Hatred for Israel (or Jews) is not a very recent phenomenon
Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Arifi made the following “observations” which recently aired on Palestinian Arab Al-Aqsa TV, September 12, 2008:
Studies conducted in Tel Aviv and in the Palestinian lands occupied by the Jews showed that they plant trees around their homes, because the Prophet Muhammad said that when the Muslims fight the Jews, each and every stone and tree will say: “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” The only exception is the gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews, and if they hide behind it, it will not reveal their presence. According to reports of people who went there and saw it with their own eyes, many Jews plant gharqad trees around their homes, so that when the fighting begins, they can hide behind them. They are not man enough to stand and fight you.
While such hatemongering statements appear utterly bizarre to non-Muslims who are unaware of Islam’s foundational texts, Al-Arifi’s inflammatory references to Jews have sacralized origins immediately apparent to Muslim audiences. The crux of Al-Arifi’s remarks, in fact, merely reiterate verbatim, a canonical hadith, specifically Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985, which is also featured prominently in the Hamas Covenant, article 7.
Briefly (go here for an in depth online discussion), what are the hadith, and which specific anti-Semitic motifs do they contain? Hadith, which means “story” (“narrative”), refers to any report of what the Muslim prophet Muhammad said or did, or his tacit assent to something said or done in his presence. As a result of a lengthy process which continued for centuries after Muhammad’s death (in 632), the hadith emerged for Muslims as second in authority to the Qur’an itself. Sunnah, which means “path” refers to a normative custom of Muhammad or of the early Islamic community. The hadith “justify and confirm” the Sunnah. Henri Lammens, a seminal early 20th-century scholar of Islam, highlighted the importance of the Sunnah (and, by extension, the hadith):
As early as the first century A.H. [the 7th century] the following aphorism was pronounced: “The Sunnah can dispense with the Qur’an but not the Qur’an with the Sunnah”. Proceeding to still further lengths, some Muslims assert that “in controversial matters, the Sunnah overrules the authority of the Qur’an, but not vice versa”…all admit the Sunnah completes and explains it [the Qur’an].
The hadith compiled by al-Bukhari (d. 870) and Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875) are considered, respectively, to be the most important authoritative collections. The titles Sahih (“sound”) or Jami, indicating their comprehensiveness, signify the high esteem in which they are held.
Their comprehensive content includes information regarding religious duties, law and everyday practice (down to the most mundane, or intimate details), in addition to a considerable amount of biographical and other material. Four other compilations, called Sunan works, which indicates that they are limited to matters of religious and social practice, and law, also became authoritative. Abu Dawud (d. 888), al-Tirmidhi (d. 892), Ibn Maja (d. 896), and al-Nasi (d. 915) compiled these works. By the beginning of the 12th century, Ibn Maja’s collection became the last of these compilations of hadith to be recognized as “canonical.”
Before one can fully appreciate the major antisemitic themes in the hadith (summarized herein), it is critical to understand the antecedent Qur’anic motifs of Jew hatred which these hadith “complete and explain.” The Qur’an’s central antisemitic motif decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews (Qur’an 2:61/ reiterated at 3:112) for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah. It should be noted that Qur’an 3:112 is featured just before the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant. This central motif is coupled to Qur’anic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been “…cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). Muhammad himself repeats this Qur’anic curse in a canonical hadith (Sunan Abu Dawoud, Book 37, Number 4322), “He [Muhammad] then recited the verse [5:78]: ‘…curses were pronounced on those among the children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary’ ”. And the related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews—as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did in a January 2007 speech, citing Qur’an 5:64—of being “spreaders of war and corruption,” a sort of ancient Qur’anic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The centrality of the Jews’ permanent “abasement and humiliation,” and being “laden with God’s anger” is clearly enunciated in the most authoritative Muslim exegetic literature on Qur’an 2:61/3:112, both ancient and contemporary. By nature deceitful and treacherous, the Jews rejected Allah’s signs and prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus. Classical and modern Qur’anic commentators, when discussing Qur’an 5:82, which includes the statement (“Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews” , also concur on the unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of Qur’an 2:61/3:112. For example, in his commentary on 5:82, the great Muslim historian and renowned Qur’anic exegete al-Tabari (d. 923) writes,
In my 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.
Tabari’s classical interpretations of Qur’an 5:82 and 2:61, as well as his discussion of the related verse 9:29 mandating the Jews payment of the jizya (Qur’anic poll-tax), represent both Anti-Semitic and more general anti-dhimmi views that became, and remain, intrinsic to Islam to this day. Here is Tabari’s discussion of 2:61 and its relationship to verse 9:29, which emphasizes the purposely debasing nature of the Qur’anic poll tax:
…“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)..
The dhimmis [non-Muslim tributary’s] posture during the collection of the jizya- “[should be lowering themselves] by walking on their hands, …reluctantly
… His words “and abasement and poverty were imposed upon them”, ‘These are the Jews of the Children of Israel’. ..‘Are they the Copts of Egypt?’…“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.
Indeed the Qur’an’s overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment, conviction, and punishment process. The Jews’ ultimate sin and punishment are made clear: they are the devil’s minions (4:60) cursed by Allah, their faces will be obliterated (4:47), and if they do not accept the true faith of Islam—the Jews who understand their faith become Muslims (3:113)—they will be made into apes (2:65/ 7:166), or apes and swine (5:60), and burn in the Hellfires (4:55, 5:29, 98:6, and 58:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19). The Qur’anic curse (verses 2:61/3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily) rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, including Isa/Jesus (or at least his “body double” 4:157-4:158), is updated with perfect archetypal logic in the canonical hadith: following the Muslims’ initial conquest of the Jewish farming oasis of Khaybar, one of the vanquished Jewesses reportedly served Muhammad poisoned mutton (or goat), which resulted, ultimately, in his protracted, agonizing death. And Ibn Saad’s sira (i.e., one of the earliest pious Muslim biographies of the Muslim prophet) account maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy.
George Vajda’s seminal 1937 analysis of the anti-Jewish motifs in the hadith remains the definitive work on this subject. Vajda concluded that according to the hadith stubborn malevolence is the Jews defining worldly characteristic: rejecting Muhammad and refusing to convert to Islam out of jealousy, envy and even selfish personal interest, lead them to acts of treachery, in keeping with their inveterate nature: “...sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.” These archetypes sanction Muslim hatred towards the Jews, and the admonition to at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination,” as dhimmis, treated “with contempt,” under certain “humiliating arrangements.”
The annihilationist sentiments regarding Jews expressed by Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Arifi, and incorporated permanently into the foundational 1988 Hamas Covenant, are also rooted in Islamic eschatology. As characterized in the hadith, Muslim eschatology highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharqad tree, as per the canonical hadith included in the 1988 Hamas Charter (article 7). Another hadith variant, which takes place in Jerusalem, has Isa (the Muslim Jesus) leading the Arabs in a rout of the Dajjâl and his company of 70,000 armed Jews. And the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology—on the day of resurrection the vanquished Jews will be consigned to Hellfire, and this will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing them from this fate.
Professor Moshe Sharon recently provided a very lucid summary of the unique features of Shi’ite eschatology, Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s deep personal attachment to “mahdism,” and the key point of consistency between Shi’a and Sunni understandings of this doctrine—which emphasizes Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985—noting:
both Shi’ites and Sunnis share one particular detail about “the coming of the hour” and the dawning of messianic times: The Jews must all suffer a violent death, to the last one. Both Shi'ites and Sunnis quote the famous hadith [Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985] attributed to Muhammad…
Professor Sharon further observes,
Not one Friday passes without this hadith being quoted in sermons from one side of the Islamic world to the other.
The rise of Jewish nationalism—Zionism—posed a predictable, if completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order—jihad-imposed chronic dhimmitude for Jews—of apocalyptic magnitude. As historian Bat Ye’or has explained,
…because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery [pace Qur’an 17:4-5/ 7:168; and 2:61/3:112], the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad.
This is exactly the Islamic context in which the widespread, “resurgent” use of Jew annihilationist apocalyptic motifs, would be an anticipated, even commonplace occurrence. And for more than six decades, promoters of modern jihad genocide have consistently invoked Islam’s Jew-exterminating eschatology. Hajj Amin el-Husseini, ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, and Muslim jihadist, who became, additionally, a full-fledged Nazi collaborator and ideologue in his endeavours to abort a Jewish homeland, and destroy world Jewry, composed a 1943 recruitment pamphlet (see Jennie Lebel’s 2007 biography of the Mufti , pp. 311-319) for Balkan Muslims entitled, “Islam and the Jews.” This incendiary document hinged upon anti-Semitic motifs from the Qur’an (for example, 5:82), and the hadith (including Muhammad’s alleged poisoning by a Khaybar Jewess), and concluded with the apocalyptic canonical hadith describing the Jews’ annihilation.
Forty-five years later the same hadith was incorporated into the 1988 Hamas Covenant, making clear the jihad terrorist organization had its own aspirations for Jew annihilation. Sheer ignorance of this history and theology are pathognomonic of much larger and more dangerous phenomena: the often wilful, craven failure to examine and understand the living legacy of Islam’s foundational anti-Jewish animus, or acknowledge the depth of Jew hatred that pervades contemporary Islam’s clerical leadership, including within major Muslim communities of the United States.
For example, Fawaz Damra, the former Imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, was touted as a promoter of interfaith dialogue even after evidence of his participation in fundraising events for the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), was produced, along with a videotape of the Imam telling a crowd of Muslim supporters in 1991 that they should aim “…a rifle at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation, and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews.” Convicted in 2004 for lying to immigration officials about his links to the PIJ, Damra, who was born in Nablus in 1961, was subsequently deported back to the West Bank in January 2007. And last October 30, 2007 it was announced that Imam Ahmed Alzaree—the first permanent successor to Damra—resigned as the new “spiritual leader” of the Islamic Centre of Cleveland three days prior to officially beginning the job. Alzaree, who at one stage of the vetting process expressed the unusual reservation that “he would not come to Cleveland because a reporter was inquiring about his background,” ostensibly accepted the position as noted on October 26, 2007, then pre-emptively resigned a few days later, after the contents of two “khutbahs” (sermons) he had delivered on March 7, 2003, were revealed. Alzaree concluded the second sermon with the same apocalyptic canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985)—repeated in the 1988 Hamas Covenant.
Is the call for jihad against a particular people a religious right by those calling for it, or is it a human rights violation against the people upon whom jihad is declared and waged?
Almost 850 years ago, elaborating on the depth of Muslim hatred for the Jews in his era, Maimonides (in ~
We have acquiesced, both old and young, to inure ourselves to humiliation…All this notwithstanding, we do not escape this continued maltreatment [by Muslims] which well nigh crushes us. No matter how much we suffer and elect to remain at peace with them, they stir up strife and sedition.
The Jews and their communal leaders like Maimonides living under Islamic rule in the Middle Ages—vanquished by jihad, isolated, and well-nigh defenceless under the repressive system of dhimmitude—can be excused for their submissive denial. There is no such excuse in our era given the existence of an autonomous Jewish State of Israel, and a thriving Western Jewish Diaspora, particularly here in the United States, living under the blanket of hard won protections for their religious freedom, physical security, and dignity.
As a pre-condition to real dialogue—not its miserable simulacrum—Jews and their leadership—religious, political, and intellectual—must demand from their Muslim counterparts acknowledgment and wrenching reform of the sacralized Islamic Jew hatred which is still being taught and promoted in Islamic schools, religious institutions, and even on US university campuses. Speaking as a Jew, let us demonstrate as Jews that we are no longer content living with Maimonides’ 12th century expectations of Muslims, otherwise they will oblige us.