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Jihad and Islamic Antisemitism By: Andrew G. Bostom
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 22, 2008


Text of a lecture delivered at The Hudson Institute, Washington, DC, Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My presentation today will introduce evidence—adduced to considerably greater extent in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism—which elucidates how the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad war, its corollary institution, dhimmitude, and specific Antisemitic motifs in Islamic theology, including Islamic eschatology—operate in tandem with regard to global jihadist aspirations, and the annihilationist Muslim Jew-hatred directed at the Jews of Israel.

In April 1948, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Muhammad Mahawif, issued a fatwa declaring jihad in Palestine obligatory for all Muslims. The Jews, he maintained, intended “to take over ... all the lands of Islam..” Eight years later, a fatwa written January 5, 1956 by then Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun, and signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar, and the major representatives of all four Islamic schools of jurisprudence, elaborated the following:

The question put to us reveals that the land of Palestine has been conquered by the Muslims [i.e.,  by Jihad, in the 7th century] who have lived there for a long time, and has become part of the Muslim territory where minorities of other religions dwell. Accordingly, Palestine has become a territory under the jurisdiction of Islam and governed by Islamic laws. The question further reveals that Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants…

In this case the Jihad is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is imperative for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim.

Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the territory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory. Muslims should cooperate regardless of differences in language, color, or race to restore the country to its people…

Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Just this past Friday May 16, 2008 Osama Bin Laden’s latest reputed audio message proclaimed, the “Jihad [holy war]”  which  he emphasized “is a duty to free Palestine…is the most important issue for the Islamic nation,” and he urged “iron and fire” to end Israel's self-defensive blockade of Gaza.

Earlier remarks of Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, which aired on Palestinian Al-Aqsa TV April 11, 2008 provide complementary, and even more revealing context:

Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our prophet Muhammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs [i.e., Jews, Koran 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166, and other foundational Muslim texts]  in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam – this capital of theirs [Rome] will be an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe. I believe that our children or our grandchildren will inherit our Jihad

These words debunk widely accepted tropes that Hamas is merely a nationalist movement, albeit religious, desiring a “Palestinian homeland” in the territories of Gaza (which it already possesses), Judea, and Samaria. Hamas’ blatantly annihilationist rhetoric towards Jews and Israel within the 1949 armistice borders indicates that the jihadist organization wishes to replace Israel. Why then, in addition to the monotonous rhetoric of Jew hatred (which is Islamic, and specifically Koranic, in origin), the unabashed expression of Hamas’ will to wage global jihad?

Apparently even the still apposite lessons from America’s own first encounter with jihadism have failed to resonate in the current era. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then serving as American ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met in 1786 in London with the Tripolitan [modern Libya] Ambassador to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. These future American presidents were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would spare the United States the ravages of jihad piracy—murder, enslavement (with ransoming for redemption), and expropriation of valuable commercial assets—emanating from the Barbary states (modern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya). During their discussions, they questioned Ambassador Adja as to the source of the unprovoked animus directed at the nascent United States republic. Jefferson and Adams, in their subsequent report to the Continental Congress, recorded the Tripolitan Ambassador’s justification:  

… that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.         

Thus an aggressive jihad was already being waged against the United States almost 200 years prior to America becoming a dominant international power in the Middle East. Moreover, these jihad depredations targeting America antedated the earliest vestiges of the Zionist movement by a century, and the formal creation of Israel by 162 years—exploding the ahistorical canard that American support for the modern Jewish state is a prerequisite for jihadist attacks on the United States.

There is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad despite contemporary apologetics. The root of the word Jihad, appears 40 times in the Koran and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries—from the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam (including Abu Yusuf, Averroes, Ibn Khaldun, and Al Ghazzali), to ordinary people—meant and means “he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like.” As described by the seminal Arabic lexicographer E.W Lane, “Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers.”

Muhammad himself waged a series of proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians and pagans of Arabia. Numerous modern day pronouncements by leading Muslim theologians confirm (see Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s, “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model”) that Muhammad has been the major inspiration for jihadism, past and present.

Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), jurist, renowned philosopher, historian, and sociologist, summarized these consensus opinions from five centuries of prior Muslim jurisprudence with regard to the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of  the universalism of  the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force... The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense... Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.

Classical Islamic jurists such as Ibn Khaldun also formulated the concepts Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb (Arabic for, “The House of Islam and the House of War”). As described by the great 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, Joseph Schacht,

A non-Muslim who is not protected by a treaty is called harbi, ‘in a state of war’, ‘enemy alien’; his life and property are completely unprotected by law…

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, “spiritual” leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, head of the “European Council for Fatwa and Research”, and popular Al-Jazeera television personality, reiterated almost this exact formulation of Dar al Harb during July 2003, both in conceptual terms, and with regard to Israel, specifically. And these innocent non-combatant “harbis” can be killed, and have always been killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being “harbis” during endless razzias and or full scale jihad campaigns that have occurred continuously since the time of Muhammad, through the present. This is the crux of the specific institutionalized religio-political ideology, i.e., jihad, which makes Islamdom’s borders (and the further reaches of todays jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across the globe.

The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari' s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab (the second “Rightly Guided Caliph”) to the commander of the troops he sent to al-Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar reportedly said:

Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Koran 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency.

By the time of al-Tabari’s death in 923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, the Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized by waves of Seljuk, or later Ottoman Turks, as well as Tatars. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved Sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan. When the Ottoman Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired. These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities, villages, and infidel religious sites which were sacked and pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized.

And this classical formulation of jihad is very much a living doctrine today. For example, one can read the openly espoused views, and sound Islamic arguments which conclude the contemporary work “Islam and Modernism,” written by a respected modern Muslim scholar Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani. Mr Usmani, aged 64, sat for 20 years as a Shari’a judge in Pakistan’s Supreme Court (His father was the Grand Mufti of Pakistan, and one of the most important 20th century Koranic commentators, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi). Currently Usmani is deputy of the Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Council of the Organization of the Islamic Conference—the major international body of Islamic nations in the world—and serves as an adviser to several global Sharia-based Islamic financial institutions. Thus he is a leading contemporary figure in the world of mainstream Islamic jurisprudence. Mr. Usmani is also a regular visitor to Britain. During a recent visit there, he was interviewed by the Times of London, which published extracts from Usmani’s writings on jihad, Saturday, September 8, 2007.  The concluding chapter of Usmani’s “Islam and Modernism” rebuts those who believe that only defensive jihad (i.e., fighting to defend a Muslim land deemed under attack or occupation) is permissible in Islam. He also refutes the suggestion that jihad is unlawful against a non-Muslim state that freely permits the preaching of Islam (which, not surprisingly, was of some concern to The Times!).

For Mr Usmani, “the question is whether aggressive battle is by itself commendable or not.” “If it is, why should the Muslims stop simply because territorial expansion in these days is regarded as bad? And if it is not commendable, but deplorable, why did Islam not stop it in the past?” He answers his own question as follows: “Even in those days . . . aggressive jihads were waged . . . because it was truly commendable for establishing the grandeur of the religion of Allah.” Usmani argues that Muslims should live peacefully in countries such as Britain, where they have the freedom to practice Islam, only until they gain enough power to engage in battle. Usmani explodes the myths that the creed of offensive, expansionist jihad represents a distortion of traditional Islamic thinking, or that this living institution is somehow irrelevant to our era.

And what was the nature of the system of governance imposed upon those indigenous non-Muslims conquered by jihad?  In his seminal The Laws of Islamic Governance al-Mawardi (d. 1058), a renowned jurist of Baghdad, examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel “dhimmi” (which derives from both the word for “pact”, and also “guilt”—guilty of religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic poll tax (jizya)the tax paid in lieu of being slain—based on Koran 9:29. Al- Mawardi notes that "The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation…Reconciliation and security last as long as the pavment is made. If the pavment ceases, then the jihad resumes.” A treaty of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed 10 years. This same basic formulation was reiterated during a January 8, 1998 interview by Yusuf al-Qaradawi confirming how jihad continues to regulate the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims to this day.

The “contract of the jizya, or “dhimma” encompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim "dhimmi" peoples. Collectively, these “obligations” formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims—Jews, Christians, [as well as Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists]-subjugated by jihad. Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include: the prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis, and of church bells; restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples; inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law; the refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts; a requirement that Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, including Zoroastrians and Hindus, wear special clothes; and the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims It is important to note that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent features of the sacred Islamic law, or Shari' a. The writings of the much lionized Sufi theologian and jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111) highlight how the institution of dhimmitude was simply a normative, and prominent feature of the Shari’a:

...the dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle.. .Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]...on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]... They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells...their houses 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.

The practical consequences of such a discriminatory system were summarized in A.S. Tritton’s  1930 The Caliphs and their Non-Muslim Subjects, a pioneering treatise on the status of the dhimmis:

…[C]aliphs destroyed churches to obtain materials for their buildings, and the mob was always ready to pillage churches and monasteries…dhimmis…always lived on sufferance, exposed to the caprices of the ruler and the passions of the mob…in later times..[t]hey were much more liable to suffer from the violence of the crowd, and the popular fanaticism was accompanied by an increasing strictness among the educated. The spiritual isolation of Islam was accomplished. The world was divided into two classes, Muslims and others, and only Islam counted…Indeed the general feeling was that the leavings of the Muslims were good enough for the dhimmis.

It is within this overall historical context that one must view contemporary Muslim pronouncements regarding the status of non-Muslims—under past, present, and future under Islamic rule.

For example, during a Friday sermon broadcasted live on June 6, 2001 on PA TV, from the Sheik ‘Ijlin Mosque in Gaza, Palestinian Authority employee Sheik Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Madhi reiterated these sentiments with regard to Jews:

We welcome, as we did in the past, any Jew who wants to live in this land as a Dhimmi, just as the Jews have lived in our countries, as Dhimmis, and have earned appreciation, and some of them have even reached the positions of counselor or minister here and there. We welcome the Jews to live as Dhimmis, but the rule in this land and in all the Muslim countries must be the rule of Allah.

Five years ago (i.e., in 2003, prior to Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006), during a briefing for a visiting United States congressional delegation, then Vatican representative to Israel, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, informed US lawmakers that the Palestinian Authority’s new approved state constitution, funded by the US Agency for International Development, provided no juridical status for any religion other than Islam in the emerging Palestinian Arab entity. The Papal Nuncio warned, in addition, that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had adopted Shari’a as the overarching guiding principle of their legal code, thus mandating the absolute supremacy of Muslims over non-Muslims as a matter of law. Archbishop Sambi also initiated a study of the new PA textbooks, which the Vatican deemed to be brazenly Antisemitic.

But how are the jihad and its corollary institution, dhimmitude,  conjoined to Islamic Antisemitism?  

Listen to what another Palestinian cleric Wael Al-Zarad intoned about the Jews of Israel during a TV program which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 28, 2008:

By Allah, if each and every Arab spat on them, they would drown in Arab spit. By Allah, if each and every Muslim spat on them, they would drown in saliva.

Wael Al-Zarad’s seemingly hallucinatory statement also included this allegation,

From the dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, they proclaim that Ezra the Scribe is the son of God.

The reference to Ezra is actually a false, intentionally defamatory Koranic accusation (Koran 9:30) against Jews, citing a claim which Jews, in fact, have never made.

But the crux of Al-Zarad’s remarks explained that the Muslims’ blood vengeance against the Jews, “will only subside with their [the Jews] annihilation, Allah willing, because they tried to kill our Prophet several times.”

These allegations are part of a central antisemitic motif in the Koran which decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews (Koran 2:61/ reiterated at 3:112) for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah. It should be noted that Koran 3:112 is featured in the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant.  This central motif is coupled to Koranic 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 Koranic 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 Koran 5:64—of being “spreaders of war and corruption,” a sort of ancient Koranic 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” in the corpus of Muslim exegetic literature on Koran 2:61/3:112, is clear. By nature deceitful and treacherous, the Jews rejected Allah’s signs and prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus. Classical Koranic commentators such as Tabari (d. 923), Zamakshari (d. 1143), Baydawi (d. 1316), and Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), when discussing Koran 5:82, which includes the statement (“Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews..” , concur on the unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of  Koran 2:61/3:112. For example, in his commentary on 5:82, Tabari 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 Koran 5:82 and 2:61,  as well as his discussion of the related verse 9:29 mandating the Jews payment of the jizya (Koranic poll-tax), represent both Antisemitic 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 Koranic 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” (Koran 9:29).. The dhimmis [non-Muslim tributary’s] posture during the collection of the jizya- “[lowering themselves] by walking on their hand, …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 Koran’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 wronged themselves (16:118) by losing faith (7:168) and breaking their covenant (5:13). The Jews (echoing an ante-Nicaean, Marcionite polemic) are a nation that has passed away (2:134; repeated in 2:141). Twice Allah sent his instruments (the Assyrians/or Babylonians, and Romans) to punish this perverse people (17:4-5)—their dispersal over the earth is proof of Allah’s rejection (7:168). The Jews are further warned about both their arrogant claim that they remain Allah’s chosen people (62:6), and continued disobedience and “corruption” (5:32-33) Other sins, some repeated, are enumerated: abuse, even killing of prophets (4:155; 2:91), including Isa [Jesus] (3:55; 4:157), is a consistent theme. The Jews ridiculed  Muhammad as Ra’ina (the evil one, in 2:104; 4:46), and  they are also accused of lack of faith, taking words out of context, disobedience, and distortion (4:46). Precious few of them are believers (also 4:46). These “perverse” creatures also claim that Ezra is the messiah and they worship rabbis who defraud men of their possessions (9:30). Additional sins are described: the Jews are typified as an “envious” people (2:109), whose hearts are as hardened as rocks (2:74). They are further accused of confounding the truth (2:42), deliberately perverting scripture (2:75), and being liars (2:78). Ill-informed people of little faith (2:89), they pursue vague and wishful fancies (2:111). Other sins have contributed to their being stamped (see 2:61/ 3:112 above) with “wretchedness/abasement and humiliation,” including—usury (2:275), sorcery (2:102), hedonism (2:96), and idol worship (2:53). More (and repeat) sins, are described still: the Jews’ idol worship is again mentioned (4:51), then linked and followed by charges of other (often repeat) iniquities—the “tremendous calumny” against Mary (4:156), as well as usury and cheating (4:161). Most Jews are accused of being “evil-livers” /“transgressors” /“ungodly” (3:110), who, deceived by their own lies (3:24), try to turn Muslims from Islam (3:99). Jews are blind and deaf to the truth (5:71), and what they have not forgotten they have perverted—they mislead (3:69), confound the truth (3:71), twist tongues (3:79), and cheat Gentiles without remorse (3:75). Muslims are advised not to take the Jews as friends (5:51), and to beware of the inveterate hatred that Jews bear towards them (5:82). 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 58:14-19).

The Koranic 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 account maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy.

It is worth recounting—as depicted in the Muslim sources—the events that antedated Muhammad’s reputed poisoning at Khaybar.

Muhammad’s failures or incomplete successes were consistently recompensed by murderous attacks on the Jews. The Muslim prophet-warrior developed a penchant for assassinating individual Jews, and destroying Jewish communities—by expropriation and expulsion (Banu Quaynuqa and B. Nadir), or massacring their men, and enslaving their women and children (Banu Qurayza). Just before subduing the Medinan Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza and orchestrating the mass execution of their adult males, Muhammad invoked  perhaps the most striking Koranic motif for the Jews debasement—he addressed these Jews, with hateful disparagement, as “You brothers of monkeys.” Subsequently, in the case of the Khaybar Jews, Muhammad had the male leadership killed, and plundered their riches. The terrorized Khaybar survivors—industrious Jewish farmers—became prototype subjugated dhimmis whose productivity was extracted by the Muslims as a form of permanent booty. (And according to the Muslim sources, even this tenuous vassalage was arbitrarily terminated within a decade of Muhammad’s death when Caliph Umar expelled the Jews of Khaybar.)

Thus Maimonides (d. 1203), the renowned Talmudist, philosopher, astronomer, and physician, as noted by historian Salo Baron (from Baron’s essay entitled, “The Historical Outlook of Maimonides,” in Proc of the Amer Acad for Jewish Res, vol. 6, 1934-35, p. 82), emphasizes the bellicose “madness” of Muhammad, and his quest for political control. Muhammad’s mindset, and the actions it engendered, had immediate, and long term tragic consequences for Jews—from his massacring up to 24,000 Jews, to their chronic oppression—as described in the Islamic sources, by Muslims themselves:

Following an apparently prevalent usage [Maimonides] calls the founder of Islam a “madman,” [meshugga] with both religious and political aspirations, who failed to formulate any new religious ideas, but merely re-stated well-known concepts. Nevertheless, he attracted a large following and inflicted many wrongs upon the Jews, being himself responsible for the massacre of 24,000. Following his example the Muslims of the subsequent generations oppressed the Jews and debased them even more harshly than any other nation.

Muhammad’s brutal conquest and subjugation of the Medinan and Khaybar Jews, and their subsequent expulsion by one of his companions, the (second) “Rightly Guided” Caliph Umar, epitomize permanent, archetypal behavior patterns Islamic Law deemed appropriate to Muslim interactions with Jews. George Vajda’s seminal 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.”

Two particularly humiliating “vocations” that were imposed upon Jews by their Muslim overlords in Yemen, and Morocco—where Jews formed the only substantive non-Muslim dhimmi populations—merit elaboration.

Moroccan Jews were confined to ghettos in the major cities, such as Fez (since the 13th century) called mellah(s) (salty earth) which derives from the fact it was here that they were forced to salt the decapitated heads of executed rebels for public exposition. This brutally imposed humiliating practice—which could be enforced even on the Jewish Sabbath—persisted through the late 19th century, as described by Eliezer Bashan:

In the 1870's, 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 Sultan, 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 [of livestock] 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.

Yemenite Jews had to remove human feces and other waste matter (urine which failed to evaporate, etc.) from Muslim areas, initially in Sanaa, and later in other communities such as Shibam, Yarim, and Dhamar. Decrees requiring this obligation were issued in the late 18th or early 19th century, and re-introduced in 1913. Yehuda Nini reproduces an 1874 letter written by a Yemenite Jew to the Alliance Israelite in Paris, lamenting the practice:

…it 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 all…the greatest contamination of all, 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.

And when the Jews were perceived as having exceeded the rightful bounds of this subjected relationship, as in mythically “tolerant” Muslim Spain, the results were predictably tragic. The Granadan Jewish viziers Samuel Ibn Naghrela, and his son Joseph, who protected the Jewish community, were both assassinated between 1056 to 1066, and in the aftermath, the Jewish population was annihilated by the local Muslims. It is estimated that up to four thousand Jews perished in the pogrom by Muslims that accompanied the 1066 assassination. This figure equals or exceeds the number of Jews reportedly killed by the Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland, some thirty years later, at the outset of the First Crusade. The inciting “rationale” for this Granadan pogrom is made clear in the bitter anti-Jewish ode of Abu Ishaq, a well-known Muslim jurist and poet of the times, who wrote:

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 scorn. They used to rummage amongst the dung heaps 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, appropriately: “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.”]

Abu Ishaq’s rhetorical incitement to violence also included the line,

            Many a pious Muslim is in awe of the vilest infidel ape

Moshe Perlmann, in his analysis of the Muslim anti-Jewish polemic of 11th century Granada, notes,

[Abu Ishaq] Elbiri used the epithet “ape” (qird) profusely when referring to Jews. Such indeed was the parlance.

Perlmann then cites the related Koranic passages (i.e., 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166) upon which such “nomenclature” was based.

The Moroccan cleric al-Maghili (d. 1505), referring to the Jews as “brothers of apes” (just as Muhammad, the sacralized prototype, had addressed the Banu Qurayza), who repeatedly blasphemed the Muslim prophet, and whose overall conduct reflected their hatred of Muslims, fomented, and then personally lead, a Muslim pogrom (in ~ 1490) against the Jews of the southern Moroccan oasis of Touat, plundering and killing them en masse, and destroying their synagogue in neighboring Tamantit. An important Muslim theologian whose writings influenced Moroccan religious attitudes towards Jews into the 20th century, al-Maghili also declared in verse, “Love of the Prophet, requires hatred of the Jews.”

The annihilationist sentiments regarding Jews, as expressed by Hamas cleric al-Zarad, and incorporated permanently into the foundational 1988 Hamas Charter, 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 gharkad tree, as per the canonical hadith included in the 1988 Hamas Charter (in 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.

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 Bat Ye’or has explained,

…because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad.

Historian Saul S. Friedman, also citing the emergence of Zionism (as an ideology anathema to the Islamic system of dhimmitude for Jews), concluded that this modern movement, and the creation of the Jewish State of Israel has, not surprisingly, unleashed a torrent of annihilationist Islamic antisemitism, “the brew of thirteen centuries of intolerance”:

Since 1896, the development of modern, political Zionism has placed new tension on, and even destroyed, the traditional master-serf relationship that existed between Arab and Jew in the Middle East. An Arab world that could not tolerate the presence of a single, “arrogant” Jewish vizier in its history was now confronted by a modern state staffed with self-confident Jewish ministers.

This is exactly the Islamic context in which the widespread, “resurgent” use of Jew annihilationist apocalyptic motifs—exemplified by the Hamas charter, and the utterances, most recently by Wael al-Zarad—would be an anticipated, even commonplace occurrence.

Unfortunately, the orthodox Islamic archetypes of Jew hatred promulgated by Hamas, are also being disseminated by the most respected, mainstream Islamic institutions. 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 Koran and the Traditions], originally published in the 1968/69, and then re-issued in 1986:

[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/ 3:112], 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 {Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.

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, which represents some 90% 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 “dialogue” (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) make clear.

Tantawi’s statements on dialogue, which were issued shortly after he met with the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Jacob Lau, in Cairo, on December 15, 1997, provided him another opportunity to re-affirm his ongoing commitment to the views expressed about Jews in his Ph.D. thesis:

…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 Koran], 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., Jews in the Koran and the Traditions, cited above]

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Tantawi’s case illustrates the prevalence and depth of sacralized, “normative” Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim world.

The uncomfortable examination of Islamic doctrines and history is required in order to understand the enduring phenomenon of Muslim Jew hatred, which dates back to the origins of Islam. 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—Koran, 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. We can no longer view Muslim Jew hatred—including annihilationist strains of this apocalyptic hatred—as a “borrowed phenomenon,” seen primarily, let alone exclusively, through the prism of Nazism and the Holocaust, the tragic legacy of Judeophobic Christian traditions, or “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” from Czarist Russia.

Moreover, the jihad against the Jews is but one aspect—albeit primal—of the jihad to establish global Islamic hegemony.

Finally, Julien Benda, in his classic 1928 La Trahison de Clercs (The Treason of the Intellectuals), decried with prophetic accuracy how the abandonment of objective truth abetted totalitarian ideologies, which led to the cataclysmic destruction of World War II.. La Trahison de Clercs of our time remains the nearly complete failure of Western intellectuals to study, understand, and acknowledge the heinous consequences of the living institution of jihad war, and the intimately related doctrine of Islamic antisemitism.

Andrew G. Bostom is a frequent contributor to Frontpage Magazine.com, and the author of The Legacy of Jihad, and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.



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