About Yehuda ben Yosef ibn Ezra Ibn Shaprut
Yehuda ben Yosef Hasdai ibn Yitzhak Ibn Shaprut (a/k/a Abu Yehuda Yūsuf ben Hasdia Hasdai ibn Isḥāq ibn Ezra ibn Shaprūt) – a/k/a “Judah ben Joseph”.
Judah ben Joseph had a business relationship with the “Regent” of the Zirid-Fatimid Empire based in Kairouan; she was sister of Ma‘ādh Abū Tamīm ibn Badis al-Mu‘izz li Dīn Allāh (932 – 975) (her name was Umm al-'Aziz) – she had a fleet of ships she rented to Judah ben Joseph. This gave Judah ben Joseph a competitive advantage over all other shippers in the Mediterranean Basin – he could get his products transported on ships protected by the Fatmid Army and Navy.
Al-Muʿizz, was the most powerful of the Fāṭimid caliphs, whose armies conquered Egypt and who made the newly founded Al-Qāhirah, or Cairo, his capital in 972–973. He was about 22 years of age when he succeeded his father, al-Mansur, in 953 with the title of al-Muʿizz. His authority was acknowledged over the greater part of the region now comprising Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and he soon took the island of Sicily.
Al-Muʻizz was renowned for his tolerance of other religions, and was popular among his Jewish and Christian subjects. He is also credited for having commissioned the invention of the first fountain pen. In 953, al-Muizz demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes, and was provided with a pen which held ink in a reservoir. As recorded by Qadi al-Nu'man al-Tamimi (d. 974) in his Kitdb al-Majalis wa 'l-musayardt, al-Mu’izz commissioned the construction of the pen instructing:
‘We wish to construct a pen which can be used for writing without having recourse to an ink-holder and whose ink will be contained inside it. A person can fill it with ink and write whatever he likes. The writer can put it in his sleeve or anywhere he wishes and it will not stain nor will any drop of ink leak out of it. The ink will flow only when there is an intention to write. We are unaware of anyone previously ever constructing (a pen such as this) and an indication of ‘penetrating wisdom’ to whoever contemplates it and realises its exact significance and purpose’. I exclaimed, ‘Is this possible?’ He replied, ‘It is possible if God so wills’.
Nehorai ben Nissim, the son of Nissim ben Jacob in Fostat, was a close business partner with Abu l'Qasim Abd al-Rahman – son of the Caliph of Cordoba. Avraham ben Nathan was not as flamboyant as his older half-brother nor as brilliant. Due to his mis-steps, his history is sparse and fragmentary.
Norman A. Stillman. " Ibn ʿAṭāʾ, Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm (Abraham ben Nathan)." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2012. Reference. Jim Harlow. 03 July 2012 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/ibn-ata-abu-ishaq-ibrahim-abraham-ben-nathan-SIM_0010160>
“A history of Palestine, 634-1099, Volume 1” by Moshe Gil, CUP Archive, 1992 ISBN0521404371, 9780521404372
“Jews in Islamic countries in the Middle Ages” by Moshe Gil & David Strassler Translated byDavid Strassler, BRILL, ISBN900413882X, 9789004138827