Is the Islam that Muhammad taught Anti-Semitic?
In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
There is none worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
Muslims who believe in the Messiah,
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani (as)

Is the Islam that Muhammad taught Anti-Semitic?

Dr. Jenkins [Distinguished Professor History, Baylor University, Co-Director for Baylor’s Program on Historical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion, and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University] performs a thorough analysis of the Qur’an’s alleged anti-Semitic verses and concludes:

In order to make such texts look vicious, anti-Islamic critics systematically exaggerate the Jewish element in the passage… [2] The Qur’an offers nothing vaguely as explicit as the New Testament passages in which Jesus himself, who is for Christians the incarnation of the Divine, speaks so furiously against “the Jews.” It is the Jesus of the New Testament who calls his enemies the children not of Abraham but of the Devil, the Father of Lies. That same Jesus denounces the Jews of his day, warning that “this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world.” He was not condemning all Jews in any racial sense, but was rather attacking rival factions and leaders in his day. And that is the model we find in the Qur’an. [3] In reality, the Qur’an has nothing that need be taken as a condemnation of Jews, or of any ethnic group. [4]

We shall provide a cogent analysis of one of the three verses that critics cite as being Anti- Semitic—7:167. This analysis is applicable to all three verses because the principle is the same in all three. That is, the Qur’an does not “have a zeal for dehumanizing and slaughtering Jews,” but a zeal for justice and mercy. [5] The Qur’an consistently demonstrates its condemnation of unjust behavior while lauding just behavior regardless of the person or people committing the act. To help illustrate this point, we include below the verse prior to 7:167 to provide the proper context:

And when [the Jews] forgot all that with which they had been admonished, We saved those who forbade evil, and We seized the transgressors with a severe punishment because they were rebellious. And when they insolently rebelled against that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, ‘Be ye apes, despised!’ [6]

In this verse, the Qur’an refers to an incident in Jewish history when the Jews violated God’s covenant with Prophet Moses and profaned the Sabbath. As a consequence of their violation of God’s commandment, God applied the principles of justice and “seized the transgressors,” because “they were rebellious.” Note—God does not seize Jews, “because they were Jewish,” but seizes only those Jews who transgressed because they were rebellious. God specifies in the Qur’an, “We saved those [Jews] who forbade evil,” that is, the Jews who behaved righteously.

The fact is that no scripture prior to the Qur’an so much as acknowledges salvation as a possibility for adherents to other faiths. The Qur’an explicitly and repeatedly declares that the Jews will be amongst the parties of Paradise: “Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians—whichever party from among these truly believes in God and the Last Day and does good deeds—shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.” [7]

The Qur’an repeatedly praises noble characteristics while condemning injustice—irrespective of the person or people performing the act. For example, addressing all mankind—Muslim and non-Muslim—the Qur’an declares, “Surely, We have created man in the best make; Then, if he works iniquity, We reject him as the lowest of the low; Except those who believe and do good works; so for them is an unending reward.”[8]

Here, condemnation is to those who “commit iniquity.” But this verse we cite regarding all mankind is far more harsh due to words “lowest of the low,” translated from asfala safilin. Asfala safilin refers to a condition of such moral bankruptcy that even the filthiest animal—including an ape or swine—is above it. God condemns man who commits iniquity to that humiliating and degradingly low level—excepting those people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who, “believe and do good works.”

Finally, for those who still insist that this Qur’anic verse endorses anti-Semitism, compare it with the Biblical condemnation of Jews who violate the Sabbath: “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.” [9] So, according to critics, a book that teaches capital punishment for every Jew who violates the Sabbath is just fine, but another that differentiates between just and unjust behavior among Jews is evidently an automatic condemnation of all Jews.

The Qur’an dedicates a whole chapter (Chapter 17) to the Bani Isra’il—the Children of Israel—and considers the Israelites to be a nation bestowed with special Divine favor. [10]

The Qur’an details the life of Prophet Moses by name more so than any other prophet. His name is cited well over 150 times and he is referred to as Kalimullah—or “one who spoke with God directly.” Of the 26 prophets mentioned by name in the Holy Qur’an, more than 20 are Israelite prophets. A Muslim’s faith is incomplete without believing in the truth of all prophets of God and all books of Divine origin, including the Torah and the Psalms of David. The Holy Qur’an also declares that no single religion can monopolize salvation. [11] No other ancient religious scripture can compare to the Qur’an in terms of respecting other faiths.

Islam does not censure Jews because they are Jews. The Qur’an specifically states that Jews will be amongst the parties of Paradise [12] and that Muslims can marry from among the People of the Book. [13] The Qur’an does censure certain Jews, however, who have strayed from the teachings of the Torah—the Torah and Gospels, too, censure such Jews. This Qur’anic censure serves not only to urge those particular Jews to rectify their behavior, but also as an example for Muslims. [14]

Prophet Muhammad’s treatment of Jews in Medina, demonstrates the benevolent treatment Muslims afforded Jews. Had Islam endorsed the destruction of Jews, why did Jews flourish in parts of North Africa, Jerusalem, Persia and Spain under Muslim rule? [15]

Moreover, if blaming the Jews for wrongdoing is anti-Semitic, then the New Testament is just as or more anti-Semitic. [16] If exciting fear of the dangers Jews posed to Christ is anti-Semitic, then the New Testament is anti-Semitic. [17] If naming Jews dogs, swine or snakes is anti-Semitic, then the New Testament is anti-Semitic. [18] If saying that the Jews’ father is the devil is anti-Semitic, then the New Testament is anti-Semitic. [19] Prominent Christian theologians, based on their study of the Bible, also endorsed anti-Semitism:

Justin Martyr: “[Circumcision’s] purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and your cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of your land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem.” [20]

John Chrysostom: “Again the Jews, the most miserable and wretched of all men … But today the Jews, who are more dangerous than any wolves, are bent on surrounding my sheep; so I must spar with them and fight with them so that no sheep of mine may fall victim to those wolves … Isaiah called the Jews dogs and Jeremiah called them mare-mad horses. This was not because they suddenly changed natures with those beasts but because they were pursuing the lustful habits of those animals.” [21]

St. Augustine: “How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay [the Jews] with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!” [22]

St. Thomas Aquinas: “As the laws say, the Jews by reason of their fault are sentenced to perpetual servitude and thus the lords of the lands in which they dwell may take things from them as though they were their own.” [23]

Martin Luther: “What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? … their synagogues should be set on fire … their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed … rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more … [let us] be free of this insufferable devilish burden – the Jews.”[24]

John Calvin: “[Jews] rotten and unbending stiff-neckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.”[25]

Pope Clement VIII: “All the world suffers from the usury of the Jews, their monopolies and deceit. They have brought many unfortunate people into a state of poverty, especially the farmers, working class people and the very poor. Then, as now, Jews have to be reminded intermittently that they were enjoying rights in any country since they left Palestine and the Arabian desert, and subsequently their ethical and moral doctrines as well as their deeds rightly deserve to be exposed to criticism in whatever country they happen to live.”

Prominent “Westerners,” as Wilders would call them, held views many consider anti-Semitic: Diderot, Voltaire, Henry Ford, T.S. Eliot, Peter Stuyvesant, G.K. Chesterton, H.G. Wells, Henry Adams, H. L. Mencken, Immanuel Kant, Richard Wagner, Thomas Edison, Aleksander Pushkin, Pierre Renoir, Charles Lindbergh, Charles de Gaulle, Edgar Degas, Shakespeare, Roald Dahl, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, William Blake, John Dryden, The Fireside Poets, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ernest Hemingway, Arnold Toynbee, Frederic Chopin, etc. Prominent “Western” literature, such as “The Merchant of Venice,” “The Prioress’s Tale,” “Oliver Twist,” and “The Jew of Malta,” also endorses anti-Semitism. Concepts such as supersessionism and “The Wandering Jew” also owe their birth and proliferation to traditional Christian theology.

In practical terms, thousands upon thousands of Jews were murdered during the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and at various times in Europe and Russia. The word “ghetto” owes its origin to the slums of Venice where Jews lived. Father Charles Coughlin, who commanded a weekly radio audience of more than 30 million Americans in the 1930s, openly supported anti-Semitism and the likes of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Coughlin also blamed Jews for the Great Depression, the Russian Revolution and Marxism.

More recently, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in its 2012 report on anti-Semitism in 10 European countries (including the Netherlands), concluded, “As with previous surveys, data from this latest 2012 European tracking poll indicates that significant percentages of European respondents continue to believe in some of the most pernicious anti-Semitic stereotypes.” [26] A 2011 ADL poll found that among 15% of Americans—35 million people—“anti-Semitic beliefs continue to hold a vice grip.” [27]

The allegation that Islam is anti- semitic is dangerous because it creates fear of Islam and of Muslims when no such basis for that fear exists.

 



[1] See http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/68082/so-what-did-muslims-do-jews (Last Visited on August 12, 2012).
[2] Philip Jenkins, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses 89 (2011).
[3] Id. at 91.
[4] Id. at 94 (emphasis added).
[5] We again remind the reader to visit www.alislam.org/quran for a detailed explanation of any Qur’anic verse in question.
[6] Qur’an 7:166-67.
[7] Qur’an 2:63. The Qur’an then re-emphasizes the same principle that Jews, Christians, and Sabians will also be rewarded with paradise in 5:70, “Surely, those who have believed, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians — whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
[8] Qur’an 95:5-7.
[9] Exodus 31:15.
[10] Qur’an 2:48, 123; 45:17.
[11] Qur’an 2:63, 112-114; 3:114-116; 5:67, 70; 7:160; 22:69.
[12] Qur’an 2:63; 3:114-116; 5:70.
[13] Qur’an 5:6.
[14] Qur’an 5:45.
[15] See http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/68082/so-what-did-muslims-do-jews (Last Visited on August 12, 2012).
[16] Matthew 23:13-38; 27:25; Mark 11:18; Luke 20:19; Acts 2:22-23, 36; 3:12-15; 4:10; 6:8-8:3; 7:51-53; 8:30; 9:23-25; 17:6-8; II Corinthians 11:23-26; Galatians 4:29, 5:11.
[17] John 7:1-9, 12-13; 20:19.
[18] Matthew 7:6; 12:34; 23:31, 33.
[19] John 8:44.
[20] Translated by Thomas b. Falls, “Dialogue With Trypho,” 27.
[21] Chrysostom, John. Eight Homilies Against the Jews [Adversus Judeaus], Hom. 4. Vol. 98. Patrologia Greaca.
[22] Augustine, St. The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Translated by Edward Bouverie Pusey. Vol. XII.
[23] Aquinas, St. Thomas. Letter on the Treatment of the Jews. First Edition Circa 1271.
[24] Translated by Martin H. Bertram, On The Jews and Their Lies, Luther’s Works Vol. 47 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971).
[25] John Calvin, Excerpt from Ad Quaelstiones et Objecta Juaei Cuiusdam Responsio; The Jew in Christian Theology (Gerhard Falk, McFarland and Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC and London, 1931).
[26] See http://www.adl.org/Anti_semitism/adl_anti-semitism_presentation_february_2012.pdf (Last Visited on August 12, 2012).
[27] See http://www.adl.org/anti_semitism_domestic/ADL-2011-Anti-Semitism_Presentation.pdf (Last Visited on August 12, 2012).