Jews of a Saharan Oasis: Elimination of the Tamantit Community

By Miles, William F. S. | The International Journal of African Historical Studies, September 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Jews of a Saharan Oasis: Elimination of the Tamantit Community


Miles, William F. S., The International Journal of African Historical Studies


Jews of a Saharan Oasis: Elimination of the Tamantit Community. By John Hunwick. Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 2006. Pp. viii, 91; 1 illustration. $68.95 cloth, $28.95 paper.

An oft-invoked myth, current in academic circles as elsewhere, is that of the preZionist "Golden Era" between Muslims and Jews. According to this revisionist paradigm, until the emergence of the colonial and settler proto-Israeli state in Palestine, Jews and Muslims lived in harmony, if not fraternal solidarity, throughout the Islamic world. Jews were a protected and respected minority, a "people of the Book" as the Koran describes them, under beneficent Muslim tutelage. And they prospered. It was only the imposition of a Jewish state in the heart of the ummah, goes this baleful narrative, that politicized and antagonized relations between Muslim and Jewish communities in the Middle East and throughout the world. (By implication, the resolution of conflict between Muslims and Jews lies in the dissolution of the Jewish State of Israel.)

John Hunwick's concise but poignant study of a single Jewish community in the northwestern Sahara provides an African-based refutation to this myth. Thoroughly exploiting the extant (if scant) Arabic writings on the subject, Hunwick examines the rise and purge of a Jewish communal outpost of Tlemcen (now Algeria), which lay in the Touat oasis more than a third of the way to Timbuktu (where Jews also participated in the trans-Saharan trade). This outpost (or "fortified settlement") was called Tamantit and, at its peak in the fifteenth century, 4 percent of its overall population (no aggregate figure is given) was Jewish. That the Jews of Tamantit were not just a minority but also a community with means is attested to by the existence of a synagogue. Then arose a man whose name should be as notorious as Pharaoh of the Passover Exodus, or Haman from Purim: al-Maghili.

Muhammad al-Maghili was a Tlemcen-born cleric who, sometime in the mid1400s, took violent exception not only to the prosperity of the Jews, but also to their very presence in the midst of Touat. Hunwick implies that al-Maghili's enmity stemmed from economic envy or rage. His public rationale for preaching the expulsion and "degradation" (Hunwick's word) of the Jews was, however, purely theological. It is the kind of invective theology that today we would expect from the likes of a bin Laden or Zarqawi:

Rise up, kill and enslave the infidels

Pigs, who care not for the name of Muhammad.

Rise up and kill the Jews; they are indeed

The bitterest enemies who reject Muhammad ...

Rise up and kill the Jews and all of those

Who fight for them; thus will you please Muhammad. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Jews of a Saharan Oasis: Elimination of the Tamantit Community
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.