Jewish Mysticism in the Lands of the Ishmaelites

Ronald C. Kiener

in The Convergence of Judaism and Islam

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780813036496
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041810 | DOI:
Jewish Mysticism in the Lands of the Ishmaelites

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This chapter is an attempt to rewrite the history of Jewish mysticism by examining its geographical origins and focusing on its medieval and premodern manifestations. It is also an effort to wrest the account of Jewish mysticism from its Eurocentric focus and place it instead in the context of Islamic culture. The chapter elaborates at length on the ways in which Islamic culture helped shape mysticism among the Jews beginning in ninth-century Baghdad and continuing with such currents as the Sufi-tinged Jewish pietist movement of thirteenth-century medieval Egypt, the ecstatic Kabbalah movement founded by Abraham Abulafia, and the origins of the so-called Spanish Kabbalah. The main thesis here is that based on recent research the centrality of Islamic culture cannot be ignored in developing a historical account of the evolution of Jewish mysticism.

Keywords: mysticism; Kabalah; Sefer ha-Zohar; Hadith; Tafsir; Sufi; Maimonides; Abulafia

Chapter.  8517 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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