The Rambam and the Hitman
In a number of Muslim sources there are descriptions of how the Rambam converted while he was in Spain, and then returned to Judaism when he was in Egypt. According to Islamic law, one who leaves Islam is in big trouble, and the stories about the Rambam describe different ways in which he got out of the trouble that he was in. One of the stories describes a Muslim cleric as saying that since Islam does not believe in religious coercion, the Rambam’s conversion to Islam was not valid. Another has the Rambam getting the date on a contract to buy a house changed in order to prove that he was already in Damascus when he was supposedly converting to Islam in the “West”. In the new issue of Pe’amim (no. 110), Amir Mazor has published a different version of how the Rambam get out of the bind that he was in. According to this version, the Rambam did nothing less than hire a hit man to kill the person who was telling people that he had converted to Islam. The man who informed on the Rambam was found dead in the Nile, apparently from a blunt force trauma to the head. Word has it that CSI: Fustat worked on the case. Mazor doesn’t see much credibility in the story. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a good one.
For a discussion in English on these stories see David S. Margoliouth, “The Legend of the Apostasy of Maimonides”, JQR 13 (Original series), pp. 539-541.