Islam and Judaism: A Tragic Irony

Islam and Judaism: A tragic Irony by Peter Burrows elburropete@gmail.com – 11/14/20 

Muslims believe the Koran is the literal word of God, and in the Koran God commands Muslims to hate just about everybody, especially Jews. There are a number of verses, a.k.a., revelations, that make this hatred of Jews VERY clear. Two verses even say that Allah turned Jews into apes and pigs when they broke their sabbath. (2:65 and 5:60) 

Muslims believe this is the literal truth, that it actually happened and could happen again. Therefore, if you’re Jewish you’d better get your affairs in order. Any second now you could be rooting around out in the garbage or swinging around town on utility poles.   

You have to be a religious fanatic to actually believe something as ridiculous as that, and it doesn’t make you an “Islamophobe” or a “racist” to point that out.  I note that it’s only the Jews who are honored with this “apes and pigs” stuff; not Christians, pagans, agnostics, atheists or anybody else. Damn. I was hoping to wake up someday and REALLY surprise my wife. Oh, well — 

What I find ironic is that the Jews themselves may have been responsible for this Jew-hatred, this special enmity that goes back to the start of Islam, some 1,400 years ago. Let me explain: 

Muhammad spent the first 12 years of his “calling” preaching his message of monotheism and prophethood in Mecca, which was both a commercial hub and a center of pagan worship. He proved to be very good at alienating just about everybody; not so good at gathering converts.  He aroused such hostility with his in-your-face message of monotheism or damnation that the Meccans finally decided they would kill him. 

He and his followers wisely fled to Medina, some 300 miles away, where he was welcomed as just who he said he was: A Prophet sent by God.  The reason he was accepted in Medina is because the people of Medina WANTED TO BELIEVE HIM. Why? Because he was an ARAB prophet. This, in turn, needs a little explaining. 

Some of the Arab leaders in Medina, who were mostly illiterate and pagan, had heard of Muhammad, this person in Mecca who said he was a prophet sent by God, and they made an effort to meet him when they travelled there for commercial and religious events.  They had been told for years to expect the coming of such a prophet.  

And from whom did they hear this? The Jews of Medina.  The Jews? Aye, there’s the rub, Hamlet. The Jews claimed this future prophet was going to be a JEW who would lead the JEWS in a mighty kick-ass war against the oppressor du jour, and anybody else the Jews didn’t like. 

I think this was a typical belief of the times:  An Almighty God was going to send a savior to earth who would grab a sword, mount a steed and lead his people to victory over the Romans — or the Egyptians, or the Persians, etc., etc. Jesus? He didn’t count. “Turn the other cheek?” How silly. That wasn’t going to kill anybody.   

Furthermore, the Arabs in Medina had been told that they would not escape the wrath of this future Jewish savior. In Ibn Ishaq’s biography of Muhammad, a Medina Arab made this telling observation: 

“What induced us to accept Islam, apart from God’s mercy and guidance, was what we used to hear the Jews say. We were polytheists worshipping idols, while they were people of the scriptures with knowledge which we did not possess. There was continual enmity between us, and when we got the better of them and excited their hate, they said, ‘The time of a prophet who is to be sent has now come. We will kill you with his aid —.’ We often used to hear them say this. When God sent His apostle (i.e. Muhammad) we accepted him when he called us to God and we realized what their threat meant and joined him before them.  We believed in him but they denied him.” (Ibn Ishaq pg. 93, my emphasis.)  

This turned the tables on the Jews. Now the Arabs had a prophet and the Jews didn’t. Any hostility the Jews showed toward Muhammad was thus easily explained: “About this time the Jewish rabbis showed hostility to the apostle in envy, hatred and malice because God had chosen His apostle from the Arabs. — It was the Jewish rabbis who used to annoy the apostle with questions and introduce confusions so as to confound the truth with falsity.”  (Ibn Ishaq pg. 239, my emphasis.) 

In the Mawdudi translation of the Quran, there is a footnote to verse 2:108 that refers to those annoying questions: “The Jews, who were addicted to hair-splitting arguments, instigated the Muslims to ask the Prophet (peace be on him) a great many questions. God, therefore, cautioned the Muslims against following the example of the Jews in this matter and admonished them against unnecessary inquisitiveness.” 

God also saved Muhammad from his own contradictions with the abrogation verse, 2:106, but that’s another topic. For our purposes, the Jews earned Muhammad’s undying hatred because they questioned his revelations and disputed his self-proclaimed prophecy, something I think Muhammad truly believed in. Once he achieved the military prowess to avenge his “annoyance,” he proceeded to destroy the three Jewish tribes of Medina.    

It didn’t stop there. The very first verse of the Quran is a little prayer for Muslims to say many times a day. It has Muslims praying not to be like those who earned Allah’s anger, who are, according to Muhammad, “The Jews.”  

Muhammad also said about The Day of Judgement: “The hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say: ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’”  (Sahih al-Bukhari book 52 Hadith 177.) 

That’s hatred on steroids. In retrospect, it all sounds a little childish; the Jews taunting the Arabs, who, when the chance arose, were happy to return the favor: “My prophet is bigger and badder than yours,” or something like that. Unfortunately, since both the Quran and what Muhammad said are eternal verities, Muhammad’s hatred of Jews 1400 years ago became a part of Islam, where it remains today and forever. 

It’s a fruitless speculation, but if the Jews of Medina had not threatened their polytheist Arab neighbors with talk of an imminent Jewish warrior-prophet who was going to kill them, maybe the Arabs wouldn’t have been so receptive to Muhammad. Maybe they would have also tired of this fanatic who kept telling them they were going to Hell unless they changed their ways. Maybe they would have finished the job the Meccans wanted to do. We’ll never know.    

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