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The Abuse of Islam as Part of the Demonization of Israel

The Abuse of Islam as Part of the Demonization of Israel

Sinem Tezyapar


All we see in the Islamic world regarding Israel is clips of burning flags, rallies with “Death to Israel” slogans, prayers of destruction in mosques, cartoons depicting Israelis as bloodthirsty demons or villainized Jews in television series and the general indoctrination to hate Jews beginning from kindergarten: In brief, ubiquitous hate propaganda which is heavily ideological. But how much of this has its origins in Islam itself, and will Muslims ever be able to accept Israel as a friendly country and love Jews as fellow human beings?

As much as the Israel-Palestine conflict has been a symbol of an Islamic cause, the core problem is not about land or the situation of the Palestinians but rather hatred of Jews in general. Some people will say, “I have no problem with Jews but only with Israel or Zionism”; however when we dig deeper, there is a preconceived opinion about Jews – either based on religious or cultural education – that becomes an obstacle towards a fair approach towards Israel. Whether these people are militant jihadists or intellectual ones or ordinary Muslims in the spirit of solidarity, we find Jewish hatred is at the core of the issue either in an obvious or a discreet form.

An Islamic crescent moon
An Islamic crescent moon (Wiki Commons)

There are two aspects to this antagonism that have kept growing – especially in our time – due to the wide-spread propaganda seen on TV or in social media. One aspect is evidently religious, and the other is political, a view that encompasses different ideologies both from left and right-wing groups. Since the hijacking of religion for a political agenda is in question, religious and political aspects are intricately interconnected. However, I will be focusing on the religious feature of the situation, which is largely based on colossal ignorance and mis-education to hate Jews.

In this paper, I will point out how basic misconceptions on the part of Muslims or misinterpretations of the Qur’an are deliberately misused to demonize Israel and dehumanize Jews. With this endeavor – to expose the exploitation and distortion of Islam – I also would like to reveal how a proper education can reverse this so-called religious-based Jew-hatred. Israel, or the Jewish people in general, can struggle against media lies and emotional abuse via propaganda, but as long as the false beliefs circulating in Islamic communities go uncorrected, the indoctrination and propagation of blind hatred will be nurtured with a pseudo-belief system that is falsely villainizing Jews.

The other reason I am writing about this crucial topic is to show Muslims that they have been either badly misled or grossly misinformed about Islam, with the intention that they will not allow themselves to be used for nefarious political games. In order to eradicate religious-based enmity, it is imperative that they come to understand that – quite the opposite – being a proper Muslim necessitates neither Jew-hatred nor sectarian animosity. Lastly, I want it to be clear to non-Muslims that Islam is not the root of the problem; on the contrary, Muslims being true and pure followers of the Qur’an is the solution to the problem.

On a side note, I am very much aware of the potential criticism that might be directed against me, mostly consisting of: I do not represent mainstream Islam; I do not have authority like the ulema (an Islamic scholar) or the ijmaa (consensus or agreement of the Muslim community); or the most common, that I am practicing the doctrine of taqqiya1 (precautionary dissimulation) – this last critique most typically emanates from those who possess no real understanding of what this doctrine represents. I will not respond to them since it is not the topic of the book. However, what I say comes from being a pure follower of the Qur’an, and reading it with a spirit of reason, love and conscience, and I fully believe that when the message of Islam is purified from all corruption, bigotry, fabrications, traditional misinterpretations, and misuse for political propaganda, there will be no obstacle for this unjustified and artificial conflict to come to an end.

Reading the Qur’an Sincerely

First and foremost, when people hear negative references about Jews from the Qur’an, they should know that there are pages of verses that praise the Torah, the Prophet Moses and his followers. As is often the case, taking verses, or hadiths, out of context leads not only to a poor understanding, but also to prejudicial attitudes and outright hatred of people who have done nothing wrong. Perhaps even worse is the hypocrisy of those who wish to impose their extremist views by selecting particular verses and hadiths and deliberately distorting the meaning.

As a matter of fact, there are also threats of damnation by God for those so-called Muslims – who are described as hypocrites – who misuse the Qur’an for their own benefit. God talks about the false things that their tongues may put forth in the name of Allah and He promises punishment for “those who conceal Allah’s revelations in the Book, and purchase for them a miserable profit” (Qur’an, 2:174),“those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord” (Qur’an, 3:7), “those who purchase idle tales, without knowledge, to mislead (men) from the path of Allah” (Qur’an, 31:6) and those who “invent (lies) against Allah” (Qur’an, 6:140).

In one particular verse, God mentions those who take some parts of the Qur’an and overlook the others as such:

Then is it only a part of the Book that you believe in, and do you reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? – and on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For Allah is not unmindful of what you do.(Qur’an, 2:85)

As a point of fact, some clerics and Muslim leaders – leaving aside the Qur’anic verses that praise the Jews, leaving aside the spirit of the Qur’an as a whole – speak of nothing but hatred, rage, and holding grudges, instead of love, friendship, and brotherhood. Forgiveness is paramount, and this is mentioned also in connection with Jews (Qur’an, 5:12-13). The interpretation by those who approach the text with the spirit of war against Jewish people is not only a crime but an offense to Islam.

Taking isolated passages from the Qur’an to justify shedding blood is an abuse and misuse of Islam. Muslims are supposed to embrace the teachings of the Qur’an as a whole, because the verses explain one another; they have to be considered in a holistic fashion, and they have to be interpreted according to the context of the revelation of the suras.

Why So Much Hatemongering and Unconditional Enmity?

If Islam does not teach hatred and violence against Jews, then why is there so much hatemongering and unconditional enmity among the Muslims? Even if the Muslims’ widespread outlook towards Jews is erroneous, it becomes irrelevant whether it is true or false when millions of Muslims have unfortunately come to believe it. Actually – if we leave the ignorance and genuine faultiness aside – the answer was given by the Prophet of Islam 1,400 years ago. He reveals the hypocrisy prevalent in the Muslim community in the End Times as such:

Such a time will befall my community that rulers will be oppressive and scholars will be avaricious and without fear of Allah, those who worship will be hypocritical.2

As a matter of fact, in our day, radicalism, fanaticism, tribalism, and bigotry are severe threats to the core message of Islam as well as to all of humanity. The Prophet Mohammed himself also warns against this threat:

My community will be destroyed because of evil scholars and ignorant servants.3

And in another one he says:

Such a time will come that scholars will be an element of mischief.4

These statements are all talking about the corruption and mischief within the Muslim community. The harm done by some religious scholars is highly destructive since they lead many uneducated and impressionable people astray with their false teachings that plant seeds of hate and invariably provoke violence. Throughout the Islamic history of 1,400 years, the Muslim community has had its share of ups and downs, and serious deterioration has been infiltrated to the message of Islam. However, the outright hate indoctrination and incitement towards violence via fatwas (Islamic rulings) is in its severest form of distortion. Thus it is highly important to stand against such despicable tactics and to speak out strongly when these are used as a way of incitement.

Here are a few of the main issues that are exploited as a staple of wartime propaganda, resulting in prejudiced mindsets and an irrational enmity towards Jewish people.

The Allegation of Jews Being a Hereditarily Cursed People

There is a false conviction, held by both Muslims and non-Muslims, that according to the Qur’an, Jews are declared as a cursed community. This is far from the truth. In the Qur’an, God talks about peoples who were sent a prophet or envoy to spread God’s message, and the mistakes of those communities are referred to in order to set examples for the next generations. Every community has those who have followed the right path and those that have committed errors. Nowhere in the Qur’an are a people condemned, cursed, or praised on a racial or ethnic basis. The Qur’an reveals this truth thusly:

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Qur’an, 49:13)

Having said that, the Jews – B’nei Israel – are praised for their good attributes and criticized for their errors in the Qur’an, just in the same way God talks about Muslims. Thus, those people who try to attribute to the Jews the idea as being hereditarily cursed, and this curse being applicable for all time, are reading the Qur’an in a superficial way and overlooking many other verses while they selectively quote specific verses only to confirm their bias and preconceived notions.

The Qur’an refers to the community of the Prophet Moses as people who must abide by the Torah. God sometimes mentions their crimes and sometimes their good acts. For instance, in one verse we are informed about the existence of righteous Jews as such:

Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth. (Qur’an, 7:159)

In other verses, God says, “God’s curse is on them for their blasphemy/disbelief ” (Qur’an, 2:88) or “The Curse of God is on those who do wrong!” (Qur’an, 11:18) while referring to a portion of the community of the Prophet Moses.

These verses show that not all Jews are cursed but rather the ones who have committed these crimes against God. If someone denies God’s commandments and does not repent, and if God does not forgive him, he is promised hell as a torment and that person is already cursed in the Sight of God, be they a Jew or a Muslim. Absolutely nowhere in the Qur’an does God say “I have cursed every Jew, I regard them as cursed en masse.” Besides this is not a specific reference to Jews, but rather the threat of God in general: His punishment is valid for all deviators. This also includes those hypocrites who live in the guise of a Muslim.

Furthermore, all the things listed5 as a reason for a curse in the Qur’an are crimes in the Sight of God, actions that are unlawful. God imposes these conditions and says that those people who do these things are cursed.

This punishment is also expressed in the same context in the Torah. Just like God says in the Qur’an: “[B]ecause of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them” (Qur’an, 5:13), the threat of a curse in the Torah is actually very similar:“ See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today” (Deuteronomy, 11:26-28). The potential curses promised to the community of the Prophet Moses and the reasons for that are explained in great detail in Deuteronomy, chapter 28.6

Consequently, God certainly does not curse innocent people, and definitely not for reasons beyond their control. Since every child being born as innocent is a fundamental aspect of Islamic theology, claiming inherited error is incompatible with God’s justice; indeed, such an idea is theologically indistinguishable from the false doctrine of “original sin.” To expect such injustice from God means to truly not understand Him. Thus, a Jewish boy or girl is most assuredly not born as cursed or impure, and this kind of thinking has no basis whatsoever in the Qur’an.

The Allegation of Jews Being Eternally Despised as Apes and Pigs

What we see on Arab TV channels – depicting Jews as pigs and apes or showing such transformations in animated cartoons – is based entirely on outright hate-propaganda and such propaganda has no basis in the Qur’an.

As the Prophet Moses was one of the greatest prophets and received a divine revelation – the Torah – the errors of his community are mentioned on many occasions. Within this context – giving examples of faults and flaws – God says that when people rebelled against Him and insisted on doing something they should not, He despised them as apes. (Qur’an, 7:165-166; Qur’an, 2:65-66)7

These verses in question refer to the humiliation visited upon those who disobeyed the commandments of God during the time of the Prophet Moses; these are not explanations that are inclusive of all Jews. God does not despise people unless they rebel against His commandments, but some Muslims fail to understand this and therefore say Jews are all humiliated like apes. However, this is not for all Jews, not for all time and certainly not hereditary punishment. The “despised” refers to specific people in a specific time and place,8 although the verses are valid for all times as a reminder of God’s threat. In addition, nowhere in the Qur’an are Jews ever called or compared to pigs.9

It is also important to remember that if a Muslim stands in denial, then he is cursed as well. To present this as a curse on all Jews and for all generations or calling them all apes is against the Qur’an; most of those who say such things are mistaken and they expound on these verses falsely.

Furthermore, from an Islamic perspective, one cannot make generalized judgments based on one verse. The Qur’an is a whole, and every verse expounds upon another; therefore, any verse from the Qur’an should be interpreted within the spirit of the Qur’an. God informs Muslims that some Jews shall have their reward in the Hereafter (Qur’an, 2:62). There are many verses that can be cited to show that God discriminates most scrupulously and praises those good ones among the Jews and the Christians just as He does among Muslims.

For example, in one of the passages of the Qur’an, God praises Jews as such:

Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) are a portion that stand (for the right): They rehearse the Signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous. Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for God knoweth well those that do right. (Qur’an, 3:113-115)

The Allegation That Muslims Should Not Take Jews as Friends

One of the verses that is misinterpreted by some Muslims to falsely claim that Jews are Muslims’ eternal foes and selectively used to fuel Jew-hatred is:

O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends (awliyāa); they are friends (awliyāu) of each other; and whoever amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) (yatawallahum), then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. (Qur’an, 5:51)

In this particular verse, there are two words that are translated as referring to “friend.” One is the word awliyāa, which means “guardians, protectors, authorities in the eyes of law, saints, masters, owners, possessors.”10

The other word is yatawallahum, which means “turns to them (for friendship).” The word “friendship” refers to the awliyāa mentioned previously. In other words, the word that is translated as “friendship” is not a reference to friendship as in wordly human relations but rather it means “turn to them as protectors,” as in “governance.”

God relates that Muslims – of course in places where they are in the majority – should not be under the sovereignty of other religious rule; just like in Judaism, it is forbidden to appoint a king who is not a naturally-born Jew.11 It certainly does not mean that Muslims should not make friends with Jews and Christians, be foes of each other or that they should not show compassion and respect, or sever their social connections with them. This is one of the crucial misunderstandings regarding the relations of Jews and Muslims.

As a matter of fact, in the continuation of the text, another verse explains this issue further and refers to a special context:

O you who have believed, take not those who have taken your religion in ridicule and amusement among the ones who were given the Scripture before you nor the disbelievers as allies (awliyāa). (Qur’an, 5:57)

In the above verse, the same word awliyāa is used, and translated as “allies” – and in other translations as “friends and protectors.” Here the verse refers to a specified condition: If Jews and Christians mock a Muslim’s religion or curse it, then of course a Muslim would distance him or herself to avoid dispute as advised in the Qur’an for such cases (Qur’an, 6:68).

In another verse, only those who fight Muslims for their belief are forbidden to be allies (Qur’an, 60:9),12 and God does not refer to all Christians and Jews. This forbiddance even includes believers who do not bear their share of burden (Qur’an, 8:72).13

Another verse that is misused14 as if the Jews are Muslims’ enduring enemies is as follows:

Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans. (Qur’an, 5:82)

When we look at the references of Jews in the Qur’an, one can see that different expressions and words are used with distinction.15 In this verse, the Arabic word that is translated as “Jew” is Al Yahud, and it does not point to all Israelites. It is a reference to a sect that regarded Uzayr (Ezra) as the son of God as mentioned in the Qur’an verse 9:30; apparently there are no Jews that believe this way anymore.16 Thus the verses’ addressees are only those Jews of Arabia who differed from all other Jews.

Furthermore, not considering the Qur’an as a whole and leaving aside the verses that suggest humane relations with Jews are a deflection from the truth. Nowhere in the Qur’an is waging war or being enemies with Jews encouraged or suggested, and these are the only verses that are referring to a specific context and condition that has to be read with a sincere approach to the whole of the Qur’an.

Fabricated Hadith in the Hamas Charter and the False Belief that Killing Jews is God’s Will

One after the other, we see Arab religious and political leaders referring to one specific hadith (a saying of the Prophet Mohammed) as a propaganda tool against Israel that has become a general “license” to kill Jews. There are surely many fabricated hadiths that have infiltrated even into the most authentic hadith collections over the centuries. However, one can easily discriminate these through conscience and reason because no hadith can conflict with the Qur’an or annul a verse of the Qur’an. If it does, then it is not an authentic hadith, and this is indisputable.

There is a well-known specific false hadith that some radicals use to “justify” war against Jews, which can be found in the Hamas Charter, article seven:17

The last hour would not come until the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.18

First of all, one can easily understand that this hadith is a false hadith because it conflicts with the Qur’an in an obvious and blatant manner.19 Some attempts to interpret this as an excuse or a call to make war against the Jews can never give any kind of legitimacy whatsoever to wage war against Jews. Secondly, if somebody turns up one day and claims that stones and trees spoke to him, and thus he went off and started killing Jewish people, one can safely presume that he is suffering from an auditory hallucination, perhaps some psychotic episode, or else that person would thus be committing murder; he would be an assassin. This would be haram (unlawful), and it is definitely unacceptable.

These interpretations that call for war against the Jews have no theological or doctrinal basis, and they are a blatant misuse of Islam.

Even if a Jewish person is someone who has committed a crime, that individual should be arrested and charged, and he should be put on trial and sentenced by a judge. There is a legal system, and he would be punished for the particular crime he commits. This does not mean that whoever wishes can go off and kill every Jew he meets; such is the reasoning of madmen and delusional psychopaths.

As a matter of fact, during the time of the Prophet Mohammed, Jews’ rights – for all Jewish tribes and all branches of Jews – were protected under the constitution of Medina, and the same rights to life and protection were ensured for Jews as well as Muslims.20 Retaliation is allowed in the Qur’an in cases involving murder; however, Muslims are encouraged even to forgive a murderer.21 Thus, extra-judicial executions for Jews – or anyone else – can never be justified within Islam.

On the other hand, even if one takes this hadith as sound, Muslims and Jews have already made war against each other several times in the last century alone. Similarly, in the hadith collections, many events regarding the End Times have been explained in great detail which have been realized in the past decades; however, none of them were interpreted as events to be provoked/encouraged or intentionally imposed.22 Also there are many hadiths that take the form “The last hour would not come until…”23  They simply state an event will happen, without saying if it is a good or bad thing. In this hadith above, within the context of all others of this category, it is said that there will be a battle between some Muslims and some Jews, but it is never said that this is a good thing and certainly not something that should be proactively sought.

Therefore, these interpretations that misrepresent Jews as the eternal enemies of Muslims and call for war against them have no theological or doctrinal basis, and they are an apparent misuse of Islam.

Misrepresenting Jews as the Army of Dajjal (Anti-Messiah) in the End Times

In Islamic eschatology, there is a hadith that the Dajjal (anti-Messiah/anti-Christ) will come and will be followed by 70,000 Jews:

Seventy thousand people from the Jews of Isfahan with turbans and gowns will follow the Dajjal (anti-Messiah).24

Based on this hadith, some Muslim clerics falsely claim that all Jews will be the army of the Dajjal – in other words, the anti-Messiah. It goes without saying that this hadith is not referring to every Jewish man, woman or child. It is referring specifically only to some who are against God’s way. Like many things from the Qur’an and hadiths, this particular example has been taken out of context and used by extremists to justify their desire to commit wanton slaughter.

However, there is apparent evidence to this hypocrisy. According to the Islamic accounts, there is another hadith. The Prophet Mohammed says that:

Seventy thousand scholars from my community, all wearing turbans, will follow the Dajjal (anti-Messiah).25

In referring to the people who will follow the anti-Messiah in the hadith, the Prophet Mohammed speaks in particular of those who are from the Islamic community and, what is more, he draws attention to those who regard themselves as scholars. Consequently, there is an obvious bias with regard to some Islamic figures portraying Jews as evil and enemies of God based on this hadith, and falsely suggesting to kill them as some manner of virtue or indication of piety.

A Muslim cannot deduce any judgments based on a single hadith. However, even if we assume that there are such hadiths, those which seem offensive could easily be interpreted in a rational way that is compatible with the spirit of the Qur’an:The army of the anti-Messiah – in other words, enemies of God – will emerge from every religion, and they will constitute bigots who seek to damage their own faiths and the world. Among them there can be Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others who are insincere in their faith and who are involved in efforts that are against God’s consent.

Furthermore, many different kinds of people are mentioned as “falling away from belief” and following the Dajjal. It would be a misrepresentation of the hadith to say that the Dajjal is a Jewish movement with only Jewish followers. Sometimes his followers are said to be from the Shi’ah or Khawarij26 or Sunnis.27 In another hadith, the Dajjal’s followers are said to come from 600,000 Jews wearing crowns along with 600,000 Bedouin, some from the tribe of Jadis,28 while in other hadiths Turks, Weavers, Magicians, and Uzbeks are mentioned.29 What is important to note is that any sincere believer, be it a Jew or Muslim, will not follow the Dajjalas he will claim divinity.30

While referring to Jews as the army of Dajjal, some Muslims also imply a so-called holy war that ends with the extermination of Jews; furthermore, they claim that the Mahdi – the Islamic holy person of the End Times who is equivalent to King Messiah – will kill all the Jews as a divine mission.31

First of all, the Mahdi that Muslims are awaiting as someone who will guide people to truth in the End Times is the same holy person that the Jews are waiting for as the Messiah, and this leader’s attributes are similar in both Islamic and Judaic accounts. According to the hadiths, the Mahdi is said to rule the Jews with the Torah at his time:

(Hazrat Mahdi) will rule among Jews with the Torah and among Christians with the Gospel.32

The Mahdi will also govern the world through love, not through war. He is someone who avoids war, a man of peace, who is full of love and compassion for all humanity. The way he will operate is described as follows in the hadith:

People will seek refuge in the Mahdi (King Messiah) as honey bees cluster around their sovereign. He will fill the world that was once full of cruelty with justice. His justice will be as such that he will not wake a sleeping person not even one drop of blood is shed. The earth will return to the age of happiness.33

As indicated in the reference to the “burden of war,” all forms of violence, oppression, and conflict will come to an end in the time of the Mahdi (King Messiah):

Enmity and hatred between people will cease….Like the cup fills with water, so will the earth fill with peace….There will be religious unity. Nobody but Allah will be worshiped. War will put down its burden.34

Consequently, it is not only false to suggest that the Mahdi will kill Jews, but it is also against Islamic theology in every way, shape, and form. “Not one drop of blood will be shed” is an indisputable expression and thus the Mahdi will not shed the blood of anyone from any religion.

Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and Denial of Israel’s Existence

Widespread rejection of Jews’ historical, cultural, and religious ties to the Holy Land is one of the most common but facile narratives throughout Islamic majority countries. Despite the fact that this negation of Jews’ rights in the Holy Land masquerades as an Islamic cause or even as an imperative of piety, there is no truth to the rejectionists’ assertions that can be based on Islamic grounds.

The region where the Jews currently live is, beyond any doubt, their homeland, the land that their forefathers lived in and were buried in; thus, they must be allowed to live there. What is perhaps not well-known is that from an Islamic point of view, there is no basis whatsoever that prohibits Muslims from recognizing Jews’ presence in the region and accepting them as a state. In fact, the Qur’an itself provides clarification on this pivotal issue, not only referring to the connections of the Jews with the Holy Land but also to the legitimacy of their presence until the Last Day.

Although Zionism encapsulates the idea that Jews have the right to self-determination and to live as a people in Israel, it has been heavily loaded with negative meanings for Muslims in general. While for Jews it is simply Jewish nationalism or the connection of the Children of Israel with the Holy Land as a necessity to perform some of the Biblical commandments, it has quite a derogatory meaning and a negative impression in the Muslim world to a level not permitting anyone to speak fairly about it. Especially in the widespread political arena of the whole Middle East, being opposed to Zionism or generally being opposed to Israel is a classical right-wing statement. In other words, when a person makes statements against these subjects, then he gains popularity, support, and political power. The same goes for a writer or a leader of a religious group.

Since being anti-Zionist is falsely perceived of as a necessity of justice and conscience, no one dares to speak out in favor of or to be affiliated with it in any positive context because anyone who speaks in a friendly manner on the subject would find himself labeled as a supporter of oppressors, racists, blood shedders, world hegemony seekers and so on. Hence even those who are neutral to Israel would just simply evade the subject so as to avoid public pressure – in some cases, even more severe intimidation.

The Zionist conception of the Jewish people, who wish to live in peace and security in Israel alongside Muslims, seeking peace and wishing to worship in the lands of their forefathers and engaging in business, science, and art is perfectly normal from an Islamic perspective. In fact, the Zionist belief held by a devout Jew and based on the Torah does not in any way conflict with the Qur’an. On the contrary, the Jews’ living in that region is stated in the Qur’an:

Remember Moses said to his people: ‘O my people! Call in remembrance the favor of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people! Enter the Holy Land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.’ (Qur’an, 5:20-21)

It is also mentioned in the Qur’an that the Jews are a blessed people from the line of the Prophet Abraham and descended from the worthy prophets of God. There is no doubt that the Jews’ effort to migrate and build a homeland for themselves is a most lawful demand and natural right. Indeed, God reveals in the Qur’an that He has settled the Jews in those lands they live in, and it is an implication that Jews have the right to live freely on those lands, as do Muslims and Christians:

We settled the Children of Israel in a beautiful dwelling-place, and provided for them sustenance of the best: it was after knowledge had been granted to them, that they fell into schisms. Verily Allah will judge between them as to the schisms amongst them, on the Day of Judgment. (Qur’an, 10:93)

In another verse, God says, referring to Jerusalem:

And remember We said: ‘Enter this town, and eat of the plenty therein as ye wish; but enter the gate with humility, in posture and in words, and We shall forgive you your faults and increase (the portion of) those who do good.’ (Qur’an, 2:58)

The fact that al-Quds is a holy place for Muslims does not overrule the Jews’ connection with it; on the contrary, the Qur’an mentions Jerusalem as the Jewish direction of prayer. The name al-Quds is itself a shortened version of Bayt al-Muqaddas, which means Sanctified House/House of Holiness/B’eit HaMiqdash which is the name the Tanakh uses for the Temple of the Prophet Solomon. There are also other verses of the Qur’an that indicate the right of Jews to dwell in the Holy Land:

They say, ‘If we follow the guidance with you, we shall be forcibly uprooted from our land.’ Have We not established a safe haven for them to which produce of every kind is brought, provision direct from Us? But most of them do not know it. (Qur’an, 28:57)

And just like it is promised in Deuteronomy 30,35 the Jews’ existence is mentioned as a promise until the Last Day:

And We said unto the Children of Israel after him: Dwell in the land; but when the promise of the Hereafter cometh to pass We shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations. (Qur’an, 17:104)

Among the Muslim community, there are huge numbers of people who say that they are not against Jews but only against Zionists. At first glance, this suggests no hostility towards Jews as a nation, as a follower of a religion, but only opposition to an ideological policy. However, when we look at matters more closely, we see that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are quite intertwined or that anti-Zionism is used as a cloak for anti-Semitism.36 For instance, an Egyptian cleric openly states that fighting with Jews is not relevant to the Palestinian conflict:

If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not.We will never love them….We must believe that our fighting with the Jews is eternal, and it will not end until the final battle – and this is the fourth point. You must believe that we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them,until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth.37

Another cleric from Qatar enunciates this vicious outlook as such:

We do not treat the Jews as our enemies just because they occupied Palestine, or because they occupied a precious part of our Arab and Islamic world. We will treat the Jews as our enemies even if they return Palestine to us, because they are infidels.38

While Al-Aqsa TV broadcasts a prayer for the extermination of all Jews, in all places,39 a member of the Palestinian Shariah (Islamic religious law) Rulings Council says:

The Jews are the Jews, whether Labor or Likud, the Jews are the Jews. They do not have any moderates or any advocates of peace. They are all liars….They must be butchered and they must be killed.40

When one scratches the surface of the distortion behind the meaning of Zionism, one can clearly see that anti-Zionism is used as a disguise for anti-Semitism or sometimes caused by ignorance and false indoctrination. Largely thanks to the infamous disinformation piece The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was so widely used to ignite hatred, people indeed were duped into believing that the Jews have a plan of world conquest.41

Consequently, in essence, Zionism as a word to describe the search of a community tied together by a common religious and cultural heritage and to live in a homeland free from persecution does not contradict with the Qur’an or with Islam’s authentic teachings. That is why it is essential to educate Muslims what Zionism means and why opposing Israel’s existence is a false understanding of piety.

Denial of Jews’ Connection to the Temple Mount

Another issue that is open to media manipulation and often exploited to create agitation among Muslims with the aim of a political agenda is the situation at the Temple Mount, known as Haram al-Sharif in the Islamic world. This area is surely one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, and has been a holy place for thousands of years. However, the unique importance of the Temple Mount to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam makes the location vulnerable to tensions and conflicts, especially between Jews and Muslims.

Usually, these incidents originate in rumors such as: “The Jews are planning to bomb the mosque and build their Third Temple”42 or “Jews are digging under the Al-Aqsa Mosque to make it collapse.”43 Obviously, false accusations and baseless suspicions like these turn the site from a holy place of prayer and love into a site of violent political demonstrations; consequently, potential escalation of tensions brings more restrictions and discomfort to all.

In an atmosphere of such high tension, any dissemination of provocative news and rumors – sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes intentional – results in acts of violence and clashes. However, Muslims are obliged to investigate the source and truth of news in order not to cause harm to people out of ignorance (Qur’an,49:6), and they should not disseminate news without fact-checking it first since causing disorder is a serious crime in the Qur’an. (Qur’an, 10:81, 2:205)

On the other hand – because of the general hatred of Jews and anti-Israel sentiments – Jews’ coming to pray in the area is declared as a “calamity” and a call for clashes. Jews’ praying to God anywhere can never possibly be construed as an offense or an act that would cause unease to a Muslim, and it is an atrocious thing to forbid anyone from praying at the Haram al-Sharif or anywhere in the world, for that matter. This is clearly stated in the Qur’an:

And who is more unjust than he who forbids that in places for the worship of God, God’s name should be celebrated? – whose zeal is (in fact) to ruin them? It was not fitting that such should themselves enter them except in fear. For them there is nothing but disgrace in this world, and in the world to come, an exceeding torment. (Qur’an, 2:214)

Furthermore, among some Muslim religious and political leaders, in order to delegitimize the Jews’ existence in the region as an indigenous people, we also witness the complete repudiation of their connection to the Temple Mount. For instance, long-time chairman of PLO Yasser Arafat commented about this issue as such:

For 34 years [the Israelis] have dug tunnels [around the Temple Mount….[T]hey found not a single stone proving that the Temple of Solomon was there, because historically the Temple was not in Palestine [at all]. They found only remnants of a shrine of the Roman Herod….They are now trying to put in place a number of stones so that they can say ‘We were here.’ This is nonsense. I challenge them to bring a single stone from the Temple of Solomon.44

His successor, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), also talks in a similar manner:

[The Israelis] claim that 2000 years ago they had a Temple [on the Temple Mount]. I challenge the claim that this is so. But even if it is so, we do not accept [current Israeli claims on the Temple Mount].45

Furthermore according to the statement by the Higher Islamic Authority of Palestine:

The claims being made by the rulers of Israel and its rabbis about the alleged Temple are pure fabrications without any base or foundation.46

It is a well-known fact that for 3,500 years there has been a continual Jewish presence in the Holy Land, not to mention abundant historical discoveries. The Temple Mount, where the First and Second Temples stood, is the holiest place to the Jewish people; although it is no less holy to Muslims and Christians, one’s rights in this religious site do not necessarily conflict with others. According to the Tanakh, this is a location that God has announced to be a “house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah, 56:6-7) and His will is to make this unique spot a common sanctuary where all people coexist to “call upon the name of God, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah, 3:9)

From an Islamic point of view, anywhere one prays to the One and Only Almighty God is a house of prayer. Therefore, the Prophet Solomon’s Prayer House, Beit Hamikdash, is holy for Muslims as well, and it is a duty for Muslims to rebuild and repair all houses of prayer.47

As a matter of fact, the longings of B’nei Israel to pray in that place can never be an offense to a Muslim; on the contrary, it is very pleasant to see Jewish people praying at the Temple Mount, and also to see the Prophet Solomon’s House of Prayer rebuilt.

This is definitely not a threat to al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. There is a broad expanse48 of land in that particular area easily allowing the Prophet Solomon’s Prayer House to be placed just a bit away from Qubbat as-Sakhrah, and a little ahead of Masjeed al-Aqsa. Muslims should also remember that the Prophet Solomon – King Solomon as the Jews call him – is a prophet to Muslims whose superior understanding of beauty and aesthetics in architecture is praised in the Qur’an. Thus, the rebuilding of this holy place in its original form, with the same beautiful ornaments, covered in gold, adorned with beautiful gardens, and restored to its former glory, should be a source of joy for Muslims. The very thought of Christians, Jews, and Muslims cooperating to rebuild this house of worship, together hand-in-hand, and worshiping there together, should be a great desire for all.

Distortion of the Concepts of Jihad and War in the Qur’an

Behind the on-going conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, Islamic motives are being badly misused to make this look like a holy war where the Muslim world has to unite. Since they depict Jews as the enemy of Allah – as explained earlier – the teaching is that Islam is at war with Jews and Israel, and killing Jews is requisite in order to fulfill Islam’s victory and to draw Muslims closer to Allah. Having studied the so-called Islamic grounds for this war-mentality, there are serious and apparent deviations from Islamic teachings with regards to commandments of war and peace and also the outlook about the Jews at large. The fact is that Muslims do not have a “right” to be at war with Jews as people. Even if there are confrontations or war involving some Jews, there are serious breaches of the Qur’an’s commandments as to their methods and way of thinking in so-called justified terrorism.

Jihad and Qital in the Qur’an

First of all, the word jihad is widely misused due to a great distortion of the true meaning of the term by some Muslims. Although the Oxford English dictionary defines jihad as “a holy war undertaken by Muslims against non-believers” or Merriam Webster defines it as “a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty,” the word jihad comes from the word jehd, meaning to strive. Thus carrying out “jihad” refers to “showing effort, struggling, striving in the way of Allah” in the broadest sense as a permanent duty. Jihad is not holy war and it is most certainly not suicide, not killing innocent people, not fighting out of hatred, and not killing others just because they are not Muslims.

It is true that jihad is a central issue in Islam and a responsibility upon all Muslims. However jihad – according to the Qur’an – is spreading the message of Islam, enjoining the good and fighting against evil and injustice; therefore, it can surely mean a struggle carried out on intellectual grounds too. Jihad is not a “justification” for massacres or acts of aggression against innocent people. The Prophet Mohammed explains that “the greatest jihad is the one a person carries out against his lower self ”49 referring to selfish desires and ambitions. Thus, besides jihad al-nafs (inner struggle), the external jihad can be done by knowledge, pen and tongue with the purpose to bring about justice and peace, and to oppose cruelty.

For the times when jihad involves war (jihad al-qital), it is either for self-defense or for defense of an aggrieved people in a situation obliging one to combat in order to survive or save lives. When the Qur’an refers to physical combat (fighting to kill) another word is used: qatal. Qatala is to battle, to kill, and qital is fighting, physical combat. There are verses that do give permission to kill; however, they are for limited circumstances; they are not a license forever, and assuredly not a blind endorsement of unrestricted violence.

War for Self-Defense

From an Islamic point of view, war is an exceptional matter and an unwanted obligation when one’s life is under attack, and Muslims can only resort to it as the last option and for defensive purposes only. Muslims are not supposed to attack; war has to be inevitable at the point that one has to defend oneself. Even if it is considered obligatory for self-defense, it has to be carried out with strict observance of humane and moral values. To put it in another way, God granted permission for war only for defensive purposes, and Muslims are warned against the use of unnecessary violence:

Fight in the Way of God against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. God does not love those who go beyond the limits. (Qur’an, 2:190)

In another verse, God commands justice and warns Muslims against feeling rage towards enemies so that their judgments are not impaired:

You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness… (Qur’an, 5:8)

One also has to remember that in times of war, not fighting to defend or to stop persecution of attackers would be a crime since it would mean permitting the murder of innocent people. That is why the commandments to fight were a reminder of an obligation to action for Muslims.

Obligation to Protect Peace

When there is a peace treaty, both sides should adhere to the peace agreement meticulously and commit to not attacking each other. Especially for Muslims, after making a peace agreement, according to the Qur’an, one has to remain scrupulous in protecting it and abiding by its terms. God says:

If they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. (Qur’an, 8:61)

As it is seen in the following verse, permission to fight is no longer valid when the other side offers peace:

If they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them.(Qur’an, 4:90)

In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when one side fires rockets, the other side is fully entitled (and indeed obligated) to protect its citizens. When peace is declared and there is a peace agreement, Muslims have to abide by the provisions. Thus, after the cessation of attacks and making of a peace treaty, launching rockets blindly against Israeli villages and towns which eventually harm people is wholly incompatible with the Qur’an, and a violation of it.

Protection of Civilians is Essential

There is absolutely no justification whatsoever in the Qur’an for killing innocent people. Murdering guiltless people is a crime that is utterly against Islam:

If someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. (Qur’an, 5:32)

As it is stated explicitly in the verse, it is a sin to target civilians or be reckless of their security during an attack. When Hamas indiscriminately launches rockets over Israel, there is no precise direction and thus these rockets fall sometimes on empty land but also sometimes onto the homes of innocent Israeli civilians. Consequently it becomes inevitable that civilians, including innocent children, are severely affected by this. According to the Qur’an, it is a sin to take an innocent life, and it is also a sin to cause disorder or panic.

In war times, the Prophet Mohammed has explicitly prohibited the killing of the elderly, women, and children:

Do not kill children. Avoid touching people who devote themselves to worship in churches! Never murder women and the elderly. Do not set trees on fire or cut them down. Never destroy houses!50

Go to war in adherence to the religion of God. Never touch the elderly, women or children. Always improve their situation and be kind to them. God loves those who are sincere.51

The Prophet Mohammed’s companion and first Caliph Abu Bakr states:

O people! I charge you with ten rules; learn them well! Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.52

No matter who may espouse these ideas, however Islamic they may look or sound, if terror and wanton and random killing is being aimed at innocent men, women, and children, these acts are violations of the Qur’an and referred to as cruelty. Furthermore, in Islam, God encourages Muslims even to forgive people who have committed murder. (Quran, 2:78, 5:45)

Consequently, according to all sects of Islam, it is not permissible to kill women or children unless they are attacking Muslims to kill. It is also not permissible to kill non-combatants according to the Hanafi, Hanbali, and Maliki schools. Furthermore according to Islamic jurisprudence, children cannot be targets or soldiers of war; children should not be killed and should not be used or encouraged in war.53

Terror and Suicide are Prohibited in the Qur’an

Violence committed against civilian targets for political purposes is terrorism, the Muslim identity of the perpetrators and their use of God’s name notwithstanding.54 It is obvious that organizing acts of terror against innocent people constitutes a great sin and God informs us about this cruel mindset of terrorists and how they will be punished:

There are only grounds against those who wrong people and act as tyrants in the earth without any right to do so. Such people will have a painful punishment. (Qur’an, 42:42)

So Muslims are responsible for stopping these people, and terrorism by no means can be reconciled with Islam, even if it is considered as an act of just war (which most certainly is not).

Another important matter is that Islam absolutely forbids suicide attacks. God says:

Do not kill yourselves. (Qur’an, 4:29)

Suicide is a haram (unlawful), and it is a crime punished with an eternity in hell as revealed in the Qur’an. In some so-called Islamic websites that explain the law and strategies behind Palestinian jihad, they warn each other to refrain from using the expression suicide attacks because they know full well it is unlawful according to the Qur’an. Rather, they suggest to use actions of istishhad (martyrdom). This “self-martyrdom” is definitely not martyrdom according to the Qur’an and it is a grotesque distortion of Islam.

Martyrdom, according to Islam, means death while striving on the path of God;55 indeed, the concept of martyrdom is virtually identical in all religions.

The Qur’an indisputably prohibits the killing of other believers; and that is opposite of those encouraging and aiding those in acts of suicide bombings:

If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is hell, to abide therein (for ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him. (Qur’an, 4:93)

If a suicide bomber perpetrates his action in the name of Islam, and kills innocent people as well as himself, then that is among the biggest sins and worst blasphemy committed in God’s Name. The recompense for murder and suicide is promised as eternity in hell. Blowing up restaurants, markets, buses, and then honoring and glorifying the perpetrators are in fact celebrating murderers, not martyrs, and it is most unequivocally not jihad.

Furthermore, suicide bombings are a new phenomenon of the 20th century with no antecedents in Islamic history, and there is no justification for such cruelty in terms of Islamic theology, law, or tradition.56

The False Belief That Muslims Should be at War With Jews

Islamic history is often mentioned alongside wars, and thus falsely implying a continuous war with non-Muslims in our time. However, the verses regarding combat and killing are for a specific time, place, and set of circumstances; it is not an excuse or justification to go out and commit mass slaughter in our present day.

The pagans of that time were utterly ruthless and aggressive, slaughtering Muslims and women wherever they found them, and they were also well-known for surprise attacks, ambushes, and other methods of deception in their attempts to stop the Prophet Mohammed and destroy the nascent Islamic community. They committed atrocities against Muslims who were literally under siege everywhere, and caused them to move to the town of Yathrib (later to be renamed Medina). The pagans simply would not listen to reason, and Muslims were allowed to wage war only because they were being oppressed and subjected to unbearable violence. Thus, in the commandments regarding combat, God tells Muslims to defend themselves; however, that does not mean Muslims can go out and kill anyone at any time.

On the other hand, it is not an easy thing to decide to wage war, and the Prophet Mohammed was undecided, worrying about whether he would be committing a sin. As the aggressors in question are, after all, human beings, he felt a great responsibility of conscience and was unable to make a decision. Under these circumstances, God commanded the Prophet Mohammed to kill the polytheists wherever he finds them, and in other verses describes what strategic measures they needed to take in the wars of those times. However, that is a commandment delivered within the context of an ongoing war, and it was not meant as a method for the propagation of Islam. God gives this permission and explains the reasons and conditions as such:

…Whenever they are made to revert to hostility, they fall headlong into it. Therefore, if they do not keep aloof from you, nor offer you peace nor restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them, wherever you find them. Against these We have given you clear authority. (Qur’an, 4:91)

In this same vein, the Qur’an commands siege warfare and the taking of prisoners as a more peaceful means of neutralizing a potentially aggressive community (Qur’an, 9:5). If a blockade or the taking of prisoners is not possible, then killing is permissible only as a last resort. Thus, God reveals how Muslims should defend themselves when they are under attack.

Another verse states that war has to end the moment the other side stops fighting (Qur’an, 4:90).57 Consequently the early Muslim community (ummah) followed the command of God, and they fought to defend themselves from utter extermination within the boundaries set by God. When these verses are not properly understood in their proper historical context, all manner of disaster ensues, as we can see all too well when we watch the evening news.

It is true that the Prophet Mohammed had to fight not only the Meccans but also against some Jewish and Christian tribes when they planned an offensive against him; yet again, Islam does not justify a total aggressive war or extermination. In addition, it is important to clarify that the Prophet Mohammed did not fight Jews because of their ethnicity or because of their religion; rather his fight was against whoever intended to persecute Muslims or those who cooperated with the enemy – despite the agreement.

On the other hand, according the constitution of Medina that the Prophet Mohammed established, Muslims and Jews were jointly responsible to defend the state against any outside attack;58 adherence to these peace treaties was equally incumbent upon the Jews and Muslims.59 So, this is another proof that the Jewish tribes were not a targeted enemy but an integral component of defense as long as they did not fight against the Muslim community.

The Falsehood about Abrogation of Peaceful Verses

Some people suggest that the verses sent down during the Meccan period and those sent down during the period of Medina are different, and that the later texts supersede previous ones – indeed, there is not even complete agreement of the order of the suras. Accordingly, they conclude that the ninth chapter (surah) which was revealed last and during a time of war, annuls all the prior verses that speak of peace and understanding. Those claims – which are referred to as “doctrine of abrogation (naskh)”60 – are unfounded: All the verses of the Qur’an are valid,61 from beginning to end,62 and “…there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah.” (Qur’an, 6:34) It is disbelief to speak of the annulment of any of God’s commandments.63

These are merely ideas some people have invented for themselves, and therefore have no validity whatsoever; no commandment in the Qur’an can cease to apply. Even though some verses mention specific times, places, and events, they are informed to Muslims with wisdom, to take lessons or examples of. It is not acceptable to annul a verse on the basis of fabricated hadiths and of historical information. It must be kept in mind that no hadith can conflict with the Qur’an and if it does, then it is not an authentic hadith.

First and foremost, God says Muslims are responsible to the Qur’an alone,64 declaring that all necessary instruction can be found within the Qur’an,65 and He warns about those who divide the Qur’an as they please.66 Consequently, the commandments concerning war do not abrogate the principles in the earlier suras that Islam mandates abiding by peace agreements, or that Muslims are only allowed to fight a defensive battle, or that Muslims must incline toward peace.

Muslims and Jews Can Live Side by Side in Peace

According to the Qur’an, Jews have a special status as “People of the Book” and there is no obstacle for Muslims to live side by side with Jews and engage in social life.67 On the contrary, Muslims can establish warm human relationships with them through marriage and the sharing of food (Quran, 5:5). God says that the food of Jews is lawful (halal) for Muslims; that means that God creates some sort of closeness with Jews, and that He wants Muslims to consider them as worldly friends and to have a humane affection for them. He wants Muslims to approach their food with a sense of security and eat their food. Thus it is obvious that Muslims can invite Jews to their homes and dine with them together. It is patently illogical to claim that you go to the home of a person you consider to be a foe. Furthermore, if God says one can marry and eat with the People of the Book – Christians and Jews – then this is the clearest proof that Muslims and Jews can live together in a climate of peace and love. Since these interactions indicate trust, love, and affinity, the entire idea that Muslims are authorized to kill Christians and Jews collapses into its own logical absurdity. From an Islamic perspective, this shows that there can be no obstacle to living together and in harmony, and this is clear evidence that enables the formation of warm human relationships and tranquil togetherness between Jews and Muslims.

Holocaust Denial and Its Use as a Propaganda Tool

Arguably, the roots of anti-Semitism found their most lethal expression in the Holocaust (Shoah), when some six million innocent Jewish men, women, and children were exterminated on the edge of mass graves in the Ukraine, Poland and Russia or had their lives systematically snuffed out at factories of mass murder such as Sobibor, Majdanek, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Chelmo, and Belzec.

For many centuries, the disdain towards the Jews in Diaspora was confined to the religious and social sphere. This religious and social sentiment is demonstrated in events such as the pogroms of the First Crusade in 1096, the expulsion of the Jews from England by Royal Decree in 1290, the Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, and the pogroms in Russia and in the Ukraine. This sentiment could still be seen expressed by one of the world’s largest religions as recently as 1959, when a reference to “perfidious Jews” was finally dropped from the Good Friday Liturgy of the Catholic Church.

Holocaust denial is a peculiar subset of pseudo-history which teaches that anyone who lays claim to the mantle of historian can deny, out-of-hand, that the Shoah took place. Aside from the reams of documentary evidence, or the photographs taken by members of the Nazi extermination squads as they wrought their vile handiwork, we have the words of the perpetrators themselves, including the testimony on the stand, under oath, of no one less than Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz, not to mention the testimony of Adolf Eichmann, the pencil-pushing architect of the Final Solution. There is also the infamous “Posen Speech” (which was recorded for posterity) of Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi RSHA68 and one of those most directly responsible for the Shoah itself.69 That any sane individual, not to mention a historian, can dismiss this overwhelming and easily verifiable evidence which clearly testifies as to what transpired, often in the most blood-chilling and sickening detail, defies belief. To maintain that the Shoah is either a wholly fictive event, or that it was “grossly exaggerated” is the pinnacle of intellectual dishonesty.

We see all too often this fanatical and obsessive anti-Semitism being represented in popular culture in the Islamic world; references to Jewish people as a “cancer” or a “tumor” that must be removed. This rhetoric is almost identical to the biological racism employed by European anti-Semites beginning in the late 19th century, when they began utilizing Darwinist language70 as a way to justify their opinions, and their occasional wholesale exterminations of indigenous peoples throughout the world. It is apparent that anti-Semitism has been transmitted from European culture to the culture of the Islamic world at large.

There have been Muslims who have denied the Holocaust occurred, unfortunately,so it is hardly uncommon or unheard of.71 For instance, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad frequently denied the Holocaust. In one of his speeches delivered at Tehran University, he stated:

The pretext [the Holocaust] for the creation of the Zionist regime [Israel] is false….It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim.72

In his December 2005 speech, broadcast live on state television, Ahmadinejad repeated his view that the Holocaust was a myth:

They have fabricated a legend, under the name ‘Massacre of the Jews’… if somebody denies the myth of the massacre of Jews, the Zionist loudspeakers and the governments in the pay of Zionism will start to scream.73

According to Bernard Lewis, the three most common positions seen in the Arabic media about the Holocaust are:

It never happened; it was greatly exaggerated; the Jews deserved it anyway. On the last point, some more enterprising writers add a rebuke to Hitler for not having finished the job.74

Generally, what the Holocaust deniers in the Islamic world are doing is picking up this idea from Western sources and repeating it as part and parcel of their anti-Semitic beliefs. Speaking frankly, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial generally go hand-in-hand. However, this is not always the case; there is another subset of the neo-Nazis/white supremacists who do maintain that the Holocaust took place, but that it is an “incomplete work,” as the Nazis ended the program officially in December of 1944 – not out of any humanitarian concern or profound regret over what they had done, but because it was becoming glaringly obvious to Heinrich Himmler that Germany was going to lose WWII, and he needed time to try to cover up the evidence of the Nazis’ monstrous crimes.

Furthermore, while some Muslims deny the Holocaust, some others express in a chilling way that the job – incomplete work – has yet to be finished. Some of the TV programs in the Arab world refer to the Holocaust as something Jews deserved and imply that the extermination of the Jews would be good for the world. We also see Mein Kampf in an Arabic translation widely distributed in Muslim and other countries, removing the study of the Holocaust from history books, distortion of it in the Arab dailies, and the comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany, implying that Israel is performing an ethnic cleansing or genocide upon the Palestinians. On top of all this, making mention of Hitler in a heroic way and open admiration of Nazism has been also embraced as a propaganda tool against Israel and Zionism. As a matter of fact, the unfortunate history of the Hitler-Arab alliance during the Second World War is also one of the factors for the embrace of Nazism in the Arab world.

We see that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, has become a hero among the Palestinians, symbolizing their fight against the Jews. On November 28, 1941, Mufti al-Husseini met with German Führer Adolf Hitler in Berlin and asked for his help against the Jews living under British protection in Arab lands. On March 1, 1944, when the Grand Mufti spoke to Radio Berlin, he said, “Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.”75

Hitler confirmed that Germany’s objective was solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab lands and the Mufti was promised by Hitler to be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world.76

Present-day anti-Semitism in the Islamic world is also being exacerbated by the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict, a low-level war of attrition.

For instance, Hamas refused to allow Palestinian children to learn about the Holocaust, calling it “a lie invented by the Zionists” and referred to Holocaust education as a “war crime.”77

As Muslims, we bear a special obligation to confront the anti-Semitism that has infected the Muslim world. Muslims must not traffic in discredited ideas and unbecoming stereotypes or proclaim, as truth, notorious forgeries such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (It has been well known in the West for almost a century now that this tract was a forgery by the Czarist secret police in order to justify pogroms in Russia.) Muslims must not subscribe to pseudo-scientific notions such as racism, nor allow themselves to be gulled by pseudo-historic nonsense such as Holocaust denial. When it comes to anti-Semitism, Muslims must confront it, and educate against it, and most of all, they must repudiate it utterly.

The sad legacy of anti-Semitism must be, over time, removed from the general culture of the Middle East, much as it has been largely removed from the culture of Germany and the Western nations. This is not to say that anti-Semitism will be eliminated entirely; indeed, there are still those voices who advocate this toxic philosophy. However, these voices are almost entirely on the fringes of Western society and culture, and are generally dismissed as cranks or harmless lunatics. It is to that end that Muslims must aspire – to educate the overwhelming majority of the Islamic world so that when, in the future, some populist demagogue begins spouting anti-Semitic nonsense, he or she will be viewed as an aberration, and will be dismissed by the society at large from which they emerge, and not praised for speaking aloud such hateful notions.


It is unfortunately all too true that there is a widespread hatred of Jews in the Muslim world. However, this does not stem from the Qur’an, but from various misinterpretations that do not reflect the spirit of Islam. The only way to put things right is for people of reason and good conscience to educate people against terror, radicalism and fundamentalism; a proper understanding of Islam will completely prepare people to reject these spurious interpretations that incite violence and blatant anti-Semitism. Thus, in order to bring a stop to violence and radicalism, enlightenment in Islam has to be supported.

We should not forget that Europe, after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and prior to the Enlightenment Era, was a place of superstition and ignorance. Yet the Enlightenment lifted Europe from a place where life was “poor, nasty, brutish and short”78 into the Europe we see today. Yes, it is true that there were missteps and reversals along the way, mostly the result of atavists and irredentists; on the whole, however, the Europe of today is infinitely preferable to the Europe of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. It was neither easy nor painless for Europe to arrive at its present station, but that does not mean that it was not worth it, and there is no reason to believe that the Islamic world cannot achieve the same, as long as the proper lessons of history are drawn. But the Muslim world needs an enlightenment of its own; not a rejection of religion but rather the embracing of a contemporary, modern interpretation, purifying the religion from superstitions, traditional discipline, fabrications, bigotry, etc. – a removal of the dark side that does not belong to the true religion itself.

That is why – as an integral part of a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian issue – education is highly necessary in the Islamic world in order to remove the noxious idea of anti-Semitism and its underlying basis of religious and ethnic hatred. For a long time, Muslims were taught to hate Jews, and now it is time to counter-educate them. Children – but not only children – especially in the Islamic world, need to be thoroughly informed on the background of anti-Semitism, and made sensitive to the horrific consequences that the world saw in the 20th century of that hatred. Above all, Muslim adults and children must be taught that the Jewish people have every right to live in Israel and that the nation of Israel has every right to exist, and to do so in peace with its neighbors.

What needs to be done to end these false beliefs is to support Muslims who interpret the Qur’an and the hadiths in a rational spirit of love and good conscience and to support the unification of the Islamic world. When Muslims come together under a spiritual authority – instead of the current arbitrary model in which everyone says and does as he wants under the rubric of Islam – radical voices will disappear. The only real solution will come from within Islam, with the enlightenment of the Islamic world.

Sinem Tezyapar is an executive producer at a Turkish TV network, frequently contributing to international media focusing on the positive role of religion in diplomacy and peacebuilding process. She is working with inter-parliamentary and non­-governmental organizations for the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum for a Culture of Peace and Global Ethics. She is the coordinator of a prominent interfaith organization for its international relations with political and religious leaders.

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1 Taqiyyah, commonly known as “justified falsehood”, only applies in a case of religious persecution where a person is coerced to renounce certain outward aspects of Islam. In Arabic taqiyyah literally means “caution”; derived from the Arabic word waqa; “to shield oneself”. Here is how it is spoken of in the Qur’an:

“Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith but such as open their breast to unbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful penalty.” (Qur’an, 16:106)

So it is acceptable to renounce Islam with the mouth, while not actually doing so in the heart. This is an exceptional circumstance, and it does not give broad license to commit “pious fraud” against non-Muslims.

2 Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 23, p. 22.

3 Darimi.

4 Abu Nuaim.

5 Some of the crimes that are mentioned for those people from the community of the Prophet Moses are as

such: And for their covenant We raised over them (the towering height) of Mount (Sinai); and (on another occasion) We said: ‘Enter the gate with humility’; and (once again) We commanded them: ‘Transgress not in the matter of the sabbath.’ And We took from them a solemn covenant. (They have incurred Divine displeasure): In that they broke their covenant; that they rejected the signs of God; that they slew the Messengers in defiance of right; that they said, ‘Our hearts are the wrappings (which preserve God’s Word; We need no more)’; Nay, God hath set the seal on their hearts for their blasphemy, and little is it they believe. (Qur’an, 4:154-155)

6 Part of these reasons for this curse are stated as such:

However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all His commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country… All these curses will come upon you… because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees He gave you… (Deuteronomy,28:15-45)

7 The specific mention of Jews regarding this is as follows:

And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: ‘Be ye apes, despised and rejected.’ So We made it an example to their own time and to their posterity, and a lesson to those who fear Allah. (Qur’an, 2:65-66)When they disregarded the warnings that had been given them, We rescued those who forbade evil; but We visited the wrong-doers with a grievous punishment because they were given to transgression. When in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions, We said to them: ‘Be ye apes, despised and rejected.’ (Qur’an, 7:165-166)

8 “Ask them concerning the town standing close by the sea. Behold! they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath. For on the day of their Sabbath their fish did come to them, openly holding up their heads, but on the day they had no Sabbath, they came not: thus did We make a trial of them, for they were given to transgression.” (Qur’an, 7:163)

9 The reference to pigs is mentioned as such in the Qur’an:

Say: ‘Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and pigs, those who worshipped evil; these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!’ (Qur’an, 5:60)

10 This can clearly be seen in the following verse:

But why should Allah not punish them while they obstruct (people) from al-Masjid al- îaram and they were not (fit to be) its guardians (awliyāahu)? Its (true) guardians (awliyāuhu) are not but the righteous, but most of them do not know. (Qur’an, 8:34)

11 Deuteronomy, 17:15;

12 Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection) (yatawallahum). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong. (Qur’an, 60:9)

13 Indeed, those who have believed and emigrated and fought with their wealth and lives in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and aided – they are allies (awliyāu) of one another. But those who believed and did not emigrate – for you there is no guardianship (walāyatihim) of them until they emigrate. And if they seek help of you for the religion, then you must help, except against a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty. And Allah is Seeing of what you do. (Qur’an, 8:72)


15 When the verses address Christians and Jews together, they are referred to as the “People of the Book”(Ahl al-Kitab) meaning those who have received Divine Scriptures which preceded the Qur’an. In most of the verses when God refers to the Jews, the expression is “Children of Israel” (Bani Isra’il). There are other verses mentioning Jews with the Arabic word al Yahud or with the word alladhīna hādū, both translated as Jews. Al Yahud refers to some heretical Jewish sects of Arabia and alladhīna hādū literally means those that follow Judaism or became Jews (converts). By translating these terms with the generic term “Jews” in English, it is falsely misinterpreted to be a reference to Bani Isra’il (Children of Israel). Bani Isra’il encompasses all twelve Jewish tribes.

16 This group refers to some Jewish sects who have committed shirk (idolatry or polytheism); possibly the Hellenized Jews who accepted Greek philosophy, and deviated from Rabbinic Judaism. Ibn Hazm explains that the group that believed that way was called the Al Saduqiyyh (Sadducees): “Al Saduqiyyh: This sect associates itself with a person called Saduq (Zadok). Differing with all other Jews, they regard Uzayr (Ezra) as the son of God.” (Ibn Hazm, Kitab al-Fasl fi al-Milal wa al-Ahwa wa al-Nihal.)

17, Hamas Covenant 1988.

18 Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985.

19 hadiths are divided into categories—sound (sahih), good (hasan), weak (da’if) or fabricated (maudu’)—depending critically on the reliability of the reporters. The narrators should be trustworthy, truthful, and the chain of transmission should be solid in order for it to be accepted as reliable. However there are some false hadiths that have infiltrated into collections that are accepted as authentic hadith collections.Nevertheless, the most important criteria is the hadith being compatible with the Qur’an; that is the first and foremost requirement for a hadith’s authenticity.

20 Shaykh-ul Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri, The Constitution of Medina, Mihaj-ul Qur’an Publications, 2012, Article 20.

21 We ordained therein for them: ‘Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.’ But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of ) what Allah hath revealed, they are (No better than) wrong-doers. (Qur’an, 5,45) Even O ye who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty.(Qur’an, 2:178)

22 For instance, in one of them the Prophet Mohammed foretells that blood will be shed in the Kaaba (and this has happened in the recent past, in 1979 to be specific, during the siege of the Masjid al-Haraam), but it has never been interpreted as a call to shed blood in the Kaaba. The Prophet Mohammed informs us that there will be a great war between Iran and Iraq (the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988), and this has never been interpreted to mean that Muslims should fight each other.

23 The Hour will not come until wealth increases so much that a wealthy man will be worried lest no-one accept his Sadaqah: tribulations will appear; and there will be much Harj.’ The people asked, ‘What is Harj, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Killing, killing’. (Ahmad)The Hour will not come until the following events have come to pass: people will compete with one another in constructing high buildings; two big groups will fight one another, and there will be many casualties – they will both be following the same religious teaching; earthquakes will increase; time will pass quickly; afflictions and killing will increase; nearly thirty dajjals will appear, each of them claiming to be a messenger from Allah; a man will pass by a grave and say, ‘Would that I were in your place’; the sun will rise from the West; when it rises and the people see it, they will all believe, but that will be the time when ‘No good will it do to a soul to believe in them then, if it believed not before.’ (al-An’am 6:158); and a wealthy man will worry lest no-one accept his Zakat. (al-Bukhârî, Muslim)

24 Muslim, At-Taj Ali Nasif al-Husayn, vol. 5, p. 627.

25 Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, p. 796.

26 Abu Ya’la I, 296; al-Hindi XI, 205, no. 31.244.

27 Al-Majlisi, LII, 388.

28 Al Suyuti, V, 389, Nu’ayim 330; Ibn Abi Shayba XV, 182, no. 19.458.

29 Nu’aym 333; Ibn Abi Shayba XV, 159, no. 19.373; Ibn ‘Adi, I, 303, VII, 53; Abu Ya’la I, 40, X, 381; al Sulami 338, 39, no. 19.373; al Khatib al Baghdadi, Ta’rikh, X, 84; al Hindi XIV, 326, no. 38.821, 618; al Mubarakfuri, Tuhfa, VI, 411.

30 Al Sulami, 342, no. 405, Abd al-Razzaq XI, 398, no. 20.836.

31, Egyptian Cleric Mahmoud Al-Masri, Al-Nas TV, Egypt, November 16, 2012. The final annihilation [of the Jews] will come at the time of the Mahdi… A small group of Jews will remain, but not the Jews living in Palestine. A group of Jews from Isfahan will survive, and they will follow the anti-Christ, but eventually, they will also be killed, along with the anti-Christ… Ultimately, not a single Jew will be left on the face of the Earth…”

32 Al-Mahdiy al-Mawud, vol. 1, pp. 254-255.

33 Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi ‘Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntazar, p. 29, 48.

34 Sunan Ibn Majah, 10:334.

35 And when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers. (Deuteronomy, 30:2-5)







42, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 1, 2008; http://palwatch. org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=832, PA TV (Fatah), Feb. 3, 2009.

43, Radio Voice of Palestine (Fatah), Oct. 26, 2012;, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 14, 2012;, PA TV (Fatah), Feb. 3, 2009;, Palvoice website (Fatah) – Dec. 15, 2010.

44, Al-Hayat, London, October 5, 2002.

45, Kul Al-Arab, Israel, August 25, 2000.

46, Al-Quds, December 28, 2001

47 Qur’an, 9:17-18; Bukhari, Salat 65; Muslim, Mesacid 25, (533); Tirmidhi, Salat 237, (318); Nasai, Mesacid 1, (2, 31).

48 Most Muslims are not aware of the size and structure of the Temple Mount. First, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is not located anywhere near the site of Solomon’s Temple, and according to most historians, it is built on an area that was added to the Temple Mount by Herod, thousands of years after the Prophet Solomon.Secondly, there is a good deal of unused space, even as playground for children.

49 Al-Tasharraf, Part I, p. 70.

50 Ahmad Diya’al-Din al-Kamushkhanawi, Ramuz al-Ahadith, vol. 1, 76/12.

51 Ahmad Diya’al-Din al-Kamushkhanawi, Ramuz al-Ahadith, vol. 1, 84/8.

52 Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf and Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare, p. 22, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA.

53 Muslim scholars are in agreement that Muslims who are in a position to fight in a war should be adults who possess a sound mind and body, and enjoin it with their free will. (Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf and Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare, pp. 12-13, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA.)

54 For detailed information; Harun Yahya, Islam Denounces Terrorism, Global Publishing, Istanbul, 4th ed.,2013.

55 The Arabic verbal root shahada means to “see”, to “witness”, to “testify, so a shaheed (martyr) is one who is a witness to the Truth of God. However martyrdom is valid only under certain specific circumstances; it is not the act of committing suicide but dying in the course of defending and upholding the principles of the Qur’an. Those who lose their lives in God’s way are regarded as having a special status in the Qur’an:

“And say not of those who are slain in the Way of God: ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, Though you perceive it not.” (Qur’an, 2:154)

“Think not of those who are slain in God’s way as dead. Nay they live, finding their sustenance in the Presence of their Lord.” (Qur’an, 3:169)

“And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass.” (Qur’an, 3:157)

56 Bernard Lewis and Buntzie Ellis Churchill, Islam: The Religion and the People, Wharton School Publishing, 2008, p. 153.

57 “If they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (guarantees of) peace, then Allah hath opened no way for you (to war against them).” (Qur’an, 4:90)

58 Shaykh-ul Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri, The Constitution of Medina, Mihaj-ul Qur’an Publications, 2012, Article 54.

59 Shaykh-ul Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri, The Constitution of Medina, Mihaj-ul Qur’an Publications, 2012, Article 55.

60 These Muslims refer to specific verses for their claims:

“None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?” (Qur’an, 2:106) “When We substitute one revelation for another, and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages), they say, ‘Thou art but a forger’: but most of them understand not.” (Qur’an, 16:101)

First of all, the verses above refer to revelations since the Prophet Adam. Secondly, even the ones who claim that some verses have been abrogated are in conflict as to which verses were supposedly annulled. This alone is sufficient to refute the claim that falsely suggests that some verses have been abrogated.

61 The promise of God to protect the Quran: “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” (Qur’an, 15:9)

62 “The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all.” (Qur’an, 6:115)“And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him.” (Qur’an, 18:27)

63 “Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? but what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life?- and on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.” (Qur’an, 2:85) “And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah a lie or denies His verses? Indeed, the wrongdoers will not succeed.” (Qur’an, 6:21)

64 “[I]ndeed, it (Qur’an) is a remembrance for you and your people, and you [all] are going to be questioned (from it).” (Qur’an, 43:44)

65 “Nothing have We omitted from the Book.” (Qur’an, 6:38)

66 “(Of just such wrath) as We sent down on those who divided (Scripture into arbitrary parts), (So also on such) as have made Qur’an into shreds (as they please). Therefore, by the Lord, We will, of a surety, call them to account, for all their deeds.” (Qur’an, 15:90-93)

67 For detailed information; Harun Yahya, A Call for Unity, Global Publishing, Istanbul, 2010.

68 Reichssicherhauptamt—or Reich Central Security, the umbrella security organization of the SS, SD and the Gestapo.

69 Evans, Richard J., The Third Reich at War, New York, 2008, Penguin Group, pp. 321–402.

70 Harun Yahya, The Social Weapon: Darwinism, Global Publishing, 2006, Istanbul.




74 Lewis, Bernard, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, New York, The Modern Library, 2003, p.

155. 75 76 Record of the conversation between the Fuhrer and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on November 28,

1941, in the presence of Reich Foreign Minister and Minister Grobba in Berlin, documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945, series D, vol. XIII, London, 1964, p. 881ff in Walter Lacquer and Barry Rubin, The Israel-Arab Reader, (NY: Facts on File, 1984), pp. 79-84.

77­holocaust, “Hamas rips U.N. for teaching the Holocaust”, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 31, 2009. 78 Hobbes, Thomas, Leviathan, “Chapter XIII: Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity, and Misery”, 1651.