Founder of the Jewish sect Al-'Ukbariyyah (Okbarites), which derived its name from the city of 'Ukbara, near Bagdad, said to have been the place of residence of Meshwi. According to Ḳirḳisani, Meshwi lived after Ishmael Al-'Ukbari; his original name was Moses, but it was converted by his adversaries into Meshwi (= "one whose ideas are confused"). Meshwi differed in many points from both the Karaites and the Rabbinites. Because the Day of Atonement is termed in the Bible "Sabbath of Sabbaths" he affirmed that that feast must always occur on a Sabbath, which would make the Feast of Passover fall on Thursday. He ordered his followers to turn to the West in praying, instead of in the direction of the Temple. According to Meshwi, it was not allowable to offer sacrifices in the Temple on Sabbath. Contrary to the Biblical prohibition, Meshwi is said to have allowed his followers to eat fat. Hadassi ("Eshkol ha-Kofer," § 98), on the authority of David ibn Merwan al-Muḳammaṣ, gives the name of the founder of the sect as Moses of Baalbek, who is probably identical with Meshwi al-'Ukbari. From an obscure passage in the "Oẓar Neḥmad" of the Karaite Tobias ben Moses, Delitzsch concludes that Meshwi embraced Christianity in the later part of his life; but this is highly improbable, for the sect would not have survived the apostasy of its founder, and Meshwi still had followers at the time of Ḳirḳisani.
- Pinsker, Liḳḳuṭe Ḳadmoniyyot, i. 16, 43; ii. 88, 98;
- Fürst, Gesch. des Karäert. i. 85;
- Grätz, Gesch. v. 202;
- Gottlober, Biḳḳoret le-Toledot ha-Ḳara'im, p. 204;
- Harkavy, Le-Ḳorot ha-Kittot be-Yisrael, in Grätz, Dibre Yeme Yisrael, iii. 509.