January 23, 2013
Are anti-Jewish slogans truly Islamic?
Anti-Jewish slogans uttered over the years within certain Muslim circles have given the impression that Islam is absolutely opposed to Jews. Indeed, many in the Muslim world consider hostility toward Jews as a sign of piety. And some leaders addressing the Islamic world have deliberately employed anti-Jewish declarations as a requirement of classic rightist propaganda to muster public support.
“Either [you accept] the Zionists and everything they want, or else it is war,” Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said in a 2010 interview posted recently by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “This is what these occupiers of the land of Palestine know — these blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”
This perspective has no place in Islam, and these statements are repeated — either out of political aim or out of ignorance — by people unaware that they conflict with the Quran.
Under normal circumstances, when people make such false claims, we would say that these fabrications are of no concern to us; the person is obviously in error. However, this is now happening on such a wide scale that we need to speak out to correct it.
People who hear claims that Islam preaches hatred against Jews should know that there are pages of verses that praise Torah, the prophet Moses and his followers. Jews are descendants of the prophets — Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David and Solomon. Any attempt to annihilate the line of the prophets would be tantamount to evil, and it is unimaginable for a Muslim to remain silent in the face of such an attempt.
The main misunderstandings regarding Muslims’ outlook toward Jews, which are incompatible with Islam but portrayed as stemming from it, are as follows:
The allegation of Jews being a cursed people
According to the Quran, Jews are not a cursed community. The only ones who are “cursed” are certain people who have done wrong against God. God certainly does not curse innocent people. Every person is responsible for his own good or evil deeds. Thus, a Jewish person is not born cursed.
For instance, God says: “The Jews say, ‘Allah’s hand is chained.’ Their hands are chained and they are cursed for what they say! No! Both His hands are open wide and He gives however He wills” (Quran 5:64). Without doubt, whoever says this are the ones who are cursed. When someone says this, they are denying God and accusing God of injustice. However, this does not mean that the latter generations will be cursed.
Just like God says “... because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them” (Quran 5:13), this punishment is also expressed in the same context in the Torah: “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse — the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today ...” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
What people forget is that God is absolutely just; he is all-merciful and all-compassionate, and God does not inflict suffering on the innocent. He does not punish them for the things they haven’t done. God recompenses only the evil, and sometimes, if he wills, he forgives even them.
The allegation of Jews being monkeys and pigs
This has also no basis in the Quran. God informs us about people whom he cursed — transformed into apes and swine — while referring to deviators from his way (Quran 5:59-60). However, this is not a specific reference to Jews. God’s punishment is valid for all deviators, who also include hypocrites living in the guise of a Muslim.
The specific reference to Jews regarding this issue is as follows:
“And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath.
We said to them: ‘Be ye apes, despised and rejected’ ” (Quran 2:65).
“When in their insolence they transgressed [all] prohibitions, We said to them: ‘Be ye apes, despised and rejected’ ” (Quran 7:166).
These are references that refer to the humiliation to those who disobeyed the commandments of God during the time of Moses. Again, these are not for all Jews, not for all time and certainly not hereditary punishment.
We cannot make general judgments based on one verse. The Quran is a whole, and every verse expounds upon another. So any verse from the Quran should be interpreted within the spirit of the Quran.
For instance, God says: “Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth” (Quran 7:59).
In other verses, he says: “Not all of them are alike; of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] are a portion that stand [for the right]. They rehearse the Signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten [in emulation] in [all] good works. They are in the ranks of the righteous. Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them. God knoweth well those who do right” (Quran 3:113-115).
God also informs us that some shall have their reward in the hereafter (Quran 2:62). There are many verses that we can cite showing that while God condemns the evil, he discriminates and praises the good ones among Jews and Christians just like he does among Muslims.