Email Email   


Founder of the Karaite sect, which rejects the authority of the Talmud and bases its beliefs on the Bible only. A sharp quarrel broke out between Anan and his younger brother, Hananiah (Josiah), over the office of “Prince of Exile.” The Jewish leaders supported Hananiah’s appointment, and it was duly confirmed by the Caliph of Baghdad. When Anan protested he was arrested. While in prison he made the acquaintance of the prominent Moslem theologian Abu Hanifah, who advised him to declare himself leader of a new religious sect. Anan did so, and as a result he was freed.

In 770, Anan wrote the Sefer ha-Mitzvot, or “Book of Commandments,” which became the basic text for the new sect. By recognizing Jesus and Mohammed as prophets he won the friendship of both Christians and Moslems. The members of his sect, originally called Ananites, came to be known as Karaites from the Hebrew Karaim or “[strict] readers of Scriptures.” Anan died in 800, but his sect exists to this day. (See also Karaites.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email