The Quran records interactions between Muhammad and Jews, and according to historical accounts, he lived in places with Jewish communities, in addition to conquering some.

The earliest Torah source quoted by Wikipedia would seem to be the Rambam (Maimonides) and his contemporaries. However, there's a 500 year gap between Muhammad's death and Maimonides' birth.

Are there any Torah references in between? If not, why not?

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    Better suited to History. SE?
    – HodofHod
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 5:07
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    @HodofHod I think it's perfectly good here. I don't know what History.SE thinks about questions that limit scope to Jewish sources. Perhaps, though, you should consider asking there about records of interactions between Jews and Muslims during that time period.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 6:07
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    @msh210 In my (limited) personal experience, Jews are more likely to record such events than not. If say, there were no Jewish records of the birth of Christianity, I'd want to know why, too. Do you disagree?
    – HodofHod
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 6:52
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    If this is asking for records about Mohammed that happen to have been written by Jews, it seems off-topic to me. If it's asking for mentions of Mohammed in Jewish religious literature of the time, I'd say it's on-topic.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 14:58
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    I no longer understand this question - now we're asking for "Torah sources" instead of just Jewish sources? What does that mean? As in, texts that were not only written by Jews but by rabbinic Jews, and ones that feature in our masorah? That sounds very specific. What about references to Islam in Karaite literature (if there are any)? Or in Targum Pseudo-Yonatan?
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


Very few references to Muhammad exist in Jewish literature, especially before Maimonides.

That being said, Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer contains several references to the rise of Islam, and some indirect references to Muhammad. They are actually crucial in dating PRE accurately: for example in chapter 30, they list 15 stages of Islamic rule that will lead to the End of Days ( חמשה עשר דברים עתידין בני ישמעאל לעשות בארץ באחרית הימים), including the building of the mosque of Omar on the Temple Mount (in 692 CE) and the minting of Muslim dinars (695 CE) — thus we know that (at least some of) PRE was composed around the beginning of the 8th century CE. There are other interesting passages, such as the description of Jacob's "night journey" from Haran to the "Foundation Stone" of the Temple Mount and back (drawing, obviously, on Muhammad's miraj).

Further analysis of the references to Islam in PRE can be found in Rachel Adelman's thorough and articulate thesis, Poetics of Time and Space in the Midrashic Narrative: the case of Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer (one could do a search for "Islam" or "Muhammad" if one didn't want to read all 433 pages). This book also discusses rabbinic portrayals of Ishmael, and argues that they draw on rabbinic responses to Islam and Islamic rule, so that may be an interesting read as well.


In the Targum Yonatan to Genesis 21:21, there is an indirect reference to Muhammad, expressed as a statement regarding Yishmael:

וְיָתִיב בְּמַדְבְּרָא דְפָּארָן וּנְסֵיב אִתְּתָא יַת עֲדִישָׁא וְתֵרְכָהּ וּנְסִיבַת לֵיהּ אִמֵיהּ יַת פְּטִימָא אִתְּתָא מֵאַרְעָא דְמִצְרָיִם

Targum Yonatan to Genesis 21

The original verse says:

וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּמִדְבַּר פָּארָן וַתִּקַּח-לוֹ אִמּוֹ אִשָּׁה מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם

The plain translation of that is:

And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

But Targum Yonatan adds the names of two wives:

And he dwelt in the wilderness of Faran, and took for a wife 'Adisha, but sent her away. And his mother took for him for a wife Fetima, a woman of Egypt.

Adisha seems like a variant on Aisha, which was the name of a wife of Muhammad. Fatimah was the name of his daughter.

  • Another example of Targum pseudo-Jonathon being unorthodox (lowercase).
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 20:16
  • Really? Are there other examples? I always thought that it mostly consisted of a blend of midrashic traditions that you could find elsewhere in Midrash/Talmud.
    – paquda
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 23:32
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    See etzion.org.il/dk/5770/1205maamar2.html
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 23:37
  • My Arabic prof taught me this Midrash. (cc @doubleaa)
    – Seth J
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 2:36

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