Monday, December 30, 2013

Exploiting the Koran to Target the Jews?

Exploiting the Koran to Target the Jews?

by Lawrence A. Franklin

Koran-based anti-Jewish themes that closely resemble typical anti-Semitic stereotypes appear to be part of a studied effort to convince Christians to view Muslims as their natural ally against the Jews.

The Koran's prejudicial passages against Jews might have more traction in Europe, where many of the continent's citizens, even secular Europeans, seem to have trouble separating their antipathy for Israel's policies from their feelings for the surviving remnant of Jews among them.

Anti-Jewish passages in the Koran appear to be undergoing exploitation by Muslim extremists and neo-Nazi elements alike to form a nexus of sorts based upon their one common denominator: hatred of "The Jew." The exploitation of these themes by hate groups should be challenged by the millions of peace-loving Muslims, and the use of these Koranic-passages by radicals should be combated by Muslims of good-will in mosques, Islamic Schools and on Islam-friendly websites. Muslim clerics and laypeople must fight the Koranic culture of violence[1] that seems to motivate some Muslims to justify horrific acts against non-Muslims. The following incidents are just a few of the acts of savagery which have done irreparable harm to the image of Islam: the Nigerian Muslim converts who slaughtered British soldier Lee Rigby in the heart of London; the mass murder of his fellow U.S. soldiers at Ft. Hood by Maj. Nidal Hasan, and the selective killing of "unbelievers' [non-Muslims] at the Westgate Mall in Kenya. Muslims must lead the fights against these extremists, or the ranks of those who distrust, fear and hate Islam will continue to grow.

The Koran-based anti-Jewish themes closely resemble prejudicial beliefs held by many Christians over the centuries. These themes seem to be part of an effort to mobilize non-Muslims to view "the Jew" as the enemy of "the Faithful," of both Islam and Christianity alike, and by implication, as the adversary of God. They also read as if they are part of a studied effort to convince Christians to view Muslims as their natural ally against the Jews.

Sura (chapter) three of the Koran, for example, "The Family of Imran", seizes upon the most virulent indictment of the Jewish people by some Christian anti-Semites: the charge of "Christ-Killer." The chapter describes Allah's providential intervention to frustrate the plot by Jews to murder Christ. Moreover, the Sura addresses Allah's decision to honor Jesus, while clearing Christ of all false charges leveled against him by the Jews.[2]

Allah's protection and elevation of Jesus is further described in Sura four, an-Nisa (The Women). According to this Sura, Allah made four specific promises to Jesus.[3] Allah saves Jesus from crucifixion and promises to allow him to die a natural death. Secondly, Jesus will forever be exonerated of all aspersions cast upon his character. Allah then informs Jesus that he will enjoy an honorable position in the midst of the divine presence. Lastly, Jesus is told that he will achieve total dominance over his prevaricating accusers, (the Jews).

As a demonstration of Allah's decency, An-Nisa further declares that Jesus was not illegitimate, and that Maryam (Mary), his mother, remained untouched by man, thus acknowledging the virgin birth of the Prophet Isa (Jesus).[4] This was a shrewd assertion, as early Christians were probably stung by the bawdy jokes of some Jews who ridiculed Christianity's doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ.[5]

The Koran doubles down on this theme by claiming that the Jews also attempted to assassinate Muhammad. But Islamic scripture relates that Allah intervened once again, this time to safeguard the Prophet Muhammad, his Messenger.[6] The Koran also condemns the Jews for the unseemly manner in which they treated many of Allah's prophets. Because of this scandalous behavior, Allah withdrew his favor and selected a more worthy people: presumably, Arab Muslims. To punctuate this point, some Koranic commentators even quote from the Gospel according to Matthew, in which he chastises his fellow Jews for having rejected Him.[7]

Sura 2, al-Baqarah, (The Cow) depicts the Jews as a race of ingrates who quickly forgot Allah's direct intervention of parting the Red Sea to help them escape Pharaoh's chariots. Koranic commentary also denounces the Jews for abandoning Mosaic Law by becoming idolaters, and taking up the bull-worship of their former masters, the Egyptians.[8] This stereotypical image of the Jew as fickle ingrate, despite God's favors, was once replete in the Catholic Good Friday prayer called "The Reproaches," before it was discontinued by order of Pope John Paul II. That prayer puts words in God's mouth, where He recounts all the blessings He bestowed upon the ancient Hebrews, only to have them crucify His incarnate presence in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.[9]

Moreover, Sura 5, al-Ma'idah (The Spread Table or The Food) even quotes the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel[10] as further theological justification for the suffering of the Jews. This reference justifies the scattering of the Jews from their ancestral homeland throughout the globe because of their perverse moral behavior -- a "curse theme" familiar to some Christians.

Just in case any gullible gentile might fall victim to suggestions that Muslims and Christians are natural allies against the Jews, he should be aware that every year on October 30, Muslims, especially Shia Muslims, celebrate Eid Al-Mubahala,[11] a feast that commemorates a historic meeting in 632 A.D. between Muhammad and a group of Christians from Najran, a town in the southwestern tip of Arabia's border with Yemen. According to the Koran, Muhammad and his followers debated with the Christian delegation over the latter's claim that Jesus was God. After the inconclusive discussion in the Muslim city of Medina, Muhammad dared the Christians to pray alongside his Muslim faithful to call down a curse upon those who argued in falsehood. The Najarani Christian delegation's refusal to take the dare is viewed by many Muslims as evidence of lack of belief and therefore a victory for Islam. Following the meeting, Muhammad agreed to a truce with the Christian inhabitants of Najran, as long as they agreed to pay an annual tribute. However, ultimately the Najarani Christians were forced, by the third Caliph Umar ibn al-Kattab, into exile -- mostly in the southern region of today's Iraq.

Still another example of Koranic scriptural targeting of Jews while simultaneously siding with Christians is found in Surat al-Buruj (The Zodiac).[12] Most Muslim commentators interpret these verses as an oblique reference to the slaughter of Najarani Christians by the last King of the Jewish Himyarite Dynasty of Yemen in 524 A.D.[13] It is possible that Muhammad aware of the bitter history between the Himyarites and Christians of Najran and sought to demonstrate that the latter fared better under Islam. The Christians were allowed to live and practice their faith as long as they agreed to pay taxes and remove themselves from the affairs of state.

This type of anti-Semitic scripture-based prejudice is unlikely to win many converts in America. The overwhelming majority of Americans have no ill will against their fellow Jewish citizens. Even many Muslims, particularly American-based Islamic communities, reject the Koranic justification for attempting to turn Christians against their fellow Jewish citizens. Certainly, there are many Muslims who are sincerely dedicated to inter-faith cooperation with both Jews and Christians. Their rejection and/or reinterpretation of apparent Koran-based enmity for Jews is a courageous decision – and is quintessentially American.

The Koran's prejudicial passages against Jews seem to have found an appreciative audience among some neo-Nazis as well as extremist elements on the left of the political spectrum. This is particularly the case in Western Europe.[14] However, some American Jewish students perceive that this affliction has found its way onto the college campus as well.[15]

Moreover, as early as the turn of the century, there were reports of contacts between al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist networks with neo-Nazi groups. This seemingly incongruent phenomenon was denounced by former German Minister of Interior, Otto Schily, when he publicly described the relationship between his country's neo-Nazi National Democratic Party and the now outlawed Muslim extremist organization, Hizb-ut-Tahir (Party of Liberation)[16]. This alliance seems to have gained more traction in today's Europe, where many of the continent's citizens, even when secular, seem to have trouble separating their opposition to Israel's policies from their feelings for the surviving remnant of Jews among them.


[1] Sura 4, Verse 89, An-Nisa (The Women): "They (the Jews) wish that you reject the Faith, as they (the Jews) have rejected the Faith and thus wish that you all become equal (like one another). So take not auliya (friends/protectors) unbelievers (Jews and Christians) till they emigrate in the way of Allah. But if they turn back (from Islam) take hold of them and kill them wherever you find them."; The Noble Quran, Darussalam, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1996, p. 187.

[2] Koran, Sura 3, Al-Imran (The Family of Imran), Verse 55.

[3] Koran, Sura 4, An-Nisa (The Women), Verse 156.

[4] Koran, Sura 19, Maryam, (Mary), Verses 20-21.

[5] Isaiah 7:14 in the Hebrew Tanach claims that the Messiah will be born to a virgin. Some Jewish commentators refer to the Hebrew word for young girl (almah) rather than virgin (betulah), which was employed by Isaiah.

[6] Koran, Sura 4, an-Nisa (The Women), Verse 61.

[7] Koran, Sura 3, Al-Imran (The Family of Imran) and Matthew's Gospel, Chapter 21, Verse 43, "The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you (the Jews) and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."

[8] Koran, Sura 2, Al-Baqarah (the Cow), Verse 49-58.

[9] The Reproaches or Improperia is chanted as Christian worshipers approach to kiss the Crucifix on Good Friday. This commemoration of Christ's sacrifice for the sins of man (past, present and future) is called the Veneration of the Cross.

[10] Koran, Sura 5, Al-Ma'idah (The Food/The Table Spread). The Hebrew Bible, Ezekiel 22 8-15.

[11] Koran, Surat (Chapter) 3, Al-Imran (The Family of Amran), Ayat (Verse) 61. Eid Al-Mubahala (Ibtatala/The Humbling) is a feast memorializing a meeting between Nestorian Christians and the Alul-Bayt (House of the Holy Family of Islam) that included Muhammad, his daughter Fatimah, her husband Ali, and their children Hassan and Hussein. This feast is of particular import for Shia Muslims. However, Sunni Muslims emphasize the significance that the Prophet bested the Christians in the discussion that ensued.

[12] Koran Sura Al-Buruj (The Zodiac) Chapter 85, Ayat (Verse) 5-8. The Holy Koran English Language Commentary by Maulana Muhammad Ali p.1198. Lahore, Pakistan, 2002.

[13] The Jewish Himyarite Dynasty of Saba (Yemen) had reached its most expansive size during the last decades of its existence. Their territorial control reached far into the Arabian Peninsula, including the Christian communities of southeast Arabia. The Himyarites may have doubted the Najaranis' loyalty. The Yemeni rulers might have calculated that Najarani sympathies lay with the kingdom's rival, Christian Abyssinia (Ethiopia). This calculation was a rational, if not correct, deduction, as Christianity had first arrived in the region during Ethiopia's forty-year occupation of Yemen in the latter half of the fourth century. Ultimately, the last Jewish King of Yemen, Dhu Nuwas, liquidated most of Najran's Christians by mass immolation in 524 A.D.

[14] The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) at last year's Office of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) July convocation in Warsaw Poland filed a request asking that that the OSCE pass a resolution to condemn bigotry and anti-Semitism "that have been given growing legitimacy in cities across Europe". British author Howard Jacobson was quoted on "the Volkh Conspiracy" website in an article by Daniel Bernstein as analyzing how some European leftists have focused on anti-Zionism as a convenient substitute for expressing anti-Jewish attitudes and thereby escaping the accusation of being anti-Semitic. October 23, 2013.

[15] Investigative Taskforce on Campus Anti-Semitism (ITCA) "Feds Investigate Claims of Anti-Semitism at UC Berkeley". October 3, 2012. This article addresses a suit filed by two Jewish students at UC's Berkeley Campus the Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Education. The suit alleged that during the annual anti-Apartheid week in February, 2012, campus protests against Israel's policies morphed into anti-Jewish tirades which created a threatening atmosphere at the university.

[16] "Al-Qaeda's Neo-Nazi Connections by William Grim, Jewish Press, February 25, 2004. G2 Bulletin: Washington D. C., August 5, 2005.