"In the House of Ishmael"
1 א

ת"ר משמתו נביאים האחרונים חגי זכריה ומלאכי נסתלקה רוח הקודש מישראל ואף על פי כן היו משתמשין בבת קול פעם אחת היו מסובין בעליית בית גוריה ביריחו ונתנה עליהם בת קול מן השמים יש כאן אחד שראוי שתשרה עליו שכינה (כמשה רבינו) אלא שאין דורו זכאי לכך נתנו חכמים את עיניהם בהלל הזקן וכשמת אמרו עליו הי חסיד הי עניו תלמידו של עזרא

Our rabbis taught: since the death of the last prophets of Israel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel, even though they were still able to use the Bat Kol. Once, when they were meeting in the upper chamber of Gurya's house in Jericho, a Bat Kol came from heaven saying There is one among you that is worthy that the Shechinah should rest upon you like for Moshe Rabeinu, but his generation does not merit it. The Sages present set their eyes upon Hillel the Elder. And then he died, they said of him: The pious, the humble, the disciple of Ezra.

2 ב

Mohammad and the Jews

In the course of Muhammad's proselytizing in Mecca, he initially viewed Christians and Jews (both of whom he referred to as "People of the Book") as natural allies, sharing the core principles of his teachings, and anticipated their acceptance and support. Ten years after his first revelation in Mount Hira, a delegation consisting of the representatives of the twelve important clans of Medina pledged to physically protect Muhammad and invited him as a neutral outsider to Medina to serve as chief arbitrator for the entire community, which had been fighting with each other for around a hundred years and was in need of an authority... Many Medinans converted to the faith of the Meccan immigrants, particularly pagan and polytheist tribes, but there were fewer Jewish converts. The Jews rejected Muhammad's claim to prophethood, and further argued that some passages in the Qur'an contradicted with the Torah. Their opposition was due to political as well as religious reasons, as many Jews in Medina had close links with

, who was partial to the Jews and would have been Medina's prince if not for Muhammad's arrival. Mark Cohen adds that Muhammad appeared "centuries after the cessation of biblical prophecy" and "couched his message in a verbiage foreign to Judaism both in its format and rhetoric." (Wikipedia)

4 ד

In Judaism, prophets were seen as having attained the highest degree of holiness, scholarship, and closeness to God and set the standards for human perfection. The Talmud reports that there were more than a million prophets, but most of the prophets conveyed messages that were intended solely for their own generation and were not reported in Scripture. The Talmud reports that there were prophets among the gentiles (most notably Bilaam, whose story is told in Numbers 22, and Job, who is considered a non-Jew by most rabbinical opinions). The prophet Jonah was sent on a mission to speak to the gentiles of the city of Nineveh. In the Middle Ages, it was common for Jewish writers to claim that Muhammad was a ha-meshuggah ("the madman"), a term of contempt frequently used in the Bible for those who believe themselves to be prophets. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism%27s_views_on_Muhammad

6 ו

Maimonides alleges that Muhammad was a "false prophet and an insane man (ha-meshuggah)." In his Epistle to Yemen he wrote "After [Jesus] arose the meshugah who emulated his precursor [Jesus], since he paved the way for him. But he added the further objective of procuring rule and submission [talb al-mulk; pursuit of sovereignty] and he invented what was well known [Islam]."

In his authoritative work of law the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides claims that nevertheless Muhammad was part of God's plan of preparing the world for the coming of the Jewish Messiah: "All those words of Jesus of Nazareth and of this Ishmaelite [i.e., Muhammad] 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)."[5] (Wikipedia)

8 ח

Natan'el al-Fayyumi, a prominent 12th-century Yemenite rabbi and theologian, and the founder of what is sometimes called "Jewish Ismailism", wrote in his philosophical treatise Bustan al-Uqul ("Garden of Wisdom") that God sends prophets to establish religions for other nations, which do not have to conform to the precepts of the Jewish Torah. Nethanel explicitly considered Muhammad a true prophet, who was sent from Heaven with a particular message that applies to the Arabs, but not to the Jews. "A proof that God sends a prophet to every people according to their language is found in this passage of the Quran, 'We sent a prophet only according to the language of his people.' Consequently had God sent a prophet to us [Jews], he would have surely been of our language." ...Al-Fayymi's explicit acceptance of Muhammad's prophecy was rare and virtually unknown until recent times beyond his native Yemen. (Wikipedia)

10 י

The Midrash "The Secrets of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai" compares Muhammad, "a prophet sent toIshmael according to God's will", to the Jewish Messiah. According to this text, ascribed to the famous 1st-century sage and mystic Shimon Bar Yochai, and apparently written at the beginning of the Muslim conquest or in the 8th century, Muhammad's role as a prophet includes redeeming the Jews from the Christian ("Roman" or "Edomite") oppression and playing a positive role in the messianic process. Secrets of Rabbi Shim'on bar Yohai has been published as a part of a number of Midrash collections. A recent Hasidic edition was included in the book called Yalkut ha-Royim, endorsed as authoritative by Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, the former leader of the Satmar Hasidim. (Wikipedia)

12 יב

References to Jews in the Quran (Brace yourself!)

[2.62] Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve...

[2.83] And when We made a covenant with the children of Israel: You shall not serve any but Allah and (you shall do) good to (your) parents, and to the near of kin and to the orphans and the needy, and you shall speak to men good words and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate. Then you turned back except a few of you and (now too) you turn aside...

[2.88] And they say: Our hearts are covered. Nay, Allah has cursed them on account of their unbelief; so little it is that they believe...

[2.111] And they say: None shall enter the garden (or paradise) except he who is a Jew or a Christian. These are their vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful...

[2.113] And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything (good) and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything (good) while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say; so Allah shall judge between them on the day of resurrection in what they differ.

[2.120] And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah's guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper.

[3.67] Ibrahim was not a Jew nor a Christian but he was (an) upright (man), a Muslim, and he was not one of the polytheists.

[4.47] O you who have been given the Book! believe that which We have revealed, verifying what you have, before We alter faces then turn them on their backs, or curse them as We cursed the violaters of the Sabbath, and the command of Allah shall be executed.

[4.50] See how they forge the lie against Allah, and this is sufficient as a manifest sin.

[4.160] Wherefore for the iniquity of those who are Jews did, we disallow to them the good things which had been made lawful for them, for their hindering many (people) from Allah's way.

[4.161] And their taking usury though indeed they were forbidden it and their devouring the property of people falsely, and We have prepared for the unbelievers from among them a painful chastisement.

[5.13] But on account of their breaking their covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard; they altered the words from their places and they neglected a portion of what they were reminded of; and you shall always discover treachery in them excepting a few of them; so pardon them and turn away; surely Allah loves those who do good (to others).

[5.33] The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement,

[5.41] O Apostle! let not those grieve you who strive together in hastening to unbelief from among those who say with their mouths: We believe, and their hearts do not believe, and from among those who are Jews; they are listeners for the sake of a lie, listeners for another people who have not come to you; they alter the words from their places, saying: If you are given this, take it, and if you are not given this, be cautious; and as for him whose temptation Allah desires, you cannot control anything for him with Allah. Those are they for whom Allah does not desire that He should purify their hearts; they shall have disgrace in this world, and they shall have a grievous chastisement in the hereafter.

[5.44] Surely We revealed the Taurat (Torah) in which was guidance and light; with it the prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged (matters) for those who were Jews, and the masters of Divine knowledge and the doctors, because they were required to guard (part) of the Book of Allah, and they were witnesses thereof; therefore fear not the people and fear Me, and do not take a small price for My communications; and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the unbelievers.

[5.51] O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

[5:57] O you who believe! do not take for guardians those who take your religion for a mockery and a joke, from among those who were given the Book before you and the unbelievers; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah if you are believers.

[5.59] Say: O followers of the Book! do you find fault with us (for aught) except that we believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed before, and that most of you are transgressors?

[5.69] Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabians and the Christians whoever believes in Allah and the last day and does good-- they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.

[5.82] Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe (to be) the Jews and those who are polytheists, and you will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who believe (to be) those who say: We are Christians; this is because there are priests and monks among them and because they do not behave proudly.

[5.86] And (as for) those who disbelieve and reject Our communications, these are the companions of the flame.

[6.146] And to those who were Jews We made unlawful every animal having claws, and of oxen and sheep We made unlawful to them the fat of both, except such as was on their backs or the entrails or what was mixed with bones: this was a punishment We gave them on account of their rebellion, and We are surely Truthful.

[9.30] And the Jews say: Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

[62.6] Say: O you who are Jews, if you think that you are the favorites of Allah to the exclusion of other people, then invoke death If you are truthful.

14 יד

Jews and Muslims once worshiped together at the Dome of the Rock, and many Jews considered it to be the Third Temple, according to research compiled by Dr. Moshe Sharon. In his study, "The Shape of the Holy," the Hebrew University professor theorizes that the Dome of the Rock's construction challenged Christian dominance in the city, and that the Islamic tradition of the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey and ascension to heaven from this spot was an invention to legitimize their presence in Jerusalem... Before Arabs arrived in Jerusalem, Jews held the belief that the perforated rock on Mount Moriah was present in Solomon's Temple, a tradition that the Muslims adopted. "There is reason to assume that Muslims together with Jews attached themselves to the rock and Jews had developed around it annual pious rituals," writes Sharon... An early Jewish Midrash, Nistarot Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, hailed the Muslims as the initiators of Israel's redemption and a Muslim ruler as the builder of the House of the Lord... One tradition says, 'The Jews used to light the lamps (menoras) of Bayt al-Maqdis' (Arabic for Beit Hamikdash or Holy Temple)..." writes Sharon.

Other Islamic traditions mention Temple customs practiced by Jews in the Dome, such as the use of incense, oil lamps and prayer services conducted by wuld Harun, Arabic for "the sons of Aaron." "There is nothing remotely Islamic in these rituals and the traditions insist that they took place on Mondays and Thursdays. These days have no meaning in Islam but are of particular sacredness in Jewish tradition,"

http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/The-Shape-of-the-Holy

16 טז

Judaism and Islam are known as "Abrahamic religions". The first Abrahamic religion was Judaism as practiced in the wilderness of the Sinai peninsula subsequent to the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt and continuing as the Hebrews entered the land of Canaan to conquer and settle it. The kingdom eventually split into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah prior to the Babylonian Exile, at the beginning of the 1st millennium AD. The firstborn son of Abraham, Ishmael, is considered by Muslims to be the Father of the Arabs. Abraham's second son Isaac is called Father of the Hebrews. In Islamic tradition Isaac is viewed as the grandfather of all Israelites and the promised son of Ibrahim from his barren wife Sarah. In the Hadith, Muhammad says that some forty thousand prophets and messengers came from Abraham's seed, most of these being from Isaac, and that the last one in this line was Jesus... For Muslims, he is considered an important prophet of Islam and the ancestor of Muhammad through Ishmael. (Wikipedia)

18 יח

Maimonides Mishneh Torah "Laws of Kings" 11:4

Can there be a greater stumbling block than Christianity? All the prophets spoke of Mashiach as the redeemer of Israel and their savior who would gather their dispersed and strengthen their observance of the mitzvot. In contrast, Christianity caused the Jews to be slain by the sword, their remnants to be scattered and humbled, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the Lord.

Nevertheless, the intent of the Creator of the world is not within the power of man to comprehend, for His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts, our thoughts. Ultimately, all the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite who arose after him will only serve to prepare the way for Mashiach's coming and the improvement of the entire world, motivating the nations to serve God together as Tzephaniah 3:9 states: 'I will transform the peoples to a purer language that they all will call upon the name of God and serve Him with one purpose.'

How will this come about? The entire world has already become filled with the mention of Mashiach, Torah, and mitzvot. These matters have been spread to the furthermost islands to many stubborn-hearted nations. They discuss these matters and the mitzvot of the Torah, saying: 'These mitzvot were true, but were already negated in the present age and are not applicable for all time.'

Others say: 'Implied in the mitzvot are hidden concepts that can not be understood simply. The Mashiach has already come and revealed those hidden truths.'

When the true Messianic king will arise and prove successful, his position becoming exalted and uplifted, they will all return and realize that their ancestors endowed them with a false heritage and their prophets and ancestors caused them to err.

20 כ

Jews and Sufis in Egypt 13th c

Islam is essential to the future of Judaism. Such a sentiment is not a modern political statement but the thinking of the thirteenth century Jewish leader Rabbi Abraham the son of Maimonides. Abraham thought that thirteenth century Judaism was in decline compared to the classical age of the Bible and Talmud and that it could only be restored by following contemporary Islamic practices, which in his mind, are reflective of original Jewish practices. He used his leadership, as best as he could, to create a pietistic revival seeking Sufi inspired divine illumination and contemplative prophecy... Abraham Maimonides proposed changes to synagogue practice to enhance piety and bring the service more in line with Islamic piety. These practices include the washing of hands and feet before prayer, kneeling in synagogue and arrangement in orderly rows like in a Mosque, full prostration when the Jewish custom is to bow, and prostration at the end of every Psalm in pesukei dezimra (pre-shema verses of praise) or paragraph of the Shema and raising one’s hands heavenward at the start of each paragraph...

“For Abraham Maimonides, Judaism was at a crisis point, a spiritual nadir in its age-old exile.” Jewish revival was to be found in piety similar to the practices of the Sufis.

These pietists around Abraham saw themselves as bearers of a religious mission and harbingers of a spiritual revival. The pious individual ought to pursue an inner path to communion with God and the cultivation of regular fasting and solitary prayer under the guidance of an experienced guide and in fellowship with a spiritual fraternity. Pietists adorned themselves with special articles of clothing and encouraged chant and music in worship. Pietists emphasized inner ‘states’ of consciousness (known as maqāmāt), and spoke of an intellectual-mystical enlightenment as prophetic attainment, thereby combining Maimonidean philosophy and Sufi mysticism. They used the language of luminescence in which the devotee was said to receive an influx of radiance (known as ishrāq al-anwār), a perception or vision of reality beyond the world of the senses...

Like his father, Abraham vigorously affirmed Islam’s status as a pure monotheistic religion that exerted a positive influence on Jews, encouraging them to maintain the purity of its faith against lack of piety and against the literalism of the Christian world. Beyond this, Abraham, considered Islam as both foretold by the Bible and affirmed by divine providence... The well-known talmudic law that prohibited Jews from imitating the ways of the gentiles, according to Abraham, did not apply to the contemporary Muslims. Abraham's view was “Muslims and Christians pray and give charity, and no Jew would ever dream of banning such activities simply because they are also gentile practices. Why, he asked, should it be any different when considering practices like prostration and kneeling that were no less authentically Jewish than they were Islamic?” Pietist spirituality was gradually eclipsed by the path of Kabbalah, especially after the Safed revival, but continued for two hundred years in Egypt lead by five more generations of Maimonides descendants and is still practiced into the Nineteenth century among Jews in Iraq and Iran...

In Abraham’s view, Islam borrowed heavily from original Jewish doctrines and rites, at the same time that Jews began to neglect many of their own traditions due to the hardships of the exile... If Islam (Sufism included) had incorporated a number of those lost traditions, the path to Jewish revival – and the path to messianic redemption – required a profound engagement with the religion of Islam. The result was a unique combination of inner Jewish traditionalism and an openness to the wisdom of a foreign religion. As the leader of the entire Jewish community, Abraham Maimonides hoped that the pietist movement would become the vanguard of a much larger religious revival among his fellow Jews. For example, he promoted the idea (never realized) of pietists serving as permanent fixtures in the synagogue, available at any time for religious guidance and acting as spiritual mentors to other seekers... Abraham never actually imposed these devotional reforms on the Jewish community and we can establish for a fact (based on Genizah and other documents) that no synagogue ever adopted them. The pietists did embrace them and were witnessed kneeling and prostrating both at fixed points in the service and even spontaneously when the spirit moved them. But, as Abraham testifies in a responsum, they observed such practices when praying in private residences (including his own) but were careful to refrain from them when visiting the main synagogues, in conformity with communal norms...

Jews from the second temple period and onward associated the Arabs with the descendants of the biblical Ishmael, a tradition eventually accepted among the Arabs themselves. This would become all the more significant when, by the seventh century, the Arabs and Ishmael became associated with the world’s newest religion. Genesis 16:10 records the divine blessing of the progeny of Hagar (mother of Ishmael) with the following words: “I shall greatly increase your descendants and they shall be too numerous to count.” When Israel was meritorious, he (Abraham) argued, Ishmael’s role was kept in check. When, however, Israel experienced a spiritual decline and was cast into exile, Ishmael’s fortunes would in turn begin to rise...

https://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2016/01/23/interview-with-elisha-russ-fishbane-judaism-sufism-and-the-pietists-of-medieval-egypt-a-study-of-abraham-maimonides-and-his-circle/

22 כב

Jewish Muslim Dialogue Today

Rabbi Michael Melchior... the founder and Chairman of the Mosaica Center for Religious Conflict Transformation in the Middle East... talked about the need for religious peace, not just secular peace. The secularists who led the Oslo Peace Process left out religion and religious leaders. This was a major mistake. According to him, in order to have peaceful coexistence in the future, we will need to involve religious leaders and their followers much more than in the past, if we are going to succeed.

In my own work in interreligious dialogue over the past 25 years, I too have been engaged much more in Muslim-Jewish Relations than in Jewish-Christians Relations, especially lately and especially locally. The wars with Christianity ended a long time ago. The Crusades are over. We have been in active and successful dialogue with major Christian denominations, since the promulgation of "Nostra Aetate" by the Catholic Church a half a century ago. Now we have to develop a systematic, sensitive and substantive dialogue with Muslim religious leaders, educators, cultural leaders, youth, young adults and women's groups in ways that we have not done in the past. The good news is that there is much interest in this among the moderate Muslim majority in Israel. Yet, new ways of bridging the gap between Israeli Jews and Muslims have not yet been developed significantly within Israel.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ron-kronish/the-future-of-interreligi_b_8737076.html