Jadīd al-Islām

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JADĪD AL-ISLĀM , a term meaning "new Muslims," applied mainly in *Persia to Jews who were converted by force to *Islam but who, in many cases, adhered secretly to their former religion (see *Anusim). The term is associated especially with the crypto-Jewish community of *Meshed under the Kajar dynasty from 1839 onward but also with the victims of forced mass conversions in Persia in the 17th and 18th centuries, under *Abbas i and *Abbas ii, and in Bukhara. Many Jadīd al-Islām fled to *Afghanistan, others settled in Ereẓ Israel in 1929–30. About 70 converted to the Bahai faith in the town of Torbat, but after a short while 67 of them returned to Judaism. A few members of the Hakimi family converted to Islam and deserted the community of Jadīd al-Islām. At the end of the 19th century the Jadīd al-Islām in Meshed lived as Jews, almost openly, and under the rule of Riza Shah (1925–41) they felt more protected, but still maintained the status of Muslims and were recognized as Jadīd al-Islām. In 1936 about 550 Jadīd al-Islām families lived in Meshed with 12 synagogues (in private buildings) and four schools. In 1954 Oẓar ha-Torah set up in Meshed a Jewish school for the Jadīd al-Islām. These Jews suffered from the mobs in 1946. The Sephardi chief rabbi, Ben-Zion Meir Hai *Ouziel, decided that the Jadīd al-Islām did not have any problem of mamzerut. The Jadīd al-Islām had many special minhagim in certain areas of life, especially child marriage. They had their own songs and their dead were buried in a cemetery bought by the Jadīd al-Islām. From the end of the 19th century until the 1940s most members of this community returned to Judaism. In 1973 only three Jewish families lived in Meshed and in 1995, 12 families.


Fischel, in: Zion, 1 (1935), 49–74. add. bibliography: A. Neimark, Massa be-Ereẓ ha-Kedem, ed. A. Yaari (1947); R. Kashani, Anusei Meshed (1979); A. Levy, in: Pe'amim, 6 (1981), 57–73; D. Littman, in: The Wiener Library Bulletin, 32 (1979), 2–15; 35 (1988), A. Netzer, in: Pe'amim, 42 (1990), 127–56; B.Z. Yehoshua-Raz, Mi-Nidaḥei Yisrael be-Afganistan le-Anusei Meshed be-Iran (1992), 99–156; R. Patai, Jadid al-Islam "New Muslims" of Meshed (1997); A. Netzer, in: Pe'amim, 94–95 (2003), 262–67.

[Walter Joseph Fischel /

Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky (2nd ed.)]