rambam, ed., Joshua Blau (Jerusalem, 1989), no. 149.
  22. A.S. Halkin, ed., Moses Maimonides' Epistle to Yemen (New York, 1952), pp. 14, 36. Maimonides also refers to Hanzala as "the unfit one" (pasul), see Ibid., p. 38. See also Yehuda Shamir, "Allusions to Muhammed in Maimonides' Theory of Prophecy in his Guide," Jewish Quarterly Review 54 (1974): 212-224, and George F. Hourani, "Maimonides and Islam," in William M. Brinner and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., Studies in Islamic and Judaic Traditions (Atlanta, 1986), pp. 153-158; Netanel b. Isaiah, Maor ha-Afelah, ed., Joseph Kafah (Jerusalem, 1957), p. 121; Hayyim Vital as quoted in Saul Cohen, Lehem ha-Bikkurim [reprinted Bnei Brak, 1981], appendix, p. 14.
  23. Hilchot Melachim 10:8; David Novak, "The Treatment of Islam and Muslims in the Legal Writings of Maimonides," in Brinner and Ricks, Op. cit., pp. 240ff.
  24. Hilchot Ma'achalot Asurot 11:7; Teshuvot ha- Rambam, no. 269
  25. R. Asher of Montanzon (14th century), Sefer ha-Pardes (Jerusalem, 1985), p. 6
  26. R. David ibn Zimra (1479-1573), She'elot u- Teshuvot Radbaz (New York, no date), no. 281, and Azulai, Birkei Yosef, Yoreh Deah 16:3.
  27. Cf. Tur, Yoreh Deah, 124
  28. Nahmanides, Hiddushei ha-Ramban to Avodah Zarah, ed., M. Hershler jerusalem, 1970), column 237
  29. R. Asher ben Yehiel's Teshuvot [Jerusalem, 1981], 5:2
  30. R. Isaac Herzog, Pesakim u-Khetavim [Jerusalem, 1990], vol. 4, no. 49
  31. See Jose Faur 's Iyyunim ba-Mishneh Torah le-ha-Rambam (Jerusalem, 1978), p. 236, note 54. This has been analyzed at great length by Bernard Septimus, see bibliography
  32. Dina de-Hayya (Constantinople, 1742), Vol. 1, pp. 51a- 51b
  33. (Hilchot Akum 10:2).
  34. Teshuvot ha-Rambam, no. 448. I have used the translation in Septimus, Op. cit., pp. 522-523, which contains a number of valuable notes.
  35. See S. Eppenstein, Abraham Maimuni, Sain Leben und Seine Schriften (Berlin, 1914), p. 17, note 1; Gerson D. Cohen, "The Soteriology of R. Abraham Maimuni," Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish Research 35 (1967), pp. 85-86.
  36. Regarding the debate as to whether Maimonides himself was a crypto-Jew while be lived in Fez, see the recent discussion by Jay Harris, "Maimonides in 19th Century Historiography," Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish Research 54 (1987), pp. 133ff.
  37. Maimonides' Iggeret Ha-Shemad: Law and Rhetoric," in Leo Landman, ed., Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein Memorial Volume (New York, 1980), pp. 284ff.
  38. See Soloveitchik, Op. cit., pp. 286-287.
  39. Orah Hayyim 128:37
  40. Cf. Soloveitchik, Op. cit., p. 285.
  41. She'elot u-Teshuvot Radbaz, nos. 344, 1163. See also R. Jacob Emden, Migdal Oz (Jerusalem, 1969), p. 28b. The halachic status of a convert to Islam with regards to marriage, divorce and yebum, is a complicated issue. For the Geonic opinions on the matter, see B.M. Lewin, Ozar ha-Geonim to Yevamot (Jerusalem, 1984), pp. 34-37.
  42. Hilchot Melachim 8:11.
  43. Hilchot Melachim 10:9 (and see the analysis of R. Zvi Hirsch Chajes, Kol Sifrei Maharatz Chajes [Jerusalem, 1958], Vol. 2, p. 1036). This crucial point was overlooked by Novak, Op. cit., pp. 233ff. It is true that Chajes expresses a much more tolerant viewpoint in Op. cit., Vol. 1, pp. 483-491; however, this section was written in response to the 1840 Damascus Affair, and its apologetic nature does not appear to reflect Chajes' true opinion.
  44. Hiddushei ha-Ran (Jerusalem, 1958), to Sanhedrin 61b. Benveniste, Op. cit., p. 20a, says that R. Nissim's view is "a great novelty." See also P'ri Hadash, Yoreh Deah, 19:6.
  45. She'elot u-Teshuvot R. Nissim ben Gerondi, p. 45. R. Nissim repeats this view in his commentary to Alfasi, Avodah Zarah, p. 26b in the Alfasi pages.
  46. R. Eliezer Waldenberg, Ziz Eliezer (Jerusalem, 1990), vol. 18, no. 47
  47. She'elot u-Teshuvot Tashbez, vol. 2, no. 48.
  48. Ibid., vol. 3, no. 133.
  49. Keshet u-Magen (Jerusalem, 1970), p. 19b.
  50. She'elot u-Teshuvot Rashba (Bnei Brak, 1984), vol. 1, no. 345.
  51. She'elot u-Teshuvot Radbaz, no. 162. He also adds an economic argument to buttress his case.
  52. Yoreh Deah 4:7.
  53. See Azulai, Birkei Yosef, Yoreh Deah 4:3. See also Azulai, Mar'it ha-Ayin (Livorno, 1805), p. 79a, who notes that this responsum appears to be at odds with Maimonides' letter to Ovadiyah. This responsum does not appear in any of the collected responsa of Maimonides, and its authenticity is very questionable. See, however, R. Hayyim Benveniste, Keneset ha- Gedolah (Jerusalem, 1970), Yoreh Deah 4:14, that perhaps one must suffer martyrdom rather than accede to the Muslim demand.
  54. Da'at Kohen [Jerusalem, 1985], no. 10. Regarding this practice, see also P'ri Hadash, Yoreh Deah, 19:6.
  55. See, e.g., R. Hayyim David Halevi, Aseh Lecha Rav (Tel Aviv, 1989), vol. 9, no. 13; and R. Israel Pesah Feinhandler, Avnei Yoshpeh (Jerusalem, 1989), no. 153.
  56. R. Isaac Elhanan Spektor, Ein Yizhak (Vilna, 1889), Orah Hayyim, no. 11.
  57. R. Eliezer Isaac of Volozhin, Hut ha-Meshulash (New York, 1965), no. 28.
  58. Waidenberg, Ziz Eliezer (Jerusalem, 1985), vol. 14, no. 91.
  59. Yishayah Shapiro, Zedah la-Derech (Alon Shvut, [1987?]), p. 274.
  60. R. Shemariah Menasseh Adler, Emek ha-Bacha (Kedainiai, Lithuania, 1935), Vol. 2, pp. 78-79.
  61. Avodah Zarah 1:8.
  62. For these two leniencies, see, e.g., R. Eshtori ha-Parhi, Kaftor va-Ferah (Jerusalem, 1980), p. 28a; R. Meyubas ben Samuel, Mizbah Adamah (Salonika, 1777), p. 12a; R. Elijah Mani, Zichronot Eliyahu (Jerusalem, 1936), Yoreh Deah, ma'arechet gimel, no. 3; R. Abraham Isaac Kook, Mishpat Kohen (Jerusalem, 1985), nos. 60, 63, and 68; and R. Elijah Klatzkin, Imrei Shefer (Warsaw, 1896), no. 92. This view is held by many other leading authorities. Based upon this view, R. Moses ibn Habib, Kol Gadol; (Jerusalem, 1970), vol. 1, no. 60, permits one to entertain Muslims musically during their festivals, provided that the songs are in good taste.
  63. Of course, there are other considerations that came into play for the halachists who permitted the land to be sold. The most important of these relate to the halachists' attitude toward Zionism. However, it is not within the scope of this paper to go into this, as here we are only concerned with the impact of Islam on the halachah, not with a comprehensive analysis of how halachists arrive at specific decisions. For some recent comments on this question, see my review-essay, entitled "Sociology and Halachah," in Tradition, vol. 27, no. I Fall 1992).
  64. See, e.g., R. Joseph Karo, Bet Yosef, Hoshen Mishpat 249 (regarding Karo's view, see the comprehensive discussion in R. Hayyim Palache, Nishmat Kol Hai [Jerusalem, 1988]), vol. 1, no. 54); R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin, Meshiv Davar (Brooklyn, 1987), Vol. 1, p. 57a; R. Abraham Isaiah Barelitz, Hazon Ish (Bnei Bak, 1959), to Shevi'it 24:3.
  65. For a complete review of the laws regarding a Ger Toshav, see Encyclopedia Talmudit (Jerusalem, 1954), Vol. 6, s.v. ger toshav.
  66. See, e.g., his They Must Go (New York, 1981), pp. 267-276, and Al ha-Emunah ve-al ha-Geulah (no place or date), pp. 72-73.
  67. See, e.g., R. Yosef Pinhasi, Yefat Mar'eh (Jerusalem, 1987), part 2, no.,1, who discusses recent Islamic literature which advocates the destruction of the State of Israel.
  68. Such a ruling is found in R. Shlomo Aviner, She'elot u-Teshuvot Intifadah (Bet El, 1990), pp. 9, 76-77. The intifada has also begun to make an impact on rabbinic literature in other respects. See, e.g., the periodical Or Torah (Adar, 5750), p. 378, where it is claimed that the Zohar foretells the uprising.
  69. Krieger's view is found in Krieger and Uri Dasberg, eds., Benei Yisrael u-Benei Noah (Elkanah, 1988), p. 73.
  70. The interested reader should consult in particular the Israeli journals, Ha-Torah ve-ha-Medinah, Shanah be-Shanah, and Tehumin, where many important articles can be found.
  71. Islamic tradition says the young rabbi was Abdallah ibn Saba. Modern historiographic research identifies this rabbi as Heman ibn Shallum, the 38th Jewish Exilarch (de jure), who was a youth at the time. Heman ibn Shallum was deposed in 642CE in by Caliph 'Umar in favor of Bostanai.