'In Context': Muhammad Morsi's (Islamically Correct) Jew-Hatred

The theological basis for Morsi’s conspiratorial, dehumanizing allegations against the Jews is a central anti-Semitic motif in the Koran which decrees an eternal curse upon them for purportedly slaying the prophets, and transgressing against the will of Allah (Koran 2:61, and 2:90-91, reiterated at 3:112). It should be noted that Koran 3:112 is featured before 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). According to the earliest sacralized, pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad (by Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Saad), just before subduing the Medinan Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza and orchestrating the mass execution of their adult males, Islam’s prophet invoked this striking Koranic motif for the Jews debasement, addressing these Jews, with hateful disparagement, as “You brothers of apes.”

Muhammad himself also repeats the Koranic curse upon the Jews 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’ .”

The related verse, Koran 5:64, accuses the Jews of being “spreaders of war and corruption” -- a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion -- invoked not only by Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, but “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who cited Koran 5:64 during a January 2007 speech which urged Palestinian Muslims to end their internecine strife, and to “aim their rifles at Israel.”

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’ 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, 15,16,17,18,19).

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 2:61/2:90-91/3:112.

For example, in his commentary on Koran 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.

Between 2004 and 2010, Muhammad Morsi repeated direct citations of or references to Koran 5:60, 5:64, and 5: 82 during interview discussions of the Jews and Israel.

Morsi’s understanding of these verses comports with their classical exegesis in the seminal Tafsir al-Jalalayn -- meaning “The Commentary of the Two Jalals,” named after its two Egyptian authors: Al-Suyuti (1445-1505), a brilliant multidisciplinary scholar; and his mentor Jalalu’d-Din al-Mahalli (1389-1459). The great contemporary Dutch Islamologist Johannes J.G. Jansen notes in his treatise “The Interpretation of the Koran in Modern Egypt,” Tafsir al-Jalalayn remains one of the most popular as well as the most authoritative Koranic commentaries in Egypt.

Here are the glosses on 5:60, 5:64, and 5: 82 from Tafsir al-Jalalayn:

[5:60] … those whom Allah has cursed and put far away from His mercy and with whom he is angry -- turning some of them into monkeys and into pigs by transmogrification -- and who worshipped false gods. These are the Jews … “False gods” refers to Shayṭān [Satan]. They [the Jews] worship him by obeying him. Such people are in a worse situation -- because they will be in the Fire -- and further from the right way (the Path of the Truth) [i.e., Islam].

[5:64] When their circumstances became reduced because of their denial of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, after they had previously been the wealthiest of people, the Jews say “Allah’s hand is chained” -- implying that He is unable to send provision to them and that He is miserly. Allah is far exalted above that. Allah continues by saying: Their [the Jews’] hands are chained -- and kept them from performing good actions as a supplication against them -- and they are cursed for what they say! No! Both His hands are open wide -- and emphatic description of generosity, and the hands are singled out for mention since what the generous give of their property, they give with their hands -- and He gives however He wills -- expanding and constricting and no one can object. What has been sent down to you from your Lord increases many of them in insolence and rejection of it. We have cast enmity and hatred between them -- each group opposing the others -- until the Day of Rising. Each time they [the Jews] kindle the fire of war against the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace Allah extinguishes it. Whenever they try to do that, Allah repels them. They [the Jews] rush about the earth corrupting it through acts of disobedience. Allah does not love corrupters and will punish them.

[5:82] You, Muhammad, will find that the most hostile people to those who believe [i.e., the Muslims] are the Jews and the idolaters … on account of the intensity of their unbelief and ignorance and their preoccupation with following their desires.

Morsi’s conjoining of this doctrinal Islamic Jew-hatred to annihilationist jihadism against the Jews of Israel is also entirely consistent with mainstream, classical Islamic tenets.

Muhammad’s brutal conquest and subjugation of the Medinan 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 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 (as per Koran 9:29), treated “with contempt,” under certain “humiliating arrangements.”

As also characterized in the hadith, and analyzed by Vajda, Muslim eschatology (end of times theology) 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 (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) included in the 1988 Hamas Covenant (in article 7).