ABU AL-MUNAJJĀ SOLOMON BEN SHAYA
- ABU AL-MUNAJJĀ SOLOMON BEN SHAYA (12th century), government official in Egypt. His Hebrew name was Solomon b. Shaya and he was also known as Sanī ʿ al Dawla ("The Noble (exalted) of the State"). Abu al-Munajjā was responsible for the administration of several districts in eastern Egypt and became famous for digging an irrigation canal (1113–18) which greatly benefited agriculture. The vizier al-Afḍal, the regent, was jealous of him because the canal was called Baḥr Abu al-Munajjā (the canal of Abu al-Munajjā) and the regent wanted it to bear his name. The enemies of the Jews defamed him with the result that he was exiled to Alexandria and imprisoned without a trial. After several years he freed himself by a ruse. Among the genizah fragments were found poems in his honor which recount the story of his case until he was finally reinstated. He is described as a benefactor of the Jews. According to Arab authors, Abu al-Munajjā was the ancestor of a family of physicians, Banu al-Safīr, mostly converts to Islam who served as the court physicians of the Egyptian rulers. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. al-Maqrīzī, Khiṭaṭ I, 71 ff., 487 ff.; Ibn Doukmak, Description de l'Egypte (1893), 47; Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 215–7; 2 (1922), 264–9; Fischel, Islam, 87–88, n.4. (Eliyahu Ashtor)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.