February 03, 2007

Anti-Semitism and Islam

So you think Islamo-rage is merely a recent event which can be blamed on Israel being restored as a sovereign nation "on Arab soil" in 1948? Think again. An excerpt on the millenia-old history of anti-Semitism and Islam, from FrontPage, with bibliographical references to follow:

Unfortunately, hatred of Jews runs much longer than a century or so into the past. In fact, it originates not only in the actions of the founder of Islam himself, but also in the eschatological belief-system of the world’s second-largest religion.

In 622 CE the nascent Muslim community under Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, left Mecca in Arabia and headed north to the city of Yathrib. Part forced emigration, part prearranged political move, this hijrah not only marked the beginning of the Muslim calendar but the transition of the Muslims from oppressed minority to ruling majority. The newly-renamed Madinat al-Nabi, “city of the prophet,” became—in its shortened form, Madinah—the capital of an expanding religious, political and military movement that would encompass the entire Arabian peninsula, including Mecca itself, within eight years and then, of course, after another century conquer lands from Iberia to the borders of India.

In the process of the Islamization of Arabia, and a few years before Mecca fell to the Muslims in 630, a paradigm of Muslim-Jewish conflict was established.[2] Several of the tribes of Madinah were Jewish, and refused to accept the prophethood of Muhammad. In fact the leaders of one tribe, the Banu Qurayzah, were reported to have been plotting to have Muhammad killed. After some negotiations and inter-tribal machinations—which included, portentously, Muhammad branding the Qurayzah “brothers of monkeys”[3]—Muhammad allowed “one of [their] own number,” one Sa`d bin Mu’adh, to pronounce judgment on them. His verdict: “the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives.” The narrative continues:

Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina…and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches….There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900….This went on until the apostle made an end of them.[…] Then the apostle divided the property, wives, and children of B. Qurayza among the Muslims….[4]
Now, this was a brutal time and a brutal society, in many ways. And in his treatment of “unbelievers” Muhammad is not unlike some of the divinely-sanctioned rulers in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as Joshua or David. (He is, however, most unlike the Jesus of the New Testament.) Nonetheless, there is no getting around the fact that the man whom Muslims believe to have been God’s last spokesman on Earth not only denigrated, but ordered the slaughter of, his fellow monotheists—and this long before Theodore Herzl, David Ben-Gurion or Ariel Sharon ever existed.

This pattern set by God’s prophet is particularly influential upon the jihadist wing of world Islam, for whom the example of the early Islamic community is supremely normative. However, there is a powerful eschatological motif in Islam which also contributes immensely to the acrimony that too many Muslims, even non-jihadist, feel towards the Jews: that of al-Dajjal.

The Dajjal, or “The Deceiver,” is one of five major end times actors according to Islamic teachings, and the chief embodiment of evil.[5] In the anti-God camp with him will be the rapacious hordes of Yajuj and Majuj,[6] as well as al-Dabbah, the “Beast.”[7] Opposing these
will be the returned `Isa, or Jesus,[8] and al-Mahdi, the “rightly-guided one.” Jesus, Yajaj and Majuj, and the Dabbah have both Qur’anic and hadith sourcing (hadiths are extra-Qur’anic sayings attributed to Muhammad); however, the Dajjal and the Mahdi appear nowhere in the Qur’an, but only in hadiths—curious, considering that in many ways they are the two most important eschatological figures in Islam.[9]

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[2] See `Abd al-Malik Ibn Hisham, Life of Muhammad. A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, Introduction and Notes by A. Guillaume (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955), pp. 459-466.
[3] Ibid., p. 461
[4] Ibid., p. 464, 466.
[5] See A. Abel, “al-Dadjdjal,” Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, pp. 76-77.
[6] Surah al-Kahf:92ff; Surah al-Anbiya’:96; and compare to the descriptions of Gog and Magog in the Bible at Ezekiel 38 and 39, as well as Revelation: 20.
[7] Surah al-Naml:82ff; also, compare this Beast to that of Christianity, Revelation 13 and 17
[8] Surah al-Ahzab:7ff; Surah al-Ma’idah:44ff, 75ff, 109ff; Surah al-Imran:46ff; Surah al-Nisa’:156ff; Surah al-Saff:15ff.
[9] And in fact even there the Dajjal is more legitimately sourced than his counterpart the Mahdi, because the former is mentioned not only in dozens of hadiths but in the two most authoritative collections—those of al-Bukhari and Muslim. The Mahdi—about whom I have written extensively in my book Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden— shows up only in lesser collections, such as those of Abu Da’ud, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, a fact which has done very little to diminish belief in the Mahdi in any phase of history, including our own.