The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History
Andrew G. Bostom, Editor
Chapter 1 – A Survey of Its Theological-Juridical Origins and Historical Manifestations
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,” Iv.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 (Ixxxvii.6, etc ) It is an explicit statement of the Koran that the sacred book was revealed (“sent down”) by God, not ail 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 effiler, 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 lest became, in the lifetime of Muhammad, the regular designation of the individuel sections as distinguished from the whole collection; and accordingly it is the name given to the separate chapters of the Koran.’
… 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 ail Muslims, and not just “fundamentalists” the uncreated word of God Himself. It is valid for ail times and places; its ideals are, according to ail Muslims, absolutely true and beyond any criticism.
Ben-Shammai 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 commenteries. Despite the literai reference of 2:61 to the Israelites in the wilderness during their exodus from Egypt, he notes,
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 poli tax [jizya] and the humihating ceremony involved. As for the “poverty,” this insured their remaining impoverished forever. There are traditions which attribute this interpretation to Muhammad himself.
Ben-Shammai explains the primary reason for this “fearful decree,” which resulted in the Jews being “so terribly cursed”:
[F]rom 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 ail part of the Jews’ nature: they are by their very nature deceitful and treacherous.
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 aise in footing God (5:64). “The Jews have said, God’s hand is tied…. As often as they light a tire 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.
He emphasizes that in the traditions,
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.
“[A]basement and poverty were imposed and laid down upon them,” as when someone says “the imam imposed the poli tax (jizya) on free nonMuslim 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 poli 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 poli 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 poli tax:
The dhimmis’ [non-Muslim tributary’s] posture during the collection of the jizya—[lowering themselves] by walking on their hands, . reluctantly.
Baydawi (d. c. 1316), in his important Qur’anic exegesis Anwaar al-Tanziil Wa-Asraar al-Ta’wiil, provided this analysis of Qur’an 2:61:
“[H]umiliation 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.
“[B]ecause they disbelieved and killed die 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 ores 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 com mentator, emphasized the Jews’ eternal humiliation il accord with Qur’an 2:61:
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 gours” (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:
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 tank 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 alter 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:
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 daims 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 Qu’ran.
Finally, Sayyid Abul A’ la Mawdudi (d. 1979), one of the most widely read and influential Muslim scholars of the twentieth century,46 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):
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 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, also main-tains 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 thon wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (te be) those who say: Le! 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 die Jews toward the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of Qur’an 2:61.
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 scipture which He revealed in His books.
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 thon shah find them (the Jews) the eagerest of men for life—even more so than the idolators. Euh 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.
[B]ecause 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 serions concern with learning and good deeds their acceptante of the truth as soon as they understand it; or, because of their humility as opposed to the arrogance of the Jews.
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 is why the Jews—may Allah’s continued curses descend on them until the Dey of Resurrection—killed many of their Prophets and tried to kill the Messenger of Allah several times, as well as performing magie spells against him and poisoning him. They aise incited their likes among the polytheists against the Prophet.
What is noteworthy about the phrasing of this statement [Qur’an 5:821 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 wh o cares te pay attention…. By mentioning the Jews first in this instance, when it would be thought they would be less chan 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 fast 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 Look 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. lndeed, 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 modem 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:
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 amplement 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,”56 refers to the travelogue accounts of Edward William Lane, which record Lane’s observations of Egyptian society, written in 1835.57 But Ben-Shammai fails to discuss a remarkable essay by the polymath Arabic writer al-Jahiz (d. 869),59 composed a millenium 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 caiiph al-Mutawakkil (d. 861), who inaugurated a literary campaign against the Christians—explores the reasons why the Muslim masses prefer the Christians to the Jews. This empirical preference (although decried by the author) is acknowledged by al-Jahiz from the outset:
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 toward the Jews. First was the “rancorous” relationship between the early Muslim community, exiles from Mecca, and their Jewish neighbors in Medina:
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, 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 toward the Jews, Qur’an 5:82, and its interpretation by the contemporary (i.e., mid-ninth-century) Muslim masses.
It is also worth noting that al-Jahiz (described as a “skeptic,” who harbored “indifferent views toward religion in general”) included these sociological observations that rectal the interface between Islamic religious and indigenous (and indigenous ethnic/racial discriminatory attitudes toward) Jews expressed a millenium before any secular Western European antisemitic ideologies would be exported to the Muslim Near East:
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, camets, donkeys, and pigeons are inbred.
One thousand years later, Lane’s testimony on the difference between the attitude of Egyptian Muslims toward the Jews and the Christians 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 5:821 “Thou shah surely find the most violent of all men to those who have believed to be the Jews.
Lane further notes:
It is a common saying among the Muslims in this country, “Such one hates me with the hate of the Jews.” We canot 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 stil) 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 sertes of subsequent nineteenth-century accounts that validate and expand upon Lane’s narrative. For example, the French surgeon A. B. Clot, who resided in Egypt from 1825 to 1848 and served Muhammad Ah 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:
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 said something disrespectful about the Koran.
And three decades lacer, such hateful attitudes, directed at the Jews specifically, persisted among Egyptian Muslims, as recorded in 1873 by Moritz Luttke:
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 nineteenth century elucidates the predictable outcome of these bigoted archetypes “constantly repeated in various forms”—the escalation from rhetorical to physical violence against Jews:
[I]t 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.’ The Qur’an acknowledges that Allah assisted the Israelites’ passage across the Red Sea (Qur’an 10:90) and resettled them in a sanctified land (Qur’an 10:93). He further granted them Scriptures, white 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:
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)” to punish this perverse people (Qur’an 17:4-5), and their dispersal over the face of the earth (Qur’an 34:7; 59:3) 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: Thou of Jewry, if you assoit 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:
Apart from breaking the convenant, “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 (Qur’ an 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.
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),75 which include usury (Qur’ an 2:275), breaking the Sabbath (Qur’ an 2:65), sorcery (Qur’ an 2:102), hedonism (Qur’an 2:95),75a and idol worship (Qur’an 2:53).
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.
[T]heir lack of faith, taking words out of context, disobedience and distortion (Qur’an 4:45),22 their “monstrous falsehoods” (Qur’an 4:156), usury, and cheating (Qur’an 4:160)78 The charge of cheating is prominently featured in Imran [sura 3] where mort Jews are accused of being “evildoers” (Qur’an 3:111)78a 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 Longues (Qur’an 3:79),78b and say, “We are not bound to keep faith with Centiles” (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 mort impiacable 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.
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 theirwealth 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 and 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.
[T]hey 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).
Ben-Shammai and Friedman illustrate anti-Jewish motifs in the Qur’an either broadly (Friedman),or in a more focused way (Ben-Shammai). Ronald Nettler’s 1990 analysis confirms Ben-Shammai’s conclusions:
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, and maintain that it was a renegade Jew (Abd Allah b. Saba) 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: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. lt 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.
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 politicai stability and security of Islam; indeed wreck Islam itself.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a speech welcoming Pope John Paul II 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:
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 bath 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 atone, 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 jura) order.
Ibn Kathir’s fourteenth-century commentary expresses the classical Muslim orthodoxy on Qur’an 9:29—the verse that links the unique Islamic institution of jihad war, integrally, to die imposition of the pact of submission (or dhimma) upon the vanquished “Scriptured” (or dhimmi) peoples, primarily Jews and Christians:
[W]hen 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 bas 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, alter 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 poil 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 twentieth-century confirmation of this orthodox view of Qur’an 9:29, expressed in a modern idiom:
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 embrase Islam … they have to pay a price– jizyah—for clinging to their errors.
(1) the Jews being associated with Satan and consigned to hell (Qur’an 4:60,4:55,58:14-19, and 98:6),
(2) the imposition of the Qur’anic poli tax (jizya; Qur’an 9:29) on Jews, specifically;
(3) 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, fast in connection to this curse,
(4) the Jews’ transformation into apes/swine as punishment (Qur’an 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166).
FormaL decrees (or modern pronouncements) and opinions from Muslim rulers, jurisconsulte, and theologians—past and present—have repeatedly associated non-Muslim dhimmis in general, or Jews specifically, with Satan, and the torments of being consigned deservedly to Hell. The Abbasid caliph al-Mutawakkil in an anti-dhimmi decree dated 850, according to Tabari’s account, “. commanded that wooden images of devils be nailed to the doors of their homes to distinguish them from the homes of Muslims.”92 Ibn Abdun, a Muslim jurist from Seville, Spain, invoked Qur’an 58:19 in a section of his treatise (dated 1100) on dhimmi servitudes that discussed the appropriate dress of dhimmis and how Muslims should “greet” them:
You must not allow any Jew or Christian to wear the attire of great men, doctors of law, or the wealthy. On the contrary, they must be objects of contempt and disgust; they are not entitled to a greeting of peace (“Peace upon you!” (as-salam alaykum!)]. In effect [quoting 58:19] “Satan has gained the mastery over them, and caused them to forget God’s Remembrance. Those are Satan’s party; why, Satan’s party, surely, they are the losers!” They must wear a distinctive, ignominious sign.
[Islam] believes that only Islam and the “Camp of Kufur [unbelief]” exist, and that there is no way to reach Paradise and to be delivered from Hell except by walking in the path of our Prophet Muhammad and joining Islam. Any other way leads to Death.
The Jews are the helpers of Satan. The Jews are the cause of the misery of the human race, together with the infidels and the other polytheists. Satan leads them to Hell and to a miserable fate.
What can you say about people [Muslims] who curse you when you greet them, and when you do not greet them humiliate you and offend you?
Indeed the notion that Jews are condemned, rightfully, to such eternal forment after death is made clear by Muhammad, as recorded in the canonical hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim:
Narrated Aisha: Once Allah’s Apostle passed by the (grave of) a Jewess, whose relatives were weeping over her. He said, “They are weeping over her and she is being tortured in her grave.
Narrated Abi Ayub: Once the Prophet went out after Sunset and heard a dreadful voice, and said, “The Jews are being punished in their graves.
It used to be the case after saying “It’s hot today” to comment “Ah! A Jew must have perished”—an allusion to the Jew burning in Hell.
[J]izya is part of land and slaves . is incumbent upon the People of the Book … on people who allow wine [Jews and Christians] and pig-meat [Christiane]…. [ Saaghiruuna means] submissively [it means] by coercion [jan yadin means] directly, not trusting the trickery of an intermediary … by force … without resistance . . in an unpraiseworthy manner while you stand and !the dhimmi] sits with the whip in front of you [you take] the money white he has dirt on his head.
On the day for tax collecting, they should be assembled in a public place, like the souk. They should present themselves there, standing up at the lowest, vilest piace. The auxiliaries of the Law should stand above them, striking a menacing pose, so that appears to their eyes and to the eyes of the others that our purpose is to debase them by pretending to take their belongings. They will realize that we do them a favor [again] by accepting the jizya from them and letting them go [their way]. Then they shall be brought one by one [before the official responsible] for collecting the tax. While paying the dhimmi will receive a slap and will be pushed back in such fashion that he will think that he has escaped the sword thanks to this [insult]. This is how the friends of the Lord in the first and hast generations act toward their miscreant enemies, for power belongs to God, to His Apostle and to the Believers.
The kaid Uwida and the kadi Mawlay Mustafa had mounted their tent today near the Mellah [Jewish ghetto] gate and had summoned the Jews in order to collect from them the poll tax [jizya] which they are obliged to pay the sultan. They had me summoned also. I first inquired whether Chose who were European-protected subjects had to pay this tax. Having learned that a great many of them had already paid it, I wished to do likewise. After having remitted the amount of the tax to the two officiais, I received from the kadi’s guard two blows in the back of the neck. Addressing the kadi and the kaid, I said ‘Know that I am an Italian protected subject.’ Whereupon the kadi said to his guard: `Remove the kerchief covering his head and strike him strongly; he can then go and complain wherever he wants.’ The guards hastily obeyed and struck me once again more violently. This public mistreatment of a European-protected subject demonstrates to all the Arabs that they can, with impunity, mistreat the Jews.
I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter No. 1283 of 30 January, enclosing a letter from Rabbi Vidal Sarfaty. The rabbi asks you to intervene with Si Mohamed el Mokri, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, at present in Paris, for the abolition of the degrading custom imposed on Jews, not to enter Dar el Maghzen except barefoot. Unfortunately, the facts given in Rabbi Vidal’s letter are correct. Jews must take off their shoes at the gate of Dar-Maghzen. Quite apart from the humiliation involved in this measure, it is an intolerable suffering for our co-religionists to be obliged to stand many hours barefoot on the earth of the Palace courtyard, which is either cold and damp or white-hot from the summer sun. Rabbi Vidal, a regular visitor to the Dar-Maghzen in connection with community business or on behalf of individuals, has often returned ill from a rather too long sojourn in front of the offices. It is my opinion that it would be impossible to obtain an order from the Sultan to allow Jews to enter the Palace with their shoes on. It is a concession which his pride would not permit, and one quite contrary to the Muslim conception of the relative positions of the Jews and themselves.
Although Yemen’s twentieth-century rulers (Imam Yahya and his son Ahmad) dispensed with public cere- monial degradation, the deliberately threatening and humiliating atmospherics of jizya collection persisted. Aviva Klein-Franke describes the collection process:
The Imam [Yahya, and later his son Ahmad] would nominale a respectable Jew to collect the Poll Tax. The nominated was called Ma’mûr, Sheikh or ‘AMI. He was ordered to prepare a list of ail the Jewish males in his community who had reached the age of thirteen years for the purpose of col- lecting the Djizya . .. The ‘Uqqal [assistants to the Ma’mur] also had to mention those Jews who had emigrated. As we have seen, the Imam confiscated the property of anyone who left the Yemen. Jews were not allowed to sel] their property before leaving the country–everything would be forfeited to the Imam by his [Imam Yahya’s] decree of 1920.
Before the ‘Uqqal collected the money, a street crier went through the Jewish quarter, proclaiming that the Imam expected everyone to pay the Djizya without delay. Failure to do so meant that a soldier, Baqaa, might be billeted on those in default until such time as they paid…. Usually the Jews paid without any objection … they could send a written appeal to the Imam. If a Jew still refused to pay the Djizya, the Imam would accept no further excuses and would send his soldiers to the recalcitrant Jew until he was willing to pay.
This meant soldiers might stay in his household for a few days. The Jew had to house them and do everything to satisfy their needs, otherwise soldiers would complain to the Imam that they had not been treated well, and that they had been insulted as Muslims. Not only would such an arrangement colt the person much more than the Djizya he owed, he could even end up in prison.
[T]he Jews in Afghanistan are still subject to ail the forms of discrimination which rigorous adherence to the Koran [9:29] requires. They have to pay the jizyah poll-tax imposed upon infidels, and the payment is accompanied by humiliating ceremonies.
[T]he dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle…. Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poli tax on non-Muslims] … on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must Nang his head white the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his car [i.e., the mandible]…. They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells their houles may not be higher than the Muslim’s, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle[-work] is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths [dhimmis] must hold their tongue.
[I]t is 86 years since our forefathers suffered the cruel decree and great shame to the nation of Israel from the east to sundown . . . for in the days of our fathers, 86 years ago, there arose a judge known as Qadi, and said unto the king and his ministers who lived in that time that the Lord, Blessed be He, had only created the Jews out of love of the other nations, to do their work and be enslaved by them at their will, and to do the most contemptible and lowly of tasks. And of them ail … the greatest contamination of ail, to clear their privies and streets and pathways of the filthy dung and the great filth in that place and to collect all that is left of the dung, may your Honor pardon the expression.
In the 1870s, Jews were forced to salt the decapitated heads of rebels on the Sabbath. For example, Berber tribes frequently revolted against Sultan Muhammad XVIII. In order to force them to accept his authority, he would engage in punitive military campaigns. Among the tribes were the Musa, located south of Marrakesh. In 1872, the Sultan succeeded in quelling their revolt and forty-eight of their captives were condemned to death. In October 1872, on the order of the Suitan, they were dispatched to Rabat for beheading. Their decapitated heads were to be exposed on the gates of the town for three days. Since the heads were to be sent to Fez, Jewish ritual slaughterers (Hebrew, shohetim) were forced to salt them and hang them for exposure on the Sabbath. Despite threats by the governor of Rabat, the Jews refused to do so. He then ordered soldiers to enter the homes of those who refused and drag them outside. After they were flogged, the Jews complied and performed the task and the heads of the rebels were exposed in public.
Bring them down to their place and Return them to the most abject station. They used to roam around us in tatters Covered with contempt, humiliation, and s corn. They used to rummage amongst the dungheaps for a bit of a filthy rag to serve as a shroud for a man to be buried in…. Do not consider that killing them is treachery. Nay, it would be treachery to leave them scoffing. [The translator then summarizes: “The Jews have broken their covenant (i.e., overstepped their station, with reference to the Covenant of Umar) and compunction would be out of place.