Is Jew-Hatred Inherent in Islam?

Andrew G. Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad, argues that Anti-Semitism has roots in ancient Islamic texts.

BY Bruce Cornibe · | June 21, 2016

There is a certain antipathy in the Islamic world toward Jewish people. A 2013-14 Anti-Defamation League Global 100 survey reveals that about half (Index score of 49%) of the Muslim population surveyed worldwide hold Anti-Semitic views, while three quarters (Index score of 75%) of Muslim respondents in the MENA region harbor such views.

Is this anti-Semitism more of a modern day phenomenon, thus going back to the modern nation-state of Israel, to Zionism, or does it go all the way back to the advent of Islam? Israel and Zionism connotes more of a nationalistic or political struggle, while the advent of Islam indicates something which is inherent in Islam.

Andrew G. Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad, argues that Anti-Semitism has ancient roots in Islamic texts such as the Quran, the hadith, etc. One common passage often cited in regards to how Muslims are supposed to view Jews is Quran 5:82, which reads:

You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, “We are Christians.” That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant.

Watch Bostom on “The Culture Wars,” a new show on RebelMedia hosted by Tiffany Gabbay.

Bostom begins his argument quoting a mid-9th Century piece written by “the polymath Arabic writer” al-Jahiz, who was “commissioned by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil (d. 861),” describes why the Muslim “masses” thought the Christians were “…more sincere than the Jews, more endeared, less treacherous, less unbelieving, and less deserving of punishment.” Then al-Jahiz goes on to explain the historical context for this particular animosity:

When the [Muslim] Emigrants [from Mecca] became the neighbors of the Jews [in Medina]…the Jews began to envy the Muslims the blessings of their new faith, and the union which resulted after dissension. They proceeded to undermine the belief of our [i.e., the Muslim] masses, and to lead them astray. They aided our enemies and those envious of us. From mere misleading speech and stinging words they plunged into an open declaration of enmity, so that the Muslims mobilized their forces, exerting themselves morally and materially to banish the Jews and destroy them. Their strife became long-drawn and widespread, so that it worked itself up into a rage, and created yet greater animosity and more intensified rancor. The Christians, however, because of their remoteness from Mecca and Medina, did not have to put up with religious controversies, and did not have occasion to stir up trouble, and be involved in war. That was the first cause of our dislike of the Jews, and our partiality toward the Christians.

So, al-Jahiz sees the Jews as undermining “the belief” of the early Muslim “masses,” supporting “enemies and those envious of us [Muslims],” and having “misleading speech and stinging words” which culminated in an “open declaration of enmity,” among others. Al-Jahiz goes on to reference Quran 5:82 as “the most potent cause” for anti-Semitic attitudes in his time. Then al-Jahiz gives a malicious description of Jewish race, saying:

Our people [the Muslims] observing thus the occupations of the Jews and the Christians concluded that the religion of the Jews must compare unfavorably as do their professions, and that their unbelief must be the foulest of all, since they are the filthiest of all nations. Why the Christians, ugly as they are, are physically less repulsive than the Jews may be explained by the fact that the Jews, by not intermarrying, have intensified the offensiveness of their features. Exotic elements have not mingled with them; neither have males of alien races had intercourse with their women, nor have their men cohabited with females of a foreign stock. The Jewish race therefore has been denied high mental qualities, sound physique, and superior lactation. The same results obtain when horses, camels, donkeys, and pigeons are inbred.

It seems like this Jew-hatred gets reverberated throughout the years. The infamous former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin el-Husseini, who had an alliance with the Nazi regime, invoked traditional Islamic texts when espousing his contempt for the Jews. Bostom gives an example of el-Husseini’s prejudice, when after “concluding his litany of Koranic quotations (i.e., 2:109, 59:2, 3:99-102, 5:49, 2:143, 2:144, 4:51, 4:52, & 5:82) appropriately, with Koran 5:82, el-Husseini insists this verse ‘quite unmistakably characterizes the position of Islam and Judaism.’” Bostom notes that El-Husseini’s anti-Jewish sentiments are shared

“by a continuum of authoritative Koranic exegeses that span over a thousand years, till now. The classical Koranic commentaries on Koran 5:82 by Tabari, Zamakashari (d. 1143), Baydawi (d. 1316), and Ibn Kathir… which is repeatedly linked to the curse of Koran 2:61 (i.e., for killing prophets, and transgressing against the will of Allah, repeated at verses including 2:90-91, 3:112, 3:181, and 4:155).”

One can see how this hatred continues to permeate Palestinian society. For example, the Gatestone Institute points out how it is considered a “crime” for Palestinian Muslims to sell land to Jews. Those who commit such an act can even be denied burial in an Islamic cemetery and other such consequences for the person and his/her family.

Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, one of the world’s top universities for Sunni Muslims, also confirmed the Jew-hatred inferred to in Quran 5:82 by stating:

A verse in the Koran explains the Muslims’ relations with the Jews…This is an historical perspective, which has not changed to this day. See how we suffer today from global Zionism and Judaism, whereas our peaceful coexistence with the Christians has withstood the test of history. Since the inception of Islam 1,400 years ago, we have been suffering from Jewish and Zionist interference in Muslim affairs. This is a cause of great distress for the Muslims. The Koran said it and history has proven it: “You shall find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers to be the Jews…”

This sentiment continues to be reiterated by many other present day Muslim clerics such as Tunisian Cleric Bechir Begga, which shows how Islamic sacred texts have encouraged anti-Semitism since the beginning of Islam, and is not just a modern day occurrence. Muslim leaders must own up to these passages and principles which demean the Jewish people, or else continue to perpetuate their authoritativeness either tacitly or directly. It’s time for a change; Islam needs a reformation.



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