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Collected Essays: v. 2$
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Haym Soloveitchik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113980

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113980.001.0001

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Maimonides’ Iggeret ha-Shemad: Law and Rhetoric

Maimonides’ Iggeret ha-Shemad: Law and Rhetoric

(p.288) Chapter Twelve Maimonides’ Iggeret ha-Shemad: Law and Rhetoric
Collected Essays: v. 2

Haym Soloveitchik

Liverpool University Press

This chapter concerns Maimonides' Iggeret ha-Shemad (Letter on Persecution). Maimonides claims that his antagonist has failed to notice the obvious: that all the Marranos have done is admit the prophetic nature of Mohammed's mission; they have in no way assented to any idolatry. Admittedly this is correct, but the chapter considers whether or not this difference of fact is legally significant. Mohammed's prophetic character is the first and fundamental article of faith in the Muslim religion, and subscription to it is ipso facto subscription to Islam. If Islam itself is idolatry, then anything that officially conveys belief in it is also idolatry. The true issue is not, then, the specific content of the formula (acceptance of Mohammed's prophetic character), but what the recitation of the formula constitutes (acceptance of Islam).

Keywords:   Maimonides, Iggeret ha-Shemad, Letter on Persecution, Marranos, Mohammed, Islam, rhetoric

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