Palestinian Media Watch reported Tuesday that Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Supreme Sharia Judge and Chairman of the Supreme Council for Sharia Justice of the Palestinian Authority, recently declared on official Palestinian Authority TV that “if someone comes to attack me…I am commanded to fight him…as Prophet [Muhammad] said and as this [Qur’an] verse said: ‘And kill them wherever you find them.’” And so here again we see it: supporters of the “Palestinian” jihad consistently frame their war against Israel in Islamic terms.
Al-Habbash said: “If someone comes to attack me … my home… my land… my homeland… my property… my honor… my family… your existence… your rights… your souls, what must be done? I am commanded to fight him. I am commanded to confront him, I am commanded to resist him, and I am allowed to kill him if necessary as Prophet [Muhammad] said and as this verse said: ‘And kill them wherever you find them.’ [Qur’an 2:191 and 4:89, cf. 9:5]…as long as they are targeting…you are allowed to fight them, and also to kill them.”
Those “kill them” verses are not isolated. The Qur’an puts forward a clear, consistent image of the Jews: they are scheming, treacherous liars and the most dangerous enemies of the Muslims.
The Qur’an presents Muhammad as the last and greatest in the line of Biblical prophets, preaching a message identical to theirs. The identical character of their messages may seem odd to those who know very well that the Qur’an’s contents are quite different in character from those of the Bible, but the Qur’an has an ingenious explanation for this: the original message of all the Biblical prophets was Islam, and they were all Muslims. Only later did their followers corrupt their messages to create Judaism and Christianity.
Consequently, in the Qur’an, Abraham is not a Jew or a Christian, but a Muslim (3:67); his message was identical to Muhammad’s. The Islamic claim is that the authentic Torah actually commands Jews to follow Muhammad and recognize his prophecy. Those who refuse to accept Muhammad as a prophet are, in the Muslim view, rejecting both Moses and the prophecies of the Torah. It is no surprise, then, that in the Qur’an both David and Jesus curse the disbelieving Jews for their disobedience (5:78).
Yet of course, Torah-observant Jews did not and do not accept Muhammad as a prophet, and this, according to Islamic tradition, enraged the prophet of Islam during his lifetime. According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad initially appealed energetically to the Jews, hoping they would accept his prophetic status. He even had the Muslims imitate the Jews by facing Jerusalem for prayers, and he adopted for the Muslims the Jews’ prohibition of pork. But he was infuriated when the Jews rejected him, and Allah shared his fury in Qur’anic revelation: “And when there came to them a messenger from Allah, confirming what was with them, a party of the people of the Book threw away the Book of Allah behind their backs, as if they did not know!” (2:101).
Another Jewish leader noted that “no covenant was ever made with us about Muhammad.” Allah again responded through his Prophet: “Is it ever so that when they make a covenant a party of them set it aside? The truth is, most of them do not believe” (2:100). In fact, Allah gave food laws to the Jews because of their “wrongdoing,” and “for their turning many from the way of Allah” (4:160), and by doing so, “repaid them for their injustice” (6:146). Some Jews are “avid listeners to falsehood” who “distort words beyond their usages.” These are “the ones for whom Allah does not intend to purify their hearts,” and they will be punished not just in hellfire but in this life as well: “For them in this world is disgrace, and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment” (5:41).
Jews dare to deny divine revelation, claiming that “Allah did not reveal to a human being anything,” to which Muhammad is told to respond, “Who revealed the Scripture that Moses brought as light and guidance to the people? You [Jews] make it into pages, disclosing some of it and concealing much” (6:91).
Muslims should not get close to such people: “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as friends. They are friends of one another. And whoever is a friend to them among you, indeed, he is of them. Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people” (5:51). It would hardly be appropriate for Muslims to act peaceably toward the Jews when the Jews, according to the Qur’an, are prone to war—especially against Muslims. Whenever the Jews “kindle the fire of war,” says the Qur’an, “Allah extinguishes it” (5:64).
Ultimately, Allah transforms disobedient Jews into apes and pigs (2:63–66, 5:59–60, 7:166). While the Qur’an says that Muslims are the “best of people” (3:110), the unbelievers are “like livestock” (7:179). “Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are those who have disbelieved, and they will not believe” (8:55).
The Jews also “strive to do mischief on earth”—that is, fasaad, for which the punishment is specified in Qur’an 5:33: “they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land.”
The rebellion against Allah that has resulted in the Jews’ degradation—the “terrible agony” that those who have rejected Islam are to feel “in this world” as well as in the next (3:56)—is a frequent preoccupation of the Qur’an. Departing from his earlier tendency to appeal to the Jews as the authorities on what Allah had revealed, Muhammad began to criticize them for concealing parts of that revelation. The Qur’an several times criticizes Jews for refusing to follow Muhammad, asking, “Why don’t the Jews’ rabbis stop their evil behavior?” (5:63)
Someone who believes in the Qur’an as the perfect and eternal word of Allah, and the authentic Hadith as the records of the statements and actions of the man whom the Qur’an designates as the “excellent example” (33:21) for Muslims to emulate will accordingly form a negative view of Jews.
How could such a believing Muslim ever accept being friends and neighbors with “the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers”? How can he carry out good-faith negotiations for peace with people who fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah (2:79, 3:75, 3:181)? How can he trust those who claim that Allah’s power is limited (5:64) and who are “avid listeners to falsehood” and “distort words beyond their usages” (5:41)?
A pious and knowledgeable Muslim will discover in his Qur’an that the Jews are busy hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78). They staged rebellion against the prophets and rejected their guidance (2:55), and even killed them (2:61). They prefer their own interests to the teachings of Muhammad (2:87). They wish evil for people and try to mislead them (2:109), and even feel pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120). They’re arrogant about their status as Allah’s beloved people (5:18) while devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion (4:46), and killing the prophets (2:61). They’re merciless and heartless (2:74), unrestrained in committing sins (5:79), cowardly (59:13–14), and miserly (4:53). They are under Allah’s curse (4:46, 9:30).
An informed and committed believer will look at the Jews, and in particular at Zionism and the State of Israel, and not see a struggle over land or boundaries that can be solved through negotiations if a sufficient amount of goodwill exists on both sides. Such a believer is much more likely to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an eschatological struggle against the great spiritual enemies of the Muslims, as the Jews are designated in the Qur’an: “You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers to be the Jews…” (5:82)
There can be no negotiated settlement, and no peace, with these treacherous, untrustworthy, mendacious enemies. And the Qur’an’s condemnations of the Jews are repeatedly sweeping: the Muslim holy book refers again and again to “the Jews,” not simply to one party among them. The Qur’an does include the Jews (along with “Christians and Sabeans”) among those who “will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve” (2:62), but mainstream Muslim commentators are not inclined to see this as an indication of divine pluralism. The Qur’an translators Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, and Muhammad Asad all add parenthetical glosses that make the passage mean that the Jews referred to in this passage will be saved only if they become Muslims. Qur’an.com adds “before Prophet Muhammad” in brackets after “Jews or Christians or Sabeans,” making it clear that those three could be saved as such only before the advent of Islam, and that now they must convert to Islam to be saved.
What’s more, the Qur’an also says that “they who disbelieved among the People of the Book and the polytheists will be in the fire of hell, abiding eternally in it. Those are the most vile of created beings.” (98:6) Those who “disbelieved among the People of the Book” are the Jews and Christians who did not convert to Islam.
Yet despite all this abundant evidence that the Israeli-Arab conflict is fundamentally religious (and there is plenty more), the first aspect of the conflict that Western analysts discount is Islam. Find out why that is so damaging in The Palestinian Delusion.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.
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