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.
Tarek Fatah also conveniently ignores the virulently anti-Semitic motifs in the Koran which sanctioned Muhammad’s murderous brutality towards the Jews, as described graphically in the hadith and pious Muslim biographies (or “sira”) of the Muslim prophet.
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 Koranic curse upon the Jews for (primarily) rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets (verses 2:61/3:112), 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 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.)
And Muhammad’s own depictions of “the end of times” (Muslim eschatology) in the hadith highlight the Jews supreme hostility to Islam, condemning them to annihilation. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl -- the Muslim equivalent of the Antichrist -- and as per another tradition, the Dajjâl is in fact Jewish. At the Dajjâl’s appearance, other traditions state that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan, or Jerusalem. When the Dajjâl is defeated, he and his Jewish companions will be slaughtered -- everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree.
Thus, according to a canonical hadith -- incorporated into the 1988 Hamas Charter (article 7) -- if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!”
Thus Maimonides (d. 1203), the renowned Talmudist, philosopher, astronomer, and physician, as noted by historian Salo Baron (from Baron’s essay "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 restated 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.
For over a thousand years, since its founding in 792 C.E., Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, has served as the academic shrine -- much as Mecca is the religious shrine -- of the global Muslim community. Al-Azhar University (and its mosque) represent the pinnacle of Islamic religious education.
A front-page New York Times story published on 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 anti-Semitic motifs from the Koran, 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]
At present, the continual, monotonous invocation by Al-Azhar clerics of anti-Semitic motifs from the Koran (and other foundational Muslim texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings and statements of Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi -- Grand Imam of this preeminent Islamic religious institution from 1996 until his recent passing. Tantawi’s academic magnum opus, Jews in the Koran and the Traditions, a 700-page treatise, elucidates the classical, mainstream theology of Islamic Jew-hatred:
[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.
Tarek Fatah, other so-called Muslim moderates of his ilk, and their non-Muslim promoters must be compelled to answer the following question: is it “Islamophobia” to quote such statements -- rife with Koranic Jew-hatred, and made by authoritative Muslim clerics representing the Vatican of Sunni Islam -- or are Mr. Fatah’s reactions, ignoring the existence of these commonplace, normative Islamic proclamations, and vilifying those who bring them to public attention, especially pernicious forms of taqiyya (religiously sanctioned Islamic dissimulation) and Islamic Jew-hatred?
Elaborating on the depth of Muslim hatred for the Jews in his era, Maimonides (in ~ 1172 C.E.) made this profound observation regarding the Jewish predilection for denial, a feature that he insists will hasten their destruction:
We have acquiesced, both old and young, to inure ourselves to humiliation. ... All this notwithstanding, we do not escape this continued maltreatment [by Muslims] which well nigh crushes us. No matter how much we suffer and elect to remain at peace with them, they stir up strife and sedition.
The Jews and their communal leaders like Maimonides living under Islamic rule in the Middle Ages -- vanquished by jihad, isolated, and well-nigh defenseless under the repressive system of dhimmitude -- can be excused for their silent, submissive denial. There is no such excuse in our era for silently submitting to the threats of disingenuous, hateful Muslim bullies like Tarek Fatah, given the existence of an autonomous Jewish state of Israel and a thriving Western Jewish diaspora, particularly here in the United States, living under the blanket of hard-won protections for their religious freedom, physical security, and dignity.