Islam in History: Ideas, People, and Events in the Middle East

By Bernard Lewis | Go to book overview

13
An Ode against
the Jews

Little is known of the life of Abū Isḥāq.1 His name is given as Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm b. Mas‘ūd b. Sa‘īd al-Tujībī al-Ilbīrī. Tujībī indicates that he was descended from the famous Arab family of Tujīb, which played a role of some importance in the history of Muslim Spain; Ilbīrī suggests that he came from Elvira. He appears to have been born towards the end of the tenth century and probably moved to Granada, along with the rest of the inhabitants of Elvira, when that city was sacked by the Ṣanhāja Berbers during the insurrection of 1010. In 1012 Zāwī b. Zīrī, the founder of the Berber Zirid dynasty, made Granada his capital.

A jurist by training, Abū Isḥāq served as secretary to the ī of Granada and also acted as a teacher. His career coincided v/ith the reign of Bādīs b. Ḥabbūs (reigned 1038–107 3), the Zirid monarch who was the patron of Samuel ibn Nagrella, known in Jewish literature as Ha-Nagīd, and of his son Joseph. At some point Abū Isḥāq seems to have fallen foul of authority; by order of Bādīs he was banished from Granada and went to live in a convent called Rābiṭat al-‘Uqāb, in the Sierra de Elvira. According to Ibn al-Khaṭīb, he was banished because of the slanders of the Jewish minister Joseph ibn Nagrella, but a poem which Abū Isḥāq composed at al-‘Uqāb suggests that other influences may have been at work:

I settled there and it dispelled my troubles,
and soothed me, and I did not feel estranged there.
Though there are many wolves around it, yet
I find the wolf less dangerous than the jurist (faqīh)

-167-

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