January 23, 2013
Are anti-Jewish slogans truly Islamic?
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The allegation that we should not take Jews (or Christians) as a friend
One of the verses that some Muslims misinterpret is: “O ye who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protector; they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them [for friendship] is of them. Verily, God guideth not a people unjust” (Quran 5:51).
In this verse, the word “friend” is mentioned two times. One is the Arabic word evliyau, which means “protectors, authorities in the eyes of law, saints, masters, owners, possessors.” The other one is yetewallahum, which means that “one who takes care of, governs the state, takes control.” In other words, the word “friend, guide” in this verse means “government.” God relates that Muslims — of course, in places where they are in majority — should not be under the sovereignty of other religions’ rule. It does not mean don’t take as worldly friends Jews and Christians.
The other verse that explains this issue is: “O ye who believe, take not for friends and protectors those who take your religion for a mockery or sport, whether among those who received the Scripture before you, or among those who reject Faith; but fear ye God, if ye have faith [indeed]” (Quran 5:57).
Here the verse refers to a specified condition: If Jews and Christians mock my religion, I would not listen to them and take them as friends. If one curses my religion and faith, then of course I would not take him as a guardian or as a reliable friend. But if he doesn’t curse my religion, then I can become friends with him in this world.
The allegation that Jews have no right to live in the Holy Land
The right of Jews to live in the Holy Land is given in the Quran by God. God says: “And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land’ ” (Quran 17:104). And the prophet Moses says: “O, my people! Enter the Holy Land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously … ” (Quran 5:21).
Israel is, beyond any doubt, the Jewish homeland, and Jews must be allowed to live there. In other words, it would be abnormal to try to exile them from there or to “get rid of them,” as some have suggested. It is against conscience — and against the Quran — to tell Jews to go somewhere else.
The descendants of the prophets also have the right to live in Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, etc. — wherever they would like to engage in business, science, technology and arts. They should be able to travel in the lands where the prophet Abraham lived freely and securely. They should enjoy freedom of worship in the whole region. And it is confirmed by the Quran that children of Israel will be living in the Holy Land till the end of the world.
The false belief that killing Jews is God’s will
There is a hadith (saying of the prophet Muhammad) that some radicals interpret in an unacceptable way: “Judgment Day will come only when the Muslims fight the Jews.” Some interpret this as an excuse or a call to make war with Jews. However, this can never give legitimacy to war with Jews.
This hadith has already been realized. Muslims and Jews have already made war with each other in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, etc. But this saying does not set forth that Jews are enemies of Muslims or that Muslims should fight against Jews. Such interpretations have no theological or doctrinal basis.
Another false interpretation is regarding the continuation of this hadith: “… and kill them, until the Jew hides behind the tree and the stone, and the tree and the stone say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him — except for the Gharqad tree.’ ”
We cannot deduce any judgments based on a single verse of the Quran or a single hadith.
If somebody turns up one day and claims that stones and trees spoke to him, and thus he went off and killed Jews, we should regard him as a madman and that person would thus be committing murder; he would be an assassin. This would be haram (unlawful), and it is definitely unacceptable.
Killing children, killing innocent people or killing women is not acceptable. A Muslim can protect himself only in legitimate self-defense. Otherwise, killing the innocent is a sin.
According to the Quran, Jews have a special status as People of the Book and there is no obstacle for Muslims to live side by side with Jews. On the contrary, Muslims can establish warm, human relationships with Jews through marriage and the sharing of food. God says that the food of Jews is lawful (halal) for Muslims. How would one eat the food of the person he claims to be cursed? That means that God creates some sort of closeness with Jews, and that he wants us to consider them as friends. If we are able to eat together, set tables together, how could Jews be Muslims’ foes? If God says one can marry and eat with the People of the Book, this is the clearest proof that we can live together in a climate of peace and love.
It is true that there is a widespread hatred of Jews in the Muslim world. This does not stem from the Quran, but from various interpretations that do not reflect the spirit of Islam. Islam has a spirit, an essence and purpose. This spirit is one of compassion, mercy, love, cooperation, forgiveness, happiness, joy, adorning ones’ surroundings, having love toward everything and seeking God’s consent above all else. Every organization and each endeavor failing to accomplish these does not act in compliance with the spirit of Islam. Consequently, they are erroneous thoughts.
The way to put things right is for people of reason and good conscience to unify — to educate people against terror, radicalism and fundamentalism. These false beliefs will not come to an end by attacking Islam and Muslims. What needs to be done is to support those Muslims who interpret the Quran and the hadiths in a rational spirit of love and good conscience and to support the unification of the Islamic world. When Muslims come together under a spiritual authority, instead of an arbitrary model in which everyone says and behaves as he wants under the name of Islam, radical voices will spontaneously disappear.
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