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218 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 


Ibn H&d, the Mohammedan Mystic, and the Jews of 

In the following notice it is my object to add a few items to what 
is already known concerning the manner in which the Moreh 
NeVhukhivi spread among the circle of Mohammedan theologians. 
The biographical sketch which I now submit of a Mohammedan 
mystic of the thirteenth century affords, moreover, an insight into 
the intimate relations which subsisted between the Mohammedans 
and the Jewish quarter in Damascus, and, judged from this 
point of view alone, should be a subject of interest to a student 
of social history. 

The full name of this Mystic, of Andalusian descent, is Al- 
Hasan ibn 'Adud al-daula ibn Hud al-Guddmi. As the name 
implies, he belonged to the princely family of the Banu Hud, his 
uncle, on his father's side, being Al-Mutawakkil "alS. Alltlh — one of 
those Andalusian kinglets who, after the eleventh century, distributed 
themselves over the remnants of that territory which once formed the 
mighty "Western Caliphate. 

Learning was not foreign to this princely family ; and it is just in 
this connection that an interest attaches to the information given by 
Steinschneider' that a work by Mu'tamin ibn KM, Prince of 
Saragossa, formed the subject of study of Maimonides, with Ibn 

The father of our Hasan ibn Hftd occupied, as we shall observe, a 
high position in the State. That of the son, named for short, Ahix 
'AH ibn Hfid, was far less brilliant. He was, however, not the only 
prince who denied him'selE the worldly pomp of his maternal in- 
heritance, and adopted the mode of life of an ascetic. 

The accompanying biographical notice is taken from the work 
Farvdt al-rvqfajdt, written by an Aleppo author, named Mubammed 
ibn ShUkir al Kutubt (died 1363). The work itself was intended 
as a sort of aftermath in relation to Ibn Challikdn's celebrated and 
learned Biogra'phical Bictionary, rendered accessible by De Slane's 
English version to those unacquainted with Oriental languages. 

The Arabic text which I have used for my translation is con- 

^ ITebrdiselie BiUiograpMe, XIII. (1873), p. 40 ; XIV. (1874), p. 38. 

Notes and Dismission. 219 

tained in the second edition of KutuU (BMdk, 1299 Higra), Vol. II., 
pp. 127, 128. 

The Scheikh Shams al-dtn' relates as follows : — " The Scheikh and 
great ascetic, AbA 'Ali iba HM al-Murst, one of the great authorities 
on monistic Sufiism (al-tasawwuf 'aXk tarikat al-wahdat), was born 
in the year 633 of the Hegira (=1235-6), at Murcia, of which city his 
father was the governor. To an extraordinary degree he yielded 
himself up to ascetic habits, and retired from the world, subjecting 
himself to the drunkenness (ecstasy of mysticism), which lifted him 
out of himself, and divested him of his very nature. He devoted 
himself to medicine, philosophy, and the Ascetic Poems of ihe School 
of the Sufis, and blended the knowledge of these subjects together. 
He undertook the pilgrimage to Mekka, travelled through Yemen, 
and came to Syria. His dignified bearing was such as to inspire 
reverence : a hoary man of gentle demeanour, possessed of much 
knowledge, who had many disciples and adherents. Upon his head 
he wore a skull cap, which was not concealed by the turban ; upon his 
person the dress of a monk. 

" He was constantly in a deeply contemplative mood, free from the 
pleasures of the World, in an uninterrupted state of mourning, living 
in retirement from all mankind. He was on one occasion seized in a 
state of intoxication in the Jewish Quarter, and brought before 
the Prefect of the city, who was favourably disposed towards him 
and acquitted him. He alleged that the Jews had, out of malice, 
made him drunk, so that they might circulate this charge against him. 
He had, it is true, been a source of much evil to them in the past, 
and had caused quite a host of them (among others Sa'id- and Barakdt) 
to abjure their faith, and to become converted to Islamism. The 
Scheikh was fond of stewed leg-of-mutton : they invited him to one 
of their houses and put before him his dainty dish. After he had 
partaken thereof, he relapsed into his wonted state of absence of 
mind. Whereupon they had wine brought : he did not disapprove of 
the presence of this drink. They bade the cup pass round, and he, 
too, partook, so as to make no exception. 

" They now led him, in an intoxicated state, to the public way. The 
news reached the W4U, who rode up to Ibn HM, took him upon his 
own horse, placing him behind himself. The folk gazed after them in 
astonishment. He (Ibn HM), however, cried out from time to time : 
' What has befallen Ibn HM at the drinking of wine ?' The K 
(i?) in the word 'uhdr, which signifies mine, he pronounced as a soft 
kM (3).' 

' Cf . Wiistenfeld's Die Qeschiehtiohreiber der Araber wnd ihre Werke 
(Gottingen, 1882), p. 176, nr. 415. 

220 The Jemsh Quarterly Review. 

" Under his guidance the Jems were wont to occupy themselves with 
the study of the Kitab al-daldlat : this is a work upon the priiiciple3 
of their religion by Ra'is Mfts^.* The Soheikh Shams al-din relates, in 
the name of our Scheikh 'Imdd al-din al "WMtt, thus :— 'I ( Al-WHsitt) 
came to him (Ihn HM) and begged him to undertake to guide me in 
spiritual things. He asked : " Upon which road ? the Mosaic, the 
Christian, or the Mohammedan ?" ' At sunrise he turned towards 
the sun, and crossed himself." 

He was a friend of the physician 'A/if 'Imrdn, of the Scheikh Sa'id 
al-MagreU, and other learned men. When he died, the K^di Badr 
al-din b. Gamfi,'a was the only one who read the burial service over his 
remains. He was buried on the declivity of Mount KSsyftn (Damas- 
cus) in the year 697 of the Hegira (1297-8.) 

The Scheikh Salih al-din al-Safadt (1300-1363) relates the follow- 
ing concerning him : — " He was once asked by his pupil Sa'td to show 
him the Creator of day : whereupon he took him by the hand, 
climbed on to the roof of a house, and stood half-a-day long, gazing 
at the sun. He used to walk to the Mosque with a fixed glance, as 
though he were absent-minded, with up-lifted finger, as it is wont to 
be raised at confession. Earning coals were oft^n placed in his 
hand when open, and he would close his hand out of mere distraction, 
recovering his senses only when the coal began to burn, upon 
which he would throw it away. People were in the habit of digging 
pits in his way : he was so abstracted and absent-minded that he did 
not notice them, and fell into these pits." 

Ignaz Goldzihee. 

The Sign given to King Ahaz (Isaiah vii. 10-17). 

It is not the purpose of this note to discuss the above-mentioned 
passage in detail, nor to settle the vexed question whether " the 
damsel" (pT^'S'i^)^ of whom the prophet speaks, be a definite 
individual, or a general term applying to any woman who should bear 
a son at the time specified. My object is simply to elucidate the 
meaning here conveyed by the word niM, " a sign." It was long ago 
remarked by Gesenius that " a sign " does not necessarily imply any- 
thing miraculous, as is shown by such passages as 1 Sam. ii. 27-36. 
Yet even recent commentators have sometimes found it hard to 
believe that so ordinary an event as the birth of a child could be 

: 'DID D»n^^