What should be the outlook of Muslims to Judaism and anti-Semitism?
There are two varieties of Zionism today. The first of these is the Zionist conception of the devout Jewish people, who wish to live in peace and security in Israel alongside Muslims, seeking peace and wishing to worship in the lands of their forefathers and engage in business. In that sense, Muslims support Zionism. We would fully back the devout Jewish people living in peace and security in their own lands, remembering Allah (God), worshipping in their synagogues and engaging in science and trade in their own land.
The Zionist belief held by a devout Jew and based on the Torah does not in any way conflict with the Qur’an. The Jews’ living in that region is indicated in the Qur’an, in which it is revealed that Allah has settled the Children of Israel on it:
Remember when Moses said to his people, “My people! Remember Allah’s blessing to you when He appointed prophets among you and appointed kings for you, and gave you what He had not given to anyone else in all the worlds! My people! Enter the Holy Land which Allah has ordained for you. Do not turn back in your tracks and so become transformed into losers.” (Surat al-Ma’ida: 20-21)
It is the “irreligious, Godless Zionism” that we as Muslims condemn and regard as a threat. These Godless Zionists, who do not defend the existence and oneness of Allah, but, on the contrary, encourage a Darwinist, materialist perspective and thus engage in irreligious propaganda, are also a threat to devout Jews. Godless Zionism is today engaged in a struggle against peace, security and moral virtue, and constantly produces strife and chaos and the shedding of blood. Muslims and devout Jews must join forces to oppose this Godless Zionism and encourage belief in Allah.
Atheistic Zionism is undoubtedly a menace to Muslims and to the peace of the world as a whole. Thus, every Muslim has to identify himself with an ideological struggle against atheistic Zionism. However, one has to act justly as in all other walks of life. While siding against atheistic Zionist Jews, a Muslim should also bear the responsibility for preventing use of violence against innocent devout Jews.
Innumerable invasions and massacres carried out by irreligious Israeli administration against the Muslims coupled with acts of violence drifted the Middle East into a great conflict in the 20th century. Furthermore, the Jewish lobbies in the Western world, almost always adopted a tough stance against the Muslims.
The violence in the Middle East identified with Israel and international atheistic Zionism received the legitimate reaction of the Muslims in general. Today, this reaction persists and it is still rightful.
However, in discussing this issue, an important point deserves a special mention: This legitimate reaction felt against atheistic Zionism should, in no way, turn into a kind of "hatred of the Jews." In this article, we will deal with this important issue.
Every Type of Racism Is Forbidden in the Qur’an
What needs to be stated firstly is that a Muslim is against every sort of genocide, torture, violence and discrimination, no matter on which religion, race or ethnical origins they are inflicted. In this sense, a Muslim does not approve of any unjust harm, albeit minor, on any Jew or a member of any other nation. On the contrary, we strongly condemn such a practise. In the Qur'an, Allah condemns those who throw the world into disorder, resort to violence against mankind and commit murder on no legitimate grounds. According to a Divine law in the Qur'an, which is also proclaimed in the Old Testament, "if someone kills another person—unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth—it is as if he had murdered all mankind" (Surat al-Maida: 32). Consequently murder of even a single innocent person is a terrible crime which is not to be ignored under any circumstances.
Indeed, race, colour and ethnical origin can never establish the criteria to arrive to judgements about people. Such an assessment should absolutely rely on moral perfection a person displays. This is related in the following verse:
Mankind, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah's Sight is the one with the most taqwa [piety and fear of Allah]. Allah is All-Knowing, all-Aware. (Surat al-Hujurat: 13)
The Divine purpose in the creation of divergent races or ethnical origins lies in the expression "to know each other" in the verse above. Being servants of Allah, all nations and tribes are created to know each other. To put it in another way, the intention in the creation of different nations is to make them conversant with one another's culture, language, tradition and skills. In this sense, the presence of different races and nations, which is to be interpreted as a cultural wealth, should not entail conflicts or wars.
This verse and the other moral values described in other verses of the Qur'an absolutely hinder a Muslim from adopting a racist stance and treating people according to their races.
The People of the Book in the Qur'an
Once the issue is dealt with from the standpoint of the Jewish faith, we come across an important fact, also given emphasis in the Qur'an. The Jews, together with Christians, are referred to in the Qur’an as the People of the Book.
In the Qur'an, a definite distinction is made between the People of the Book and the idolaters, which becomes particularly apparent in terms of social life. In Surat at-Tawba: 28, idolaters are said to be "unclean." It is revealed in the same verse as follows: "so after this year they should not come near the Masjid al-Haram." That is basically because of the nature of the idolaters; they are bereft of any sort of moral criteria. They are disinclined to adhere to any Divine law, a trait making them prone to commit any perverse and evil act.
The People of the Book, on the other hand, are bound by particular moral criteria, and lawful and forbidden things based on Divine revelation. Thus, a Muslim is allowed to eat a meal prepared by the People of the Book. Similarly, a Muslim man may well wed to a girl from the People of the Book. Allah commands thus:
Today all good things have been lawful for you. And the food of those given the Book is also lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. So are chaste women from among the believers and chaste women of those given the Book before you, once you have given the Book before you, once you have given them their dowries in marriage, not in fornication or taking them as lovers. But as for any one who rejects faith, his actions will come to nothing and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. (Surat al-Ma’ida: 5)
These commandments are but a manifest that Muslims and People of the Book can establish kinship by the bound of marriage and by accepting one another's dinner invitations, two factors which lay the fundamentals of warm mutual relations and a peaceful social life between two communities. Allah advises a tolerant and tender attitude to His servants. Thus, we as Muslims have to constantly convey this outlook to other people.
Meanwhile, in the Qur'an the monasteries, churches and synagogues are mentioned to be places of worship under Allah’s protection:
... if Allah had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where Allah's name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed. Allah will certainly help those who help Him [His religion]—Allah is All-Strong, Almighty. (Surat al-Hajj: 40)
This verse reminds every Muslim the importance of showing respect to the places of worship of the People of the Book and protecting them.
Indeed, a brief look at the history of Islam would reveal the understanding shown by Muslim societies to the People of the Book, which becomes most apparent in the example of the Ottoman Empire. After the expulsion of the Jews from the Catholic Spain, where the rulers harboured no sympathy for the Jews and denied their fundamental rights to life, they found refuge and peace on the lands of the Ottoman Empire. After the conquest of Istanbul, Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror adopted a benevolent policy towards Christians and Jews and granted them the right to live freely. Throughout the history of the Ottoman Empire, Jews were always regarded as the People of the Book and offered the opportunity to lead a peaceful and prosperous life.
The practises of the Inquisition, a mere product of bigotry in Europe during the Middle Ages, or anti-Semitism (being against Jews) never appeared in the history of the Islam.
The adoption of atheistic Zionism by some Jews as an irreligious and racist ideology gave rise to the dispute and unrest between Jews and Muslims in the 20th century.
Consequently, as Muslims who build their consciousness on the criteria established in the Qur'an, it is impossible that we feel enmity against Jews due their beliefs and religion.
The Dark Origins of Anti-Semitism
Another point which deserves mention is that the ideology known as "anti-Semitism" is a pagan teaching, the adoption of which by any Muslim is impossible.
To confirm this, one has to make an in-depth analysis on the roots of anti-Semitism. This term, generally interpreted as "enmity against Jews" actually means antagonism against the "Semitic" nations. The Semitic race basically embraces people from Arabs, Jews and some other ethnical groups having their origins in the Middle East. The languages and cultures of these groups bear great similarities, as in the example of Arabic and Hebrew.
The second language and race group having an enormous impact on the world history is the "Indian-Euro" nations. The majority of European nations today have their roots in Indian-Euro.
No doubt, prophets proclaiming the existence and unity of Allah and informing them about His commandments came to all of these different civilisations and societies. Yet, as the written history relates, since ancient times, Indian-Euro nations held polytheistic beliefs.
Greek and Roman civilisations and the neighbouring barbarian tribes in Northern Europe such as Teutons and Vikings had pagan faiths. Thus, totally bereft of moral values, these pagan people highly praised and legitimised violence and cruelty. Immoral behaviours like homosexuality and adultery were prevalent among these cultures. (Keep in mind that the Roman Empire, the well-known representative of the Indian-Euro civilisation in history, had an indulgence in throwing men to lions in arenas.)
Pagan tribes dominating Europe were introduced to the monotheistic faith through a prophet sent to the Semitic race, namely, through Jesus (peace be upon him). The penetration of the Divine messages conveyed by the Prophet Jesus (pbuh)—a Jew himself by race and language who was sent as a prophet to the people of Israel—to Europe converted the once pagan tribes one by one to Christianity. (However, by this period, Christianity was already degenerated, embracing the "trinity," a perverted belief.)
However, in the 18th and 19th centuries Christianity started to lose its influence over the European communities. It was by this period when ideologies and philosophies advocating irreligion paved the way for a strange movement to flourish in Europe: neopaganism. Leaders of this movement strongly advocated that European communities had to refuse Christianity and make a return to their ancient pagan faith. They maintained that the morality of the ancient pagan European communities associated with cruel warriors, bloody and merciless wars, and a barbarian morality which is not bound by any limits, was superior to the Christian morality which is made manifest in modesty, compassion, and peace.
Friedrich Nietzsche, a leading representative of this view, was at the same time one of the foremost theoreticians of fascism. Nietzsche felt a profound hatred against Christianity and maintained that this religion eradicated the so-called noble essence inherent in German race, namely the essence of being a "warrior." In his book, Anti-Christ, he attacked Christianity. His book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, on the other hand, is a glorification of the ancient pagan cultures. (Zoroastrianism is one of the idolatrous religions prevalent in ancient Iran and Indian-Euro culture.)
Neopagans, being ardent enemies of Christianity, also felt a deep-rooted hatred against Judaism. They believed Christianity had its roots in Judaism. They further interpreted Christianity as "the dominance of the Jewish ideology on the world" and deemed it to be a sort of Jewish plot. (It is an indisputable fact that the neopagans also feel hatred against Islam, the unique righteous religion.)
Encouraging enmity against religion, this neopagan movement gave rise to the ideologies of fascism and anti-Semitism. The fundamentals of the Nazi ideology reveal that Hitler and his adherents were pagans in real sense.
Nazism: Paganism of the 20th Century
The Nazi ideology in Germany owes much of its development to a philosopher, Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels. Lanz had a profound faith in neopagan thought. He was the first person who found the swastika, which later became the symbol of the Nazi party, in ancient pagan sources and used it. Ordo Novi Templi, the organisation founded by Lanz, devoted all its efforts to the re-birth of pagan culture. Lanz openly declared that he worshipped the Wotan, one of the false deities of the ancient German tribes. Wotanism, he said, was the original religion of the German public and German race could only save himself by a return to this false religion.
The Nazi ideology flourished in line with the thoughts of Lanz and similar other neopagan ideologists. Alfred Rosenberg, who laid down the ideology of Nazism went further to claim that Christianity was unable to inspire the "spiritual energy" Germany needed and thus expressly advocated that Germany should make a turn to her ancient pagan religion. Rosenberg maintained that, once Nazis seized power in Germany, crosses in churches should be outright removed and replaced by swastikas. Similarly, Bibles had to be replaced by Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Fight). Furthermore, he suggested that Nazis should place swords, as symbols of might of Germany, in churches.
Hitler eagerly adopted these views, however, being aware of the reactions he would likely to receive from the public, he could not put the theory of new German religion into action.
Still, however, during the Nazi regime there were some important neopagan implementations. After Hitler seized power, the holy days of Christianity and feasts started to disappear and replaced by the so-called holy days of pagan religions. In wedding ceremonies, oaths were made in the name of imaginary deities like "Mother Earth." In 1935, instructing students to pray in compliance with the Christian norms in schools was disallowed and then came the expunge of Christianity from the school curriculum.
Heinrich Himmler, the SS chief, expresses the hatred the Nazi regime felt against Christianity saying: “We will have to deal with Christianity in a tougher way than hitherto. We must settle accounts with this Christianity, this greatest of plagues that could have happened to us in our history…” [i]
Hence, the enmity Nazis felt against Jews was part of the anti-religious ideology they embraced. Considering Christianity as a "Jewish plot," Nazis endeavoured to break the attachment the German society felt for Christianity. Meanwhile, by pressure and attacks, they forced Jews to leave Germany.
Still today, a brief analysis on various neo-Nazi and fascist groups, people who lead anti-Semitic movements, would reveal that almost all of them embrace anti-religious ideologies and base their arguments on pagan concepts.
The Morals of the Qur'an remove Anti-Semitism and Every Sort of Racism
What has been related so far concludes the following: Anti-Semitism is a shadowy ideology having its roots in neopaganism. Consequently, it is inconceivable that a Muslim adopts anti-Semitism or feels sympathy for it. An anti-Semite feels enmity for the Prophets Abraham, Moses and David (peace be upon them all), the blessed messengers Allah chose and sent to peoples to set an example for them with their high manners.
Meanwhile, other racist movements (for instance enmity against blacks) are also perverted attitudes which originated from pagan beliefs and various ideologies other than Divine religions.
An analysis into anti-Semitism and other racist movements would reveal that they advocate views and a model for society contrary to the morals of the Qur'an.
For instance, hatred, violence and cruelty lie at the roots of anti-Semitism. (Thus the anti-Semites felt sympathy for the pagan religions of ancient barbarian tribes.)
An anti-Semite can be as cruel as advocating the massacre of Jewish people without discriminating between women, children and elderly people. However, the morals of the Qur'an are based on love and compassion and Allah commands Muslims to act justly even against their enemies and to be forgiving towards them when necessary.
On the other hand, anti-Semites and other racists are intolerant towards other races and never favour a peaceful order established among different people coming from various faiths and ethnical origins. (For instance Nazis, the German racists, and atheistic Zionists, the Jewish racists, objected the mixing of the two nations, considering it as a degeneration for their respective communities.)
However, there is no distinction between races in the Qur’an. Furthermore, Allah encourages people from different faiths to live together in peace.
Another fundamental Qur'anic outlook is not to arrive to general judgements about people because they come from a particular race, nation or religion. In every community there are good people as well as the wicked. Particular emphasis is given to this point in the Qur’an. For instance, there is a section in the Qur'an where it is related that some from the People of the Book revolt against Allah and the religion. However, it is also said that there are exceptions for that and follows:
They are not all the same. There is a community among the People of the Book who are upright. They recite Allah's signs throughout the night, and they prostrate. They have faith in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among the righteous. You will not be denied the reward for any good thing you do. Allah knows those who have fear for Allah. (Surah Al ‘Imran: 113-115)
In the Qur'an, Allah even makes separation among those who have no faith in Allah and the religion. Allah commands Muslims to assume a particular approach towards disbelievers who show enmity against the religion while they are obliged to treat kindly and justly to those who are not engaged in such antagonism:
Allah does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. Allah loves those who are just. Allah merely forbids you from taking as friends those who have fought you in the religion and driven you from your homes and who supported your expulsion. Any who take them as friends are wrongdoers. (Surat al-Mumtahana: 8-9)
In the Qur'an, justice is a concept which has to be maintained under any circumstances, even towards those who are enemies of Muslims:
You who have faith! Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to having fear for Allah. Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat al-Ma’ida: 8)
What has been related so far can be outlined as follows:
* The morals of the Qur'an remove racism of any sort. Thus, it is impossible that a Muslim, adhering to the Qur'an, practises racism and despises people due to their race.
* In the Qur'an, Allah commands Muslims to display an amicable and warm attitude towards the members of other religions unless they show enmity against Islam and the Muslims. Thus, a Muslim is responsible for conducting himself amicably to the members of other religions and especially to the People of the Book.
Racist ideologies like Nazism and anti-Semitic philosophies are utterly perverted and anti-religious teachings having their roots in ancient pagan cultures. Naturally, it is impossible that a Muslim identifies himself with such perverted teachings.
The outlook of Muslims to Judaism and Holocaust should rest on these fundamental criteria. The criticism we offer to atheist Jews is merely due to their racist practises, and the violence they use against people, with an atheistic and radical conception of Zionism.
We hope that ideologies like Nazism—an anti-Semitic and racist ideology—and atheistic Zionism—practising racism on behalf of Jews—become history and a world order is established where people from all races and faiths can enjoy a peaceful life.
[i]Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, eds., Nazism, 1919-1945, Vol. 2: State, Economy and Society 1933-1939. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000, p. 304.