A Jewish Convert to Imāmī Šīʿism

Halft, Dennis. 2017. Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī: A twelfth/eighteenth-century Jewish convert to Imāmī Šīʿism and his critique of Ibn Ezra’s commentary on the four kingdoms (Daniel 2:31-45). In Miriam Lindgren Hjälm (ed.), Senses of scripture, treasures of tradition: The Bible in Arabic among Jews, Christians and Muslims (Biblia Arabica 5), 280–304. Leiden: Brill.

Abstract of the article:

This study explores the previously unstudied anti-Jewish Persian polemic Anbāʾ al-anbiyāʾ by the Jewish convert to Twelver Šīʿī Islam, Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī, the father of Ḥāǧǧī Bābā Qazvīnī Yazdī. It examines Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī’s discussion of a medieval Jewish controversy concerning the four-kingdom schema in the book of Daniel and Ibn Ezra’s interpretation of the dream-vision in favor of Islam as the fourth kingdom. The study shows that Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī, besides his reference to Muslim works in Persian, relied on different (partly printed) Jewish textual sources in the original Hebrew and Aramaic (Miqraʾot Gedolot, Neḇuʾat ha-yeled, Sefer haš-šorašim, Sefer Josippon), from which he quoted in his own Persian translation/adaptation. He thus made internal Jewish debates accessible to native Muslim scholars, such as Mullā ʿAlī Nūrī, who borrowed from Anbāʾ al-anbiyāʾ. Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī was a cross-cultural intermediary and go-between who expanded the traditional range of Šīʿī polemical arguments against Judaism in pre-modern Iran.

Abstract of the volume:

Senses of Scripture, Treasures of Tradition offers recent findings on the reception, translation and use of the Bible in Arabic among Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims from the early Islamic era to the present day. In this volume, edited by Miriam L. Hjälm, scholars from different fields have joined forces to illuminate various aspects of the Bible in Arabic: it depicts the characteristics of this abundant and diverse textual heritage, describes how the biblical message was made relevant for communities in the Near East and makes hitherto unpublished Arabic texts available. It also shows how various communities interacted in their choice of shared terminology and topics, and how Arabic Bible translations moved from one religious community to another.

About the editor of the volume:
Miriam L Hjälm, Ph.D. (2015), is doctor of Semitic Languages and active at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and at Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy. She has published extensively on Christian Arabic Bible traditions, including Christian Arabic Versions of Daniel (Brill, 2016).