Abu Sa'id Yaḥyā Nissim ben Nahray Ibn al-Majjānī (c.1056 - d.) MP

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Birthplace: Al-Qayrawan, Kairouan North, Kairouan, Tunisia
Death: (Date and location unknown)
Managed by: Jaim Harlow
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About Abu Sa'id Yaḥyā Nissim ben Nahray Ibn al-Majjānī

Ibn al-Majjānī Family

The Ibn al-Majjānī family, known from documentary sources in the Cairo Geniza, were active in Mediterranean trade during the first half of the eleventh century. The earliest member of the family for whom any correspondence survives was Mūsā (Abū ʿImrān) ibn Yaḥyā al-Majjānī. The nisba indicates that the family once resided in the Tunisian town of Majjāna. Goitein suggested that this pertained to Mūsā’s grandfather (Med. Soc., vol 1, p. 371, no. 9), from whose hand there are three letters (Gil, nos. 116–18) dated respectively 1000 (from Fustat), 1011 (from Qayrawan), and 1025 (from Alexandria). These and other letters make it evident that Mūsā lived in Qayrawan, where he was the leading partner/agent, both in that city and perhaps generally, of the preeminent Egyptian merchant Joseph ibn ʿAwkal. After Mūsā’s death in June 1039, the family’s business was taken over by his son Yaḥyā, from whom we have four Geniza letters (Gil, nos. 627–630), and after Yaḥyā’s death in 1056, by Mūsā’s grandson and namesake Mūsā (ben Judah) ibn Yaḥyā al-Majjānī, from whom we have one Geniza letter (Gil, no. 634; ca. 1052). The al-Majjānīs were related by marriage to the Tāhirtīs (the wives of Yaḥyā II al-Majjānī and Ṣāliḥ al-Tāhirtī were sisters), another prominent merchant family of Qayrawan, and through them, therefore, to the sons of Berechiah, Joseph, and Nissim (in a letter written ca. 1015, these latter refer to Abū ʿImrān (Mūsā I) al-Majjānī as “our in-law and our partner”). Also surviving in the Geniza are three letters from Mūsā’s (Abū ʿImrān’s) brother Isaac ben ʿAlī (ʿAllūsh) al-Majjānī (Gil, nos. 635–637).

Michael G. Wechsler


Ben-Sasson, Menahem. The Emergence of the Local Jewish Community in the Muslim World: Qayrawan, 800–1057, 2nd ed. (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1997) [Hebrew].

Gil, Moshe. In the Kingdom of Ishmael, 4 vols. (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1997) [Hebrew]; vol. 1 trans. D. Strassler as Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2004).

Goitein, S. D. Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1973).

———. A Mediterranean Society, 6 vols. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978).

——— . “Misḥar ha-Yehudim ba-Yam ha-Tikhon bi-Tḥillat ha-Meʾa ha-Aḥat ʿEsre,” Tarbi ẓ 37 (1967/68): 49–77.

Stillman, Norman A. “The Eleventh Century Merchant House of Ibn ʿAwkal,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 16, no. 1 (1973): 15–88.

Citation Michael G. Wechsler. " Ibn al-Majjānī Family." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 24 January 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/ibn-al-majjani-family-SIM_0010290>


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Al-Qayrawan, Kairouan North, Kairouan, Tunisia