Friday, December 10, 2010

The Enemies of Judeo-Sufism Were the Enemies of the Rambam and his family...

Today it is no surprise that there are some backwards members of various segments of the Jewish community who will - acting on their own ignorance of Judaism - accuse Judeo-Sufis of `avodah zarah, or otherwise being part of some bizarre Shabbtaist or Frankist agenda. Their general accusations are nothing new, as these were the same caliber of attacks leveled against the son and grandsons of the Rambam.

David ben Joshua (ca. 1335-1415), last known of the Maimonideans was similarly fascinated by Sufism and integrated it in the same manner as his predecessor. His Judeo-Sufi work Al-Murshid ila-l-Tafarrud (The Guide to Detachment), embodies the most all-encompassing synthesis of Rabbinical belief with Sufism.

Despite Abraham Maimonides’ political and religious prestige, the pietist movement, like many revivalist trends in religious history, met with virulent opinion. The pietists were accused of introdcing “false ideas,” “unlawful changes,” and “gentile (sufi) customs,” and they were even denounced to the Muslim authorities.2

By this time persecution against the movement had grown. The very same brand of opponent – “who attempt to refute those with real understanding” – who leveled accusations and proposed banning Moses ben Maimon, had now continued in opposition to his family legacy; working in collusion with “Islaamic” authorities of Egypt to have the Maimonides Synagogue closed. This persecution eventually culminated in the exile of David ben Avraham (1222-1300) from Egypt, and the gradual disappearance of this Judeo-Sufi pietist movement from Judaism.2 In spite of this, however, the intellectual legacy of the Maimonides family, and certainly of Maimonides himself, remains unscathed and unimaginably influential in the current era.


1. Josef W. Meri, Jere L. Bacharach, Medieval Islamic Civilization: L-Z. pp 547

2. Ibid. pp. 547

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