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Maimonides’ Letter on Martyrdom


I have been working on this paper on the Iggeret HaShmad, Maimonides’ letter on Martyrdom, some time, and though I’m not done with it yet, I thought I wanted to share it with my readers. My problem is that when it is done, it might be used in a publication, and therefore I can’t publish the finished result on my blog because of copyrights. For those who would be interesting in the final product though I would be more than happy to direct you to where it can be achieved, though it will be part of a magazine. So far it will be published, that is. If not then I will publish the final product here.

Anyway, it’s eleven pages long, deals with a response he wrote during the Almohad persecutions of Jews and Christians in the twelfth century, reacting on a rabbi’s statement that the only right thing to do for Jews, was to accept martyrdom when faced with the demand to convert to Islam or die.

Please share thoughts.

Maimonides’ Letter on Martyrdom


  1. Reblogged this on The Templar Knight and commented:
    More on Al-Andalus here from another interesting blogger. As I mentioned in the last blog post, Al-Andalus did achieve a level of co-existence between Muslims, Jews and Christians for a period but this broke down in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Under sustained pressure from new Christian kingdoms which formed in the north of the Iberian peninsula (Aragon, Castile, Leon, Portugal), the Islamic caliphate was rolled back. So…some on the Muslim side decided that a little theological strictness was required and under first the Almoravids and then the Almohads, the caliphate became a far less tolerant place. The gist of their argument was that if Muslims hadn’t been so lax – then Allah would have favoured them more in their fight with the new crusader kingdoms. Maimonides was a Jewish thinker in Al-Andalus and his essay covers the bleak prospect of being forced to convert against his will from his own faith. Interestingly, Maimonides didn’t escape from the Islamic world in to the Christian world to get away from this situation but ended up in Egypt where his genius was highly appreciated by Jews and Muslims alike.

  2. […] those who chose life irredeemable sinners, and when Maimonides got wind of it, he replied in his Iggeret haShmad with a scathing rebuke. One who under duress failed to sanctify the Name of G-d (i.e. by accepting […]

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