Medieval Jewish Perspectives on Almohad Persecutions: Memory, Repression and Impact

In: Forced Conversion in Christianity, Judaism and Islam
Author: Alan Verskin

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This article analyzes several Jewish responses to the Almohad persecutions, especially those of Maimon ben Joseph, Moses Maimonides, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Joseph Ibn Aqnin and Judah al-Harizi. Many scholars have argued that the Almohad persecutions failed to substantially impact Jewish attitudes towards Islamic dominance. I argue that this judgment is based upon a distortive comparison to Jewish responses to persecution in Ashkenaz. Because responses to the Almohads were fewer in number and did not gain traction in liturgy, such scholars regarded the persecutions to have had little long-term impact. In contrast, I argue that Jews were shaken by the Almohad persecutions and regarded them as being qualitatively different from the oppression that they had previously experienced in the Islamic world. Consequently, they developed new theologies to respond to these events which substantially reconceptualized Jewish-Muslim relations.

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