Silencing the Jews
Samau’ al al-Maghribi converted to Islam from Judaism in 1163 C.E., and shortly afterward wrote an anti-Jewish polemic entitled Silencing the Jews. Al-Maghribi’s “Silencing” -- ostensibly a “philosophical” tract -- employs Islamic Biblical criticism to characterize the Jews as ignorant, unreasonable, and hypocritical, complemented by their Koranic depiction as accursed prophet-killers who transgress Allah’s will, corrupt his message, and harbor the most intense hatred for the Muslims. Moshe Perlmann (d. 2001) translated al-Maghribi’s tract into English and was the preeminent scholar of Islam’s medieval polemic against the Jews. In his introduction to Silencing, Perlmann (in 1964) observed that this literature was redolent with motifs from the Muslim creed’s foundational texts:
The Koran, of course became a mine of anti-Jewish passages. The hadith did not lag behind. Popular preachers used and embellished such material.
In an earlier study (published 1948) of 11th century Muslim Spain -- idealized, falsely, as the paragon of Islam’s ecumenism -- Perlmann had described how such polemical tracts and sermons incited the mass violence which destroyed the Jewish community of Granada during the catastrophic 1066 pogrom. Its death toll of some 3000 to 4000 Jews exceeded 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.
Last week, the National Post of Canada published an editorial and subsequent comments (see comments section, 7:20 PM) by Tarek Fatah -- self-proclaimed “hardened secular Muslim” and much-ballyhooed Muslim moderate -- addressing Canada’s Jews and the Jewish community at large. Nearly 850 years after al-Maghribi, Fatah’s defamatory screeds abandon any façade of philosophical debate in his transparent effort to silence discussion of Islam by modern Jews.
The pretense for Fatah’s diatribe was an appearance by intrepid Muslim freethinker Wafa Sultan at a Toronto synagogue. Canadian journalist Joanne Hill, who attended (and recorded) the event, wrote an assiduously documented reply to Fatah at the National Post exploding his mendacious claims about Sultan’s alleged “intent.” As I will demonstrate, Fatah’s remarks ignore (in order to bowdlerize) what Islam’s foundational texts state plainly about the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s behaviors towards his child bride Aisha and the Jews of Medina and Khaybar. Fatah’s rant then maliciously castigates Wafa Sultan’s Jewish audience -- consistent with Islamic law (Sharia) precepts regarding “blasphemy” that the “hardened secularist” Fatah claims to reject -- for daring to have such an uncensored, “blasphemous” discussion of Islam’s prophet:
Not one member of the audience found it objectionable that a synagogue was being used to slam the Prophet of Islam as a child rapist. Not one person raised an objection. We were reminded that the synagogue was a “house of sanctuary” and that anyone causing trouble will be expelled from the assembly. Yet, calling the founder of Islam a child rapist was deemed totally appropriate. Referring to Muhammad as a Jew killer seemed just fine to the 500 attendees.
According to Canadian law, for example, statutory rape is sexual intercourse with anyone under the age of 14 -- a punishable offense unless both parties are aged within two years of each other, or the accused is aged 12 to 13. Here is how the two most important canonical hadith collections describe Muhammad’s “relationship” with Aisha -- their “marriage contract” and its sexual consummation -- when the Muslim prophet was some four decades older than his child bride:
Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3311: Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and she was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88: Narrated Ursa: The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151: Narrated Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, who had not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13)
Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 5981: Aisha reported that she used to play with dolls in the presence of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and when her playmates came to her they left (the house) because they felt shy of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), whereas Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent them to her.