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Muhammad Morsi’s Islamic Jew-Hatred, Bernard Lewis’ Islamic Negationism

There is voluminous evidence from Islam’s foundational texts of theological Jew hatred: virulently Antisemitic Koranic verses whose virulence is only amplified by the greatest classical and modern Muslim Koranic commentaries (by Tabari [d. 923], Zamakshari [d. 1143], Baydawi [d. ~1316], Ibn Kathir [d.1373], and Suyuti [d. 1505], to Qutb [d. 1966] and Mawdudi [d.1979]), the six canonical hadith collections, and the most respected sira (pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad, by Ibn Ishaq [d. 761 ]/Ibn Hisham [d. 813], Ibn Sa‘d [d. 835 ], Waqidi [d. 822], and Tabari). The Antisemitic motifs in these texts have been carefully elucidated by scholarship that dates back to Hartwig Hirschfeld’s mid-1880s analysis of the sira and Georges Vajda’s 1937 study of the hadith, complemented in the past two decades by Haggai Ben Shammai’s 1988 examination of the major Antisemitic verses and themes in the Koran and Koran exegesis, and Saul S. Friedman’s broad, straightforward enumeration of Koranic Antisemitism in 1989. Moshe Perlmann,  a pre-eminent scholar of Islam’s ancient anti-Jewish polemical literature, made this summary observation in 1964:

The Koran, of course became a mine of anti-Jewish passages. The hadith did not lag behind. Popular preachers used and embellished such material.

Notwithstanding Bernard Lewis’s hollow claims, salient examples of Jew-hatred illustrating Perlmann’s remarkably compendious assessment of these foundational Islamic sources, and their tragic application across space and time, through the present, are summarized in the discussion that follows.

A front page New York Times story published Saturday January 10, 2009, included extracts from the Friday sermon (of the day before) at Al Azhar mosque pronounced by Egyptian-government appointed cleric Sheik Eid Abdel Hamid Youssef. Referencing well-established Antisemitic motifs from the Koran (citations provided, below), Sheikh Youssef intoned,

Muslim brothers, God has inflicted the Muslim nation with a people whom God has become angry at [Koran 1:7] and whom he cursed [Koran 5:78] so he made monkeys and pigs [Koran 5:60] out of them. They killed prophets and messengers [Koran 2:61 / 3:112] and sowed corruption on Earth. [Koran 5:33 / 5:64] They are the most evil on Earth. [5:62 /63]

The crux of all these allegations is 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 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). Muhammad himself repeats this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith, “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, 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  “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 58:14-19).

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.

Ikhwanonline.com from November 21, 2004 quoted Muhammad Morsi stating,

…it is confirmed by the Quran that Jews are the most hostile of men to Muslims. The Almighty says: “Certainly you will find the most hostile to those who believe are the Jews and those who are polytheists.” [Koran 5: 82] The verse confirms that Jews are the most hostile enemies of the Muslims..

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- “[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.

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 (i.e., one of the important early pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad) maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy.

The contemporary Iranian theocracy’s state-sanctioned Jew hatred employs this motif as part of its malevolent indoctrination of young adult candidates for national teacher training programs. Affirming as objective, factual history the hadith account (for eg., Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786) of Muhammad’s supposed poisoning by a Jewish woman from ancient Khaybar, Professor Eliz Sanasarian notes,

… the subject became one of the questions in the ideological test for the Teachers’ Training College where students were given a multiple-choice question in order to identify the instigator of the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad, the “correct” answer being “a Jewess. ”

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 apes.” 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.)