Where are the Facts?
To the Editor:
It is a worthy goal to bridge religious differences, but it is also important to present facts and text rather than hopes and dreams. The recent article by Rabbi [Philip] Graubart (God Talk: “Muslims and Jews,” Nov. 2011) is another in his attempt to bridge gaps. But once more, the black and white foundational text is never mentioned. Nor are political documents that express the will of Muslim political leadership.
I have enclosed an article that does give an alternative view. There is actual text and an actual statement by a well regarded exponent of religious Islam. I believe what I have written and quoted is factual. I believe that some alternate view should be presented. If you choose not to print my contribution, I am sure there are many others that can analyze both religious text and the current political situation in a more realistic way than completed by Rabbi Graubart. He means well, I am sure, but he is giving a personal opinion based on his own beliefs without noting the actual texts, both ancient and modern.
Harold B. Reisman, Ph.D.
Muslims and Jews (Another View)
It is always difficult, if not unseemly, to argue against peaceful inter-religious discourse and theoretical mutual understanding. It is problematic, however, to create a chimera that has little or no relation to reality. A key criterion to comparative religion study is reading and analysis of foundational text and how this text is acted upon.
In each of the five required daily prayers of Islam, a Muslim recites part of the opening Sura of the Qur’an (Sura 1:6-7) ending with, “Guide us to the straight path of those whom You have favored with guidance, not of those against whom there is wrath, nor of those who are astray.” Muslim scholars are in agreement that “those against whom there is wrath” are the Jews. The Jews received the Scriptures but hid or distorted the revelations of the coming prophet, Muhammed. “Those who are astray” are the Christians who blasphemed by creating partners to Allah (the Trinity, thereby committing the vile sin of shirk).
Article 2 of the PLO Charter states, “Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.” Article 15 of the Charter calls for “…the liquidation of the Zionist presence” in the Middle East. Neither of these (or other) articles have been altered or modified in any way. The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) states in Article 8, “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model to be followed, the Qur’an its constitution, Jihad its way, and death for the sake of Allah its loftiest desire.” Further, “The Islamic Resistance Movement maintains that the land of Palestine is Waqf land given as endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection.” The charters of Hamas and the PA agree. Both groups have common goals and are joining forces. Mr. Abbas (who has denied the Holocaust ever occurred) is leading the attempt toward total unity. How do the leadership positions of the joint Hamas/PA venture concerning Jews and Israel differ from the threats and offerings of the Iranian junta?
The words of Allah in the Qur’an existed before time, are eternal, perfect and unchangeable to a Muslim. The Qur’an is the written directive for every Muslim. Every aspect of life is covered. Many Muslim children memorize the entire text. One cannot discuss Islam without reading and quoting the Qur’an. Qur’an 5:33 states, “The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and his messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom.”
Qur’an 7:165, “When they disregarded warnings that had been given to them [not to work on the Sabbath], We rescued those who had forbidden wrongdoing, and We punished the wrongdoers for their transgressions. But when they persisted in what had been forbidden, We said to them, ‘Be as apes, despised and loathed” [the Jews were changed into apes].
Qur’an 9:29, “Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture and believe not in Allah or the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily [the jizya], being brought low.”
Qur’an 98:6, “Lo! Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture [i.e., Jews and Christians] and the idolators, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings.” There are many, many other sections of the Qur’an which vilify and condemn the Jews.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (often called “the world caliph”) died recently. He has been extolled as a “moderate” and praised by the Vatican and also Secretary of State Clinton. In 2006, Sheikh al-Qaradawi stated, “They must not allow anyone to take a single piece of land from Islam. This is what we are fighting the Jews for. We are fighting them…Our religion commands us. We are fighting in the name of religion, in the name of Islam, which makes this Jihad an individual duty, in which the entire nation takes part, and whoever is killed in this is a martyr…We are fighting in the name of Islam.” He is, after all, merely following the eternal truth in Qur’an 2:191, “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter.” To my knowledge, no Islamic religious leader has either faulted or condemned the statement of Sheikh al-Qaradawi or has called for suspension or modification of Sura 2:191.
We know there are differing groupings in Judaism. There is Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Humanistic. In some modifications, belief in a deity is optional. Each group has a structure, a titular head and a body of textual interpretations. Do such major, fundamental variations exist in Islam? If so, what are the names of the groups, and who are the respective religious leaders? Or, perhaps, the view of Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey (himself a Muslim) is the correct one, “The term ‘moderate Islam’ is ugly and offensive. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam; Islam is Islam, and that’s that!”
And finally, there is the aphorism of Prof. E. Inbar, “The secular West is inept in neglecting the seriousness of theological motivation.”