EXCLUSIVE: UNESCO Acknowledges Labelling Maimonides as Muslim

August 17, 2011 12:51 pm 10 comments

Rambam's (Maimonides) grave compound in Tiberias, Israel. Photo: Almog.

Maimonides, also known as RaMBaM, Rabbi Moshe, ben (son of) Moshe, is hailed as one of the greatest Jewish scholars, writers and philosophers in history. His legal work covers most areas of Jewish faith and law, and he is often cited as the father of modern Jewish intellectualism. However, some are accusing UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) of casting doubt over Maimonides’ religious affiliation

Elder of Ziyon blog reported that in a December 2010 report on science in the Arab world, UNESCO printed in its French version: “[L]es noms de quelques savants européens apparaissaient dans la littérature scientifique à côté d’un grand nombre de savants musulmans, parmi lesquels Ibn Rushd (Averroès), Moussa ibn Maïmoun (Maïmonide), Tousi et Ibn Nafis.”

The translation provided: “[T]he names of some European scholars appeared in scientific literature next to a large number of Muslim scholars, including Ibn Rushd (Averroes) [who contended the Islamic claim that philosophers were outside the Quranic scripture; Maimouna Ibn Moussa (Maimonides); Tousi [Persian philosopher and doctor]; and Ibn Nafi [Arab physician].

The blog Elder of Ziyon and website, Jews for Sarah, both posted articles assailing UNESCO, of what they saw as an attempt to reconstruct history. “This is not the first time that UNESCO has changed history to replace Jews with Muslims,” wrote William A. Jacobson. “They have been prolific in Islamicizing sites long considered to have religious and historical importance to the Jewish people.”

The English version of the original document, which UNESCO provided, is slightly different than the one provided by Elder of Ziyon: “The names of a few European scientists appear in scientific literature alongside a string of Muslim scientists, whose numbers include Ibn-Rushd; Musa Bin Memoun; Tusi and Ibn-Nafis.”(Editor’s note – see above.)

Similar claims criticizing UNESCO’s political agenda have been made by Jewish organizations in the past regarding its categorization of Jewish holy sites, such as Rachel’s Tomb (Kever Rachel) and The Cave of the Patriarchs (Me’arat HaMachpelah).

When contacted directly by the Algemeiner for comment a UNESCO spokesperson replied,  “UNESCO acknowledges that there was indeed an important and regrettable error in the chapter devoted to Arab States in the UNESCO Science Report published in 2006, which refers to Maimonides as a Muslim scholar,” they said. “Despite the vigile [sic] of our editors, errors unfortunately do occasionally occur.”

The representative declined to comment further.

10 Comments

  • So, Tachlis, did they retract it and apologize? Or will their mistake live on for the gullible masses that believe their garbage?

  • Marv Hershenson

    Just reading the few comments…please note to Mr. Smith: The Jewish nation is not a race…we are an incredibly diverse group with many pigmentations. Are Christians a race? Of course not… The UN and its associated bodies are filled with anti-semites and will do anything to disparage our great tradition.

  • Outside of the Jewish world Maimonide is not well known so it is an innocent mistake. Why would anyone set out on purpose to falsely categorise a man few people have heard of as a Muslim? Its not like they’re claiming Einstein was a Muslim.

    • saying that Rambam is not known outside of a few scholars is laughable as there were several major celebrations of his 850th birthday in both Spain and
      Egypt.
      anyone familiar with philosophy knows that his works were translated into latin and that most of his writings were in arabic,well-studied by other scholars.
      in his time he was greater than einstein.
      Rambam dominated the thought process of Jews and those who study religion of that time and ever since.
      he revolutionized Jewish thought and belief as well as all religion’s beliefs in G-D as his ideas were publicized well beyond our community. no one today
      imagines G-D as having human form and the one responsible for this change was Maimonedes.
      this is not an innocent mistake.

      • I said he’s not well known outside of the Jewish world. I didn’t say outside of a few scholars. Ask 100 random non-Jews if they’ve heard of him. I’d be surprised if any have.
        Nobody I just asked has heard of him.

  • Maimonides was born in Spain under Muslim rule, educated in Morocco, and died in Europe. He wrote and published in Arabic and therefore is in my opinion both a European and quite appropriate for inclusion in a book on science in the Arab world. There are of course many other people in history who were of the Jewish race, who lived in countries in which Arabic was the common language,and who spoke Arabic.

    • It seems that the complaint is not that he was included in the publication, but rather that he is described as a Muslim.

    • Emmanuel Sanders

      Maimonides did not die in Europe, he died in Egypt and is supposedly buried in Israel (although this is contested by some). Please check your facts before posting and spreading more misinformation.

  • But this report was in 2010, not 2006.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated magazine featured an extensive profile on Orthodox-Jewish college basketball player Aaron Liberman on Wednesday.  The article details Liberman’s efforts to balance faith, academics and basketball at Tulane University, a challenge the young athlete calls “a triple major.” Sports Illustrated pointed out that Liberman is the second Orthodox student to play Division I college basketball. The other was Tamir Goodman, the so-called “Jewish Jordan.” As reported in The Algemeiner, Liberman started his NCAA career at Northwestern University. According to [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.