Following are some examples of leading Rabbis who converted to Islam:
- Abdullah Bin Salam: He is the first Jewish Rabbi to convert to Islam. Before conversion he was called as Husayn bun Salam. The conversion happened at the time of Muhammad himself.
Following narrative about his conversion is reported in the collection of authentic historical traditions of Islam:
Prophet Muhammad asks the Jewish community:
“What is the status of Al-Husayn ibn Salam among you?”
“He is our sayyid (leader) and the son of our sayyid. He is our rabbi
and our alim (scholar), the son of our rabbi and alim.”
“If you come to know that he has accepted Islam, would you accept
Islam also?” asked the Prophet.
“God forbid! He would not accept Islam. May God protect him from
accepting Islam,” they said, horrified.
At this point I came out in full view of them and announced: “O
assembly of Jews! Be conscious of God and accept what Muhammad has
brought. By God, you certainly know that he is the Messenger of God
and you can find prophecies about him and mention of his name and
characteristics in your Torah. I for my part declare that he is the
Messenger of God. I have faith in him and believe that he is true. I
- Sabatai Zevi : Was a very famous Rabbi of his time , to the extent many of the Jews started believing him as the Messiah and he claimed it too. Some people claim that he was coerced , this might be true but later in life he truly accepted Islam and also bought 300 Jewish families to Islam:
Sarah and approximately 300 families among Sabbatai's followers also
converted to Islam. These new Muslims thereafter were known as dönmeh
(converts).3 The sultan's officials ordered Sabbatai to take an
additional wife to demonstrate his conversion. Some days after his
conversion he wrote to Smyrna: "God has made me an Ishmaelite; He
commanded, and it was done. The ninth day of my
- Maimonides - (RAMBAM) : Many historical sources seem to support the idea that RAMBAM may have been coerced into converting to Islam, although this is highly debatable:
A Muslim historian, Ibn al-Qifti (1172-1248) reports nothing less than
that the Rambam himself, on numerous occasions, voluntarily went to
mosques to pray 1, under no compulsion and seeing no contradiction
with his Judaism. Ibn al-Qifti notes that this was towards the end of
Maimonides’ life and was not an event of his youth, under fear of the
Al-Mohades who had invaded Al-Andalus in his youth.1
writes, in The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, “although Ibn
al-Qifti’s book has come down to us in a later recension, and contains
some errors, we have no reason to doubt the information on
1 Tarikh al-Hukama, p. 318, trans. Kraemer in Fine, 2001. 424.
2 Kenneth Seeskin, The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, (Cambridge
University Press: 2005)
Moreover many of the famous works of Maimonides are derivatives of the Islamic literature by Muslim scholars. The Rabbis of the time of Maimonides condemned RamBam for bringing Islamic scholarship into Judaism. Later down the line his grandson Obadyah (1228-1265) accepted and followed the mystical notions of the Muslim Sufis and wrote the classical treatise on Islamic sufism interlaced with Jewish thoughts titled as The Treatise of the Pool: Al-Mawala Al Hawdiyya.
A UNESCO historical document states the following on Pg 14:
Some biographers maintain that Maimonides may even have been converted
Also, in the French version of a December 2010 report of UNESCO we find the following report:
Une fois Tolède reprise aux Maures par les croisés en 1085, les
savants européens y affluèrent afin de traduire les anciens textes
classiques du grec (que l’Europe avait oubliés) vers l’arabe et
l’hébreu, puis le latin, rendant ce la première partie du Moyen Âge
européen (1100-1543), les noms de quelques savants européens
apparaissaient dans la littérature scientifique à côté d’un grand
nombre de savants musulmans, parmi lesquels Ibn Rushd (Averroès),
Moussa ibn Maïmoun (Maïmonide), Tousi et Ibn Nafis.
After the recovery of Toledo from the Moors by the Crusaders in 1085,
European scholars flocked there to translate the ancient classical
texts from the Greek (which Europe had forgotten) to Arabic and Hebrew
and Latin, making it the first part of the European Middle Ages
(1100-1543), the names of some European scholars appeared in
scientific literature next to a large number of Muslim scholars,
including Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Maimouna Ibn Moussa (Maimonides),
Tousi and Ibn Nafis.
Having said that, although RAMBAM may have at some point feigned conversion because of social and political pressure, it does not appear that was truly a believer in Islam. See Historian reviews evidence of Rambam’s forced conversion
Another point of view regarding Rambam can be that he practiced both Judaism and Islam simultaneously, In Jewish Encyclopedia , we find the fact that , belief in Muhammad pbuh is not equatable to Idolatry and hence wont demand sacrifice of life as is the case of the law for Idolatry, thus making Islam simply as a sect within Judaism:
Rabbi M. Friedländer in ("Guide of the Perplexed," i., xvii., xxxiii.,
et seq.), in which Islam is declared to be simply a belief in
Mohammed, and that Islam is not idolatry, to avoid which only the Law
demands the sacrifice of life.
Hence it is halachically possible for a Jew to become a Muslim , A Jew wont loose his Jewishness by accepting Islam. Rambam realized this very well as quoted above in his most popular work. hence it is fair seeming that he purposely did not show any resistance to Dawah on him and accepted Islam. His acceptance of Islam may not be genuine but he was a very ambitious and rational intellectual whose conversion was a pragmatic decision which would help him gain acceptance and position of influence from the Sultans of the time as reported by Al-Baghdadi in Seeskin:
he was of superior merit, but love of authority and serving powerful
people prevailed over him
was too much concerned with worldly successand frequenting the great
as their physician
Reports from Kenneth Seeskin, The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, (Cambridge University Press: 2005)
Kraemer also found sources that indicate that while in Fustat (old
Cairo), the Rambam was confronted by a man named Abu ‘l-’Arab ibn
Mu’isha, a jurist from Andalusia, who recognized that the leader of
the Jewish community in Egypt was no longer practicing Islam (a crime
punishable by death under Islamic law). The Rambam managed to escape
persecution although the historical records give conflicting reports
as to how that happened.
In this work (Ifham Yahud) he points out that from time to time the
abrogation of the Law is necessary and that, in fact, it has often
occurred in Judaism. He tries to prove the prophetic character of
Jesus and of Mohammed; claiming that the first of these is referred to
in Gen. xlix. 10, and the latter in Gen. xvii. 2 ( has numerically the
same value as Mohammed). He affirms that the Jews of his time possess
the Torah of Ezra and not that of Moses, and that too many laws have
been added by the sages of the Mishnah and the Gemara.
Samuel makes the curious statement in ("Monatsschrift," xlii. 260) :
that most of the Karaites had gone over to Islam, because their system
is free from all the absurdities of the Rabbinites, and their theology
not so different from that of the Mohammedans.
- Yosef Cohen A former rabbi belonging to the Satmar Hasidic community in Brooklyn.