Muslim anti-semitism – mammon versus allah?

This core of this blog is the intellectual property of Salim Mansur, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute. His full article, Arab and Muslim Antisemitism: a Muslim Perspective, together with a full reference list, may be found here. This opinion piece, together with information I have added, represents my interpretation and rendering of his article.

“Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews,” – Third Intifada Facebook page, 2013.

“Among the Jews, there have always been those who killed God’s prophets. … it was said that they were the source for such deadly diseases as the plague and typhus. This is because the Jews are very filthy people. For a time, people also said that they poisoned water wells belonging to the Christians and thus killed them.” – former Ahmadinejad’s media advisor, Mohammad Ali Ramin, June 9, 2006.

“One should fight the Jews and vanquish them so that the conditions for the advent of the Hidden Imam will be met.” – Ayatollah Nouri-Hamedani, April, 2005.

“[Muslim]Palestine is under occupation; the basic rights of the Palestinian {Muslims] are tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland.” currrent Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, 25 September, 2013.

While those most forceful in spewing their bigotry against Jews are Palestinian Arabs and their religious, political and intellectual leaders, much of the modern antecedents to this olden hatred can be sheeted home to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, as Hitler’s collaborator in importing European anti-Semitism into the Middle East.

The Mufti’s ideology of hate-mongering against the Jews and the Zionist project has been emulated by an array of other leading Arab and Muslim intellectuals, activists, and religious leaders. These include Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; Syed Qutb, the intellectual heavyweight of the Muslim Brothers; Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the late founder of Hamas; the rulers and imams of Saudi Arabia; Abul A’la Mawdudi, the Indo-Pakistani founder of the Jamaat-i-Islami; Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and, notably, the current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Virulent European-style anti-semitism is also emulated by the leaders of Hizbullah in Lebanon, the leadership and ranks of other “jihadi” (holy war) organizations, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and non-clerical or secular Muslim leaders like Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister of Malaysia. Clearly, the front of Muslim anti-Semitism is wide and deep. But is this genocidally inspired hate sanctioned by Islam? For this we need to turn to the source.

All texts are open to many readings.

Reading the Bible was one of the triggers of the struggle Martin Luther initiated as he declared defiantly, “Here I stand.” In other words, the stand he took was in reading and interpreting the Bible according to his intelligence and conscience – contrary to that of the Vatican.

Reading the Quran, it quickly becomes clear that the hate-speech of Muslim clerics and the on-going Muslim vilification of Jews has its roots in the theology of Islam.

Mohammad’s relationship with Jews was always a quarrelsome one. Born in approximately 517 C.E. in Mecca, then the leading religious centre of pagan Arabia, Mohammad was approximately forty years old when he became convinced that God had spoken to him through the angel Gabriel.

Jews, with their monotheistic beliefs, had lived in and around Mecca, which was located on a route that linked Yemen in the south of the Arab peninsula, to Egypt and Damascus in the North, for centuries. While some historians say that Jews lived in the region even before the destruction of the first Temple, others say that Jews only settled the peninsula after the destruction of the second Temple. In any event, all agree that the Jews were the majority of the population in that area at the time of Mohammad and were organized into three tribes: Banu el nadir, Banu Kurayza and Banu Kaynuqa; the first two mentioned being descendants of the priests.

Ostracised and persecuted by his Arab brethren in Mecca for his monotheistic beliefs, Mohammad fled to Medina, a city which had been settled by Jews centuries before his arrival.

When the Jewish leaders of Medina first heard of the coming of a prophet preaching belief in one God in the Arabian peninsula, they were intrigued. They did not immediately accept or reject Mohammad, but they wanted to know more. Relations began to deteriorate as the Jews discovered Muhammad was not very familiar with their scriptures and traditions. The rabbis would taunt him with questions he could not answer, and in the end, they rejected his message that he was a Jewish prophet.

The Jews’ rejection of Muhammad’s message must have disappointed him greatly. He saw himself preaching the same monotheism to which the Jews subscribed – why then wouldn’t they accept him as a prophet?

To establish his affinity with the Jews, he even borrowed some Jewish practices and prescribed them to his followers. Thus, Muslims were to meet for prayer on Friday afternoon as Jews prepare for the Sabbath, they were to face Jerusalem in prayer as Jews do, they were to observe some of the Jewish dietary laws, as well as the fast on the Day of Atonement. Muslims called this the fast of Ashura, meaning “tenth,” (Asara in Hebrew) since the Day of Atonement falls on the tenth of the Jewish month of Tishri. When the Jews rejected his prophecy in spite of these practices, Muhammad changed them, and fixed the qibla (direction of prayer) to Mecca in place of Jerusalem.

According to the Quran, Muhammad is then said to have received the following revelation:
Say to those who disbelieve: “You will be vanquished and gathered to Hell, an evil resting place. You have already had a sign in the two forces which met”; i.e. the apostle’s companions at Badr and the Quraysh. “One force fought in the way of God; the other, disbelievers, thought they saw double their own force with their very eyes. God strengthens with His help whom He will. Verily in that is an example for the discerning.” (Qur’an, 3:12-13)

Thus, after settling in Medina, about five hundred kilometres further north of Mecca, and after his revelations by the angel Gabriel in a cave, his rejection by the Jews of Medina as a Jewish prophet, meant that as his influence in the region grew, he meted out harsh punishment for two of the three Jewish tribes of Medina whom he “subdued” and exiled.

For the destruction of the third Jewish tribe in Medina, Mohammad now received a further angelic revelation directing him to attack the Jewish Bnei Quraiza tribe of Medina:
When the Prophet returned from Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench) and laid down his arms and took a bath, Gabriel came and said (to the Prophet ), “You have laid down your arms? By Allah, we angels have not laid them down yet. So set out for them.” The Prophet said, “Where to go?” Gabriel said, “Towards this side,” pointing towards Banu Quraiza. So the Prophet went out towards them.

After their defeat and capture for the transgression of not physically supporting him against the pagan Arab Meccans who were attacking him, Muhammad went to the market in Medina and dug trenches. Then the men of the Jewish Quraiza tribe were brought out in batches, and Muhammad and his followers cut off their heads. According to Ibn Ishaq (690), the number of dead ranged between 600 and 900. Afterwards Muhammad divided their property, their women, and their children among his followers.

And it is now that the following hadith (report of the teachings, deeds and sayings of Mohammad), one of the most widely quoted today to justify anti-Semitic hatred, was attributed to the man:
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews. (Sahih Muslim, 41:6985; see also 41:6981-84 and Sahih Bukhari, 4:52:176,177 and 4:56:791)

Mohammad next marched on the rich Jewish settlement of Khaybar defeating them, taking their wealth and forcing them to pay jizya (tax) so that “… they might feel themselves subdued”.

In today’s parlance, Mohammad engaged in the practice of beheading his enemies, as well as forcing large-scale exile. That same Muslim tradition is verifiably evident today by some of today’s Arab/Muslim terrorists who claim to follow the prophet. Today, however, there is a name for forced large-scale exile. It is called ethnic cleansing. And there is a name for the extermination of an entire tribe. Civilised societies call it genocide, not a revelation from “god”.

This tradition of violence against, and vilification of, Jews is, arguably, continued from the days of Mohammad through to today.

Sheikh Mohamed Sayyid Tantawi – the former Grand Imam and rector of al-Azhar University, who died in 2010, is an example of a contemporary Muslim anti-Semite who validated his bigotry by appealing to traditional Muslim Judeophobia based on negative references to the Jews in the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet.

Tantawi’s reading of the Quran ascribes to the Jews a slew of unflattering characteristics, including wanton envy, lasciviousness, religious fanaticism, murderousness, and a tendency toward “semantic bickering.” Using a phrase referring to a verse in the Quran (2:65), in a 2002 sermon, Tantawi describes Jews, collectively, as “descendants of apes and pigs” and accuses Jews of corrupting Allah’s word, consuming people’s wealth and murdering Allah’s prophets.

This is one way in which such references to the Quran and early Muslim history facilitated the Islamization of European anti-Semitism. This could occur because Judeophobia/anti-semitism was present in early Islamic history, just as it was in early European history. Genocidal anti-Semitism, however, remained a specifically European, primarily German, disease that never existed in Islam before the twentieth century.

Together with that, it should be remembered that the modern fusion of traditional Muslim Judeophobia and fierce European anti-Semitism occurred during the years between the World Wars, when the victors of World War I were precariously positioned in the Middle East as the “Mandatory” powers, in the terminology of the League of Nations, while the former subjects of the Ottoman Empire restlessly aspired to their own independence and statehood.

With the abolition of the Caliphate by Turkish leader Kamal Atatturk, Muslims now faced the problem not only of how to acquire eventual independence from European colonial rule, but also of how to restore the Caliphate in some form or other, to create a Shariah-based, Islamic state. These questions became the distinguishing features of political Islam, or Islamism, and the ideology of political movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

But more than that, the modern antecedents of Arab/Muslim antisemitism and genocidal declarations of war may be attributed to Muslim distress over the long decline of Islamic rule and the loss of lands to European powers, and, especially among Arabs, the partition of Palestine, and the birth of Israel.

The establishment of the state of Israel, in the very centre of the Arab core of the Islamic world, the inclusion of the ancient Jewish city of Jerusalem and the repeated defeats suffered by Arabs in their wars against the Jews created a sense of insufferable and deep humiliation that find expression in the vilest denunciation of the Jews as enemies of Islam and Muslims.

Most of all, the sense of outrage, as is clearly shown in the modern Arab/Muslim anti-semitism, was aroused by the identity of those who inflicted these dramatic defeats on Muslim and Arab armies and imposed their rule on Muslim Arab populations.

For the victors were not the followers of a world religion, or the armies of a mighty imperial power, by which one could be conquered without undue shame – nor the Catholic kings of Spain, not the far-flung British Empire, nor the immense and ruthless might of Russia – but the Jews – historically few, scattered, and powerless, whose previous humility made their triumphs especially humiliating.

This recent history partly explains the nature of contemporary Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism, which continues to be ratcheted up in inverse relation to the repeated failures by Arabs to defeat Israel and Israel’s continued success in all fields of human endeavour and compassion.

The current pretext of the Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict is nothing but a proxy war by the nation of Islam in retaliation against Jews for losing both an international legal decision in the 1947 Partition Plan and losing physical wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973. And those non-Muslim enablers in Europe’s organisations who unceasingly censure Israel, are but self-serving business entities content to promote a basically religious propaganda in return for a cut of the largesse of petrodollars.

Together with current seismic politico-cultural shifts in the Arab Muslim world due to a very violent unravelling of the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1915, the continuing discord over the nature of Islamic society and the sectarian conflicts that have spilled over into civil war across the Middle East and into the wider Muslim world have fostered an unwillingness on the part of Muslims worldwide to examine any internal causes for their malaise.

It has created a culture of denial that by now is a part of Muslim culture and history that manifests itself by a Muslim refusal to take responsibility for their own role in history, and leads to a pathological proclivity to blame others – especially the Jews – for misfortunes that are really of their own making.

Thus, just as a few drops of lemon juice curdle a bowl of milk, Judeophobia sanctioned by the Quran and the Prophet would mean that Islam as a religion of peace/mercy is, arguably, a falsehood.

The words of Bernard Lewis in 1984 in his book The Jews of Islam remain as poignant today as when they were originally written:
“Islamists have shredded their “thin veneer of Islam” and displayed their “jihad” as a neo-pagan belief in a capricious tribal god governing a cult of violence. It was from such a pagan belief that Muhammad sought to lift the Arabs of the desert by having Islam bear the universal message of belief in one God, merciful and compassionate; but it is precisely this pagan cult of tribal violence that Islamists have resurrected or which, it might be said, they never really renounced.”

On this basis, it is easy to see why John Kerry’s “messianical” mission to bring peace to the Middle East was always going to fail and how the narrative of the bigoted Palestinian/Muslim/Arab religious, political and intellectual leadership will continue to perpetuate the cycle of violence against Jews in or out of Israel.

The Quran makes it so.

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