Muslims and Anti-Semitsm

Category: Europe, Faith & Spirituality Topics: Judaism Views: 7163

The responsibility of the Muslims and the Jews in the West is tremendous: living together, both citizens of the same countries, they should raise their voices in the name of justice and mutual respect. In France, for example, one finds a unique situation; namely, the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe living together. In America, we find the same situation with two important religious communities sharing the same citizenship. That itself should be an ideal opportunity for people to learn to live in harmony. However, the reality is that problems are on the rise. While tensions have been incidental in the past, the situation has been exacerbated during the second intifada, and more recently, during the upsurge of violence in the Middle East. The trend appears to be that the Muslim immigrants as well as native European and American Muslims are becoming extremely sensitive to the events occurring in Palestine and are demonstrating their frustration quite overtly. 

Malicious words, cries of "down with the Jews" shouted during protest demonstrations, and in a few cities in France, reports of synagogues being vandalized. One also hears ambiguous statements about Jews, their "occult-like" power, their insidious role within the media and their nefarious plans. After September 11th, the false rumor that 4,000 Jews did not show up for work the morning of the terrorist attacks against the World Trade center, was relayed throughout predominantly Muslim areas. 

It is very rare to hear Muslim voices that set themselves apart from this kind of discourse and attitude. Often, one will try to explain away this phenomena being a result of extreme frustration and humiliation. That may be true, but one must be honest and analyze the situation deeply. Much like the situation across the Muslim world, there exists in the West today a discourse which is anti-Semitic, seeking legitimacy in certain Islamic texts and support in the present situation in Palestine. This is the attitude of not only marginalized youth, but also of intellectuals and Imams, who see the manipulative hand of the "Jewish lobby" at each turn or every political setback, 

The situation is far too serious for one to be satisfied by simple explanations based on current frustrations. In the name of their faith and their conscience, Muslims must take a clear position so that a pernicious atmosphere does not take hold in the Western countries. Nothing in Islam can legitimize xenophobia or the rejection of a human being due to his/her religious creed or ethnicity. One must say unequivocally, with force, that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and indefensible. The message of Islam requires respect of Jewish faith and spirituality as noble expressions of "The People of the Book".

During the initial phase of the Prophet's settlement in Medina, prior to the conflicts of Alliances, the Prophet Muhammad sternly admonished: "He who is unjust with a contractor (Christians and Jews of Medina), I shall bear witness against him on the Day of Judgment". Later, during a period of extreme conflict [between Jews and Muslims], eight Qur'anic verses were revealed to absolve a Jew who had falsely been accused of a crime by a Muslim. Muhammad constantly taught respect for all human beings, with all their differences. One day, he stood up out of respect when he saw a funeral procession nearby. When told it was that of a Jew, he replied "Is it not human soul?"

One cannot simultaneously neglect these teachings and continue to feed a tainted portrayal concerning Jews. It is the responsibility of Islamic organizations and Imams to send an unambiguous message about the profound link between Islam and Judaism; the recognition of Moses and the Torah as part of Islamic teachings; on the necessary contextualisation of certain equivocal texts within the Qu'ran; on mutual respect and the rejection of all forms of explicit or implicit anti-Semitism. This also means to acknowledge the horrors of the holocaust, by studying its ramifications, and respecting the pain and suffering which have shaped the Jewish conscience in the 20th century. 

In order for all Muslim citizens to understand this teaching, there must be a corresponding set of actions. One has to fight feelings of victimization which colonize the spirit of many Muslim citizens in the West, especially those who are the most marginalized. The frustration within these communities leads to blaming of the other, the state, the police, and, "the Jew who does not like us and who manipulates us..."

It is here that Muslim intellectuals and the public authority should share the responsibility. The first step is to disseminate an Islamic awareness that is coherent and non-literal. It should emphasize personal responsibility and respect of others. As for public authorities, it is important that they encourage concrete actions which break the cycle of economic ghettos and encourage reform of social and urban politics at a local level. Whether we like it or not, unemployment and discrimination are one of the major roots of racism. 

At another level, there is urgency for Jewish and Muslim representatives to start communicating and establish an honest dialogue in order to avoid knee-jerk, reflexive community responses that may undermine the principle of living together in harmony. Self-criticism must become a mutual exercise. 

If it is necessary to condemn anti-Semitic language of some Muslims, it is also the responsibility of Jewish intellectuals, religious or secular, not to confuse the different spheres. An extreme right-wing Prime Minister, Jewish or otherwise, supports an ideology that must be denounced precisely for what it is. Criticism of Sharon for his atrocious past crimes and his policies while prime minister of Israel is not a sign of disrespect for Judaism, in the same way that criticism of dictators of some Muslim countries, one by one, is not an attack on Islam. 

The respect that we have towards Judaism should not be subject to suspicion once we denounce the unjust policies of the state of Israel. To foster this type of amalgams, we will end up creating chasms between communities and that is certainly to empty the ethical content of our common Western citizenship based on the values of justice and equality. 

Muslims and Jews alike should stop feeding sentiments of victimization, and reconsider the discourse that one is creating towards the other. In the name of a common ethics of citizenship, our dignity will be based upon our ability to know how to be critical, transcending one's creed, a state, or an organization without considering that it "clearly" a manifestation of anti Semitism or Islamophobia. It is exactly this type of intellectual requirement which one must teach and which will help all Jews and Muslims to offer to their faith, and to their respective belonging, the magnitude of a self-conscience based on universal principals, and not a closed-minded ghetto identity. 

In Europe and in America, the conditions are right to bring these challenges to light. What remains is the mutual commitment to a constructive self-analysis and to refuse the destructive temptation of selective condemnations.

This text is translation of an Op-Ed published in Le Monde.

  Category: Europe, Faith & Spirituality
  Topics: Judaism
Views: 7163

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
I hope most of us Muslims understand and approve this article, since it will make our own future better. Palestine is not at all a religious problem, it is a political problem. Palestine has nothing to do with whether you are Jew or Muslim, it has only been dragged into this by both Jews and Muslims. Do we ever wonder, how are the Jews able to control the world even though they are fewer than a fraction of the world's population? It is because the Jews use their minds, while we use emotion. It is by respect for the Jews that we can become strong!

Good article. I agree with it. There was a time before 1948 when there were large numbers of Jews living in predomically muslim societies such as Iraq and Morocco and to a lesser extent Egypt. But now its extremly rare to find a Jew living in the middle East outside of Isreal. I doubt that nations such as Egypt or IRaq will ever again have thriving Jewish communities as they did so before 1950. HOwever it is possible for Jewish Muslim relations to improve. Even there is a chance for peace of Isreal with the whole Arab Muslim world. But extremists on both sides are just as keen to bring war and hatred.

First of all we must know what is the root of the word semitic? before we can argue about antisemitism. What are the semitic language? are the Arabs not semitics?
The example of peaceful living amongst people of different faith is well shown during the life time of the Prophet (PBUH). But we can just get the media term and use it in any sense....We must know the root, the context of words before debating over it.

I agree with Zinedines comment 100%!

Salaamu alaikum,

Treat the Jews and Christians with respect only if they show you respect!!!

First of all only about 10% of Jews are Semites the rest is not so why use the word anti-Semitism ? To the experts Semitic peoples are mostly found in Ethiopia, the Middle East (Arabs) and Bilaad Sham & Iraq & of course some Jews. The descendants of the Jews of Kazaria, Russia who make up about 90% of today's Jews are not Semites. Muslims are listening to your discourse and narrative & so are the good Naturei Karta Jews but I don't think the Orthodox Jews care at all & the Zionist Jews are enjoying every moment of Muslim suffering. For instance, I went to the American Embassy in Toronto, Canada to protest with the Lebanese community against the Israeli army invasion of Lebanon last summer. We were about less than 100 people including Canadians of Caucasian origins and only three Jewish women were there supporting us. Compare these good three women to the 16 thousand that gathered last year in the same week in the same city in Mel Lastman Square last summer to support the invasion of Lebanon. Please tell me why for crying out loud I should care about the feelings of a brutal Zionist when he or she is enjoying the murderous acts of the Israeli army against the Palestinian peoples and refuse to withdraw from all lands stolen since 1967 & refuse the right of return of the Palestinians back to their homeland. Why? The ball is in their courts, they need to abide by the UN resolutions and show the world respect and stop breaking international laws if the wish to be respected. Islam is a religion that teach us Alizza Bil Iman - self respect based on faith in God- Hisbollah style not the behaviour of sheep like men waiting to be devoured.

Antisemitism, like any other racial prejudice, must be shunned by everyone.

One must differentiate between Jews/Judaism and Zionism which is a political movement. However, I feel the burden lies heavily on Jews, given what the State of Israel is doing to the indigenous people. Their policy has been systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The UN gave them 50%+ Of Palestine without asking Palestinians. Today they occupy 80% of what was Palestine and have military presence withing the remaining parts. Israel remains the only country with no defined borders since they plan on confiscating more Arab lands. To see the great divide please visit - also consider Israel's utter refusal either to compensate the refugees whose homes have been taken by force or give them the right of return to their homes.

It is in this background, which is very well documented even by Israeli historians that majority diaspora Jews vehemently support the State of Israel. I know there are good Jewish organisations who are vocal and anti Israeli policies but sadly they are in the minority.

It is also in this context that many young Jews in diaspora do their military service in Israel. It is not uncommon to see young Jews in America, Canada, Europe or Australia do their military service in Israel, thus confirming their allegiance to the State of Israel and its apartheid policies.

I am not sure if there are Muslims born in America who go back to their fathers country of origin to do military service. In any case there should be a law against it.

Some may argue that Israel is a small country within a much larger hostile neighborhood and thus must fight for its survival. This argument does not hold today given Israel's massive firepower and the backing of USA. It does not justify their barbaric treatment of the local people. Thus Muslim reaction should be seen against this background.

Live in peace and harmony is the ultimate goal for all mankind. Hence the life after death

People who complain about Muslims being anti-semite just don't get it, do they? Or are they trying us to steer away from the real issues? First of all, they need to discover the real meaning of the word "semite."

I agree that we should not make anti-Semite remarks. A good way to have a peaceful existance with other cultures is to shape public opinion and that takes mass media, put efforts and alot of money into shaping americans minds and you will eventually see a better world citizen and hopefully a better america. P.S. Are you guys(Islamicity) being sued by some jewish organization and have to write an article? if so just hire a cheap lawyer and a paralegal service to fight back with tons and tons of silly legal documents. That way they can't destroy your most valuable assest time.

There is nothing wrong with Jews . The problem is ZIONIST.