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Jewish elements in Ahmad Al-Buni’s book Source of the Essentials of Wisdom: The example of ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh’

Issue 40
Jewish elements in Ahmad Al-Buni’s book Source of the Essentials of Wisdom: The example of ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh’

By Farag Qadri Fakharany, Assistant Professor of Folk Literature, South Valley University, Egypt


This study found that:


  • Source of the Essentials of Wisdom is a popular book about magic. The book is attributed to Ahmad bin Ali Al-Buni, who died in 622 AH, but this study does not date the book to that time and the researcher found no evidence that Imama Al-Buni was the book’s author.
  • Jewish and Muslim writers were known for using the Hebrew or Arabic names of God in their writings.
  • Beliefs in both religions (Islam and Judaism) have led Jews and Muslims to exchange knowledge about magic, especially in Islamic societies where Muslims coexisted with people from other religions.
  • Muslim writers had a tendency to use Jewish writings about magic, or perhaps to practice magic with experienced Jewish magicians.
  • Both Muslim and Jewish writers used the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets to write spells, which supports the hypothesis of duality (a text with dual parallel functions).

This study investigated the expressions and forms associated with magic in Arabic and Hebrew. The researcher examined the Jewish influence on the book attributed to Al-Buni as evidenced by the use of Jewish names for God written in Hebrew.

The study identified many of the Hebrew origins of names for God, such as Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, malikh, Adonai Sabaoth, El Shaddai and Abarikh, and attempted to explore the multiple versions of one of these names, ‘ahayah asher ahayah’.

The researcher concludes that all the forms of names for God used by the author of Source of the Essentials of Wisdom are borrowed from Hebrew sources such as the Tanakh and other books of the Torah.

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