Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

I came acorss this & thought I'd share

Posted by (Group Admin) on May. 2, 2010 at 2:52 PM
  • 0 Replies
  • 329 Total Views


April 30, 2010

Does the Qur'an Say Jews Are "Descended From Apes and Swine"?

Filed under: Jewish-Muslim relations - Hesham A. Hassaballa @ 3:39 AM

In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving

It is a very common view among many people that Muslims and Jews are inevitable adversaries, and I am sure posts like this fuel this contention:

...the following is the fatwa issued by Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, in which he states the following:

"The Qur'an has specified a considerable deal of its verses to talking about Jews, their personal qualities and characteristics. The Qur'anic description of Jews is quite impartial; praising them in some occasions where they deserve praise and condemning them in other occasions where they practice blameworthy acts. Yet, the latter occasions outnumbered the former, due to their bad qualities and the heinous acts they used to commit.

The Qur'an praises them on the verse that reads: " And verily We gave the Children of Israel the Scripture and the Command and the Prophethood, and provided them with good things and favored them above (all) peoples." (Al-Jathiyah:16) i.e. the peoples of their time.

Among the bad qualities they were characterized with are the following:

1. They used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah. Allah Almighty says: " That is because they say: We have no duty to the Gentiles. They speak a lie concerning Allah knowingly." (Al-`Imran:75) Also: "The Jews say: Allah's hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will." (Al-Ma`idah:64)

In another verse Almighty Allah says: "Verily Allah heard the saying of those who said, (when asked for contributions to the war): "Allah, forsooth, is poor, and we are rich! We shall record their saying with their slaying of the Prophets wrongfully and We shall say: Taste ye the punishment of burning!" (Al-`Imran:181)

2. They love to listen to lies. Concerning this Allah says: "and of the Jews: listeners for the sake of falsehood, listeners on behalf of other folk" (Al-Ma'idah: 41)

3. Disobeying Almighty Allah and never observing His commands. Allah says: "And because of their breaking their covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts." (Al-Ma'idah: 13)

4. Disputing and quarreling. This is clear in the verse that reads: "Their Prophet said unto them: Lo! Allah hath raised up Saul to be a king for you. They said: How can he have kingdom over us when we are more deserving of the kingdom than he is, since he hath not been given wealth enough?" (Al-Baqarah: 247)

5. Hiding the truth and standing for misleading. This can be understood from the verse that reads: "...distort the Scripture with their tongues, that ye may think that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture." (Al-`Imran: 78)

Yikes. That is just part of his long fatwa. Indeed, there are quite a few Muslims who use the Qur'an to justify their anti-Semitism. I hope to address them one by one. Yet, one of the most oft-repeated smears against Jews by Muslims is that they are "descended from apes and swine." It seems to be based on these verses of the Qur'an:

AND LO! We accepted your solemn pledge, raising Mount Sinai high above you, [and saying;] "Hold fast with [all your] strength unto what We have vouchsafed you, and bear in mind all that is therein, so that you might remain conscious of God!" And you turned away after that-! And had it not been for God's favour upon you and His grace, you would surely have found yourselves among the lost. For you are well aware of those from among you who profaned the Sabbath, whereupon We said unto them, "Be as apes despicable!" and set them up as a warning example for their time and for all times to come, as well as an admonition to all who are conscious of God. (2:63-66)

Say: "O followers of earlier revelation! Do you find fault with us for no other reason than that we believe in God [alone], and in that which He has bestowed from on high upon us as well as that which He has bestowed aforetime? - or [is it only] because most of you are iniquitous?" Say: "Shall I tell you who, in the sight of God, deserves a yet worse retribution than these? They whom God has rejected and whom He has condemned, and whom He has turned into apes and swine because they worshipped the powers of evil: these are yet worse in station, and farther astray from the right path [than the mockers]." (5:59-60)

And then, when they disdainfully persisted in doing what they had been forbidden to do, We said unto them: "Be as apes despicable!" (7:166)

I researched the verses and I found that they reference a specific story in which a community of Jews who lived by the sea - which according to Tafsir Al Jalalayn is the town of Eilat - had people who fished on the Sabbath and deliberately broke the law, for according to Jewish law, all work was forbidden on the Sabbath. In punishment for this breach of the law, God transformed the Sabbath-breakers into apes. No verse explicitly said that the Sabbath-breakers were turned into swine, but verse 5:60 speaks of God transforming "some people" into swine, and many Muslims assume this also refers to the Sabbath-breakers.

Yet, note that the verses in question do not say, "All Jews are apes and pigs." They do not say, "All Jews are descended from apes and pigs." They do not say "All Jews are either apes or pigs." Do some Muslims say so? Absolutely. Do they cite the above verses as "evidence" for their claims? Absolutely. Does that mean that the verses in question say so? Absolutely not.

In fact, I fail to understand how the anti-Semitic views of some Muslims constitute "proof" of Qur'anic anti-Semitism? Is the fact that some Catholic priests have sexually abused children "proof" that Catholicism preaches pedophilia? No, it does not. Then, how can that same logic apply to Islam? Clearly, the verses in question speak of a specific group of Jews, the Sabbath-breakers, who were transfigured into apes and swine. There is no general smear of Jews as "apes and swine" in the Qur'an.

Yet, there is another aspect to this story that is almost never mentioned. In the classical commentaries on these verses, there is a debate whether the "transformation" was literal or metaphorical. According the Muhammad Asad, an early 20th Century convert to Islam who penned a translation and commentary of the Qur'an, many early commentators believed it was a metaphorical transformation:

According to Zamakhshari and Razi, the expression "We said unto them" is here synonymous with "We decreed with regard to them" - God's "saying" being in this case a metonym for a manifestation of His will. As for the substance of God's decree, "Be as apes despicable", the famous tabii Mujahid explains it thus: "(Only) their hearts were transformed, that is, they were not (really) transformed into apes: this is but a metaphor (mathal) coined by God with regard to them, similar to the metaphor of ‘the ass carrying books' (62:5)" (Tabari, in his commentary on 2:65; also Manar I, 343; VI, 448; and IX, 379). A similar explanation is given by Raghib. It should be borne in mind that the expression "like an ape" is often used in classical Arabic to describe a person who is unable to restrain his gross appetites or passions.

In his commentary on verse 5:60, Asad wrote:

Contrary to many of the commentators who take this reference to "apes and swine" in a literal sense, the famous tabii Mujahid explains it as a metaphorical description (mathal) of the moral degradation which such sinners undergo: they become wildly unpredictable like apes, and as abandoned to the pursuit of lusts as swine (Manar VI, 448). This interpretation has also been quoted by Tabari in his commentary on 2:65.

So, the issue of Jews being transformed into apes and pigs as a literal phenomenon is not clear cut. Regardless, however, the fact remains: anyone can twist scripture to justify whatever evil he or she wants to commit. But, we must be careful not to place the words of the bigot or anti-Semite into the mouth of the text. The sad thing is: many non-Muslims, along with many Muslims, do not seem to understand this.

by on May. 2, 2010 at 2:52 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
There are no replies to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)