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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ
In class this week we read al-Juwaynī's (d. 1085) Kitāb al-irshād, a sophisticated kalām work full of gems. One tidbit in particular caught the attention of my students. al-Juwaynī speaks of a Jewish sect that believed in the prophethood of Muḥammad. Who were they? A mini-thread
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
al-Juwaynī writes, "a sect among the Jews, called al-ʿIsāwiyya, believed in the prophethood of Muḥammad, peace upon him..." Al-Juwaynī objective is to bring rational proofs in favour of the prophethood of Muḥammad by anchoring his argument in the doctrine of abrogation (naskh)
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
We hear nothing else about the ʿIsāwiyya in the rest of the text. So we have to look elsewhere to find out more information about this fascinating sect. A number of tenth and eleventh century Muslim and Jewish sources furnish us with key historical information.
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
1. al-Fiṣal by Ibn Ḥazm (d. 1064); 2. al-Milal by al-Shahrastānī (d. 1158); 3. Tamhīd by al-Bāqillānī (d. 1013); Kitāb al-anwār by al-Qirqisānī (יעקב בן יצחק הקרקסאני) (circa tenth century); and al-Tabṣīr by al-Isfarāyīnī (d. 1027).
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
What do the medieval sources tell us about this sect? The ʿIsāwiyya were a Jewish sect, followers of Abū ʿĪsā al-Iṣfahānī. They believed Jesus and Muḥammad were prophets of God, sent to the Jews & Ismailites, respectfully. ʿIsāwiyya saw Islam and Christianity as valid religions
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
It seems that the sources agree that Abū ʿĪsā led a Jewish uprising, probably during the reign of ʿAbd al-Malik b. Marwān (Jewish source = al-Qirqisānī). Abū ʿIsā claimed to be a prophet, one the five messengers of the expected Messiah (al-masīḥ al-muntaẓar)
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
Al-Shahrastānī draws some connection between Abū ʿIsā and the Ismāʿilī doctrine of "missionary" (without being too explicit). We are told Abū ʿIsā considered the "missionary" identical to the Messiah. In other sources we learn that Abū ʿIsā produced books and scriptural scrolls
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
The ʿIsāwiyya seem to have existed in small pockets around Isfahan and Damascus. In a Karaite Jewish source, the ʿIsāwiyya observed Mosaic law in spite of their recognition of Islam. Given their belief in God and Prophet Muḥammad, could the ʿIsāwiyya be considered Muslim?
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
There's good reason to regard the ʿIsāwiyya as Muslim. Because the sec more or less professed the shahāda, prohibited wine drinking and (pork?) meat. However, medieval Sunni theologians, such as al-Baghdadi, could not consider ʿIsāwiyya as Muslim.
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
al-Baghdadi explains that, while they sort of profess the shahāda, the ʿIsāwiyya cannot be regarded as Muslim, even though they accepted the central tenets of Islam, namely God and prophethood of Muḥammad. So on what grounds did al-Baghdadi rest his rejection?
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Oct 12
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
Al-Baghdadi lays out the following doctrinal commitments required before a sect like the ʿIsāwiyya can belong to Islam: belief in world's createdness; monotheism (etc.); belief in previous prophets and Muḥammad; five daily prayers; zakāt; Ramaḍān fast; ḥajj, etc. END.
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