Much of the discussion around anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has been from a Western viewpoint, and whether intentionally or unintentionally this viewpoint is biased as Zionism is a Western manufactured idea. Therefore, the Muslim must stay clear of this biased position and reassess the discussion from an Islamic perspective.
Anti-Semitism is an overused phrase with several interpretations, some understand it as anything against Judaism and the Jewish people, whilst others extend it to criticism against the Israeli state. However, linguistically speaking anti-Semitism should be understood as discrimination against all Semitic people which includes the Arabs. Semites are people who’s ancestry can be traced back to Sām, the Prophet Nūḥ’s (ﷷﷵ) eldest son. This includes the Jews, Arabs, and Persians. Therefore, the claim that Arabs are anti-Semitic is inconceivable as this would be hatred against their own selves. However, if we take anti-Semitism to mean anti-Judaism or anti-Jewish, let’s ask ourselves, are Muslims anti-Jewish?
The answer is no. Yes, we are against the Jewish belief in the sense of its falsehood like any other religion other than Islam. But irrespective of what people have done in the name of Judaism, we are not against Jews for being Jewish. Let me give you some examples why:
- When the Prophet ﷺ made Hijra to Medina as the leader of the Muslim state he formed treaties with the Jewish tribes, Banu Nadhir, Banu Qaynuqah, and Banu Qurayza within the state charter/constitution. If Muhammad ﷺ and the Muslims had an inherent hatred towards the Jewish people, they wouldn’t have wasted time with treaties but waged war from the onset. The conflict only occurred when the Jewish tribes conspired against the Muslims and broke the treaty. Banu Qaynuqah broke the treaty when they pinned the clothes of a Muslim woman, which lead to her being stripped naked. A Muslim killed a Jew in retaliation, and the Jews in turn killed the Muslim man. For this treacherous act the Prophet ﷺ expelled Banu Qaynuqah from Medina. Similarly, Banu Qurayza violated the treaty by allying with the Quraysh during the Battle of the trench. Following the battle, the Prophet ﷺ appointed Sa’ad ibn Mu’adh (رضي الله عنه), who was an ally of Banu Qurayza before Islam, to judge over them. Sa’ad charged them with treason and ordered to behead each and every man, and take the women and children as captives. In both cases we find that the Muslims did not attack the Jews for being Jewish but rather for their treacherous acts against the Muslims.
- Another example to illustrate is during the reign of Ali Ibn Abu Talib (رضي الله عنه). Ali once lost his shield in a battle and later saw it in the possession of a Jew. Ali, the Khalif, asked the Jew to give him the shield back. The Jew refused and insisted that this shield belonged to him. Ali had no option but to take the case to court. As the Jew and Ali stood before of the Qadhi, Shuraih, Ali was asked to present his witnesses for his claim. Ali presented his son and then his emancipated slave. According to Qadhi Shuraih the testimony of a son in favour of his father or an emancipated slave was not admissible, hence he ordered Ali to present another witness. When Ali was unable to do so, Qadhi Shuraih dismissed his original claim to the shield. On seeing the justice of Islam, where the leader of the Muslims could lose a case in the face of a just ruling, the Jew recited the Shahadah and embraced Islam. He later presented the shield to Ali saying that he did indeed steal the shield and that it did not belong to him. Ali responded: “I have made it a gift for you”. This example not only highlights the justice of Islam, but how Islam and the Muslims do not discriminate against the Jews.
- A more recent example during Islamic rule occurred under the military leader Salahudeen al-Ayubi (رحمه الله). Following the recapturing of Jerusalem, Salahudeen invited the Jews, who had been expelled from their land by the Christian Crusaders eighty years before, to return to their homes. The Jews of Ashkelon responded by sending a contingent to resettle in the holy city.
Therefore, we can conclusively say that we are not anti-Jewish and as Muslims we have no hatred against the Jews for being Jewish. We give Dawah to them and invite them to Islam and if they decline their disbelief is something that Allah will deal with on Yaumal Qiyama. Having said this, the Muslim is not foolish and is well aware of the historic treachery the Jews have committed which can even be sensed today. This hostility within Jews against Muslims is something Allah (swt) warns the believers about. Allah says,
لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا
“You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah” [TMQ 5:82]
What is the Muslim view on Zionism and the Israeli state?
Zionism is distinctly different to Semitism or Judaism. “Zionism” is derived from the word Zion, Hebrew for Jerusalem, and was a nationalist movement founded by Theodor Hertzl to establish a Jewish homeland in the blessed land of Palestine, which they refer to as the ” Land of Israel”. The Islamic position on Zionism and ‘Israel’ significantly differs from its view on Judaism.
First and foremost, the Muslim is against any form of evil and oppression whether it is done by a Jew, a Christian or an atheist. Allah (swt) distinguishes this Ummah as the best nation for enjoining the good and forbidding the evil,
كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah” [TMQ 3:110]
In addition the Prophet ﷺ tells us,
“Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Sahih Muslim]
Therefore, we are against all forms of evil and actively seek to remove it. What we see ‘Israel’ doing to our brothers, sisters and children in Palestine for almost a century is the highest form of evil – being silent on this matter would not befit a Muslim.
Secondly, we need to be aware of what occurred in November 1917. The British government promised Jews the blessed land of Palestine, under the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and began sending Jews from all over Europe to Palestine; by 1948 the Jewish population increased from 7% to 50% and occupied 78% of Palestinian land. As a result, our brothers and sisters were forced out of their homes to refugee camps and subjected to mass genocide. ‘Israel’ is nothing more than a pirate state and those who support this illegal entity are supporters of murder and massacre. This is one of worst atrocities to occur against the Ummah in history and is continuing today.
So to conclude, a Muslim is not anti-Semitic or even anti-Jewish, but is certainly anti-Israel and anti-Zionist, not because of the Jewish religion but because of what they have committed against the Ummah – the occupation, massacre and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. There is a deliberate attempt to conflate the two terms, anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist, in order to mask over the aggression caused by ‘Israel’ since its illegitimate birth. The Muslim must continue to expose the existence of ‘Israel’ and their criminal acts without fearing the false labels of anti-Semitism.
اللَّهُمَّ عَذِّبِ الْكَفَرَةَ وَ اَلْقِ فِىْ قُلُوْبِهِمُ الرُّعْبَ وَ خَالِفَ بَيْنَ كَلِمَتِهِمْ وَ اَنْزِلْ عَلَيْهِمْ رِجْزَكَ وَ عَذَ ابَكَ
‘O Allah! Punish the kuffar, and cause in their hearts terror (about the true believers) and cause friction among them, and send down Your wrath and punishment on them.’
Whatever is good is from Allah while evil and sin is from myself and Shaytaan,
Your brother Jahir