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Op-Ed: Overcoming Misperceptions about Jews Is An Urgent NecessityTurkish writer Harun Yahya explains why from a Muslim perspective, it is very important to overcome the misconceptions about the Jewish people in the Quran.
Today, like no other time before, both Jews and Muslims need to have a better understanding of one another and come to grips with the mutual misconceptions they harbor regarding one another’s religion. Starting by acknowledging the fact that these two monotheistic religions essentially share the same values, they need to, first and foremost, come to believe that they are not foes but companions having the very same missions and showing the same commitment in reliance upon God.
For the sake of basing the explanation on a correct conception of Islam, let me begin that when we say a “Muslim”, we actually refer to a Muslim who does not give any credence to false and unfounded accounts derived from superstitions and unauthentic hadiths, which are attributed to Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). In this sense, the Muslim that we are speaking of is a person who only follows the Qur'an and the pure teachings of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) that are wholly compatible with the Qur'an being the sole guide in his endeavor.
The inaccurate information regarding the perspective of a Muslim on Jews has been the major cause for the formation of a “Jew-hating Muslim” image in the minds of Jews. First and foremost, the existence of fabricated hadith regarding Jews in notorious hadith collections is the main reason Muslims erroneously believe they should hate the Jews. These false accounts take Muslims far from the outlook of the Qur’an towards Jews, so much so that they do not notice that these dubious hadiths disregard and contradict many verses of the Qur’an. The most widely known of these invented hadiths is the one about trees telling people to kill the Jew hiding behind them, which is beyond imagination.
“... The Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: ‘Muslim, or the servant of God, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him;’ but the Gharqad tree would not say for it is the tree of the Jews.”
This hadith is completely contradictory to the teachings of the Qur’an. Primarily, the Qur’an says that killing a person is like killing all humanity; it would never justify the killing of a person just because he is a Jew. Anyone killing an innocent Jew would surely be punished for his deed. Please also read here for further information on this hadith.
Moreover, like all the other prophets, Muslims have a deep love and reverence for Prophet Moses. Just like Prophet Muhammad, Muslims consider Prophet Moses as a blessed prophet who showed great commitment in reliance upon God and guided his people to pure faith. In the Qur'an, there are approximately 200 verses that refer to Prophet Moses. By means of these verses, Muslims also have a clear understanding of how they should see Jews, who are considered as “People of the Book”, and the proper conduct they should assume towards them.
There is one particular verse in the Qur’an that puts an end to any myth suggesting that according to Muslims, Jews are a “condemned nation.”
Among the people of Moses there is a group who guide by the truth and act justly in accordance with it. (Qur'an, 7:159)
As this verse puts it clearly, as long as they purely abide by the teachings of Prophet Moses, any Jew is considered as a pure, devout believer. As is the case in any religious community however, there may inevitably be some transgressors among the Jews and the Qur’an also refers to such people in the Jewish community.
When they were insolent about what they had been forbidden to do, we said to them, “Be apes, despised, cast out!” (Qur'an, 7:166)
Regrettably, the above - and some other similar verses in the Qur'an - are misinterpreted by taking them out of context and this leads to the doctrinal error that creates the image of a “Jew-hating Muslim.” Yet the verse states explicitly that the Lord’s condemnation is only for wrongdoers who crossed the line of God’s command.
In the Qur'an, God makes a very clear distinction between the righteous Jews and transgressors; however, once this distinction is ignored, the appearance of false perceptions becomes inevitable. This distinction also exists for Muslims who trespass against the commands of God. In verse 62 of Surat al-Baqara, God praises righteous people among Jews and Christians, yet in the 65th verse of Surat al-Baqara, He condemns those transgressors who broke the Sabbath.
As these verses point out with abundant clarity, such condemnation applies only to those people -whichever faith, tribe or nation they may be- who refuse to obey the orders of God.
With his all-embracing and loving attitude towards the People of the Book, Prophet Mohammed sets a great example for all Muslims. With the Constitution of Medina, Prophet Mohammed regulated the relations of the Muslims with the Jews of Medina and guaranteed their lives, beliefs, honors, and rights, and made it clear that he considered them as the brothers of Muslims.
Below are some articles of the Madina Charter. It concerns the rights and responsibilities of Muslim, Jewish, and other Arab and tribal communities of Medina during the war. As can be seen, the rights of Jews are delicately maintained.
- Those Jews who follow the Believers will be helped and will be treated with equality. (Social, legal and economic equality is promised to all loyal citizens of the State).
- No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew.
- The enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped.
- The Jews shall maintain their own religion and the Muslims theirs.
In a time when conflicts, hatred and religious radicalism among members of the divine religions is seen as a contributing factor to the rising instability in the world, Jews and Muslims, following in the footsteps of Prophet Moses and Prophet Mohammad, must assume the basic role for establishing justice, security and unity. Both Judaism and Islam command peace and unity and it should go without saying that being consumed by hatred and anger cannot be an option for the members of these two divine religions. We need to always remember that the mistakes of some members of a community cannot be attributed to an entire nation, especially if those errors are based on unfounded and nonexistent grounds.
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