Thursday, July 07, 2011

A KARAITE CONVERSION STORY

By Hartwig Hirschfeld Ph.D.


The records of the Jews in Egypt under Mohammedan rule are not very rich in facts of historical importance. Being almost entirely excluded from taking part in the affairs of state, their fate varied according to the religious inclinations of the rulers. Official intolerance reached its apogee under the sceptre of the Khalifa Al Hakim (who died about 1020), and it was not till 150 years later that a change was wrought by the fall of the Fatimide dynasty and the simultaneous termination of ecclesiastical government in Egypt. With the arrival of secular rulers, the first of whom was the famous Saladin, an era of comparative tolerance was inaugurated which, with short interruptions, lasted during the periods of the Seljuk and Mamluk Sultans. The political insignificance of the Egyptian Jews during this period is accurately reflected in the historical sources at our disposal. Arab authors did not pay much attention to their affairs. Even Jewish travellers and chroniclers, such as Benjamin of Tudela and Sambari, have not much to tell about them. As regards the communal, social, domestic, and literary life, however, these Jews themselves have provided a vast material of documents of every imaginable kind, pre served in what is known as the Cairo Genizah. When this material has been sifted and studied, our knowledge of this chapter of Jewish history will be immensely enriched, ii. 81 6 82 The lot of the Egyptian Jews under the rule of Sultan Al Malik Al Zahir Khoshkadem (1461-1467) was, on the whole, a tolerable one. With the exception of one instance when he, to please the clergy of his faith, renewed the old law forbidding Jews and Christians to hold public offices, and to wear turbans or other than special colours, 1 they were allowed to practise their religion undisturbedly. Even these restrictions seem to have been as gradually forgotten as had been done on former occasions. As an indirect sign of the absence of official annoyance we can regard the case of a serious quarrel which at that time arose between the two sections of the community of Fostat (Old Cairo).
The Jewish inhabitants of this city were divided into a larger Rabbanite and a much smaller Karaite community, the former possessing eight synagogues 2 and the latter only two. The names and topographical description of these synagogues have been handed down to us by the Arab historian, Al Makrizi, who finished his bulky Description of Egypt* about fifteen years prior to the incident which forms the subject of this study. Several of these synagogues are mentioned again by Joseph Sambari, who compiled his " Chronicles " 4 in the latter half of the seventeenth century. It is only necessary to compare the number of these synagogues with that given by Benjamin of Tudela to see how considerably the Jewish com munity of Fostat had increased during the intervening three centuries. From Benjamin s silence concerning the Karaite and Samaritan communities we may infer that, at his time, they either did not exist in Cairo or were of little account. An interesting point in connection with the incident in 1 See Weil, Geschichte der Abbassidenchalifen in Egypten, ii. p. 302. a See Zunz in Benjamin of Tiidela, ed. Asher, ii. p. 198 sqq. Cf. Lane, Modern Egyptians, ii. p. 343. 3 Billdk, 1853, ii. pp. 464 sqq. 4 See Neubauer, Medieval Jewish Chronicles , i. pp. 136 sq. 83 question is that it contributes to our knowledge of the holders of the dignity of Nagid among the Egyptian Jews. 1 The Nagid of the Rabbanite Jews at the period with which we are concerned was Joseph b. Khalifa, whilst the chief of the Karaites was called Al Shams b. Abdul Karim b. Feiruz, who was also the Sultan s banker. The report upon which the following story is based is taken from a MS. of the British Museum (Or. 2538, fol. 7383), and is headed "Story of the Europeans who adopted the laws of the Karaites." It is written in vulgar Arabic, but in Hebrew characters, and is occasionally intermixed with Hebrew words, phrases and quotations from the Bible.

As can be gathered from the title, the anonymous author was a Karaite, and, to judge from the fact that he now and again speaks in the first person, he was an eye-witness of the affair. The account must, however, have been penned some years after the incident had taken place, as several persons who were connected with it are alluded to as deceased. The most remarkable part of the story is undoubtedly the interference of the Moslim judicial authorities in a matter which concerned the internal affairs of the Jewish community ex clusively. This interference was not, however, foisted upon them but solicited by the Karaites. The decisions of the judges are nevertheless distinguished by great impartiality. This is even the case in the Fatwa of the Shafii High Kadhi, whose seeming intolerance was nothing but the expression of the law of his country. For it is laid down that in Moslim lands no one may change his religion unless he adopt Islam. 2 The episode of the judicial inquiry brings us to the question of the authenticity of the report, or, at least, of the accuracy 1 Magazin fur die Wisscnsch. des Judenthums, vol. xvii. pp. 50-58 ; Graetz, Gesch., vi. p. 306. See also Bacher inJ.Q.tf., xv. pp. 88 sqq. 2 See Sachau, Mohammedan. Recht nach schafeitischer Lehre, p. 844. of many details.

As can easily be seen, the author does not take the slightest trouble to hide his bias, and the triumphant way in which he, somewhat in the style of the concluding chapters of the Book of Esther, describes the discomfiture of the Rabbanites, cannot fail to arouse the suspicion that his account is highly coloured. Many statements he makes must, therefore, be received with caution. On the other hand, the report mentions the names of about twenty persons, some of whom can be proved to be historical from other sources. This is the case with four of the five Kadhis who signed the Fatwas. One of these, the Shafii Kadhi Yahya Al Munawi, 1 was a man of high position, and the Arab historian, Al Suyuti (to whom we owe lists of the Kadhis of the four different schools), states that he composed a dirge on the occasion of his death. The absence of the name of the Maliki Kadhi from Al Suyuti s lists is accounted for by the fact that it ends with the year 1442, whilst the Karaite appeal to the courts of justice did not take place till three- and-twenty years later. The list is therefore supplemented by our report. The introduction of the Kadhis into the story forms a strong element of historical veracity. Finally, even the bribes extracted by several high officials of state, and the Sultan s son in particular, are in keeping with what historians relate about the usages in vogue under Khoshkadem s govern ment as well as his own character. 2 In the background of the story we see the spectacle of the persecutions of the Jews in Christian Spain. The people on whose account the feud arose had come from Toledo, and were probably Marranos. This may be gathered from one remark in the tale in which it is intimated that they might 1 See p. 89, rem. 3. 2 Weil, I.e., p. 314; S. L. Poole, The Story of Cairo, p. 236 ("Justice was bought and sold"). 85 be Christians. Incidentally we also learn that the Egyptian Jews were not possessed of great wealth ; further, that the prohibition of holding land, except by special permission of the Sultan, was strictly enforced, and finally, that the main centres of Karaism at that period were Egypt, Palestine, and Turkey.
In Spain Karaism had already dwindled down to vanishing point. The following translation of the report is somewhat abridged, especially in the latter portions, a certain amount of trivial matter being omitted. The style is occasionally so confused and rambling that, if all this were reproduced, it would be difficult to keep the thread of the story. STORY OF THE EUROPEANS WHO EMBRACED , THE LAW OF THE KARAITES. In the blessed month of Ellul 1776 of the era of Docu ments, which is the year 5225 of the creation of the world (1465), there arrived at Al Kahira a Jewish sage of great learning named Aaron the Pious (of blessed memory). He came from the country of Ifranj l and the city of Toledo. With him were two brothers, of whom one was called Joseph, the other David. They were accompanied by twenty-one compatriots. This man went to dwell in the Karaite quarter. A prominent member of the Karaite community (which may the Almighty preserve) called upon him, and they conversed together on matters of the law, and on their axioms of belief as well as ours. He (the visitor) informed them that they did not believe in the Mishnah or in the Talmud, that all his life he had not eaten of the tail [of a sheep], because he knew that it belonged to the forbidden fat, 2 and that he endeavoured to find those who followed the Torah of the Lord, and did not 1 Europeans. 2 Lev. iii. 9 ; ix. 20. Cf. Ibn Ezra and Nahmanides. 86 hold with those who contradicted the teaching of Moses. He [the stranger] asked us to observe silence concerning his affairs, and added that he intended travelling to Jerusalem and back again. We acceded to his request. He then, as an act of penitence, left for Jerusalem, whilst his companions remained in Al Kahira. He had given them instructions concerning their mode of life, and all this remained secret till the month of Tishri. Then arose a difference between us and the Rabbanites [in the following manner]. If the Rabbanites celebrated New Moon on the Sabbath, the Karaites fixed the same according to their usual method, and zealously kept the practice of the true observation of the moon. The brother of the [above-mentioned] man came to us and said : " We will fast the Day of Atonement only with you on Wednesday." l We replied : " Do as you please." Some thing concerning this came to the ears of the Rabbanites. On the eve of the Day of Atonement the Rabbanites sent their Nagid, whose name was Joseph b. Khalifa, to [the above- named] David, with whom he held a secret conversation. " I have been informed," he said, " that 2 . . . you do not eat of our food, and that you live in a fashion different from ours." He replied : " Yes, we do not eat the tail, because it is for bidden in the Torah." 3 The Nagid said : " The Sages de clared it lawful, and said that it did not belong to the forbidden fat." " I do not listen to the Sages," said he, "at all in these matters, and will not eat of the tail." " You contradict, then," the Nagid replied, " the Sages, but whoever does so in any point is liable to be put to death according to Deut. xvii. 11 12." These sentences, the other answered, do not refer to the Sages, 1 Rabbanite New Year in 1465 fell on a Saturday and the Day of Atonement on a Monday. 2 Fol. 74vo. In the original : mniwa nW vhn KO DDK DKonM> IPKO 3 Talmud, Hullin, fol. uyvo (Lev. ix. 19). 8; but to the " Priests, Levites, and the Judges who shall live in those days." This will be confirmed by any one who reads this chapter through. Bring a copy of the Torah and read Deut. xvii. 5 sqq. The Nagid then said : " This is apostasy ; you are Karaites." Thereupon David went before the [Karaite] community and told them what had passed between him and the Nagid. " I am afraid of the Rabbanites/ said he, " because our condition has come to their knowledge. As long as we stay here we shall keep our ways, and you should know that we do not live like non-Jews. 1 Should we adopt Karaite ways and deny those of the Rabbanites, they would find us out." The Karaites answered : " Fear nothing ; should the Moslims be come aware of this we will give them the necessary explana tion 2 as to what prevented you, when you first came to Al Kahira, from stating that you follow Karaite ways, and that you are not familiar with our customs in this city." He answered : " We have been living six years in this country, 3 but we did not find one who followed the way of the Torah ex clusively. Every one to whom we speak bows to the decisions of the Mishnah and Talmud, and forsaking the written Torah, says one thing and does another. They tell us that we belong to the Karaite Jews who live in Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, and Persia, and arrange their religious affairs according to the literal meaning of the Torah, declare it unlawful to eat of the 1 Orig. fol. 75ro, 1. 7, anhon wanhon K TS D^iyn mow jo -ION to^y NO JN laiyn Drua | KJianya pKan? anno aonmi anpo is a verbal form derived from 2 Orig. ibid., n:y r^a -IDK^K xhn JKI ejib DD^J; *6i wby KD xnpo ^n nnno p^so jm Orig. ibid., ngtata nin^ bn^M n^i^N p*n pJD*nnD N3^ jna. 88 pig, but permit the sow to be eaten, asserting that the Torah only speaks of the male pig. 1 We wonder at such words, and whenever we hear Karaites speak we tell them what our ways are and what theirs. If we knew the Karaite way to be the right one we would come to you with all our heart." We (the Karaites) said to them : " Fear not, the Almighty will help you if it pleases Him, because whoever trusts in Him finds gratification." Then they went before our chief, the famous Al Shams b. Abdul Karim, on Sabbath, the I3th of Tishri, 2 and acquainted him with all that had happened to them. They advised the Karaite community to put questions to the four Kadhis before the Rabbanites had time to speak. They set to work together and wrote four letters of enquiry as follows : WHAT THE HONOURED AND LEARNED MEN PUT DOWN : O ye Imams of religion and ye learned in the laws of the two sects of Karaite and Rabbanite Jews ! Suppose a Rab- banite wishes to live in Karaite fashion, or a Karaite desires to become a Rabbanite ; how is such a person to be dealt with, and may any objection be raised against such practice or not ? Give us your decision, ye to whom heavenly reward shall be granted. 3 I. REPLY OF THE MALIKI [KADHI] : Neither of the two sects can raise any objection against the other, but every individual [must be treated] according to his belief. Whoever encroaches upon the other fs status], should be checked. And when a party becomes converted to the belief of the other, no opposition can be raised against him, 1 Lev. xi. 7. 2 According to the calendar of the Karaites, who celebrated New Year on the Monday following the Rabbanite New Year. 3 Concerning this formula, see Goldziher in Z.D.M.G., liii. p. 667. Cf.Journ. As., 1871, p. 167. 8 9 because the whole of Judaism is but one religion. God knows what is right. MOHAMMED B. ABI BAKR B. AL SHEKH AL HusAiNi. 1 II. REPLY OF THE SHAFII KADHI. There can be no objection raised either way, because the Jews form one community as regards the principles of faith. ZAKARIYYA B. [MOHAMMED] AL SHAFII. 2 III. REPLY OF THE SHAFII [HIGH KADHI]. If one of the two sects does not differ from the other in matter of belief, then there can be no objection in case one of them desires to be converted to the other. But if they do differ as regards the maxims of faith to such an extent that each party considers the other as heretic, then any one who desires to change his belief can only become a Moslim. YAHYA B. MOHAMMED AL MUNAWI AL SHAFII, HIGH KADHI. S IV. REPLY OF THE HANAFI [KADHI]. If such a thing is considered lawful by Jewish belief, then neither sect can be prevented [from following the course de sired], since Judaism is but one religion. YAHYA B. MOHAMMED AL AKSARAI AL HANAFi. 4 1 His name is not mentioned either by Al Suyuti or Ibn lyas. From the words added in the MS. to his name : "He was prominent among worthy men," we may conclude that he was not the Kadhi himself, but one of his officials. Ibn lyas, Tarikh Misr, ii. p. 83, mentions the Maliki Kadhi Hisam al dm Harlz. 2 Al Suyuti, ibid., ii. p. 138. His full name was Zakariyya Mohammed Al Ansari Al Suneiki, appointed A. 786 (H.) (1384) ; see also Ibn lyas, ii. p. 120. 3 Ibid., i. p. 253 ; Ibn lyas, ii. 174. As to the functions and prerogatives of the High Kadhi, see Wiistenfeld, Calcaschandi s Geographie und Verwaltung von Aegypten, Abhandll. d. KonigL Gesellsch. d. Wissenschaften Gottingen, vol. xxv., p. 184. 4 Al Suyuti, ibid., i. p. 273 ; Ibn lyas, i. p. 303 ; ii. pp. 74, 84. 9 o V. REPLY OF THE HANBALI [KADHI]. If a person lives according to the tenets of his religion, there exists neither restriction nor objection in the eye of the law. AHMAD B. IBRAHIM.* These are the Fatwas [which we have] reproduced literally without adding to, or subtracting from, them. When they arrived, and the community had perused them and seen the disturbing character of the [second] Shafiite Fatwa, they chose the Maliki Kadhi as arbitrator. On the Monday they petitioned him to summon the Rabbanite chiefs, and to exhort them not to demand us to join any other but the noble [Karaite] re ligion. 2 He acceded to their request. We only presented this petition for protection in case they should complain of us, and that we might prevent them complaining and not be troubled by the Maliki Kadhi. 3 On the Sunday Al Shams Abdul Karim sent for the elders of the Rabbanites, whose names were Sadaka b. Abda and Abdul Daim b. Al Tajir. He met each of them separately and said : " We want you not to raise any objection to what these people desire to do, neither to lodge a complaint against them, otherwise the matter will go out of your and our hands, and Gentiles will interfere with us. You will, then, commit a sin of which nothing good will come. We cannot expel them after they have taken us into their confidence, and we know 1 Ibid., i. p. 276. Ibn lyas, ii. p. 130, gives his full genealogy. He held his office from 857 (1453) to 876 (1471). See also Ms. Br. Mus. Add. 23,360, fol. i6vo. 2 Orig. fol. 76vo. Ppt^N JTW&t JIDK^K KmiW ^ DTOK. 3 Orig., ibid. This passage is somewhat obscure. It appears that instead of *D/KE?X we should read JJBM50X, and refer the passage to the hidden threat in the reply of the Shafii High Kadhi. 91 that they have abandoned their former belief, that they follow the way of the Torah, and seek, as we do, the way of the Lord. We must not forsake them." " Thou knowest," they replied, " that this affair causes us great distress. There are people among us who have no sense, and, if they hear this, circum stances will arise over which we have no control, and the result will be unpleasantness between us." [Abdul Karim then suggested arranging a meeting of ten elders of each party in order to settle the question. The meeting took place in the house of the Nagid 1 ].

After this the Nagid came to us and said: "Have nothing to do with these people, for they are neither Karaites nor Rabbanites. If they wish, they may create a special religion for themselves. I had an interview with one of them called R. Moses, and he mentioned to me that he intended buying an estate and settling on it with his people. I told him that in this country no one was permitted to buy anything except from the Sultan, who would not let him have one. I urged him to go to Palestine or Galilee and carry out his intention there." To us it appeared that he only travelled there for this purpose, but that he [the Nagid] said this in order that we should leave them alone. Now the Rabbanites were greatly perplexed, and every one gave his opinion. On Friday night the Nagid came to us accompanied by a number of Rabbanites, among whom was Samuel Khashshd. We had a long conversation, lasting half the night. David and Joseph of the Europeans were also there. They discussed the subject of the [sheep s] tail and similar matters at great length. They all rejected the views of the Rabbanites, and declared them to be unbelievers in many respects. Then arose Samuel Al Khashshd 2 and said : 1 Fol. 76vo-77vo. Abridged in the translation. 2 The author adds 9 2 " To-morrow I will lodge a complaint against these people ; let them become Mohammedans. They are originally Chris tians, and it is better that they should belong neither to us nor to you than form an independent sect." The Karaites and Rabbanites dispersed in bad temper. In the same night the mother of R. Moses, who was living with him and his brother, became dangerously ill. They brought her into the street of the Gate Strr, 1 and a member of the community received her in his house. The Karaites and Rabbanites spent the whole Friday in anger and pertur bation. The latter went about trying to do mischief behind the backs of the Karaites without our noticing it. Then Ibn Al Khashsha went to a person named Ala al Dm Al Khabuni, who occupied a high position in the Karaite community. He said concerning them among other things : " These people have a new religion, and have not been under Islam[ic sway] something like 500 years. 2 Through their wealth and action they are men of influence. If you will bring this matter to the knowledge of the Sultan, he will not only give you power over their lives and property, but hold you in high favour. You know what the Koran 3 says concerning the Rabbanites, but it does not speak about Karaites." This man 4 took great trouble in the affair. He went with Samuel Al Khashsha to the Sultan s son, 5 who was the wickedest and greediest man imaginable, and told him all 1 See Makrizi, I.e. ii. p. 471. 2 Orig. fol. 77vo, H3D iTNB 3 Sura, iii. 72 sq. The passage contains the charge that Jews had altered the Torah, and that the Rabbis claimed obedience to their regulations. It is on this occasion that the term Rabbanites (rabbaniyyun) is used for the first time, but it need not be pointed out that it does not stand in contrast to Karaites. If any such existed at that time, they were unknown in North Arabia, and could not have been alluded to in the Koran. 4 Ala al dm Al khabuni. 5 Ibn lyas, ii. p. 83, says that Khoshkadem left two young sons, and that the name of the eldest was Sldi Mansur. The name of the other is not disclosed 93 this with exaggerations. The prince sent in the following night twenty men to the Karaite quarter and ordered them to make a raid on the synagogue on the Sabbath, and to throw the community into confusion. In the night of this Sabbath the mother of R. Moses died. Two Rabbanites went in the middle of the night to the prefect of the non-Moslim population and said to him : " My Lord, there came to the Karaites a foreign woman of great wealth. She brought with her a large amount of money, precious stones, gold, silver, and jewels. The people seized her, administered a narcotic to her, murdered her, and took all her property. Make a raid upon them, and inform the Sultan, that he may seize her property and hold us in favour." l In the forenoon of the Sabbath he despatched twenty men, who seized the house where the corpse lay, and [another] twenty attacked the synagogue, arrested the elders of the community, and brought them to the house of the Sultan s son. They had just been reading the morning prayer. 2 The congregation was seized with great panic on account of this. The detained men remained in the house of the Sultan s son, and he sent all that the deceased woman had left into her house. The Vice-Kadhi, 3 supported by several witnesses, made a list of all that was in the house linen, furniture, and books without omitting anything. They valued it and found that it amounted to 200 Ashrafis. 4 All the Europeans gathered in the house of the deceased. They were all apprehended on the Sabbath and brought into the house of the governor, where they were put in chains. They presented the list to the governor, but he found nothing 1 Orig. fol. 78ro, fo W bm 2 Orig. 1XV i>SB D. 3 Orig. * 4 Ducats. 94 of which the Rabbanites had spoken. Then he said : " What is to be done ? I have told the Sultan distinctly that these people are possessed of considerable wealth." " The Rab banites, my Lord," answered they, " have taken the money and hidden it. Let four of their people be arrested." [When these were brought before him] he frightened them with the words : " I will bring you up to the Sultan, and he will flog you." Being in great fear, they came back to him with a letter and many messages, and offered him 400 dinar to take to the Sultan in order to appease him. He signed a receipt for the money, and ordered them to bury the corpse. They took her out on the Sabbath night after midnight, and she had a funeral such as had never been seen. They buried her in the Karaite cemetery. Now, the people who had gone to the house of the Sultan s son were received by his men, and remained there until he came down in the afternoon from the citadel. When he arrived he heard what Samuel, the accursed, had said. He had with him an intimate friend called Abul Fadhl, secretary to the Mamluks. When he perceived in what condition Abdul Karim was on the Sabbath day, he said to the Sultan s son : " My Lord, this Abdul Karim has to look after the people, he is also the Sultan s banker and cannot possibly do anything wrong either in regard to the house or any one of his people. Let him go to finish his Sabbath. I will guarantee for him, if it please you that I may do so." Among the attendants of the Sultan s son was a certain Sha ban Badruddar, a person than whom a wickeder could not be seen, or a more sinister one. He tried to interfere in the matter. 1 We, however, did not want him, because he took money and could never be satisfied. The Sultan s son said 1 Orig. fol. 78vo, UNU^K HnS l m^K J?DV ; literally : he widened the wound and opened the gates. 95 to Abdul Karim : " Go home with thy people, but come here on Monday ; we will then hold a meeting with the Kadhis and settle your affair, viz., whether, or not, you follow a new creed. We will also consider what they and you have to say." They adjourned to the synagogue, whither they summoned the people, and said to them : " Trouble not about this matter, though the Rabbanites endeavour to kill us. Let us take counsel what to do." They advised them to pray to God, " for He forsaketh not His people for the sake of His great name." Every one who was in the service of an Emir went to him and informed him of what had happened. They also resolved not to stir in the matter till after the feast, and further, that Abdul Fadhl should wait upon the Sultan s son. The Rabbanites, meanwhile, went about slander ing the Karaites, whilst some people were in their favour, others against them. The Karaites went to the high officials, as the Keeper of the Seal, the Commander-in-Chief, and another person, called Sharaf al dm al Nasiri. They informed them that they would appeal to the Maliki High Kadhi. The Rabbanites sent a denunciation to the Shafii [High Kadhi], declaring the Europeans to be unbelievers, and demanding their conversion to Islam ; but God was merciful, and the matter dragged on until the eve of Simhath Torah. On that day a large Rabbanite gathering and about 200 Karaites met in the house of the Sultan s son, bringing the Shafii Kadhi with them. The prince presided, letting the Rabbanites take their stand on one side and the Karaites on the other. The Rabbanites shouted for the Shafii Kadhi, whilst the Karaites did the same for the Maliki. Sha ban Badruddar endeavoured to make a compromise, and said to the Karaites : " Why are you so obstinate ? His Highness the prince has declared himself satisfied with 5000 dinar." He said the same to the Rabbanites, who declared that they did not care about this. 9 6 He then agreed with the Karaites to take 500 Ashrafis, and by his advice they all turned to the Maliki Kadhi. Before the prince left many of his attendants, such as the Chief of the Emirs, the Commander-in-Chief, and the Keeper of the Seal, had gone out and said to the Karaites : " Fear not, we have agreed with His Highness about 500 Ashrafis from both sides, as also to refer you all to the Maliki High Kadhi." This afforded them some relief. When the Sultan s son came out they stood before him, and Sha ban said to him: "Hold thy hand out." 1 After he had done so he said : " Go to the Shafii Kadhi," but all the Rabbanites, God bless you, 2 were obdurate. The Nagid and [Samuel] b. Al Khashsha remained and brought with them the Hakim Samuel before the Shafii Kadhi, who cross-examined him severely until Abul Fadhl relieved him. The Karaites were greatly discomfited, but the Rabbanites shouted with joy, and held themselves ready to kill the Karaites on the spot. God, how ever, had compassion on them. The Shekh Musa Al Iskandari and Abdul Karim b. Feiruz went to the Sultan s son and said to him : " Cast us not into the power of these dogs. Consider, if they behave thus in thy presence, what will they do for us when we have departed from thee." Sha ban replied : " If it is your intention to go to the Maliki Kadhi, pay the Sultan s son 1000 dinar and go." They said: "Yes, we will pay 1000 Ashrafis." Immediately the prince ordered all his attendants to make a raid on the Rabbanites, who were beaten and dragged away, whilst their chief was bound with the sleeves of his coat. Ibn al Khashsha was also bound, and they were led like captives from the Lion Bridge 3 to the house of the Maliki [Kadhi] at the top of the street Zuweila. 1 Orig. fol. 79vo. 1^ "pBK 6OK1 "I T N "|DD. As to TK for T, see Dozy. 2 Orig. ibid. "pW fWK ; literally, " May God help thee." 3 See Makrizi, ii. p. 146 ; Lane-Poole, ibid. pp. 42, 217. 97

Whilst they were kept in this distressed and humiliated condition, the Karaites passed their time in joy, jubilation, and thanksgivings to Him who has shown us great mercy. Wherever they caught a Rabbanite they dragged him to the house of the Maliki [Kadhi]. Afterwards many Rabbanites and leading Karaites held a meeting. The Karaites charged the Rabbanites with having infringed the law of the Torah. One of the points urged was that, whereas we hold that the fast [of the Day of Atonement] should be held on the tenth of Tishri, they had fasted on the eighth. 1 The Kadhi ques tioned the Rabbi on this point, but the latter would give no answer. The Karaites further urged that the Rabbanites declared the eating of a pig lawful when they found it inside a sheep. 2 The Rabbi answered as he was obliged, but only in consideration of the Shafii Kadhi. 3 The Rabbanites were therefore in great trouble, and the Moslims shouted at them, and called them unbelievers. Thus they were made to suffer much unpleasantness. After this a certain Rabbanite, called Abdul Daim the Elder, 4 who was an official of the High Kadhi, came forward. When he heard that they (the Rabbanites) had been driven to the Maliki [Kadhi], he went to the [Shafii] High Kadhi and said : " I conjure thee, accept no appeal against us, 5 and, when the two parties appear before thee, endeavour to make peace between them, but hear not their appeal." He promised to do so, and whenever the Karaites appealed to him he en deavoured to make peace without being harsh. This was in favour of the Rabbanite cause. Many judges and law 1 See above, p. 88. 2 Misinterpretation of the passage Mishnah Hullin, iv. p. 5 (Talmud^ fol. 75vo sq.\ Karaite practice forbids the eating of the embryo altogether. Cf. Aaron b. Elijah, Gan den, fol. 84vo, and Judah Hadassi, Eshkol, par. 233. 3 See the Shafii High Kadhi s reply. 4 See above, p. 90. 5 Orig. foi. 8ovo, mjn & II. 93 students who were present at the sitting tried to contradict them, and called them infidels. The Moslims repeated these charges all over the country. They stopped every Jew and asked him whether he was a Rabbanite or a Karaite. If he said " Karaite " they left him alone, but if he confessed himself a " Rabbanite/ they cursed him and said : " Thou belongst to the people who declare abominable things lawful, who con tradict the law of the Torah, and permit the eating of pork." No Rabbanite was left without fear or injury. To return to what happened during the meeting, the Karaites asserted in the presence of the Nagid and his community that they practised Karaism on the basis of the Torah alone. They would not interfere with any one who wished to live as a Rabbanite, neither would they hinder any one who desired to adopt Karaite law. This was agreed to, and a fine of 1000 Ashrafis was imposed on any individual who should contravene this rule. The Karaites also urged against the Nagid and Samuel b. Al Khashsha : " That all they had said against the Karaites was irrelevant, being dictated by a spirit of opposi tion and jealousy ; that their religion was no innovation, whilst that of the Rabbanites was absurd heresy, and that they would never return to Rabbanite practice." They then passed a resolution that the Karaite faith was the oldest form [of Jewish belief]. The court had given a clear and unmistakable decision from which the Karaites emerged victorious, whilst the Rabbanites had to beat a retreat, humiliated and weakened, and dared not raise their heads.. Thereupon they sent for the Europeans, and ordered them forthwith to become Karaites without any one being able to prevent them. After this l Sha ban, in the name of the Sultan s son,, arrested both the Nagid and Samuel, and ill-treated them. 1 The following is abridged, as the original contains much irrelevant matter. 99 On the third day the prince gave them, as he had done to the Karaites, a written order to pay a thousand Ashrafis. The Rabbanites consulted the Emir Muhammed al Kamili, who went to the Sultan to plead on their behalf. He told them how poor the Jews were, and that the Sultan s son had mulcted them of a thousand Ashrafis for quarrelling among themselves. The Karaites, on their side, sent their physician Sadaka to the Emir Kanem, 1 who was very influential at court. There he met the same Muhammed al Kamili, and both Emirs presented to the Sultan a full account of the proceedings, from which it appeared that the Sultan s son had extorted a thousand Ashrafis from each side. The Sultan replied : " No one has any business to cause the Jews trouble, nor must he force them to pay even half the money." He said this although he was grasping, and whenever he heard of money, in whatever form, he used to take it rightly or wrongly. The Sultan immediately sent an Emir to his son with a written order not to take one half of the money from the Jews, but to let them go without molesting them in any way. When both parties heard this their joy was great. They paid the costs of the proceedings, and the money was restored to them. Two days afterwards the prince went to the palace, and the Sultan said to him : " Trouble not the Jews, and force them not to pay even half the money." During this interview the Sultan learned that Sha ban had been the cause of all the trouble and brought this curse on his son. The Sultan sent for him in order to have him flogged. When Sha ban heard of it he fled with all the members of his house. Thereupon Samuel went to the Karaite Dayyan Ala al din b. al Khabuni, and bade him send for the Elders of the Karaites. He entreated them to leave him and all the Rabbanites in 1 Ibn lyas, ii. p. 83, mentions an Atabak Kanem, who may have been the same person. IOO peace. Ala al din sent for the Shekh Aaron al Saghir and said to him : " I urgently desire that thou do not trouble Samuel, and that thou also request thy people to do likewise. Leave him entirely alone as long as he conducts himself in this fashion." Aaron agreed, and spoke to his people accord ingly. Some of them intended to lodge a claim against him (Samuel) with the Maliki Kadhi, in order to punish him for what he had done, but Abdul Karim and Abdul Rahim b. Iskandari went to the house of the Maliki High Kadhi, summoned the Rabbi and the Rabbanite Elders, every one by his name, and at this meeting a resolution was passed as follows : " No one shall strive to oppress or to injure a Karaite in any way. If a Rabbanite desires to be converted to Karaism he shall not be prevented from, or indicted for, so doing. Whoever infringes this decision must pay a fine of 1000 dinar to the Moslim treasury."

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