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The Relationship of Muslims and Jews

The Relationship of Muslims and Jews


Asalamu Alaikum, I was just wondering about the relationship between Muslims and Jewish people after having a conversation with a Jewish friend of mine. I’ve seen loads of references to Israel while reading the Qur’an and it got me thinking about current issues. And I’m pretty sure this is false but I’ve heard that Muslims hate Jews? So how does all this relate?

Wa alykum as-salaam,

Muslims do not hate Jews, this is a myth, and one that historically speaking, is not true at all. The tension between Muslims and Jews is really between Arabs and European Jewish immigrants who established the state of Israel. That is a dispute over land, regardless of whether people want to dress up the conflict in religious terms, the reality is that any group of people who are displaced by another group will create a conflict.

So, as Muslims, we should not expand the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians to a religious dimension, because that makes the conflict much more difficult to solve, and in my personal opinion, allows the conflict to continue because people just say “Oh, this is a religious fight that’s gone on for thousands of years, let’s just ignore it.” People then stop trying to learn about the conflict or how to help bring about solution because of this idea.

The reality is that conflict between Jews and Muslims is not a historical fact, it emerged because of the establishment of Israel. In terms of the history of Muslims and Jews, this is a very small part of our history together.

There is no doubt that Palestinians are being denied their right to their land, and that they are being abused by the Israeli government. Palestinians are both Christian and Muslim, and the danger of saying “this is a Muslim” conflict or an “Arab conflict” is that it allows the Israeli government and its supporters to argue ridiculous things like “why don’t they just go to other Muslim or Arab countries?”

So, as Muslims, indeed as human beings, we should not allow this injustice to continue, but, we should be careful in how we understand it, because it prevents people from actually helping the people that are most hurt by this injustice: the Palestinians.

Has Israel come into conflict with other Arab and Muslim countries? Yes, but, those issues are used as a distraction to allow the Israelis to continue to abuse the rights of Palestinians and to deny them their historical land. The conflicts between Israel and neighboring countries is not about religion, and is about geopolitics, which is not the subject of this tumblr.

As far as the history of Muslims and Jews, it is a very strong history, and we can trace it back to The Prophet Muhammad.

One of The Prophet’s wives was Safiyyah bint Huyayy, who was from a Jewish Arab tribe, and who upon marrying The Prophet converted from Judaism to Islam. She was teased by some people about her Jewish origins, to which The Prophet told her to stand her ground, and to be proud of her Jewish origins by saying that “her father was Aaron, and Moses was her uncle.”

Furthermore, history abounds with the reality of how Muslims and Jews interacted, and there are countless examples:

Jews in Spain, when Spain was in control by Muslims, was the only place in Europe where the Jewish people could live in peace and without harassment. Once the Muslims were expelled from Spain, Jews left Spain for Turkey on the invitation of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides, is considered to be one of, if not the most influential Jewish Theologian. Where did he live? In Muslim Morocco and Egypt. He was educated at Al-Karaouine, the oldest University in the World, which, is also an Islamic University. He was the personal physician and a trusted adviser to Salah ad-Deen, the Sultan of Egypt.

Jews were part of the fabric of various Arab societies, such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen. They also were tremendously important in Iraq and Iran. In fact, to this day, the Iranian Parliament has a Jewish member.

Even during the Holocaust, Muslims protected Jews from persecution. İsmail Necdet Kent, the Turkish Consul in Marseille, France which was a major port. He personally saved many Jews from being taken by the Gestapo, at great risk to himself. In fact, the only country in Europe that had more Jews afterWorld War II than before, was Albania, a country that is over 70% Muslim.

The idea that Muslims and Jews hate each other, is not correct, whether one reads The Qur’an, looks at the example of The Prophet Muhammad, or goes through Jewish-Islamic history. Jews are “Ahl al-Kitab” or “People of the Book,” who deserve our respect as Muslims, as commanded by The Qur’an.

“Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians – all who believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.” [2:62] Muhammad Asad

The point is that there is a huge difference between what is happening politically today, with what is found in the historical record, let alone the religious source of Islam.

Insha Allah, I hope this answered your question, and that if you, or anyone else, has a question on this, or any other topic, please do not hesitate to ask.

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