Query: Seeking responsa that refer or allude to Muhammad

Reuven Firestone's picture

I am seeking any and all premodern responsa or other forms of legal writings that refer or allude in any way to Muhammad: e.g. reference to entering mosques, allusions to idolatry or false worship equating Muhammad’s role in Islam to Jesus’ role in Christianity, prophethood, prayer, conversion and forced conversion, etc. Anything and everything would be most welcome in any language.

I am familiar with the works of Maimonides in his Commentary on the Mishnah, Mishneh Torah, responsa and letters (such as to Obadiah the ger, Iggeret Hashemad, etc.).

I also found one short reference by Nissim b. Reuven Alfasi on Sanhedrin (חידושי הרן מסכת סנהדרין פרק ז - ארבע מיתות).]

That is all I have been able to find.

Modern or current responsa are not sought for this project.


I am also seeking references or allusions to Muhammad in the writings of Avraham ben HaRambam or others with similar interest (I am familiar with Bahya’s famous reference to a prophetic Hadith).

Categories: Query

The Arugat HaBosem on Aleynu writes that lahevel = Muhammed in gematria. I haven't figured out a way that the arithmetic works, but the line thus critiques Islam and Christianity, perhaps thus defusing it's better known interpretation.

Dear Reuven,

See Abraham Maimonides' reference to Islamic monotheism in Milhamot ha-Shem: "The children of Ishmael have, for their part, adopted this [monotheistic] faith from the children of Israel and have built the foundation of their religion upon it. They have rejected the error and folly of their ancestors, who used to worship idols and did not affirm the unity and exaltedness of [God’s] name, as it is written, 'Nations shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, Our ancestors have inherited lies, [vanity] that is of no avail' (Jer. 16:19)" (Milhamot ha-Shem, ed. Reuven Margaliot, Jerusalem, 1953, 51-52); and see the entire passage translated by Elisha Russ-Fishbane in Judaism, Sufism, and the Pietists of Medieval Egypt: A Study of Abraham Maimonides and His Times (Oxford, 2015), 1-2 (quotation here from p. 1); ibid., 232 n. 51; Russ-Fishbane, “Respectful Rival: Abraham Maimonides on Islam,” in A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day, eds. Abdelwahab Meddeb et al. (Princeton, 2013), 856-864 (referring to specific Islamic laws on p. 859).

A comparison between Abraham Maimonides' attitude towards Christianity vs. Islam could yield some interesting results. For now, see Nahem Ilan, "Aspects of Abraham Maimuni's Attitude towards Christians in His Commentary on Genesis 36" [Hebrew], in Yad Mosheh: Mehkarim be-toldot ha-Yehudim be-artsot ha-Islam mukdashim le-zikhro shel Mosheh Gil [Studies in the History of the Jews in Muslim Lands in Memory of Moshe Gil; Te'udah, 29], eds. Yoram Erder et al. (Tel Aviv, 2018), 121-146 (see pp. 132-133 n. 73 for Abraham's interpretation of Islam being a monotheistic religion, according to the Kifayat al-'abidin: al-Yishma'elim muwahhidun muharrimun 'avodah zarah, "The Ishmaelites are monotheists and forbid idol worship"; see also the English version pub. in Senses of Scripture, Treasures of Tradition: The Bible in Arabic among Jews, Christians and Muslims, ed. Miriam L. Hjälm, Leiden, 2017, 252-279); Mordechai Akiva Friedman, "Abraham Maimonides' and al-Qirqisani's Refutation of the Christian Messianic Exegesis of Genesis 49:10" [Hebrew], Pe'amim, 154-155 (2018): 71-103.


Liran Yadgar

(Monterey, CA)

For מחמט
check out N. Wieder, The Formation of Jewish Liturgy in the East and the West 2:455; and Siddur of R. Solomon ben Samson of Garmaise, p. 125, n. 55.
Reuven Kimelman

There is a responsa of the Rosh on whether it is permissible to use a prayer rug with a depiction of the Ka'aba on it in a synagogue, either to sit on or for decoration. The responsa is quoted in Cahana, "Omanut Bet HaKnesset B'Sifrut HaHalacha", p. 259 In Ha Misrad L'Inyanei Dat, Bet HaKnesset Ma'amrim v' Masot (Jerusalem: 1956).

להבל ולריק = ישו מחמט, see Yaakov Elbaum, "Concerning Two Textual Emendations in the 'Aleinu Prayer" [Hebrew], Tarbiz, 42 (1972): 204-208; Naftali Wieder, "On the Meaning of an Anti-Christian and Anti-Muslim Gematria (in the 'Aleinu Prayer)" [Hebrew], Sinai, 76 (1975): 1-14 (republished in Hitgabshut nusah ha-tefilah ba-Mizrah uva-Maʻarav, Jerusalem, 1998, 2: 453-468; this is the book mentioned in the previous post by Prof. Reuven Kimelman).

Best regards,

Liran Yadgar (Monterey, CA)