The California 'Annihilate Jews' Imam Was Simply Quoting Muhammad

A recent controversy in California shows the perils of assuming, as nearly everyone does, that mosques in the West teach peace and tolerance, and that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are moderate and loyal members of secular societies.

On July 21, the imam Ammar Shahin gave the Friday sermon at the Islamic Center of Davis, California, and had the misfortune of having his sermon videotaped by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Preached Shahin:

Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh Allah, destroy those who closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, show us the black day that You inflict upon them, and the wonders of Your ability. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.

And:

Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds.

This understandably touched off a firestorm, and the Islamic Center of Davis initially resorted to the familiar deflection of Islamic supremacists everywhere: it claimed that Shahin’s remarks had been “taken out of context.”

When that didn’t fly, Shahin apologized:

To the Jewish community here in Davis and beyond, I say this deeply: I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused … I let my emotions get the best of me and cloud my better judgment. I said things that were hurtful to Jews. This was unacceptable.

Very well. But there was just one problem. In his sermon, Shahin also referred to a well-known statement that Islamic tradition attributes to Muhammad.

Said Shahin:

Allah does not change the situation of people "until they change their own situation." The Prophet Muhammad said: "Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and the trees say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah" … "Come, there is someone behind me" -- except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews. Except for a certain tree that they are growing today in Palestine, in that area, except this form of tree, which they are growing today … That’s the tree that will not speak to the Muslims.

Shahin left a key part out of this narrative. In the hadith, the trees don’t just say, “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah … Come, there is someone behind me.”

They say that there is a Jew hiding, and that the Muslim should come kill him: