maimonidesMoses Maimonides was the major medieval philosopher of the 12th Century as well as being a Jewish rabbi and the physician to the Grand Vizier Alfadhil and Sultan Saladin of Egypt. He was born in Spain during the golden age of Jewish culture in Cordoba. However when the Almohades, a radical Islamic sect, conquered Cordoba and threatened Jews who did not convert to Islam with death or exile, Maimonides as many other Jews fled from Spain. Maimonides found refuge in more moderate Muslim communities, first in Morocco and eventually in Egypt. The Muslims of Cairo provided welcome, and he lived and worked there the rest of his life.

Maimonides was one of the greatest Jewish thinkers ever, producing foundational philosophical works on Judaism. He wrote a commentary on the entire Mishnah and was the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish law. He formulated 13 articles of faith which still appear in most Jewish prayer books.

Maimonides was also known for the breadth of his thinking and scholarship. He wrote medical works in Arabic which have been translated into many languages and can still be found today. As a scholastic philosopher he worked with the teachings of Aristotle, Arab Muslim philosophers such as Ibn Rushd and Al-Ghazali, and the work of science seeking to reconcile such teachings with the Talmud. In his mind there could be no contradiction between what God revealed through the prophets and the findings of science and human reason. His Scholastic philosophy was a huge influence for both Christian philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus as well as Arab Muslim philosophers who viewed him as one of their own.

Because Maimonides was open to diversity and was knowledgeable about many different streams of culture, his expertise enriched many traditions and faiths.  He wove together ancient Greco-Roman, medieval Arab, Jewish and Western cultures while retaining clear and cogent roots in his own Jewish faith.