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RaMBaM and Islam

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Did RaMBaM really convert to Islam, and if he did why and until when.

asked December 4, 2014

1 Answer

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The Rambam died as a Jew and is buried in Tiberias, Israel. There is no question he was a practicing Jew at the time of his death.

However, Maimonides, along with his family may have been forcibly converted to Islam by the Almohads when he was a child. This would not have been a sincere conversion if it did take place and at the first opportunity he publicly returned to Judaism. This is evidenced by the rich works he wrote throughout his adult life.

This idea is based on a story about a merchant visiting Egypt (where Maimonides lived) who allegedly remembered him as a Muslim when he lived in Morocco. Thirty years later, the Muslim acquaintance was traveling through Egypt and was surprised to discover that Maimonides had become Egypt’s most distinguished rabbi. Outraged, the Muslim merchant denounced him to the authorities as an apostate.

The authenticity of this claim is unknown, but it may explain why some Muslims believe the Rambam converted to Islam.

Obviously, Islam teaches you cannot forcibly convert someone to Islam – so even if this story were true he was not a convert or an apostate.

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