Bernard Lewis: Apologist for the Unforgivable


We can no longer negate Islamic Jew-hatred. it is time to negate the conventional wisom of ….Bernard Lewis. He is an apologist.

Dr. Andrew Bostom painstakingly makes the case: "Yet to this day, thousands of reports and opinion pieces later (search 'Morsi' + 'apes and pigs' using to estimate the vast
), only a handful have noted this irrefragable
link to a Koranic
(i.e., 5:60)
declaring the Jews to be apes and pigs. The
apotheosis of this negationist trend was captured in a January 27, 2013 Times
of Israel interview
of Charles Small, head of the itinerant Institute for the Study of Global
Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP). Small piously proclaimed that ISGAP was
uniquely committed to addressing what was framed as “Islamic” Antisemitism,

There’s a reluctance among scholars to open up this subject
[i.e., "Islamic” Antisemitism]. This subject is dangerous, embarrassing. It
touches on various political interests in international relations that people
don’t really want to engage with.

However, also ignoring Morsi’s
repetition of the Koran
“apes and pigs” reference, Small made this pathognomonic assertion, “The danger does not come from Islam itself.”

Morsi’s Islamic Jew-Hatred, Bernard Lewis’ Islamic Negationism

Why do the media’s Middle
East pundits ignore the Jew-hatred intrinsic to Islamic doctrine?

by Andrew G. Bostom, PJ Media February 3, 2013

A month has passed since the Middle East Media Research Institute
posted a 2010 video interview
of Muslim Brotherhood leader, and now Egyptian President, Muhammad Morsi
spewing Antisemitic vitriol. Morsi’s comments included
a characterization of today’s Zionists—plainly Jews in his parlance—as
“descendants of apes and pigs”—a specific invocation of Koran
, which he had repeated, elsewhere, in print interviews,
and commentaries.

That this dehumanizing Koranic
depiction was in reference to Jews has been validated by the most authoritative
classical and modern exegeses* (“tafsir,” or commentaries) on the Koran,
the words
of Muhammad himself (as recorded in the sira, or pious Muslim biographies of
Islam’s prophet), as well as a large corpus of Islamic theological writings
which demonstrate the motif’s application
by Muslims over a nearly 1400-year continuum.

Yet to this day, thousands of reports and opinion pieces later (search
“Morsi” + “apes and pigs” using to estimate the vast
), only a handful have noted this irrefragable
link to a Koranic
(i.e., 5:60)
declaring the Jews to be apes and pigs. The apotheosis of this negationist
trend was captured in a January 27, 2013 Times of Israel interview
of Charles Small, head of the itinerant Institute for the Study of Global
Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP). Small piously proclaimed that ISGAP was
uniquely committed to addressing what was framed as “Islamic” Antisemitism,

a reluctance among scholars to open up this subject [i[i.e., "Islamic”
Antisemitism]This subject is dangerous, embarrassing. It touches on various
political interests in international relations that people don’t really want to
engage with.

However, also ignoring Morsi’s repetition of the Koran
“apes and pigs” reference, Small made this pathognomonic assertion,
“The danger does not
come from Islam itself.”

What explains the almost uniform, egregious omission of Morsi’s Koranic
reference, and Small’s
broader see-no-Islam in “Islamic” Antisemitism mindset, displayed even by
politically centrist
or conservative
Western media outlets, and the centrist or conservative “Middle East experts
opining for them? I argue that such willful blindness is rooted in the
misrepresentation of Islamic Jew-hatred—indeed its frank denial as a coherent
doctrine—by one of the leading contemporary scholars of Islam, turned
late-blooming, ubiquitous public intellectual, whose limited, dogmatic
investigation of the subject, has smothered all such desperately required
discussion. That scholar is Bernard Lewis.

Accrued over a distinguished career of more than six decades of serious
scholarship, Bernard
clearly possesses an enormous fund of knowledge regarding certain
aspects of  classical Islamic civilization, as well as valuable insights
on the early evolution of modern
from the dismantled Ottoman Empire. A gifted
linguist, non-fiction prose writer, and teacher, Lewis shares his understanding
of Muslim societies in both written and oral presentations, with singular
economy, eloquence, and wit. These are extraordinary attributes for which Lewis
richly deserves the accolades
lavished upon him.

But as I will demonstrate, Lewis’ remarkable contributions are
diminished by yawning gaps in his expressed understanding of Islamic
, and the overall condition of non-Muslims vanquished by jihad,
and living as so-called “dhimmis,”
under the restrictive and humiliating mandates of the Sharia.
Ultimately, Lewis takes the rather dogmatic (and apologetic) positions
that Islam is devoid of theological Antisemitism, and dhimmitude has never
existed as a Sharia-based Islamic institution. Lewis’s views on Islamic
Jew-hatred and (for Jews, the conjoined institution of) dhimmitude, are
doctrinally and historically untenable, as the evidence I adduce will make
clear. Moreover, Lewis’s apologetic tendencies must have been attractive to the
Muslim Brotherhood/Saudi Wahhabi front
Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, and
its pseudo-academic Journal of Muslim
Minority Affairs
which has been an Abedin family enterprise since 1979. Regardless of whether
Lewis was a willing dupe, or not, he served on the editorial board of the JMMA for some 14-years, from 1996 to
despite the fact this “academic” journal was, and remains, a thinly
veiled mouthpiece
for Sharia supremacism.

These critical limitations of his scholarship and judgment have
implications which must also be recognized by all those for whom Lewis remains
an iconic source of information, and advice, especially policy advice.

The late Orientalist Maxime Rodinson (d. 2004), a contemporary of
Bernard Lewis, warned
forty years ago of misguided modern scholarship effectively “sanctifying”

has given away to apologetics pure and simple

Lewis’s bowdlerized 1974 summary portrayal
of the system of governance imposed upon those indigenous non-Muslims conquered
by jihad is a distressing, ahistorical example of this apologetic genre.

In his seminal The Laws of Islamic
, al-Mawardi (d. 1058), a renowned jurist of Baghdad, examined
the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel populations subjugated by
jihad. This is the origin
of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel “dhimmi
(which derives from both the word for “pact”, and also “guilt”—guilty of
religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land,
submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic poll tax (jizya),
based on Koran 9:29. Al- Mawardi notes
that “The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation.” He
then distinguishes
two cases: (I) Payment is made immediately and is treated like booty, “it does,
not  however, prevent a jihad being carried out against them in the
future.” (II). Payment is made yearly and will “constitute an ongoing tribute
by which their security is established.” Reconciliation and security last as
long as the payment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad
resumes. A treaty
of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed 10 years. This same
basic formulation was reiterated
during a January 8, 1998 interview by Yusuf al-Qaradawi confirming how jihad
continues to regulate the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims to this

The “contract of the jizya, or “dhimma
other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim “dhimmi” peoples. Ibn Kathir’s important
14th century Koranic commentary describes
the essence of the Koran’s mandate in verse 9:29 for submissive tribute, or
“jizya,” under the heading,  “Paying Jizya
is a Sign of Kufr [unb[unbelief] Disgrace.” He elaborates,
as follows:

said, “until they pay the Jizya”, if they do not choose to embrace Islam, ‘with
willing submission’, in defeat and subservience, “and feel themselves subdued”,
disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to
honor the people of Dhimma or elevate them above Muslims, for they are
miserable, disgraced, and humiliated. Muslim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that
the Prophet said, “Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and the Christians,
and if you meet them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley”. This is why
the Leader of the faithful ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab [d. [d. 644; the second "Rightly
Guided” Caliph]y Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known
conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their
continued humiliation, degradation, and disgrace.

Collectively, these
“obligations” formed
the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims—Jews,
Christians, as well as Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists—subjugated by jihad. Some of the more salient features
of dhimmitude include:
the prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis, and of church bells;
restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and
temples; inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and
penal law; the refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts; a requirement that
Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, including Zoroastrians and Hindus,
wear special clothes; and the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims.
It is important to note
that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent
features of the sacred Islamic law, or Sharia. The writings of the much
lionized Sufi theologian and jurist al-Ghazali
(d. 1111) highlight how the institution of dhimmitude was simply a normative,
and prominent feature of the Sharia:

dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle.. .Jews, Christians, and
Majians [Zoroa[Zoroastrians]pay the jizya [poll [poll tax on non-Muslims]br> offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes
hold of his beard and hits [the d[the dhimmi]e protruberant bone beneath his
ear [i.e.,[i.e., the mandible]ey are not permitted to ostentatiously display
their wine or church bells…their houses may not be higher than the Muslim's,
no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he
may ride a donkey only if the saddler-work] is of wood. He may not walk on the
good part of the road. They [the d[the dhimmis]to wear [an id[an identifying]
[on th[on their clothing] women, and even in the [publi[public]…[dhimm[dhimmis]ust hold their tongue.

The practical
consequences of such a discriminatory system were summarized
in A.S. Tritton’s  1930 The Caliphs and their Non-Muslim Subjects, a pioneering
treatise on the status of the dhimmis:

destroyed churches to obtain materials for their buildings, and the mob was
always ready to pillage churches and monasteries…dhimmis…always lived on
sufferance, exposed to the caprices of the ruler and the passions of the mob…in
later times..[t]hey[t]re much more liable to suffer from the violence of the
crowd, and the popular fanaticism was accompanied by an increasing strictness
among the educated. The spiritual isolation of Islam was accomplished. The
world was divided into two classes, Muslims and others, and only Islam
counted…Indeed the general feeling was that the leavings of the Muslims were
good enough for the dhimmis.

Yet over four decades after Tritton published this apt characterization, here is what Bernard Lewis opined
on the subject (in 1974):

The dhimma on the whole worked well. [empha[emphasis added]on-Muslims managed to thrive under Muslim
rule, and even to make significant contributions to Islamic civilization. The
restrictions were not onerous, and were usually less severe in practice than in
theory. As long as the non-Muslim communities accepted and conformed to the
status of tolerated subordination assigned to them, they were not troubled.

The assessments
of two other highly esteemed Western scholars—Professors Ann Lambton and S.D.
Goitein—who were Lewis’s contemporaries (and colleagues), make plain that his
flimsy apologetic on “the dhimma” does not
represent a consensus viewpoint.

From 1972-78, the late Ann
headed the Near and Middle East department, while contributing
articles and analyses for The Cambridge
History of Islam
, which she co-edited with Bernard Lewis. Professor Lambton and Bernard Lewis were
also both protégés of the famous School
of Oriental and Asiatic Studies
Islamologist, Sir Hamilton Gibb. Lambton’s obituarist, Burzine K. Waghmar,
(on August 1, 2008),

Lambton was
unrivalled in the breadth of her scholarship, covering Persian grammar and
dialectology; medieval and early modern Islamic political thought; Seljuq, Mongol,
Safavid, Qajar and Pahlavi administration; tribal and local history; and land
tenure and agriculture. Her association with SOAS (School
of Oriental and Asiatic Studies) in London, which lasted from
her time as an undergraduate in 1930 until her death as Professor Emerita, aged
96, was one of the longest and most illustrious, and Lambton became
acknowledged as the dean of Persian studies in the West. Without hyperbole, an
era has passed in Middle Eastern studies.

Ann Lambton, wrote
the following on the dhimmis, published in 1981:

As individuals, the dhimmis possessed no rights. Citizenship was limited to Muslims; and because of
the superior status of the Muslim, certain juristic restrictions were imposed
on the dhimmi. The evidence of a dhimmi was not accepted in a law court; a
Muslim could not inherit from a dhimmi nor a dhimmi from a Muslim; a Muslim
could marry a dhimmi woman, but a dhimmi could not marry a Muslim woman; at the
frontier a dhimmi merchant paid double the rate of duty on merchandise paid by
a Muslim, but only half the rate paid by a harbi; and the blood-wit paid for a
dhimmi was, except according to the Hanafis, only half or two-thirds that paid
for a Muslims. No dhimmi was permitted to change his faith except for Islam…

social restrictions were imposed upon the dhimmis such as restrictions of
dress…Dhimmis were also forbidden to ride horses…and, according to Abu Hanifa
valuable mules. The reason for this prohibition was connected with the fact
that dhimmis were forbidden to bear arms: the horse was regarded as a ‘fighter
for the faith,’ and received two shares in the booty if it were of Arab stock
whereas its rider received one. Dhimmis were to yield the way to Muslims. They
were also forbidden to mark their houses by distinctive signs or to build them
higher than those of Muslims. They were not to build new churches, synagogues,
or hermitages and not to scandalize Muslims by openly performing their worship
or following their distinctive customs such as drinking wine…

humiliating regulations to which [dhimm[dhimmis]subject as regards their dress
and conduct in public were not, however, nearly so serious as their moral
subjection, the imposition of the poll tax, and their legal disabilities. They were, in general, made to feel that they were
beyond the pale. Partly as a result of this, the Christian communities dwindled
in number, vitality, and morality
degradation and demoralization of the [dhimm[dhimmis]ire consequences for the
Islamic community and reacted unfavorably on Islamic political and social life
[empha[emphasis added]>

Shlomo Dov [S.D.][S.D.]ef="" target="_blank">Goitein
(d. 1985), was a historian of Muslim-Jewish relations, whose seminal research findings
were widely published, most notably in the monumental five-volume work, A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish Communities of
the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza (1967-1993)
Goitein was Professor Emeritus of the Hebrew
University, scholar at The Institute
for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a
colleague of Lewis. The New York Times obituary for Professor Goitein
(published on February 10, 1985) noted,
appositely, that his renowned (and prolific) writings on Islamic culture, and
Muslim-Jewish relations, were “…standard works for scholars in both fields.” Here
is what Goitein wrote
on the subject of non-Muslim dhimmis under Muslim rule, i.e., dhimmitude, circa

great humanist and contemporary of the French Revolution, Wilhelm von Humboldt,
defined as the best state one which is least felt and restricts itself to one
task only: protection, protection against attack from outside and oppression
from within…in general, taxation [by th[by the Muslim government]erciless,
and a very large section of the population must have lived permanently at the
starvation level. From many Geniza letters one gets the impression that the
poor were concerned more with getting money for the payment of their taxes than
for food and clothing, for failure of payment usually induced cruel
punishment… the Muslim state was quite the opposite of the ideals propagated
by Wilhelm von Humboldt or the principles embedded in the constitution of the
United States. An Islamic state was part of or coincided with dar al-Islam, the
House of Islam. Its treasury was mal al-muslumin, the money of the
Christians and Jews were not citizens of the state,
not even second class citizens. They were outsiders under the protection of the
Muslim state, a status characterized by the term dhimma, for which protection
they had to pay a poll tax specific to them. They were also exposed to a great
number of discriminatory and humiliating laws…As it lies in the very nature
of such restrictions, soon additional humiliations were added, and before the
second century of Islam was out, a complete body of legislation in this matter
was in existence…In times and places in which they became too oppressive they
lead to the dwindling or even complete extinction of the minorities. [empha[emphasis

Lewis’s conception
of Islam’s doctrinal Antisemitism, and its resultant historical treatment of
Jews, is a sham castle which rests on two false pillars. These glib
, which amount to nothing less than sheer denial, are
illustrated below:

[1984][1984]n Islamic society hostility to the Jew is non-theological. It is not related
to any specific Islamic doctrine, nor to any specific circumstance in Islamic
history. For Muslims it is not part of the birth-pangs of their religion, as it
is for Christians.

[2006][2006]dhimmi”-tude [deris[derisively hyphenated]rvience and persecution and ill
treatment of Jews… [is a][is a]

There is voluminous
from Islam’s foundational texts of theological Jew hatred:
virulently Antisemitic Koranic verses whose virulence is only amplified by the
greatest classical and modern Muslim Koranic commentaries (by Tabari [d. 92[d. 923]Zamakshari [d. 11[d. 1143]awi [d. ~1[d. ~1316]Kathir [d.137[d.1373]Suyuti [d. 1505]utb [d. 19[d. 1966]awdudi [d.197[d.1979] six canonical hadith
collections, and the most respected sira (pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad,
by Ibn Ishaq [d. 76[d. 761 ]isham [d. 81[d. 813]Sa‘d [d. 83[d. 835 ]di [d. 822]Tabari). The Antisemitic motifs in these texts have been carefully elucidated
by scholarship that dates back to Hartwig Hirschfeld’s mid-1880s analysis of
the sira and Georges Vajda’s 1937 study of the hadith, complemented in the past
two decades by Haggai Ben Shammai’s 1988 examination of the major Antisemitic
verses and themes in the Koran and Koran exegesis, and Saul S. Friedman’s
broad, straightforward enumeration of Koranic Antisemitism in 1989. Moshe
Perlmann,  a pre-eminent scholar of Islam’s ancient anti-Jewish polemical
literature, made this summary observation
in 1964:

Koran, of course became a mine of anti-Jewish passages. The hadith did not lag
behind. Popular preachers used and embellished such material.

 Notwithstanding Bernard Lewis’s hollow claims, salient
of Jew-hatred illustrating Perlmann’s remarkably compendious
assessment of these foundational Islamic sources, and their tragic application
across space and time, through the present, are summarized in the discussion
that follows.

A front page New York Times story published Saturday 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 Antisemitic
from the Koran
(citations provided, below), Sheikh Youssef intoned,

Muslim brothers, God has inflicted the Muslim nation
with a people whom God has become angry at [Koran[Koran 1:7]hom he cursed
[Koran[Koran 5:78] made monkeys and pigs [Koran[Koran 5:60]f them. They killed prophets
and messengers [Koran[Koran 2:61 / 3:112]owed corruption on Earth. [Koran[Koran 5:33
/ 5:64]are the most evil on Earth. [5:62 [5:62 /63]>

The crux of all these allegations is a central
antisemitic motif in the Koran which decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews
(Koran 2:61/ reiterated at 3:112)
for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah. It should be noted
that Koran 3:112 is featured
before the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant.
This central
motif is coupled
to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into
apes and swine (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having
been “…cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). Muhammad himself repeats
this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith
, “He [Muham[Muhammad]br> recited the verse [5:78][5:78]curses were pronounced on those among the children
of Israel
who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary’ .” The
related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews of being “spreaders of war and
corruption,”—a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—invoked not only by
Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, but “moderate” Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas who cited Koran 5:64 during
a January 2007 speech which urged Palestinian Muslims to end their internecine
strife, and  “aim their rifles at Israel.”

Indeed 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 centrality of the Jews’ permanent “abasement and humiliation,” and
being “laden with God’s anger” in the corpus of Muslim exegetic
literature on Koran
2:61/3:112, is clear. By nature deceitful and treacherous, the Jews rejected
Allah’s signs and prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus. from November 21, 2004 quoted
Muhammad Morsi

 …it is
confirmed by the Quran that Jews are the most hostile of men to Muslims. The
Almighty says: “Certainly you will find the most hostile to those who believe
are the Jews and those who are polytheists.” [Koran
5: 82
]erse confirms that Jews are the most hostile enemies of the

Classical Koranic commentators
such as Tabari (d. 923), Zamakshari (d. 1143), Baydawi (d. 1316), and Ibn
Kathir (d. 1373), when discussing Koran 5:82, which includes the statement (“Thou wilt surely find the most
hostile of men to the believers are the Jews..”
, concur on
the unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked
to the curse of  Koran 2:61/3:112. For example, in his commentary on 5:82,
Tabari writes,

In my
opinion, [the C[the Christians]ot like the Jews who always scheme in order to
murder the emissaries and the prophets, and who oppose God in his positive and
negative commandments, and who corrupt His scripture which He revealed in His

Tabari’s classical interpretations
of Koran 5:82 and 2:61,  as well as his discussion of the related verse
9:29 mandating the Jews payment of the jizya
(Koranic poll-tax), represent both Antisemitic and more general
anti-dhimmi views that became,
and remain, intrinsic to Islam to this day. Here is Tabari’s discussion
of 2:61 and its relationship to verse 9:29, which emphasizes the purposely
debasing nature of the Koranic poll tax:

and poverty were imposed and laid down upon them”, as when someone says “the
imam imposed the poll tax (jizya)on free non-Muslim subjects”, or “The man
imposed land tax on his slave”, meaning thereby that he obliged him [to pa[to pay ]t, or, “The commander imposed a sortie on his troops”, meaning he made it
their duty.…God commanded His believing servants not to give them [i.e.,[i.e., the
non-Muslim people of the scripture]ity—as long as they continued to
disbelieve in Him and his Messenger—unless they paid the poll tax to them; God
said: “Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid
what God and His Messenger have forbidden—such men as practice not the religion
of truth [Islam[Islam]g of those who have been given the Book [Bible[Bible]il
they pay the poll tax, being humble” (Koran 9:29)..

dhimmis [non-M[non-Muslim tributary’s]re during the collection of the jizya-
“[shoul[should be lowering themselves]lking on their hands, …reluctantly

… His
words “and abasement and poverty were imposed upon them”, ‘These are the Jews
of the Children of Israel’.
..‘Are they the Copts of Egypt?’…“What
have the Copts of Egypt
to do with this? No, by God, they are not; but they are the Jews, the Children
of Israel.…By “and slain the prophets unrightfully” He means that they used to
kill the Messengers of God without God’s leave, denying their messages and
rejecting their prophethood.

The Koranic curse (verses 2:61/3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily)
rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, 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 (i.e., one of the important early pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad)
maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish

The contemporary Iranian theocracy’s state-sanctioned Jew hatred employs
this motif as part of its malevolent indoctrination of young adult candidates
for national teacher training programs. Affirming as objective, factual history
the hadith account (for eg., Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Number
) of Muhammad’s supposed poisoning by a Jewish woman from ancient
Khaybar, Professor Eliz Sanasarian notes,

… the subject became one of the questions in the
ideological test for the Teachers’ Training
College where students were
given a multiple-choice question in order to identify the instigator of the
martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad, the “correct” answer being “a Jewess. ”

It is worth recounting—as depicted in the
Muslim sources—the events that antedated Muhammad’s reputed poisoning at

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.”
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

Thus Maimonides (d. 1203), the renowned Talmudist, philosopher,
astronomer, and physician, as noted by historian Salo Baron, emphasizes
the bellicose “madness” of Muhammad—Maimonides refers to Muhammad as
“Meshugga”—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.

 Muhammad’s brutal conquest and subjugation of the Medinan and Khaybar
Jews, and their subsequent expulsion by one of his companions, the (second)
“Rightly Guided” Caliph Umar, epitomize
permanent, archetypal behavior patterns Islamic Law deemed appropriate to
Muslim interactions with Jews. George Vajda’s seminal analysis
of the anti-Jewish motifs in the hadith remains the definitive work on this
subject. Vajda concluded
that according to the hadith stubborn malevolence is the Jews defining worldly
characteristic: rejecting Muhammad and refusing to convert to Islam out of
jealousy, envy and even selfish personal interest, lead them to acts of
treachery, in keeping with their inveterate nature: “…sorcery, poisoning,
assassination held no scruples for them.” These archetypes sanction
Muslim hatred towards the Jews, and the admonition to at best, “subject [the Jews]slim domination,” as dhimmis, treated “with contempt,” under certain
“humiliating arrangements.”

Lastly, a profound anti-Jewish motif occurring after the events recorded
in the hadith and sira, put forth in early Muslim historiography
(for example, by Tabari), is most assuredly a part of “the birth pangs” of
Islam: the story of Abd Allah b. Saba, an alleged renegade Yemenite Jew, and
founder of the heterodox Shi’ite sect. He is held
responsible—identified as a Jew—for promoting the Shi’ite heresy and fomenting
the rebellion and internal strife associated with this primary breach in
Islam’s “political innocence”, culminating in the assassination of the third
Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman, and the bitter, lasting legacy of Sunni-Shi’ite
sectarian strife.

Two particularly humiliating
“vocations” that were imposed
upon Jews by their Muslim overlords in Yemen,
and Morocco—where
Jews formed the only substantive non-Muslim dhimmi
populations—merit elaboration.

Moroccan Jews were confined
to ghettos in the major cities, such as Fez
(since the 13th century) called mellah(s)
(salty earth) which derives from the fact it was here that they were
forced to salt the decapitated heads of
executed rebels for public exposition. This brutally imposed humiliating
practice—which could be enforced even on the Jewish Sabbath—persisted through
the late 19th century, as described
by Eliezer Bashan:

 In the
1870's, Jews were forced to salt the decapitated heads of rebels on the
Sabbath. For example, Berber tribes frequently revolted against Sultan Muhammad
XVIII. In order to force them to accept his authority, he would engage in
punitive military campaigns. Among the tribes were the Musa, located south of Marrakesh.  In 1872,
the Sultan succeeded in quelling their revolt and forty-eight of their captives
were condemned to death. In October 1872, on the order of the Sultan, they were
dispatched to Rabat
for beheading. Their decapitated heads were to be exposed on the gates of the
town for three days. Since the heads were to be sent to Fez, Jewish ritual slaughterers [of livestock]forced to salt them and hang them for exposure on the Sabbath.
Despite threats by the governor of Rabat,
the Jews refused to do so.  He then ordered soldiers to enter the homes of
those who refused and drag them outside. After they were flogged, the Jews
complied and performed the task and the heads of the rebels were exposed in

 Yemenite Jews had to remove
human feces and other waste matter (urine which failed to evaporate, etc.) from
Muslim areas, initially in Sanaa, and later in other communities such as
Shibam, Yarim, and Dhamar.
Decrees requiring
this obligation were issued in the late 18th or early 19th
century, and re-introduced in 1913
. Yehuda Nini
reproduces an 1874 letter written by a Yemenite Jew to the Alliance Israelite in Paris, lamenting

 …it is 86 years since our forefathers suffered the cruel
decree and great shame to the nation of Israel from the east to sundown…for in
the days of our fathers, 86 years ago, there arose a judge known as Qadi, and
said unto the king and his ministers who lived in that time that the Lord,
Blessed be He, had only created the Jews out of love of the other nations, to
do their work and be enslaved by them at their will, and to do the most
contemptible and lowly of tasks. And of them all…the greatest contamination of
all, to clear their privies and streets and pathways of the filthy dung and the
great filth in that place and to collect all that is left of the dung, may your
Honor pardon the expression.

And when the
Jews were perceived
as having exceeded the rightful bounds of this subjected relationship, as in
mythically “tolerant” Muslim Spain, the results were predictably tragic. The
Granadan Jewish viziers Samuel Ibn Naghrela, and his son Joseph, who protected
the Jewish community, were both assassinated
between 1056 to 1066, and in the aftermath, the Jewish population was
annihilated by the local Muslims. It is estimated
that up to four thousand Jews perished in the pogrom by Muslims that
accompanied the 1066 assassination. This
figure equals
or exceeds
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. The inciting “rationale” for
this Granadan pogrom is made clear in the bitter anti-Jewish ode of Abu Ishaq,
a well-known Muslim jurist and poet of the times, who wrote:

Bring them down to their place and return them to the most
abject station. They used to roam around us in tatters covered with contempt,
humiliation, and scorn. They used to rummage amongst the dung heaps for a bit
of a filthy rag to serve as a shroud for a man to be buried in…Do not consider that  killing them is treachery.
Nay, it would be treachery to leave them scoffing

 Abu Ishaq’s rhetorical incitement to violence also included
the line,

            Many a pious Muslim is in awe of the
vilest infidel ape

 Moshe Perlmann, in his analysis
of the Muslim anti-Jewish polemic of 11th century Granada, notes,

 [Abu Ishaq]rī used the epithet “ape”
(qird) profusely when referring to Jews. Such
indeed was the parlance.

 The Moroccan cleric al-Maghili (d. 1505), referring
to the Jews as “brothers of apes” (just as Muhammad, the sacralized prototype,
had addressed the Banu Qurayza), who repeatedly blasphemed the Muslim prophet,
and whose overall conduct reflected their hatred of Muslims, fomented, and then
, a Muslim pogrom (in ~ 1490) against the Jews of the southern Moroccan
oasis of Touat, plundering and killing them en masse, and destroying their
synagogue in neighboring Tamantit. An
important Muslim theologian whose writings influenced Moroccan religious
attitudes towards Jews into the 20th century, al-Maghili also declared
in verse, “Love of the Prophet, requires hatred of the Jews.”

 Mordechai Hakohen (1856-1929) was a Libyan Talmudic scholar and
auto-didact anthropologist who composed
an ethnographic study of North African Jewry in the early 20th
century. Hakohen describes
the overall impact on the Jews of the Muslim jihad conquest and rule of North Africa, as follows:

[also][also]ed the Jews to enter the covenant of the Muslim religion. Many Jews
bravely chose death. Some of them accepted under the threat of force, but only
outwardly…Others left the region, abandoning their wealth and property and
scattering to the ends of the earth. Many stood by their faith, but bore an
iron yoke on their necks. They lowered themselves to the dust before the
Muslims, lords of the land, and accepted a life of woe—carrying no weapons,
never mounting an animal in the presence of a Muslim, not wearing a red
headdress, and following other laws that signaled their degradation.

 Here is but a very incomplete
of pogroms and mass murderous violence against Jews living under
Islamic rule, across space and time, all
resulting from the combined effects of jihadism, general anti-dhimmi, and/or
specifically Antisemitic motifs in Islam
: 6,000 Jews massacred in
Fez in 1033; hundreds of Jews slaughtered in Muslim Cordoba between 1010 and
1015; 4,000 Jews killed in Muslim riots in Grenada in 1066, wiping out the
entire community; the Berber Muslim Almohad depredations of Jews (and
Christians) in Spain and North Africa between 1130 and 1232, which killed tens
of thousands, while forcibly converting thousands more, and subjecting the
forced Jewish converts to Islam to a Muslim Inquisition; the 1291 pogroms in
Baghdad and its environs, which killed (at least) hundreds of Jews; the 1465
pogrom against the Jews of Fez; the late 15th century pogrom against
the Jews of the Southern Moroccan oasis town of Touat; the 1679 pogroms against,
and then expulsion of  10,000 Jews from Sanaa, Yemen to the unlivable, hot
and dry Plain of Tihama, from which only 1,000 returned alive, in 1680, 90%
having died from exposure;  recurring Muslim anti-Jewish
violence—including pogroms and forced conversions—throughout the 17th,
18th and 19th centuries, which rendered areas of Iran
(for example, Tabriz) Judenrein;
the 1834 pogrom in Safed where raging Muslim mobs killed and grievously wounded
hundreds of Jews; the 1888 massacres of Jews in Isfahan and Shiraz, Iran; the
1910 pogrom in Shiraz; the pillage and destruction of the Casablanca, Morocco
ghetto in 1907; the pillage of the ghetto of Fez  Morocco in 1912; the
government sanctioned anti-Jewish pogroms by Muslims in Turkish Eastern Thrace
during June-July, 1934 which ethnically cleansed at least 3000 Jews; and the
series of pogroms, expropriations, and finally mass expulsions of some 900,000
Jews from Arab Muslim nations, beginning in 1941 in Baghdad (the murderous “Farhud,” during which 600 Jews were murdered,
and at least 12,000 pillaged)
—eventually involving cities and towns
in Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Syria, Aden, Bahrain, and culminating in 1967 in
Tunisia—that accompanied the planning and creation of a Jewish state, Israel,
on a portion of the Jews’ ancestral homeland.

 At present, the continual, monotonous invocation
by Al Azhar clerics of Antisemitic 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 pre-eminent
Islamic religious institution since 1996, until his death in mid-March of 2010. Tantawi’s case illustrates
the prevalence and depth of sacralized, “normative” Jew hatred in the
contemporary Muslim world. Arguably Islam’s leading mainstream cleric, Grand
Imam Sheikh Tantawi, embodies
how the living legacy of Muslim anti-Jewish hatred, and violence remains firmly
rooted in mainstream, orthodox  Islamic teachings, not some aberrant
vision of “radical Islam.”

 Tantawi’s  Ph.D. thesis [B[Banu
Israil fi al-Quran wa-al-Sunnah
in the Koran and the Traditions
was published in 1968-69,
and re-published in 1986. Two years after earning his Ph.D., Sheikh Tantawi began
teaching at Al-Azhar. In 1980 he became the head of the Tafsir [Koran[Koranic
Commentary]tment of the University of Medina, Saudi Arabia—a position he held
until 1984. Sheikh Tantawi became Grand Mufti of Egypt in 1986, a position he
was to hold
for a decade, before serving as the Grand Imam of Al Azhar beginning in 1996,
for the last 14 years of his life.

Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism
includes extensive first time English
translations of Tantawi’s academic magnum opus. Tantawi wrote these words in
his 700 page treatise, rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred:
[The] [The] describes the Jews with their own particular
degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran[Koran 2:61/
3:112]upting 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 [A]s are not the same. The good
ones become Muslims [Koran[Koran 3:113]bad ones do not.
…[T]he [T]s always
remain maleficent deniers….they should desist from their negative denial…some
Jews went way overboard in their denying hostility, so gentle persuasion can do
no good with them, so use force with them and treat them in the way you see as
effective in ridding them of their evil. One may go so far as to ban their
religion, their persons, their wealth, and their villages.

 Tantawi was apparently rewarded
for this scholarly effort by subsequently being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University. These were the expressed,
“carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a
Pope—a man who for 14 years headed the most prestigious center of Muslim
learning in Sunni Islam, which represents some 85 to 90% of the world’s Muslims.
And Sheikh Tantawi never
such hatemongering beliefs after becoming the Grand Imam of
Al-Azhar as his statements on “dialogue” (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as
“enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” (April 2002), and the
legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002), made clear.

 Tantawi’s statements
on dialogue, which were issued shortly after he met with the Israel’s Chief
Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, in Cairo, on December 15, 1997, provided him another
opportunity to re-affirm
his ongoing commitment to the views expressed about Jews in his Ph.D. thesis:

 …anyone who avoids meeting with the enemies in order to counter their
dubious claims and stick fingers into their eyes, is a coward.  My stance
stems from Allah’s book [the K[the Koran] than one-third of which deals with
the Jews…[I] wr[I] a dissertation dealing with them [the J[the Jews]their false
claims and their punishment by Allah.  I still believe in everything written in that dissertation.
Jews in the Koran and
the Traditions
, cited above]>

 Unfortunately, Tantawi’s antisemitic formulations are well-grounded
in classical, mainstream Islamic theology. However, understanding and acknowledging the Koranic
origins of Islamic antisemitism is not a justification for the unreformed,
unrepentant modern endorsement of these hateful motifs by Tantawi—with
predictably murderous consequences. Within days of the Netanya homicide bombing
massacre on a Passover seder night, March 27, 2002, for example, Sheikh Tantawi
an abhorrent sanction (April 4,
2002) of so-called “martyrdom operations,” even when directed at Israeli

 And during November, 2002 (“Tantawi: No Antisemitism” Associated Press 11/19/2002), consistent with his triumphant denial,
Sheikh Tantawi made the following statement
in response to criticism over the virulently antisemitic Egyptian television
series (“Horseman Without a Horse”), based on the Czarist Russia forgery, “The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion”:

that the series has some criticism or shows some of the Jews' traits, this
doesn't necessitate an uproar…The accusation of antisemitism was invented by
the Jews as a means to pressure Arabs and Muslims to implement their schemes in
the Arab and Muslim countries, so don't pay attention to them

 January 22, 2008, it was reported
that Tantawi cancelled what would have been
an historic visit to the Rome
synagogue by the imam of Rome's
mosque (Ala Eldin Mohammed Ismail al-Ghobash). The putative excuse
for this cancellation was Israel’s
self-defensive stance—a blockade—in response to acts of jihad terrorism (rocket
barrages; attempted armed incursions) emanating from Gaza. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, commenting
aptly about these events, observed that the cancellation proved, “…even so
called Muslim moderates share the ideology of hate, violence and death towards
the Jewish state.” Al Azhar, Corriere della
, further argued,
which constituted a “Vatican of Sunni Islam,” had in effect issued “a kind of
fatwah.” The paper concluded
by noting that “What the Cairo
statement really means is that Muslim dialogue with Jews in Italy is only
possible once Israel
has been eliminated.”

Annihilationist sentiments regarding Jews, as expressed
by Hezbollah, the Iranian regime, and incorporated permanently into the
foundational 1988 Hamas Charter, are also rooted
in Islamic eschatology, or end of times theology. As characterized
in the hadith, Muslim eschatology highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to
Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl—the Muslim equivalent of
the Anti-Christ—or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself
Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain
that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed
with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl
is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered
everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree, as per
the canonical hadith included in the 1988 Hamas Charter (in article 7). Another
hadith variant, which takes place in Jerusalem,
has Isa (the Muslim Jesus) leading the Arabs in a rout of the Dajjâl and his
company of 70,000 armed Jews. And the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even
into Islamic eschatology—on the day of resurrection the vanquished Jews will be
consigned to Hellfire, and this will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing
them from this fate. Moshe
recently provided a very lucid summary of the unique features of
Shi’ite eschatology, its key point of consistency with Sunni understandings of
this doctrine, and Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s deep personal attachment to

the late ninth century, the Shi’ites have been expecting the emergence of the
hidden imam-mahdi, armed with divine power and followed by thousands of
martyrdom-seeking warriors. He is expected to conquer the world and establish
Shi’ism as its supreme religion and system of rule. His appearance would
involve terrible war and unusual bloodshed.

as mayor of Teheran, built a spectacular boulevard through which the mahdi
would enter into the capital. There is no question that Ahmadinejad believes
he has been chosen to be the herald of the mahdi

Islam differs from Sunni Islam regarding the identity of the mahdi. The Sunni
mahdi is essentially an anonymous figure; the Shi’ite mahdi is a divinely
inspired person with a real identity.

both Shi’ites and Sunnis share one particular detail about “the coming of the
hour” and the dawning of messianic times: The Jews must all suffer a violent
death, to the last one. Both Shi'ites and Sunnis quote the famous hadith [Sahih[Sahih
Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985]ributed to Muhammad: The last hour will
not come unless the Muslims fight against the Jews, and the Muslims would kill
them until the Jews hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and the stone or
the tree would say: “Muslim! Servant of Allah! Here is a Jew behind me; come
and kill him!” Not one Friday passes without this hadith being quoted in
sermons from one side of the Islamic world to the other.

The rise of Jewish nationalism—Zionism—has posed a predictable, if
completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order—jihad-imposed chronic
dhimmitude for Jews—of apocalyptic magnitude. As historian Bat Ye’or has explained,

divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to
Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be
destroyed by Jihad.

This is exactly the Islamic context in which the widespread,
“resurgent” use of Jew annihilationist apocalyptic motifs—Sunni and Shi’ite
alike—would be an anticipated,
even commonplace occurrence.

Such is the state of ferment we find in the Muslim world of today. It
was epitomized
by the openly expressed annihilationist sentiments of Muslim Brotherhood
“Spiritual Guide” Yusuf al-Qaradawi which marked his triumphal return to Cairo Friday February 18,
2011. After years of exile, his public re-emergence
in Egypt
was sanctioned by the nation’s provisional military rulers. Qaradawi, a vocal advocate
of Islam’s Jew-hating mainstream canon (like the late Al-Azhar Grand Imam
Tantawi), used the occasion to issue a clarion
for the jihad re-conquest of Al-Aqsa mosque, i.e., Jerusalem.

message to our brothers in Palestine: I have hope that Almighty Allah, as I
have been pleased with the victory in Egypt, that He will also please me with
the conquest of the al-Aqsa Mosque, to prepare the way for me to preach in the
al-Aqsa Mosque. May Allah prepare the way for us to (preach) in the al-Aqsa
Mosque in safety—not in fear, not in haste. May Allah achieve this clear
conquest for us. O sons of Palestine, I am confident that you will be

 This pronouncement was met
with thunderous applause by the millions assembled in Tahrir Square celebrating the so-called
Arab Spring.

Sadly, if predictably, Bernard Lewis in an April 2, 2011 Wall Street
Journal interview,
although wary of Qaradawi, ignored the immensely popular cleric’s mainstream,
canonical jihadism and Jew-hatred. But Lewis did manage to reject his own repeated
1950s characterization of Islam as authoritarian, even totalitarian, while burbling
his now oft repeated pieties about the putative tolerant, anti-authoritarian
“tradition” of Islam, to cast a hopeful light on the Arab Spring:

whole Islamic tradition is very clearly against autocratic and irresponsible
rule.. We have a much better chance of establishing…some sort of open, tolerant
society, if it's done within their systems, according to their traditions.

 Historian Robert Kaplan has dispassionately analyzed
the views of Bernard Lewis on Islamic Jew hatred. Kaplan’s discussion
provides broader insights which help elucidate how Lewis may have developed the
other self-contradictory, or apologetic positions he has taken on Islamic
authoritarianism and dhimmitude. As Kaplan explains,
central to Lewis’s method are the invalid generalizations he proffers, absent
any hard data, i.e., supportive facts.

puts Islam’s record regarding Jews in a favorable light mainly with the
generalizations he makes rather than the particular facts he marshals. These
generalizations, which crumble under the slightest scrutiny, are of four
general types. One holds that the least onerous version of Muslim oppression is
typical of Muslim practice….A second type of generalization claims that the
worst of the behavior of Christians towards Jews was the norm… A third variety
of generalization employed by Lewis claims that Muslim abuses are far less bad
than the worst imaginable abuses by non-Muslims… A fourth type of
generalization ascribes to “human nature” rather than Islam, with no basis of
evidence, the unattractive characteristics exhibited by Muslims.

 Kaplan describes
perhaps the most egregious example of the first type of generalization, as

writes “dhimmitude was a minor inconvenience Jews learned to live with …under
Muslim rule the status of dhimmi was long accepted with gratitude by
Jews.”  In making this improbable claim he gives no evidence or
explanation. Could he mean that the Jews were grateful for not being killed?

 Kaplan also demonstrates
how Lewis employs a cynical manipulation of semantics to negate the concept of
Antisemitism in Islam.

does Lewis reach the conclusion that Antisemitism is unknown to classical
Islam? He defines Antisemitism as hatred of Jews according to Christian
doctrine, not simply hatred of Jews. In doing so he distorts the ordinary
meaning of “antisemitism” which in contemporary English means hatred of Jews.

 Once again, it is illuminating to juxtapose
Lewis’s attempt to deny the existence of Antisemitism in Medieval Islam, with
the conclusions
of S.D. Goitein, based upon the latter’s thorough philological and historical
analyses of the primary source Geniza documents. Thus, in the specific context
of the Arab Muslim world during the high Middle Ages (circa 950-1250 C.E.),
Goitein’ s seminal analyses revealed
that the Geniza documentary record employed the term antisemitism,

order to differentiate animosity against Jews from the discrimination practiced
by Islam against non-Muslims in general. Our scrutiny of the Geniza material has
proved the existence of “antisemitism” in the time and the area considered

 Goitein cites
as concrete proof of his assertion that a unique strain of Islamic Jew hatred
was extant at this time (i.e., up to a millennium ago)—exploding Lewis’s
spurious claim of its absence—the fact that letters from the Cairo Geniza

…have a
special word for it and, most significantly, one not found in the Bible or in
Talmudic literature (nor registered in any Hebrew dictionary), but one much
used and obviously coined in the Geniza period. It is sinuth, “hatred”, a
Jew-baiter being called sone, “a hater.”

 Incidents of such Muslim Jew hatred documented
by Goitein in the Geniza record come from northern Syria
(Salamiyya and al-Mar‘arra), Morocco
(Fez), and Egypt
with references to the latter being particularly frequent.

 A concluding example illustrates how Lewis’s Islamic
apologetics—primarily via the same spurious method of “generalization” Kaplan
identifies—morphs into frank moral confusion.

 In 1937 Walter Fischel wrote a thoughtful
of the Mongol period and its impact on Jews and Christians in the
conquered Abbasid Caliphate. The Mongol conquest of Baghdad (seat of the Abbasid Caliphate) in
1258 ended
the domination of Islam as a state religion, and with it the system of dhimmitude—a point Fischel makes explicitly:

…the principle of tolerance for all faiths, maintained by
the Il Khans [Mongo[Mongol rulers]riving) the [Islam[Islamic]pt of the
“Protected People”, the ahl adh-Dhimma [dhimm[dhimmi system]rong>of its former importance; with it fell the extremely
varied professional restrictions into which it had expanded, [empha[emphasis added]trong>primarily
those regarding the admission of Jews and Christians to government posts.

 The 13th century Christian chronicler
Bar Hebraeus and the Iraqi Muslim Ghazi b. al-Wasiti (fl. 1292), author of a
Muslim treatise on the dhimmis, made these concordant observations
from diametrically opposed perspectives—Bar Hebraeus as a dhimmi celebrating the changes wrought by Mongol
conquest, and al-Wasiti as a Muslim lamenting them:

 [Bar H[Bar Hebraeus]the Mongols there is neither slave nor
free man, neither believer nor pagan, neither Christian nor Jew; but they
regard all men as belonging to one and the same stock.

 [al-Wa[al-Wasiti]man of the Il Khan [Hulag[Hulagu]ppeared to
the effect that everyone should have the right to profane his faith openly and
his religious connection; and that the members of one religious body should not
oppose those of another

 Fischel notes
that because the Mongols abolished a system Lewis contends never really existed
(or a system Lewis ignores), the plight of the dhimmi
Jews and Christians improved substantially:

For Christians and Jews, the two groups chiefly affected by
the ahl adh-Dhimma policy, current until then, this change in constitutional
and religious principles implied a considerable amelioration of their position;
whereas for the Muslims it meant they had sunk to a depth hitherto unknown in
their history.

Moreover, when the Mongols subsequently converted to Islam, a
transition that took place under Mongol rulers Ghazan (1295-1304) and Uljaytu
(1305-1316), Fischel maintains,

concept of the ahl adh-Dhimma once again became a basic fact in the administration
of the state, and it is characteristic that under Ghazan and his successor
Uljaytu (1305-1316) we hear of renewed enactments against the ahl ad-Dhimma and
of sumptuary laws [dress[dress regulations, especially]ell as of the
destruction of synagogues and churches, and of the persecution of Christians
and Jews.

 Bernard Lewis’s brief characterization
of these events is selective to the point of absurdity. He entirely ignores
the imposition of dhimmitude upon the non-Muslim minorities under the Abbasid
Caliphate before the pagan Mongol conquests, its amelioration under pagan
Mongol rule (when the system of dhimmitude was transiently abolished), or its
re-imposition when the Mongols eventually converted to Islam. Neglecting all
these facts, Lewis instead, perseverates
on his charge of “collaboration” by the Christians and Jews with the Mongols,
before the latter converted to Islam:

Mongol rulers found Christians and Jews—local people knowing the languages, and
the countries but not themselves Muslims—very useful instruments, and appointed
some of them to high office. Afterwards, when the Mongols were converted to
Islam, became part of the Islamic world, and adopted Islamic attitudes, the
Christians and Jews had to pay for past collaboration with the pagan

 German scholar Karl Binswanger ended
his brilliant 1977 analysis of the imposition of Islamic law on non-Muslims
under Ottoman rule with a valid moral critique of the “dogmatic Islamophilia”
epitomized by Bernard Lewis, and Orientalists of Lewis’s persuasion.

 It is
absolutely scientifically justifiable to call cynicism and “evil” by their

 It is
understandable that the Orientalist has a predilection for those peoples with
whose history and culture he is concerned and wishes to present them in a good
light.  All the same, such a process has nothing to do with
science…[W]hom[W]r—consciously or not—downplays or misrepresents the morally negative
aspects of the Dhimma or even distorts it into its (moral) opposite, because he
would otherwise have to partially revise his pre-conceived evaluation of
Islamic culture, he is behaving like the Marxist “researcher” who simply
demonizes every manifestation of “evil” feudalism, instead of, or without (even
therefore) investigating the functional accomplishments of feudalism.  The
Marxist “researcher” acts this way, because there is no place for critical
examination of his own position in his pre-conceived conception of the world
and science.  For him “scientific socialism” is a dogma. Orientalist
studies must defend itself from degenerating into an obstinate “scientific
Islamophilia.”  Or it will deserve the teasing name of “orchid specialty”
(obscure and unimportant specialty) and not that of a science.


Bernard Lewis’s own strain of dogmatic Islamophilia is clearly manifested
in his bowdlerized, morally confused assessments of dhimmitude and Islamic
Jew-hatred. Given Lewis’s iconic status, his glib, negationist formulations
have had far reaching ill-effects. Perhaps this deleterious influence, or
“DisOrient-alism,” is best illustrated by the recent failure of virtually all media
, including those quoting “expert
commentators, to identify the Koranic (5:60)
origins of Muhammad Morsi’s repeated references
as “descendants of apes and pigs.”


* Morsi’s understanding of this verse (5:60)
comports with its classical exegesis in the seminal Tafsir
, meaning “The Commentary of the Two Jalals,” named after its
two Egyptian authors, Al-Suyuti
(1445-1505), a brilliant multidisciplinary scholar, and his mentor Jalalu’d-Din
(1389-1459).  The great contemporary Dutch Islamologist, Johannes J.G.
Jansen, notes in his treatise, “The
Interpretation of the Koran in Modern Egypt
,” Tafsir
remains one of the most popular, as well as the most
authoritative Koranic commentaries in Egypt. Here is the gloss on 5:60
from Tafsir

whom Allah has cursed and put far away from His mercy and with whom he is
angry—turning some of them into monkeys and into pigs by transmogrification—and
who worshipped false gods. These are the Jews…“False
gods” refers to Shayṭān [Satan[Satan] [the J[the Jews]ip him by obeying him.
Such people are in a worse situation—because they will be in the Fire—and
further from the right way (the Path of the Truth) [i.e.,[i.e., Islam]>

Popular, authoritative modern commentaries validate
this classical interpretation of  Koran 5:60.
Thus Mawdudi’s contemporary exegesis from Towards
Understanding the Qur’an
. Vol. 2 , p. 175, maintains
that Koran 5:60,

to the Jews, whose history shows that they were subjected, over and over again,
to the wrath and scourge of God. When they desecrated the law of the Sabbath, the
faces of many of them were distorted, and subsequently their generation reached
such a low point, they took to worshipping Satan quite openly.

Al-Muntakhab  fii Tafsiir  al-Qur’aan  al-Kariim[Al-Az[Al-Azhar University 
paraphrase of, and commentary on the Qur’an, in Modern Standard Arabic]> 11th ed.  Cairo1406/1985., p. 158, also states
that the Jews were punished because they “worship Satan, and follow error,” but
their transformation as purely cognitive:

[Allah[Allah]angry with you [the J[the Jews]our unbelieving disobedience,
He has obliterated your minds, so become like
[empha[emphasis added]and pigs…


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