Reformist Muslim

Exploring possibilities for the future of Islam and other thoughts

Location: London, United Kingdom

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jews, Muslims And The Quran

Svend White places the supposed 'natural' enmity between Muslims and Jews in its religious and historical context.

The question of the Quran's view of Jews is a controversial and IMHO generally poorly understood one. I think that when you read the Quran holistically, with an awareness of the historical context in which it was revealed, and with an open mind--something which comes no easier to Muslims than non-Muslims--its message is not at all hostile to Judaism, even if does view Islam as superior to Judaism (which is to be expected--most religions claim to supercede others). There are a number of verses which imply, either directly or indirectly, that Judaism is based on Divine truth and, thus, an ally of Islam against sin and materialism (e.g., verse 22:40 makes it clear that Muslims are to declare jihad to protect churches and synagogues along with mosques because these are places where "Allah's name is oft remembered"). Also, another verse explicitly states that God intentionally created the world in "tribes and nations" (49:31) and yet another declares that "there is no compulsion of religion" (2:256).

[...] There are also verses which speak of enmity with "the Jews". This question is more complex, but they clearly refer to contemporary political problems with some Jewish tribes in the city of Madina (e.g., there was a case where a Jewish tribe in Medina betrayed Muhammad and his community by siding with an enemy inspite of a treaty they'd signed) and not Judaism or Jews for all time. (Sadly, some Muslims--thanks in part to this tragic conflict in the Middle East--fail to remember this crucial distinction, as well, but the failings of Muslims are not the fault of the Quran.)

The entire post is well worth reading, Svend makes a number of other very interesting observations including highlighting the similarities between Judaism and Islam. The blog on which he made his original comments called Velveteen Rabbi is also an excellent one.


Anonymous Rachel said...

Thanks for the kind words. :-)

12:36 am, January 16, 2006  
Anonymous Katherine said...

I read once (from a reliable source - Karen Armstrong) that after the establishment of Israel, European anti-semitic texts had to be translated into Arabic because they had simply not existed in that region before then. Any views on the truth, or the implications of that?


11:01 am, January 20, 2006  
Blogger reformist_muslim said...

I've never heard of that before Katherine. Even if true, it would still need to be accepted as true by whoever was using it so I don't think it could excuse behaviour. Having said that, perhaps it may have had an impact in perpetuating the global conspiracy myth which is a bit too prevalent for my liking.

9:22 pm, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous svend said...

A belated response.

Thanks for the kudos, RM.

Katherine, it's well known among historians of the Middle East that before the Arab/Israeli conflict (whose beginning can be dated at various points, depending on your reading of history) that really virulent anti-Semitism in Muslim countries was largely an "import", resulting from contact with European ideologies and prejudices.

That's not to say that anti-Semitic attitudes weren't found in these societies before Colonialism, but even people like Bernard Lewis admit that the hatred took on much greater intensity in the West (partly due to the charge of Deicide, which is a very, very big deal and which makes most of the even the most offensive of theological claims made by Muslim hardliners and bigots seem tame).

6:05 am, June 11, 2008  

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