Saturday, March 17, 2012

Antisemitism in the Qur’an, Part 1

Several years ago Andrew Bostom published a comprehensive survey of antisemitism as expressed in the Qur’an. The article is unfortunately no longer available online, so the author has kindly sent us the full text. It will be posted here in four parts over the next few days.

Update: All four parts of this essay are now available, at the following links:

Koran, 9th century AD

Antisemitism in the Qur’an: Motifs and Historical Manifestations

Part 1

by Andrew G. Bostom


The essential nature of the Qur’anic “revelation,” as understood by Muslims, was elaborated in 1891 by Theodore Nöldeke (whose seminal 1860 Geschichte des Qorans remains a vital tool for Qur’anic research): “To the faith of the Muslims…the Koran is the word of God, and such also is the claim which the book itself advances…” And to this day, as the contemporary Qur’anic scholar Ibn Warraq notes, for all believing Muslims, and not merely “fundamentalists, ” the Qur’an remains Allah’s “uncreated” words, “…valid for all times and places; its ideals are, according to all Muslims, absolutely true and beyond any criticism.”

The Qur’anic depiction of the Jews — their traits as thus characterized being deemed both infallible and timeless — highlights, in verse 2:61 (repeated in verse 3:112), the centrality of the Jews “abasement and humiliation”, and being “laden with God’s anger,” as elaborated in the corpus of Muslim exegetic literature on Qur’an 2:61, including the hadith and Qur’anic commentaries. The terrifying rage decreed upon the Jews forever is connected in the hadith and exegeses to Qur’an 1:7, where Muslims ask Allah to guide them rightly, not in the path of those who provoke and must bear His wrath. This verse is in turn linked to Qur’anic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), having been “…cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). Moreover, forcing Jews, in particular, to pay the Qur’anic poll tax “tribute,” (as per verse 9:29) “readily,” while “being brought low,” is consistent with their overall humiliation and abasement in accord with Qur’an 2:61, and its directly related verses.

An additional much larger array of anti-Jewish Qur’anic motifs build to a denouement (as if part of a theological indictment, conviction, and sentencing process) concluding with an elaboration of the “ultimate sin” committed by the Jews (they are among the devil’s minions [Qur’an 4:60], accursed by God [Qur’an 4:47]), and their appropriate punishment: If they do not accept the true faith (i.e., Islam), on the day of judgment, they will burn in the hellfire (Qur’an 4:55). As per, Qur’an 98:7: “The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures”

After presenting a full spectrum of the major anti-Jewish motifs in the Qur’an, additional illustrations demonstrating their persistent influence on Muslim attitudes (and resultant behaviors) towards Jews, are provided. Four themes are considered, and their historical application illustrated, across space and time, through the present: (I) the Jews being associated with Satan and consigned to Hell (Qur’an 4:60, 4:55, 58:14 — 19, and 98:6); (II) the imposition of the Qur’anic poll-tax (jizya; Qur’an 9:29) on Jews, specifically, and (III) the related enforcement of the Qur’anic (2:61) “curse” upon the Jews for killing the Prophets, and other transgressions against Allah’s will, meriting their permanent humiliation and abasement; and, last in connection to this curse, (IV) the Jews’ transformation into apes/swine, as punishment (Qur’an 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166).

The contemporary case of Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, author of a 700 page scholarly treatise rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred, Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna [Jews in the Qur’an and the Traditions], and current Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, demonstrates the prevalence and depth of sacralized, “normative” Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim world. Even if all non-Muslim Judeophobic themes were to disappear miraculously overnight from the Islamic world, the living legacy of anti-Jewish hatred, and violence rooted in Islam’s sacred texts — Qur’an, hadith, and sira — would remain intact. The assessment and understanding of Islamic antisemitism must begin with an unapologetic analysis of the anti-Jewish motifs contained in these foundational texts of Islam.


Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi wrote these words in his 700 page treatise rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred, Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna [Jews in the Qur’an and the Traditions], originally published in the late 1960s, and early 1970s, and then re-issued in 1986/87: [1]

[The] Qur’an describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah, corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness…only a minority of the Jews keep their word….[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims, the bad ones do not. (Qur’an 3:113)

Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in 1996, a position he still holds. These are the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope — the head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, Sunnis representing some 85% of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi has not mollified such hatemongering beliefs since becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” [2], the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews, [3] or “dialogue” with Jews (just below), make clear. [4]

…anyone who avoids meeting with the enemies in order to counter their dubious claims and stick fingers into their eyes, is a coward. My stance stems from Allah’s book [the Qur’an], more than one-third of which deals with the Jews…[I] wrote a dissertation dealing with them [the Jews], all their false claims and their punishment by Allah. I still believe in everything written in that dissertation. [i.e., from above, in Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna]

Tantawi’s case illustrates the prevalence and depth of sacralized, “normative” Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim world. Even if all non-Muslim Judeophobic themes were to disappear miraculously overnight from the Islamic world, the living legacy of anti-Jewish hatred, and violence rooted in Islam’s sacred texts — Qur’an, hadith, and sira — would remain intact. The assessment and understanding of Islamic antisemitism must begin with an unapologetic analysis of the anti-Jewish motifs contained in these foundational texts of Islam.

The Major Anti-Jewish Motifs in the Qur’an

Composed in Arabic, and divided into chapters (suras) and verses (ayah; plural ayat), the Qur’an contains some 80,000 words, 6200-6240 verses, and 114 suras, arranged from longest to shortest in length. Irrespective of chronology, i.e., when they were putatively revealed to the Muslim prophet Muhammad, the longer suras appear first in the actual arrangement of the Qur’an. [5] Theodore Nöldeke (d.1930), whose seminal 1860 Geschichte des Qorans remains a vital tool for Qur’anic research, elaborated on the “revelation process”, as understood by Muslims, in 1891:
To the faith of the Muslims…the Koran is the word of God, and such also is the claim which the book itself advances…The rationale for the revelation is explained in the Koran itself as follows: — In heaven is the original text (“the mother of the book,” [sura]xliii.[verse]3; “a concealed book,” lv.77; “a well-guarded tablet,” lxxxv.22). By a process of sending down (tanzil), one piece after another was communicated to the Prophet. The mediator was an angel, who is called sometimes the “Spirit” (xxxvi.193), sometimes the “holy Spirit” (xvi.104), and at a later time “Gabriel” (ii.91}. This angel dictates the revelation to the Prophet, who repeats it after him, and afterward proclaims it to the world (lxxxvii.6, etc.)…It is an explicit statement of the Koran that the sacred book was revealed (“sent down”) by God, not all at once, but piecemeal and gradually (xxv.34). This is evident from the actual composition of the book, and is confirmed by Muslim tradition. That is to say, Muhammad issued his revelation in flyleaves of greater or less extent. A single piece of this kind was called either, like the entire collection, qur’an, i.e., “reading”, or rather “recitation;” or kitab, “writing;” or sura, which is the late-Hebrew shura, and means literally “series.” The last became, in the lifetime of Muhammad, the regular designation of the individual sections as distinguished from the whole collection; and accordingly it is the name given to the separate chapters of the Koran. [6]

And to this day, for the Muslim masses, as Ibn Warraq notes, [7]

…the Koran remains the infallible word of God, the immediate word of God sent down, through the intermediary of a “spirit” or “holy spirit” or Gabriel, to Muhammad in perfect, pure Arabic; and every thing contained therein is eternal and uncreated. The original text is in heaven…The angel dictated the revelation to the Prophet, who repeated it after him, and then revealed it to the world. Modern Muslims also claim that these revelations have been preserved exactly as revealed to Muhammad, without any change, addition, or loss whatsoever…the Koran remains for all Muslims, and not just “fundamentalists” the uncreated word of God Himself. It is valid for all times and places; its ideals are, according to all Muslims, absolutely true and beyond any criticism.

The Qur’anic depiction of the Jews — their traits as thus characterized being deemed both infallible and timeless — has been summarized in elegant, complementary discussions by Haggai Ben-Shammai, [8] and Saul S. Friedman.[9] Ben-Shammai focuses on two key examples of Jew hatred in the Qur’an (and Qur’anic exegesis) — the “curse against the Jews” (in sura 2, verse 61), and Qur’anic verses (most notably, sura 5, verse 82) rationalizing why Jews were to be held in greater contempt than Christians. [10] Friedman’s presentation is a remarkably compendious synthesis of anti-Jewish motifs developed in the Qur’an — Jews as misguided souls designated to suffer a “lighter punishment” in the corporeal world, but ultimately consigned to the hellfire if they fail to accept the “true faith” of Islam. [11]

Ben Shammai [12] highlights the centrality of the Jews “abasement and humiliation”, and being “laden with God’s anger” in the corpus of Muslim exegetic literature on Qur’an 2:61, including the hadith and Qur’anic commentaries. Despite the literal reference of 2:61 to the Israelites in the wilderness during their exodus from Egypt, he notes, [13]

…to all of the Muslim exegetes, without exception, it was absolutely clear that the reference was to the Jews of their day. The Arabic word translated as “pitched upon them” also means, literally, that the “abasement and poverty” were decreed for them forever. The “abasement” is the payment of the poll tax [jizya] [14] and the humiliating ceremony involved. As for the “poverty,” this insured their remaining impoverished forever. There are traditions which attribute this interpretation to Muhammad himself. [15]

The terrifying rage decreed upon the Jews forever is connected in the hadith and exegeses to Qur’an 1:7, where Muslims ask Allah to guide them rightly, not in the path of those who provoke and must bear His wrath. This verse is in turn linked to Qur’anic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), having been “…cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). [16]

Ben-Shammai explains the primary reason for this “fearful decree” which resulted in the Jews being “so terribly cursed”: [17]

…from time immemorial the Jews rejected God’s signs, the wonders performed by the prophets. They did not accept the prophecy of Jesus whom the Koran counts among the prophets. But this is all part of the Jews’ nature: they are by their very nature deceitful and treacherous.

Although the Jews initially longed for Muhammad to triumph over the pagan Arabs, “Would that Allah send this prophet of whom our Book says that his coming is assured” (according to a tradition cited by Ben-Shammai) [18], realizing that Muhammad was not one of them, Ben-Shammai observes, quoting from Qur’an 5:64, [19]

…they then denied him out of jealousy of the Arabs, though they knew in truth he is the prophet. Furthermore, this Jewish trait brought them to grave heresy. They thought that they would succeed not only in leading humankind astray but also in fooling God…(5:64) “The Jews have said, God’s hand is tied…As often as they light a fire for war, God will extinguish it”. Exegetes cite traditions which prove that the Jews always hated the true prophets and put them to death. Therefore they always failed in their wars and their Temple was destroyed time and again.

Independent confirmation of Ben Shammai’s analyses of these specific verse linkages to the central Qur’anic curse (i.e., verse 2:61, reiterated at 3:112), can be found in the major contemporary Qur’anic commentary written by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi (d. 1976), which was completed in Urdu during the 1960s, and early 1970s. [20] Shafi’s exegesis notes that verses 5:78, and the connected verse 5:77, are directed at the Jews, who, having strayed “…from the right path (again, verse 1:7),” were beset by “the curse of Allah the Almighty.” [21] Shafi then outlines the following “temporal” arrangements, and specific associations with the Biblical figures David, Jesus, and Moses, culminating in a curse upon the Jews by Muhammad himself (albeit Muhammad’s curse would be a reference to the sira, [22] specifically):

Firstly, it [the Qur’anic curse] came through the tongue of Dawud [David] as a result of which they were transformed into swines. Then, this curse fell upon them through the tongue of Isa [the Muslim Jesus] the temporal effect of which was that they were transformed into monkeys…the fact is that the curse on them began with Musa [Moses] and ended at the Last among Prophets [Muhammad]. Thus, the curse which overtook those, who were hostile to prophets or were guilty of acting excessively by making prophets sharers in Divine attributes, was wished verbally by four prophets one after the other. [23]

Ben-Shammai’s analysis [24] of Qur’an 5: 82 (“Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews and the idolaters; and thou wilt surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are those who say ‘We are Christians’; that, because some of them are priests and monks, and they wax not proud.”), links this verse to Qur’an 3:54-3:56, [25] and in turn to the tradition, “The Christians are to be above the Jews until the day of Judgment, for there is no land where the Christians are not above the Jews, neither in the east nor the west. The Jews are degraded in all the lands.”

He emphasizes that in the traditions, [26]

…the Christians have a clear priority over the Jews. If we posit that the early tradition reflects the historical development of early Islam and that the political, economic, and social reality was apt to produce this preference, there is no doubt that these traditions reflect this reality.

Both classical and modern Qur’anic exegeses by seminal Muslim commentators uphold Ben-Shammai’s interpretation of the anti-Jewish motifs featured in Qur’an 2:61 and 5:82. The great Muslim historian and Qur’anic exegete Tabari (d. 923), for example, interpreted the Qur’anic curse upon the Jews in 2:61, as follows: [27]

…”abasement and poverty were imposed and laid down upon them”, as when someone says “the imam imposed the poll tax (jizya)on free non-Muslim subjects”, or “The man imposed land tax on his slave”, meaning thereby that he obliged him [to pay ] it, or, “The commander imposed a sortie on his troops”, meaning he made it their duty.

…God commanded His believing servants not to give them [i.e., the non-Muslim people of the scripture] security — as long as they continued to disbelieve in Him and his Messenger — unless they paid the poll tax to them; God said: “Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden — such men as practice not the religion of truth [Islam], being of those who have been given the Book [Bible] — until they pay the poll tax, being humble” (Qur’an 9:29)

…Ibn Zaid said about His words “and abasement and poverty were imposed upon them”, ‘These are the Jews of the Children of Israel’. I said: ‘Are they the Copts of Egypt?’ He said: “What have the Copts of Egypt to do with this? No, by God, they are not; but they are the Jews, the Children of Israel.

…By “and slain the prophets unrightfully” He means that they used to kill the Messengers of God without God’s leave, denying their messages and rejecting their prophethood.

Tabari’s own related commentary on the posture to be assumed by a tributary during jizya collection (derived from Qur’an 9:29) underscores the deliberately humiliating character of this Qur’anic poll tax: [28]

The dhimmis [non-Muslim tributary’s] posture during the collection of the jizya- “[lowering themselves] by walking on their hand, …reluctantly

Baydawi (d. ~ 1316), in his important Qur’anic exegesis Anwaar al-Tanziil wa-Asraar al-Ta’wiil, provided this analysis of Qur’an 2:61: [29]

…”humiliation and wretchedness” covered them like a dome, or stuck to them like wet clay to a wall — a metaphor for their denial of the bounty. The Jews are mostly humiliated and wretched either of their own accord, or out of coercion of the fear of having their jizya doubled….Either they became deserving of His wrath [or]…the affliction of “humiliation and wretchedness” and the deserving wrath which preceded this.

…”because they disbelieved and killed the prophets unjustly” by reason of their disbelief in miracles, e.g. the splitting of the sea, the clouds giving shade, and the sending of the manna and quails, and splitting of the rock into twelve fountains/or, disbelief in the revealed books, e.g. the Gospel, Qur’an, the verse of stoning, and the Torah verse in which Muhammad is depicted; and their killing of the prophets like Shay`aa [Isaiah], Zakariyyaa, Yahyaa, et al., all killed unjustly because they considered that of these prophets nothing was to be believed and thus they deserved to be killed.

In addition [God] accuses them of following fantasy and love of this world, as he demonstrates in His saying [line 14] “this if for their transgression and sin” i.e. rebelliousness, contrariness, and hostility brought them into disbelief in the signs, and killing the prophets. Venal sins lead to serious sins, just as small bits of obedience lead to larger ones….God repeated this proof of what is inveterate [in the Jews], which is the reason for their unbelief and murder, and which is the cause of their committing sins and transgressing the bounds God set.

Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), another prominent Qur’anic commentator, emphasized the Jews eternal humiliation in accord with Qur’an 2:61: [30]

This ayah indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and this will continue, meaning it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly.

Al-Hassan commented, “Allah humiliated them under the feet of the Muslims, who appeared at a time when the Majus (Zoroastrians) were taking the jizya from the Jews. Also, Abu Al-’Aliyah, Ar-Rabi bin Anas and As-Suddi said that ‘misery’ used in that ayah means ‘poverty’. ‘Atiyah Al-’Awfi said that ‘misery’ means, ‘paying the tilth (tax)’. In addition, Ad-Dahhak commented on Allah’s statement, “and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah”, ‘They deserved Allah’s anger’. Also, Ibn Jarir said that, “and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah” means, ‘They went back with the wrath. Similarly, Allah said, “Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well as yours” (Qur’an 5:29) meaning, ‘You will end up carrying my and your mistakes instead of me’. Thus the meaning of the ayah becomes, “They went back carrying Allah’s anger: Allah’s wrath descended upon them; they deserved Allah’s anger’.

Allah’s statement, “That was because they used to disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidence, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully”, means ‘This is what We rewarded the Children of Israel with: humiliation and misery’. Allah’s anger that descended on the Children of Israel was a part of the humiliation they earned, because of their defiance of the truth, disbelief in Allah’s Law, i.e., the Prophets and their following. The Children of Israel rejected the Messengers even killing them. Surely there is no form of disbelief worse than disbelieving in Allah’s ayat and murdering the Prophets of Allah.

The prolific modern Qur’anic commentator Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), in contrast to the classical exegeses cited above, focuses initially on the plight of the Jews in Biblical Egypt: [31]

…Moses is telling them to go back to Egypt and resume their servile, humble, humdrum life where they can have their cucumber, lentils, garlic, and onion. They would not, it seems, be strong enough for the great and noble task God had called on them to undertake…I favor this second meaning because it reminds the Israelites of their misery and humiliation in Egypt…”Ignominy and humiliation stamped upon them [the Jews] and they incurred the wrath of God” (Verse 61).Historically, this came later as a result of their disbelief in God’s revelations, their killing of some of the prophets, and their general disobedience. These developments occurred several generations after Moses, but “ignominy and humiliation” are mentioned here because they fit the context of their condescension and insolence. Moses reminded them of the suffering and distress they had undergone in Egypt and of God’s kindness in delivering them from the Pharoah.

However, largely consistent with the classical commentaries on Qur’an 2:61 of Tabari, Baydawi, and Ibn Kathir, which emphasize (especially Baydawi and Ibn Kathir) the “inveterate” nature of the Jews, Qutb ultimately concludes: [32]

No other nation has shown more intransigence and obstinacy than the Jews. They viciously and mercilessly killed and mutilated a number of prophets and messengers. They have over the centuries displayed the most extreme attitudes towards God, and towards their own religion and people. Nevertheless they have always boasted of their virtue and made the implausible claims of being the most rightly-guided nation, the chosen people of God and the only people that shall be saved. Such claims are totally refuted by the Qur’an…

Finally, Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi (d. 1979), one of the most widely read and influential Muslim scholars of the 20th century, [33] wrote the following commentary on Qur’an 2:61 in what is considered his “magnum opus” (completed in 1973), the Tafhim al Qur’an (“Towards Understanding the Qur’an”): [34]

The Israelites recorded their crimes in detail in their own history…The same hostility to Prophets is evident from the life of Jesus…This is a shameful chapter in the record of the Jewish nation, to which the Qur’an refers here in passing. It is evident that when a nation chooses its most notoriously criminal and wicked people for positions of leadership, and its righteous and holy men for gaol [jail] and the scaffold, God has no alternative but to lay His curse and damnation on that nation…

The Qur’an, as discussed by Ben-Shammai, [35] also maintains in sura 5, verse 82, that the Jews harbored a singular hatred of the Muslims, which distinguished them in this regard, from the Christians:

Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters. And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud.

The classical Qur’anic commentaries of Tabari, Zamakashari (d. 1143), Baydawi, and Ibn Kathir on Qur’an 5:82 demonstrate a uniformity of opinion on the confirmed animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of Qur’an 2:61.

Tabari: [36]

In my [Tabari’s] opinion, [the Christians] are not like the Jews who always scheme in order to murder the emissaries and the prophets, and who oppose God in his positive and negative commandments, and who corrupt His scripture which He revealed in His books.

Zamakshari: [37]

Here God portrays the Jews as being unyielding and as acknowledging the truth only grudgingly…On account of their vehement enmity against the believers, God places the Jews together with the idolators; indeed, going even further, he shows them to be at the head, since they are mentioned before the idolators. God does the same in his words: ‘And thou shalt find them (the Jews) the eagerest of men for life — even more so than the idolators. Each of them wishes he could be given a life of a thousand years; but the grant of life would not save him from chastisement — for God sees well all that they do!” (sura 2:96/90). The Jews are surely like this, and even worse! From the Prophet (the following is related): ‘If a Muslim is alone with two Jews, they will try to kill him.’… the Jews focused their hostility to the Muslims in the most overt and intense manner…

Baydawi: [38]

…because of [the Jews’] intense obstinacy, multifaceted disbelief, and their addiction to following their whims, their adherence to the blind following of their tradition, their distancing themselves from the truth, and their unrelenting denial of, and hostility toward, the prophets…[the Christians] …easiness to deal with, the softness of their hearts, their dismissal of gain in this world, and their serious concern with learning and good deeds…their acceptance of the truth as soon as they understand it; or, because of their humility as opposed to the arrogance of the Jews…

Ibn Kathir: [39]

Allah said, “Verily you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers the Jews and those who commit Shirk [i.e., the polytheists, or idolators]”. This describes the Jews, since their disbelief is that of rebellion, defiance, opposing the truth, belittling other people, and degrading the scholars. This why the Jews — may Allah’s continued curses descend on them until the Day of Resurrection — killed many of their Prophets and tried to kill the Messenger of Allah several times, as well as performing magic spells against him and poisoning him. They also incited their likes among the polytheists against the Prophet.

Once again, Qutb’s extensive modern exegesis on Qur’an 5:82 simply confirms the views of these classical commentators on the inveterate hatred of the Jews for the true, primordial faith of Islam (and its votaries, i.e., the Muslims). Extending the collective judgments of Tabari, Zamakshari, Baydawi, and Ibn Kathir to reflect, logically, on historical events as a continuum, from the time of Muhammad, through the 20th century, Qutb maintains, [40]

What is noteworthy about the phrasing of this statement [Qur’an 5:82] is the fact that the Jews are mentioned ahead of the idolators in being most hostile to the believers, and their hostility is open and easily recognized by anyone who cares to pay attention… By mentioning the Jews first in this instance, when it would be thought they would be less than the idolators in their hostility to the believers as they have revealed Scriptures of their own, makes the ordering particularly significant. Because of the way it is phrased, the statement directs attention to the fact that the Scriptures have not changed the Jews and that they are just the same as the unbelievers in their ardent hostility towards the believers. This is the least that can be said, although it is possible that the statement means that in their hostility to the believers, the Jews took the lead, their animosity greater than that of the idolators.

When we look at the history of Islam ever since its very early days until the present moment, we have no doubt that the hostility of the Jews to the believers has always been more fierce, determined and longer lasting than the hostility of the idolators and unbelievers. From the very first moment the Muslim state was established in Madinah, the Jews adopted a hostile attitude towards it. They schemed against the Muslim community from the outset of its very existence. Qur’anic references to this hostility and scheming are sufficient to give a good idea of the unabating war the Jews have waged against Islam and its Messenger (peace be upon him), and the Muslim community throughout history. Indeed, this war has not abated for a single moment throughout fourteen centuries. It continues to rage throughout the world even today.

The war that the Jews have launched against Islam has been much longer lasting and wider in spectrum than that launched against it by pagans and unbelievers both in old and modern times, although the latter has also been ferocious. The fight with the Arabian idolators in the early days of Islam did not last more than 20 years. Of similar duration was the battle against the Persian Empire. In modern times, we see that the war launched against Islam by paganism in India is and has been manifestly ferocious, but it does not equal the ferocity of the Zionist war against Islam…The only battle against Islam which is comparable to that of the Jews in respect of its duration was that of the Crusades…

Qutb, not surprisingly, concludes: [41]

We remind ourselves of this history in order to appreciate God’s purpose in mentioning the Jews ahead of the idolators in the ranking of those who are hostile to Islam…Theirs is a wicked nature which is full of hatred for Islam, its Prophet and its followers. Hence, God warns His Messenger and the believers against its designs. This wicked and most vile nature could only be defeated in past history by Islam and its followers when they truly followed Islamic principles. Our modern world will not be saved from this wicked nature except by Islam, and only when its people implement Islam completely in their lives.

Ben-Shammai, arguing for prolonged historical continuity, “As has been stated, this tradition (i.e., of more intense Muslim-Jewish hatred) has remained alive to this very day”, [42] refers to the travelogue accounts of Edward William Lane, which record Lane’s observations of Egyptian society, written in 1835. [43] But Ben-Shammai fails to discuss a remarkable essay by the polymath Arabic writer al-Jahiz (d. 869), [44] composed a millennium earlier, which bolsters his argument by illustrating the anti-Jewish attitudes prevalent within an important early Islamic society. Al-Jahiz’s essay — an anti-Christian polemic believed to have been commissioned by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil (d. 861), who inaugurated a literary campaign against the Christians [45] — explores the reasons why the Muslim masses prefer the Christians to the Jews. This empirical preference (although decried by the author) [46] is acknowledged by al-Jahiz from the outset: [47]

I shall begin to enumerate the causes which made the Christians more liked by the masses than the Magians [Zoroastrians], and made men consider them more sincere than the Jews, more endeared, less treacherous, less unbelieving, and less deserving of punishment. For all this there are manifold and evident causes.

Al-Jahiz offers two primary explanations for this abiding hostility of the Muslim rank and file towards the Jews. First was the “rancorous” relationship between the early Muslim community, exiles from Mecca, relocated among Jewish neighbors in Medina. [48]

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, [49] 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.

However, al-Jahiz then identifies as “the most potent cause” of this particular animus towards the Jews, Qur’an 5:82, and its interpretation by the contemporary (i.e., mid-9th century) Muslim masses. [50] It is also worth noting that al-Jahiz (described as a “skeptic”, who harbored “indifferent views toward religion in general” [51]) included these sociological observations which reveal the interface between Islamic religious and indigenous ethnic/racial discriminatory attitudes towards Jews expressed a millennium before any secular Western European antisemitic ideologies would be exported to the Muslim Near East: [52]

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.

Al-Jahiz’s contention that the Muslims harbored greater enmity towards the Jews than the Christians is supported by the independent observations of another Arab author active during the beginning of the 9th century in Iraq, the Sufi theologian al-Harith al-Muhasibi (d. 857). [53] He maintained that because the Jews stubbornly denied Muhammad’s truth, they were “…in the eyes of the Muslims worse than the Christians”. [54]

One thousand years later, Lane’s testimony on the difference between the attitude of Egyptian Muslims toward the Jews and the Christians [55] again highlights the influence of Qur’an 5:82:

They [the Jews] are held in the utmost contempt and abhorrence by the Muslims in general, and they are said to bear a more inveterate hatred than any other people to the Muslims and the Muslim religion. It is said, in the Koran [quoting 5:82] “Thou shalt surely find the most violent all men to those who have believed to be the Jews…”

Lane further notes, [56]

It is a common saying among the Muslims in this country, “Such one hates me with the hate of the Jews.” We cannot wonder, then, that the Jews are detested far more than are the Christians. Not long ago, they used often to be jostled in the streets of Cairo, and sometimes beaten for merely passing on the right hand of a Muslim. At present, they are less oppressed: but still they scarcely ever dare to utter a word of abuse when reviled or beaten unjustly by the meanest Arab or Turk; for many a Jew has been put to death upon a false and malicious accusation of uttering disrespectful words against the Koran or the Prophet. It is common to hear an Arab abuse his jaded ass, and, after applying to him various opprobrious epithets, end by calling the beast a Jew.

Ben-Shammai’s discussion also omits a series of subsequent 19th century accounts which validate and expand upon Lane’s narrative. For example, the French surgeon A.B. Clot who resided in Egypt from 1825 to1848, and served Muhammad Ali as a medical adviser, earning the honorific title, “Bey”, made these confirmatory observations written in 1840, five years after Lane’s travelogue first appeared in 1835: [57]

The Israelite race is the one that the Muslims hate the most. They think that the Jews hate Islam more than any other nation…Speaking of a fierce enemy, the Muslims say: “He hates me the way the Jews hate us.” During the past century, the Israelites were often put to death because they were accused rightly or wrongly to have something disrespectful about the Koran.

And three decades later, such hateful attitudes directed at the Jews specifically, persisted among Egyptian Muslims, as recorded in 1873 by Moritz Lüttke: [58]

The Muslim hates no other religion as he hates that of the Jews…even now that all forms of political oppression have ceased, at a time when such great tolerance is shown to the Christian population, the Arabs still bear the same contemptuous hatred of the Jews. It is a commonplace occurrence, for example, for two Arabs reviling each other to call each other Ibn Yahudi; (or “son of a Jew”) as the supreme insult…it should be mentioned that in these cases, they pronounce the word Yahudi; in a violent and contemptuous tone that would be hard to reproduce.

Jacob Landau’s modern analysis of Egyptian Jewry in the 19th century elucidates the predictable outcome of these bigoted archetypes “constantly repeated in various forms” — the escalation from rhetorical to physical violence against Jews: [59]

…it is interesting to note that even the fallahin, the Egyptian peasantry (almost all of them Muslim) certainly did not know many Jews at close quarters, but nevertheless would revile them. The enmity some Muslims felt for the Jews incited them to violence, persecution, and physical assault, as in 1882…Hostility was not necessarily the result of envy, for many Jews were poverty-stricken and even destitute and were sometimes forced to apply for financial assistance to their co-religionists abroad.

Saul S. Friedman — in contrast to Ben-Shammai’s detailed, but narrow focus — weaves together a much fuller array of anti-Jewish Qur’anic motifs in his very concise, and logical presentation. [60] The Qur’an acknowledges that Allah assisted the Israelites’ passage across the Red Sea (Qur’an 10:90), and re-settled them in a sanctified land (Qur’an 10:93). He further granted them Scriptures, while bestowing upon them wisdom and prophethood (Qur’an 45:16), without evil motives (Qur’an 11:110). Those Jews who fathomed the revelation of the true book (i.e., the Qur’an) would enjoy the blessings of paradise (Qur’an 27:76-81). However, as Friedman observes: [61]

Unfortunately, these were few, because Jews had wronged themselves (Qur’an 16:118) by losing faith (Qur’an 7:168) and breaking the covenant (Qur’an 5:13). Sounding much like an ante-Nicean polemic, the Qur’an contends that the Jews are a nation that has “passed away” (Qur’an 2:134, 2:141). Twice God sent his instruments (the Assyrians [or Babylonians?] and Romans) [62] to punish this perverse people (Qur’an 17:4 — 5), and their dispersal over the face of the earth is proof of his rejection (Qur’an 7:168). For the arrogant Jews who still claim to be His chosen people, the Qur’an instructs, “Say: ‘You of Jewry, if you assert that you are the friends of God, apart from other men, then do you long for death, if you speak truly.’” (Qur’an 62:6).

Friedman then enumerates key examples of the “impressive indictment of the Jews’ sins” contained within the Qur’an: [63]

Apart from breaking the covenant, “they denied the revelations of Allah and killed their prophets unjustly” (Qur’an 4:155). Abuse of prophets is a consistent theme. In the Sura of the Cow [i.e., sura 2], Jews are asked, “Why did you kill the prophets of Allah if you are true believers” (Qur’an 2:91). Jews are chastised for plotting against Jesus (Quran 3:55 and 4:157). Instead of revering Muhammad, whom they ridicule as Ra’ina (the evil one) (Qur’an 2:104; 4:46), these “perverse” creatures say Ezra is the messiah and they worship rabbis who defraud men of their possessions (Qur’an 9:30).

Referenced passingly in Qur’an 59:1 as unbelievers and hypocrites, Friedman notes how the Jews are “especially vilified” in the suras held by Muslims to be later, or Medinan revelations. [64]

In a long diatribe in the Sura of the Cow, where they are typified as an “envious” people (Qur’an 2:109) whose hearts are “hard as rock” (Qur’an 2:74), Jews are accused of confounding the truth (Qur’an 2:42), deliberately perverting scripture (Qur’an 2:75), and telling lies (Qur’an 2:78). Illiterate, senseless people of little faith (Qur’an 2:89), they engage in vague and wishful fancies (Qur’an 2:111). Shame and misery have been stamped on them for their transgressions (Qur’an 2:62) [65], which include usury (Qur’an 2:275), breaking the Sabbath (Qur’an 2:65), sorcery (Qur’an 2:102), hedonism (Qur’an 2:95 [66]), and idol worship (Qur’an 2:53 [67]).

Qur’an 4:51 again mentions the Jews’ idol worship, in connection with “false gods”, and as Friedman notes, this accusation is then linked to a long series of other “iniquities” for which the Jews are faulted: [68]

…their lack of faith, taking words out of context, disobedience and distortion (Qur’an 4:45) [69], their “monstrous falsehoods” (Qur’an 4:156), usury, and cheating (Qur’an 4:160) [70]. The charge of cheating is prominently featured in Imran [sura 3] where most Jews are accused of being “evildoers” (Qur’an 3:111 [71]) who, deceived by their own lies (Qur’an 3:24), try to “debar believers from the path of Allah and seek to make it crooked” (Qur’an 3:99). Jews mislead (Qur’an 3:69), confound the truth (Qur’an 3:71), twist tongues (Qur’an 3:79 [72]), and say, “We are not bound to keep faith with Gentiles” (Qur’an 3:75). Believers are advised by the Sura of The Table [sura 5] not to take these clannish people as their friends (Qur’an 5:51). “The most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful” (Qur’an 5:82), Jews are blind and deaf to the truth (Qur’an 5:71). What they have not forgotten, they have perverted.

All these charges build to a denouement (as if part of a theological indictment, conviction, and sentencing process) in Qur’anic verses 58:14 — 19, which state: [73]

Do you see those that have befriended a people [the Jews] with whom Allah is angry? They belong neither to you nor to them. They knowingly swear to falsehoods.

Allah has prepared for them a grievous scourge. Evil indeed is that which they have done.

They use their faith as a disguise and debar others from the path of Allah. A shameful scourge awaits them.

Neither their wealth nor their children shall in the least protect them from Allah. They are the heirs of Hell and there they shall abide forever.

On the day when Allah restores them all to life, they will swear to Him as they now swear to you, thinking that their oaths will help them. Surely they are liars all.

Satan has gained possession of them and caused them to forget Allah’s warning. They are the confederates of Satan; Satan’s confederates assuredly will be lost.

Friedman’s discussion concludes with an elaboration of the “ultimate sin” committed by the Jews, and their appropriate punishment: [74]

…they are among the devil’s minions (Qur’an 4:60). Cursed by God, their faces will be obliterated (Qur’an 4:47). If they do not accept the true faith, on the day of judgment, they will be made into apes (Qur’an 2:65, and 7:166) and burn in the hellfire (Qur’an 4:55). As it is written in the Sura of the Proof [i.e., sura 98], “The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures” (Qur’an 98:7) [75]

Ben-Shammai and Friedman illustrate anti-Jewish motifs in the Qur’an either broadly (Friedman) [76], or in a more focused way (Ben-Shammai). [77] Ronald Nettler’s 1990 analysis [78] confirms Ben-Shammai’s conclusions:

The main portrayal of the Jews in the Qur’an is that of rejectors of Allah’s truth and persecutors of his prophets. This meant, of course, that the Jews were mortal enemies of Islam. From this motif were derived other, subsidiary themes. Here the Jews were portrayed as possessors of a tarnished truth (which they themselves tarnished) who, for the most part, could not recognize in Muhammad’s revelation the most perfect version of their own, They ought to have welcomed and acknowledged this new doctrine of completion and fulfillment. Instead they denied and rejected it. Rather than put their full weight behind Muhammad’s people they chose to oppose him, sometimes even aiding his enemies. Yet it was the Jews, from Islam’s point of view who, more than anyone else, were obliged to give such acknowledgment. It is hardly surprising then, that the Qur’an in one well-known condemnation [Qur’an 5:82] of the Jews described them as “the most hostile in intent toward the believers” along with the pagans. This already encapsulated, in essence, the Qur’anic view of the Jews.

Nettler further illustrates how such Qur’anic archetypes of Jews were amplified in the hadith, sira, and early Islamic theological and historical literature, which complement the Qur’an as foundational sources of Islamic beliefs. These core texts — summarized elegantly by Nettler — assert that the Jews caused Muhammad’s agonizing death by poisoning, [79] and maintain that it was a renegade Jew (Abd Allah b. Saba) [80] who fomented the nearly cataclysmic civil strife over the succession of the “Rightly Guided Caliphs”, and was also responsible for the Shi’ite heresy, and resultant Shi’a sectarianism. [81]

Such a stubborn denial of truth — part of the “eternal” Jewish nature, as early Islam conceived it — impelled the Jews to act with conspiratorial malevolence toward Muhammad and his new tradition. Hence the various motifs of Jewish perfidy in early Islamic theoretical and historical literature. The Jews’ role as allies of Muhammad’s various opponents was, for example, a commonplace in the hadith, sira, and historical literature. One of the most extreme forms of Jewish perfidiousness alleged in the Islamic sources was the portrayal of the Jews as the killers of Muhammad. In keeping with the Qur’anic portrayal of the Jews as persecutors and even killers of their own prophets, this idea brought the story up to date, as it were, in a sort of denouement of the long drama of Jewish attacks on the prophets and prophecy. The archetypal logic of the tale was flawless: in Islamic terms, this was the final Jewish assault on the apex of prophetic religion… [R]ecounted…in the standard story of Muhammad’s painful and protracted death from poisoning by a Jewish woman.

Another early archetype of Jewish perfidy and destructiveness toward Islam was the story of Abd Allah b. Saba, the man held responsible, in the main Sunni historiographical accounts, for the first serious internal rebellion suffered by Islam. Culminating in the assassination of Islam’s third caliph, Uthman, this rebellion was traditionally perceived as the first, and fateful, breach in Muslim unity; the breach that adumbrated the subsequent period of harsh internal strife and dangerous disunity which marked the permanent loss of Islam’s political innocence. Described in the sources as an uprising in which the putative Jew, and alleged founder of the heterodox Shi’ite sect, Abd Allah b. Saba, played the key role, the portrayal of this major Islamic catastrophe exuded resonances of Jewish and Jewish-inspired heterodox elements conspiring to wreck the political stability and security of Islam; indeed wreck Islam itself.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a speech welcoming Pope John Paul to Damascus on May 5, 2001, demonstrated how the “flawlessly updated” Islamic motif of Jews as prophet killers and torturers is used to vilify both Jews, and the Jewish State of Israel: [82]

We notice them [i.e., the Jews] aggressing against Muslim and Christian Holy Sites in Palestine, violating the sanctity of the Holy Mosque (Al-Aqsa), of the church of Sepulcher in Jerusalem and of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. They [i.e., the Jews] try to kill all the principles of divine faiths with the same mentality of betraying Jesus Christ and torturing Him, and in the same way that they tried to commit treachery against Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon Him).

Ben-Shammai, Nettler, and Friedman omit from their discussions, however, any comprehensive analysis of Qur’an 9:29, “Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.” The injunctions delineated in this verse clearly do not apply to Jews alone, including Christians, and perhaps Zoroastrians, as well. Yet Qur’an 9:29 and the modes of subjugation it mandates for the Jews (and those other of “Scriptured” faiths) — via peaceful or violently-imposed submission — provide the framework for implementing the myriad dictates of the Qur’an, including its antisemitic injunctions, under Shari’a, the sacralized Islamic jural order.

Ibn Kathir’s 14th century commentary [83] expresses the classical Muslim orthodoxy on Qur’an 9:29 — the verse which links the unique Islamic institution of jihad war, integrally, to the imposition of the pact of submission (or “dhimma”) upon the vanquished “Scriptured” (or “dhimmi”) peoples, primarily Jews and Christians:

…when the People of the Scriptures disbelieved in Muhammad, they had no beneficial faith in any Messenger or what the Messengers brought. Rather they followed their religions because this conformed with their ideas, lusts, and the ways of their forefathers, not because they are Allah’s laws and religion. Had they been true believers in their religions, that faith would have directed them to believe in Muhammad because all Prophets gave the good news of Muhammad’s advent and commanded them to obey and follow him. Yet when he was sent, they disbelieved in him, even though he is the mightiest of all Messengers. Therefore, they do not follow the religion of earlier Prophets because these religions came from Allah, but because these suit their desires and lusts. Therefore, their claimed faith in an earlier Prophet will not benefit them because they disbelieved in the master, the mightiest, the last and most perfect of all Prophets. Hence Allah’s statement “Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture”

This honorable Ayah was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book, after the pagans were defeated, the people entered Allah’s region in large numbers, and the Arabian Peninsula was secured under the Muslims’ control. Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians… Allah said, “until they pay the Jizya”, if they do not choose to embrace Islam, ‘with willing submission’, in defeat and subservience, “and feel themselves subdued”, disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimma or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced, and humiliated.

Moreover, forcing Jews, in particular, to pay the Qur’anic poll tax “tribute”, “readily”, while “being brought low”, is consistent with their overall humiliation and abasement in accord with Qur’an 2:61, and its directly related verses.

Mawdudi’s commentary provides the 20th century confirmation of this orthodox view of Qur’an 9:29, expressed in a modern idiom: [84]

The Jews and Christians have corrupted their faith since they have distorted certain basic components of that [true] belief [i.e., Islam]…The People of the Book do not follow the Law revealed by God through His Messenger.

The purpose for which the Muslims are required to fight is not as one might think to compel the unbelievers into embracing Islam. Rather their purpose is to put an end to the sovereignty and supremacy of the unbelievers so that the latter are unable to rule over men. The authority to rule should only be vested in those who follow the true faith; unbelievers who do not follow this true faith should live in a state of subordination…Jizyah symbolizes the submission of the unbelievers to the suzerainty of Islam. To pay the jizyah of their own hands “humbled” refers to payment in a state of submission. “Humbled” also reinforces the idea that the believers, rather than the unbelievers, should be the rulers in performance of their duty as God’s vicegerents.

Some nineteenth-century Muslim writers and their followers in our own times never seem to tire of their apologies for jizyah. But God’s religion does not require that apologetic explanations be made on its behalf. The simple fact is that according to Islam, non-Muslims have been granted the freedom to stay outside the Islamic fold and to cling to their false, man-made ways if they so wish. They have, however, absolutely no right to seize the reigns of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines. For if they are given such an opportunity, corruption and mischief will ensue. In such a situation the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.

One of the advantages of jizyah is that it reminds the Dhimmis every year that because they do not embrace Islam…they have to pay a price — jizyah — for clinging to their errors.

To be continued…


1. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi. Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna [Jews in the Qur’an and the Traditions], Cairo, 1986. Qur’an 3:113, “They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of Allah in the night season, falling prostrate (before Him).”. The classical Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir (d. 1373) provides support for Tantawi’s contemporary interpretation of 3:113. Ibn Kathir (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Riyadh, Vol. 2, 2000, p. 246), wrote:

Muhammad bin Ishaq and others, including al-’Awfi who reported from Ibn ‘Abbas, said; “These Ayat [verses] were revealed about the clergy of the People of the Scriptures who embraced the faith. For instance, there is Abdallah bin Salam, Asad bin ‘Ubayd, Tha’labah bin Sa’yah, Usayd bin Sa’yah, and so forth. This Ayah [3:113] means that those among the People of the Book [Book = Bible] whom Allah rebuked earlier are not all the same as those among them who embraced Islam.
2. Aluma Solnick. “Based on Qur’anic Verses, Interpretations, and Traditions, Muslim Clerics State: The Jews Are the Descendants of Apes, Pigs, And Other Animals.” Middle East Media Research Institute, November 1, 2002. Special Report No. 11.
3. “Leading Egyptian Government Cleric Calls For: ‘Martyrdom Attacks that Strike Horror into the Hearts of the Enemies of Allah’ ”, Middle East Media Research Institute, April 7, 2002, No. 363.
4. “The Meeting between the Sheik of Al-Azhar and the Chief Rabbi of Israel”, Middle East Media Research Institute, February 8, 1998, Special Report No. 2.
5. Ibn Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim. Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1995, p. 105.
6. Theodore Noldeke. “The Koran”, originally published in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th edition, vol. 16 (1891), pp. 597ff. Reproduced in Ibn Warraq (editor). The Origins of the Koran. Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1998, pp. 37-38.
7. Warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim, pp. 105, 216.
8. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, pp. 164-168.
9. Saul S. Friedman. “The Myth of Islamic Toleration”, chapter 1, pp. 2-3, in, Without Future. The Plight of Syrian Jewry. Praeger, New York, 1989.
10. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, pp. 164-168.
11. Friedman, “The Myth of Islamic Toleration”, pp. 2-3.
12. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, p. 164.
13. Ibid. p. 164. In the accompanying notes p. 169, n.9 and n.10, Ben-Shammai elaborates on the notion of the permanence of the Jews abasement in the hadith, and a related Qur’anic verse:

There are interpretations ascribed to Muhammad’s companions such as his cousin, Abdallah Ibn Abbas. These attributions are most doubtful, but by the mid-eighth century the earliest interpretations were already in writing…The identical expression, in the sense of an everlasting decree, also occurs in Sura 3 of the Koran, verse 112. [“Ignominy shall be their portion wheresoever they are found save (where they grasp) a rope from Allah and a rope from men. They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the prophets wrongfully. That is because they were rebellious and used to transgress.”]
14. The Qur’anic poll tax or jizya, based upon Qur’an 9:29.
15. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, p. 169, note 11, observes:

As was apparently done with most the traditions during the second century of the Hegira [i.e., the second century after 622 C.E.]. Most of the traditions cited here are from the comprehensive commentary of Muhammad b. Jarir at-Tabari (d. 923) and are found in parallel versions in most of the collections of the traditions assembled in the ninth and early tenth centuries C.E.
16. Ibid., p.165.
17. Ibid., p. 165.
18. Ibid., p. 165.
19. Ibid., p. 165.
20. Mufti Muhammad Shafi. Ma’ariful-Qur’an, Karachi, 1996-2004, 6 Vols.
21. Shafi. Ma’ariful-Qur’an, Vol. 3 p. 233
22. The Life of Muhammad. A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by A. Guillaume, Oxford, England, 2001, p. 461; Ibn Sa’d. Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir. English translation by S. Moinul Haq and H.K. Ghazanfar. New Delhi, India, 1993, p. 95.
23. Shafi. Ma’ariful-Qur’an, Vol. 3 p. 233.
24. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, p. 167.
25. Qur’an 3:54-56 —

“ And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers… (And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ… As for those who disbelieve I shall chastise them with a heavy chastisement in the world and the Hereafter; and they will have no helpers.”
26. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, p. 167.
27. Tabari. The Commentary on the Qur’an. With an Introduction and Notes by J. Cooper. Edited by W. F. Medlung, A. Jones. Oxford University Press, 1987, pp. 353-355.
28. Tabari. Jami` al-Bayan fii Tafsiir al-Qur’aan Ed. M. Shakir. Beirut 1421/2001. Vol. X, pp. 125, 126. English translation by Michael Schub.
29. Baydawi. ed. Fleischer, H. O. Commentaius in Coranum. Anwaar al-Tanziil Wa-Asraar al-Ta’wiil. 1846 — 48. Reprint Osnabrück 1968, p. 63. English translation by Michael Schub.
30. Ibn Kathir. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Riyadh, Vol. 1, 2000, pp. 245-246.
31. Sayyid Qutb. In the Shade of the Qur’an. Leicester, England, 1999, Volume 1, Surah 1-2, p. 91.
32. Ibid., pp. 91-92
33. Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi. Towards Understanding the Qur’an. Leicester, England, 1988, Vol. 1, p. xiii.
34. Ibid., pp. 78-80.
35. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, p. 167. Qur’an 5:82 as cited by the author is the Pickthall translation.
36. Tabari. Jami` al-Bayan fii Tafsiir al-Qur’aan, Vol. VII, p 5ff. English translation by Michael Schub.
37. Zamakshari, Tafsir al-kashshaf an haqa’iq ghawamid at-tanzil wa-uyun al-aqawil fi wujuh at-ta’wil. Cairo, 1953-1955. English translation in, Helmut Gatje. The Qur’an and its Exegesis. Berkeley, CA, 1976, p. 134. The last line included (“the Jews focused their hostility to the Muslims in the most overt and intense manner”) was omitted by Gatje, and was translated by Dr. Michael Schub from the Beirut 2001 edition of Tafsir al-kashshaf, p. 701 and ff.
38. Baydawi. Anwaar al-Tanziil Wa-Asraar al-Ta’wiil, Vol. I, p. 270
39. Ibn Kathir. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, p. 246.
40. Sayyid Qutb. In the Shade of the Qur’an. pp. 217-218, 220.
41. Ibid., pp. 220-221.
42. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, p. 167.
43. Edward William Lane. An Account of the Customs of the Modern Egyptians. (Facsimile of the 1860 edition), Dover, New York, 1973. See pp. 553-556.
44. “A Risala of Al-Jahiz”. Translated by Joshua Finkel. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1927, Vol. 47, pp. 311-334.
45. Ibid., p. 319.
46. Indeed, Finkel (Ibid., p. 316) underscores the devastating nature of the trenchant anti-Christian arguments mustered by Al-Jahiz:

While there are other anti-Christian writings extant in Mohammedan literature, no work goes so directly to the vital features of the problem, no work is of so potential of deadly effect.
47. Ibid, p. 322-323.
48. Ibid., p. 323.
49. See Qur’an 2:105,

Neither those who disbelieve among the people of the Scripture nor the idolaters love that there should be sent down unto you any good thing from your Lord. But Allah chooseth for His mercy whom He will, and Allah is of Infinite Bounty.
50. “A Risala of Al-Jahiz”, p. 324.
51. Ibid., pp. 316,317.
52. Ibid, p. 328.
53. Roger. Arnaldez. “al- Muhasibi”. Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007.
54. al-Muhasibi. The Book of the Patronage of the Law of Allah (Arabic), edited by Margaret Smith, London, 1940/41, p. 256. English translation cited in, Avraham Grossman, “The Economic and Social Background of Hostile Attitudes Toward the Jews in the Ninth and Tenth Century Muslim Caliphate”, in Shmuel Almog, Antisemitism Through the Ages, Oxford, 1988, p. 186, note 39.
55. Lane. An Account of the Customs of the Modern Egyptians, p.554
56. Ibid., pp. 554-555.
57. A.B. Clot. Apercu general sur l’Egypte, 1840, Vol. II, pp. 139-142. Excerpts translated by Martine Chauvet from, Jacob M. Landau. Jews in Nineteenth Century Egypt. New York, 1969, Document XII, pp. 152-154.
58. Moritz Lüttke. Aegyptiens neue Zeit. Ein Beitrag zur Culturgeschichte des gegenwartigen Jahrhunderts sowie zur Charakteristik des Orients unde des Islam. Leipzig, 1873, Vol. 1, pp. 97-99. English translation in, Landau. Jews in Nineteenth Century Egypt, pp. 18-19.
59. Landau. Jews in Nineteenth Century Egypt, p. 19.
60. Friedman, “The Myth of Islamic Toleration”, pp. 2-3.
61. Ibid, p.2. Friedman derives all his Qur’anic citations (numberings and excerpts) from N.J. Dawood. The Koran, Harmondsworth, U.K., 1956.
62. Ibn Kathir. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, pp. 579-80), mentions Nebuchadnezzar’s depredations, but warns,

The earlier and later commentators differed over the identity of these invaders. Many Israiliyyat (reports from Jewish sources) were narrated about this, but I did not want to make this book too long by mentioning them, because some of them are fabricated, concocted by their heretics, and others may be true, but we have no need of them, praise be to Allah.

He continues,

What Allah has told us in his book is sufficient and we have no need of what is in the other books that came before. Neither Allah nor His Messenger required us to refer to them. Allah told His Messenger that when [the Jews] committed transgression and aggression, Allah gave their enemies power over them to destroy their country and enter the innermost parts of their homes. Their humiliation and subjugation was a befitting punishment, and your Lord is never unfair or unjust to his servants. They had rebelled and killed many of the Prophets and scholars.

Yusuf Ali’s discussion of Qur’an 17:4 (in, Abdallah Yusuf Ali. The Holy Qur’an. Text, Translation, and Commentary. Reprint of the 1934 edition, Elmhurst, New York, 2001, p. 694, note 2174) suggests,

…it may be that the two occasions refer to (1) the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C, when the Jews were carried of into captivity, and (2) the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70, after which the Temple was never rebuilt…On both occasions it was a judgment of God for the sins of the Jews, their backslidings, and their arrogance.
63. Friedman, “The Myth of Islamic Toleration”, p.2.
64. Ibid., pp. 2-3.
65. This verse is 2:61 in most Qur’anic numbering systems.
66. This verse is 2:96 in most Qur’anic numbering systems.
67. This verse is 2:54 in most Qur’anic numbering systems.
68. Friedman, “The Myth of Islamic Toleration”, p.3.
69. This verse is 4:46 in most Qur’anic numbering systems.
70. This verse is 4:161 in most Qur’anic numbering systems.
71. This verse is 3:110 in most Qur’anic numbering systems.
72. This verse is 3:78 in most Qur’anic numbering systems.
73. Friedman, “The Myth of Islamic Toleration”, p.3., citing N.J. Dawood’s translation. Ibn Kathir’s commentary refers to Qur’an 58:8 — 10 as indicating that the Jews are consigned to Hell for their plotting to kill (Muslim) believers (Ibn Kathir. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 9, p. 520, section entitled, “The Evil of The Jews”)
74. Ibid., Friedman, p. 3.
75. This verse is 98:6 in most Qur’anic numbering systems.
76. Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic tradition and Qur’anic exegesis”, pp. 164-168.
77. Friedman. “The Myth of Islamic Toleration”, pp. 2-3.
78. Ronald M. Nettler. “Islamic Archetypes of the Jews: Then and Now”, in Robert Wistrich, Editor, Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism in the Contemporary World. New York, 1990, pp. 64-65.
79. Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786; Sahih Muslim Book 026, Number 5430; Sunan Abu Dawud Book 39, Number 4498; Ibn Sa’d. Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir. Volume 2, New Delhi, 1993; pp. 249-252. English translation by S. Moinul Haq and H.K. Ghazanfar
80. Hartwig Hirschfeld. Abdallah Ibn Saba. The Jewish; Tabari. Ta’rikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk, M.J. de Goeje, Editor, Leiden, 1898, Vol. 1 (6), pp. 3941-42, English translation in Nettler, p. 66.
81. Ibid. Nettler, pp. 65-66; Tabari as above in note 86.
82. “Speech of President Bashar Al-Assad Welcoming His Holiness Pope John Paul II on his arrival in Damascus”, Syria, May 5, 2001. Syrian Arab News Agency.
83. Ibn Kathir. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Riyadh, Vol. 4, 2000, pp. 405-406.
84. Mawdudi. Towards Understanding the Qur’an. Vol. 3, pp. 201-202.


Tempered said...

This outstanding historical introduction to the subject of Islamic antisemitism appears to reproduce the survey by Bostom presented as Chapter ! of the work edited by him, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Test to Solemn History (Prometheus Press, 2009). This work is the most authoritative and extensive treatment of the subject, I think, in any language. It presents over 100 pages (larger format pages, double-columns, small print) of extensive extracts from the Qur'an, the Hadith literature and the Sira biographies of Muhammed on this subject, then 150 pages from medieval and modern Muslim authorities and commentators on Jews and Judaism, and only then presents about 200 pages of 23 scholarly essays by leading academic experts on various aspects of the treatment of Jews down through the ages. At the end there are 8 documents from the modern period. In all, there are 766 pages in this book. It can be highly recommended.