Antisemitism in the Hadith and Early Muslim Biographies of Muhammad: Motifs and Manifestations

A Jihad Watch exclusive: here is an important follow-up by Andrew G. Bostom to this key reference work:


The contemporary pronouncements of the Islamic Center of Cleveland’s clerical “Imamate”—Fawaz Damra and his erstwhile replacement Ahmed Alzaree—illustrate an ancient, but continuous tradition of anti-Jewish incitement by Islam’s “popular preachers,” very much alive today. And the historical treatment of Jews in Muslim societies—chronic oppression, punctuated by outbursts of mass anti-Jewish violence, forced conversion to Islam, or expulsion—has been consistent with such sacralized religious bigotry. Promoters of modern jihad genocide from the former Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin el-Husseini, to contemporary Hamas clerics, have repeatedly invoked Islam’s Jew-exterminating eschatology.

George Vajda’s 1937 essay “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit” (“Jews and Muslims According to the Hadith”)—a magisterial 70-page treatise discussed at some length herein—remains the definitive study of Jews and their relations with Muhammad and Muslims, as depicted in the hadith. Vajda’s research demonstrates how Muslim eschatology highlights the Jews supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—and as per another tradition, the Dajjâl is in fact Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions state that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan, or Jerusalem. When the Dajjâl is defeated, he and his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree. Thus, according to a canonical hadith—incorporated into the 1988 Hamas Charter (article 7)—if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!”

Vajda also emphasizes how the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology casting the Muslims’ sins upon the Jews. And in the corporeal world, Vajda observes, “distrust must reign” in Muslims relations with the rebellious Jews. But it is the Jews stubborn malevolence, Vajda further notes, that is their defining worldly characteristic

Jews are represented in the darkest colors. Convinced by the clear testimony of their books that Mohammed was the true prophet, they refused to convert, out of envy, jealousy and national particularism, even out of private interest. They have falsified their sacred books and do not apply the laws of God; nevertheless, they pursued Mohammed with their raillery and their oaths, and harassed him with questions, an enterprise that turned to their own confusion and merely corroborated the authenticity of the supernatural science of the prophet. From words they moved to action: sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.

Vajda concludes that these archetypes, in turn, justify Muslim animus towards the Jews, and the admonition to at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination”, as dhimmis, treated “with contempt”, under certain “humiliating arrangements.”

Hartwig Hirschfeld’s detailed analyses of Muhammad’s interactions with the Jews of Medina as depicted in the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad (sira; sirat) describes the “mutual disappointment” that characterized their relationship, and the predictably disastrous results for the Jews.

The Jews, for their part, were singularly disappointed in their expectations. The way in which Muhammad understood revelation, his ignorance and his clumsiness in religious questions in no way encouraged them to greet him as their Messiah. He tried at first to win them over to his teachings by sweetness and persuasion; they replied by posing once again the questions that they had already asked him; his answers, filled with gross errors, provoked their laughter and mockery. From this, of course, resulted a deep hostility between Muhammad and the Jews, whose only crime was to pass a severe judgment on the enterprise of this Arab who styled himself “God’s prophet” and to find his conduct ridiculous, his knowledge false, and his regulations thoughtless. This judgment, which was well founded, was nevertheless politically incorrect, and the consequences thereof inevitably would prove to be disastrous for a minority that lacked direction or cohesion.

Muhammad’s failures or incomplete successes were consistently recompensed by murderous attacks on the Jews. Thus Muhammad developed a penchant for assassinating individual Jews, and destroying Jewish communities—by expropriation and expulsion (Banu Quaynuqa and Nadir), or massacring their men, and enslaving their women and children (Banu Qurayza). Subsequently, in the case of the Khaybar Jews, Muhammad had the male leadership killed, and plundered their riches. The terrorized Khaybar survivors—industrious Jewish farmers—became prototype subjugated dhimmis whose productivity was extracted by the Muslims as a form of permanent booty. And according to the Muslim sources, even this tenuous vassalage was arbitrarily terminated within a decade of Muhammad’s death when Caliph Umar expelled the Jews of Khaybar.

Muhammad’s brutal conquest and subjugation of the Khaybar Jews, and their subsequent expulsion by one of his companions, the (second) “Rightly Guided” Caliph Umar, epitomize permanent, archetypal behavior patterns Islamic Law deemed appropriate to Muslim interactions with Jews.

Historical and contemporary examples are briefly adduced to illustrate the ongoing relevance of archetypes from the hadith and sira as sources of Islamic antisemitism, past and present.


Fawaz Damra [1], the former Imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, was touted as a promoter of interfaith dialogue even after [2] evidence of his participation in fundraising events for the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) [3], was produced, along with a videotape of the Imam telling a crowd of Muslim supporters in 1991 [4] that they should aim “…a rifle at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation, and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews.” Convicted in 2004 for lying to immigration officials about his links to the PIJ, Damra, who was born in Nablus in 1961, was subsequently deported [5] back to the West Bank in January 2007.

And just this past October 30, 2007 it was announced [6] that Imam Ahmed Alzaree—the first permanent successor to Damra—resigned as the new “spiritual leader” of the Islamic Center of Cleveland three days prior to officially beginning the job. Alzaree, who at one stage of the vetting process expressed the unusual reservation that “he would not come to Cleveland because a reporter was inquiring about his background” [7], ostensibly accepted the position as noted on October 26, 2007, then pre-emptively resigned a few days later [8], after the contents of “khutbahs” (sermons) he had delivered on March 7, 2003, were revealed. [9]

Alzaree’s March, 2003 sermons were in fact far worse than had been portrayed by the Cleveland media. [10] One assumes that either they were not read at all, or at best only perused, and those reading these sermons, by and large, had no idea about the virulently Antisemitic motifs in the Qur’an and hadith (i.e., the words, deeds, and even physical gestures of Muhammad as recorded by pious Muslim transmitters). Moreover, these sermons were also virulently Christianophobic, invoking combined anti-Christian/Jew-hating motifs from the Qur’ran [11] (for example, Qur’ran 4:157-159), as well as anti-Christian eschatology (linked explicitly to Jew-hating eschatology) from the hadith, particularly with regard to “Jesus,” or to be precise, the Muslim simulacrum of Jesus, “Isa,” as characterized in Islam’s foundational texts. Alzaree simply recounts Islamic doctrine (as per the Qur’an and hadith) regarding “Isa”—the Muslim Jesus [12]—which emphasizes the Jews overall perfidy, especially their gloating (but unknowingly “false”) claim to have killed Isa. According to this sacralized Islamic narrative, Isa is merely a Muslim prophet whose ultimate “job description” includes the destruction of Christianity. Thus Alzaree’s sermon invokes the canonical hadith [13] that this Muslim Jesus—who was never crucified—the perfidious Jews prodding the Roman’s to kill Isa’s “body double” [14]—will return as a full-throated Muslim to break the cross, kill the pig, and end the payment of the deliberately humiliating Qur’anic (9:29) poll-tax demanded of Christians (i.e., the jizya). This hadith states, “He [Isa] will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizya” [15]—because Christians will be converted to Islam (and thus exempt from the jizya), or eliminated—“Allah will perish all religions except Islam.” Alzaree concluded the second sermon with an apocalyptic canonical hadith [16]—repeated in the 1988 Hamas Charter, article 7 [17]—stating if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!”

Thus the blatant Jew-hatred expressed by Damra and reiterated (in tandem with anti-Christian motifs) by Alzaree—this erstwhile “Imamate of Cleveland”—was fully sanctioned by—indeed they were merely quoting directly from—the core religious texts of Islam, i.e. the Qur’an, hadith, and early Muslim biographies of Muhammad.

More than four decades ago (in 1964), Moshe Perlmann the pre-eminent scholar of Islam’s ancient anti-Jewish polemical literature, observed [18],

The Qur’an, of course became a mine of anti-Jewish passages. The hadith did not lag behind. Popular preachers used and embellished such material.

In an earlier study (published 1948) of 11th century Muslim Spain [19]—idealized, falsely, as the paragon of Islam’s ecumenism—Perlmann had described how such polemical tracts and sermons incited the mass violence which destroyed the Jewish community of Granada during the catastrophic 1066 pogrom, with its death toll of some 3000 to 4000 Jews. [20] This figure equals or exceeds the number of Jews reportedly killed by the Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland, some thirty years later, at the outset of the First Crusade. [21]

The modern pronouncements of Cleveland’s clerical “Imamate”—Damra and Alzaree—reflect an ancient, but continuous tradition of anti-Jewish incitement by Islam’s “popular preachers,” very much alive today. And the historical treatment of Jews in Muslim societies—chronic oppression, punctuated by outbursts of mass anti-Jewish violence, forced conversion to Islam, or expulsion [22]—has been consistent with such sacralized religious bigotry. Promoters of modern jihad genocide have repeatedly invoked Islam’s Jew-exterminating eschatology. Hajj Amin el-Husseini, ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, and Muslim jihadist, who became, additionally, a full-fledged Nazi collaborator and ideologue in his endeavors to abort a Jewish homeland, and destroy world Jewry [23], composed a 1943 recruitment pamphlet for Balkan Muslims entitled, “Islam and the Jews.” [24] This incendiary document was rife with antisemitic verses from the Qur’an, as well as Jew hating motifs from the hadith, and concluded with the apocalyptic canonical hadith [25] describing the Jews’ annihilation. Forty-five years later the same hadith [26] was incorporated into the 1988 Hamas Charter, making clear its own aspirations for Jew annihilation. Sheer ignorance of this history and theology are pathognomonic of much larger and more dangerous phenomena: the often willful, craven failure to examine and understand the living legacy of Islam’s foundational anti-Jewish animus, or acknowledge the depth of Jew hatred that pervades contemporary Islam’s clerical leadership, including within major Muslim communities of the United States.

Having earlier described the antisemitic motifs in the Qur’an [27], as well as their historical manifestations across space and time, the current paper examines in complementary fashion, the antisemitic motifs in the hadith, and earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad, or sira.

Antisemitism in the Hadith

Hadith, which means “story” (“narrative”), refers to any report of what the Muslim prophet Muhammad said or did, or his tacit assent to something said or done in his presence. [28] (Hadith is also used as the technical term for the “science” of such “Traditions”). As a result of a lengthy process which continued for centuries after Muhammad’s death (in 632), the hadith emerged for Muslims as second in authority to the Qur’an itself. [29] Sunna, which means “path” refers to a normative custom of Muhammad or of the early Islamic community. [30] The hadith “justify and confirm” the Sunna. [31] Henri Lammens highlights the importance of the Sunna (and, by extension, the hadith): [32]

As early as the first century A.H.[the 7th century] the following aphorism was pronounced: “The Sunna can dispense with the Qur’an, but not the Qur’an with the Sunna”. Proceeding to still further lengths, some Muslims assert that “in controversial matters, the Sunna overrules the authority of the Qur’an, but not vice versa”…all admit the Sunna completes and explains it [the Qur’an].

The hadith compiled by al-Bukhari (d. 870) and Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875) are considered, respectively, to be the most important authoritative collections. The titles Sahih (“sound”) or Jami, indicating their comprehensiveness, signify the high esteem in which they are held. [33] James Robson summarizes their comprehensive content: [34]

In addition to giving information about religious duties, law and everyday practice, they contain a considerable amount of biographical and other material. Nothing is too unimportant to form a valid topic for tradition. Guidance is given even on the most intimate matters of personal life. The compilers of Tradition seem to have had a keen desire to leave nothing to chance, so guidance is to be found on almost every conceivable subject.

Four other compilations, called Sunan works, which indicates that they are limited to matters of religious and social practice, and law, also became authoritative. Abu Dawud (d. 888), al-Tirmidhi (d. 892), Ibn Maja (d. 896), and al-Nasi (d. 915) compiled these works. By the beginning of the 12th century, Ibn Maja’s collection became the last of these compilations of hadith to be recognized as “canonical.” [35]

Despite appearances of rigor in the methods employed to assemble the various canonical hadith collections [36], the meticulous studies of Ignaz Goldziher [37] and Joseph Schacht [38] (and others) demonstrate that while the hadith reflect theological-juridical “tendencies” during Islam’s formative early centuries, they are useless as a source of objective historical information. Schacht argued for abandoning the “one-sided traditional sham-castle” based upon [39],

..the gratuitous assumptions that there existed originally an authentic core of information going back to the time of the Prophet, that spurious and tendentious additions were made to every succeeding generation, that many of these were eliminated by the criticism of isnads [“chains” of pious Muslim transmitters] as practiced by the Muhammadan scholars, that other spurious traditions escaped rejection, but that the genuine core was not completely overlaid by later accretions

Alternatively, Schacht, a legal scholar, urged that these deconstructed “materials” be re-evaluated in their real context, i.e., the evolution of Islamic law, especially during the time of al- Shafi‘i (d. 820; after whom the Shafi‘ite school of Islamic jurisprudence was named). [40] 232 Sixty years earlier Goldziher had suggested more broadly that although ahistorical, the hadith reflected important aspects of social and religious development during the first two centuries after the advent of Islam. [41]

In the absence of authentic evidence it would indeed be rash to attempt to express the most tentative opinion as to which parts of the hadith are the oldest original material, or even as to which of them date back to the generations immediately following the Prophet’s death. Closer acquaintance with the vast stock of hadiths induces skeptical caution rather than optimistic trust regarding the material brought together in the carefully compiled collections.

The hadith will not serve as a document for the history of the infancy of Islam, but rather as a reflection of the tendencies which appeared in the community during the maturer stages of its development….the greater part of it [the hadith, reflecting] the religious…and social development of Islam during the first two centuries

The conception of Goldziher provides a useful framework for an examination of the anti-Jewish motifs in the hadith.

George Vajda’s 1937 essay “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit” (“Jews and Muslims According to the Hadith”) [42]—a magisterial 70-page analysis—remains the definitive study of Jews and their relations with Muhammad and Muslims, as depicted in the hadith. Vajda, in light of the scholarship of Goldziher (especially) on the inadequacy of the canonical hadith as “history,” chose not to limit himself to these six collections: [43]

As soon as one renounces using the hadiths as absolutely sure and trustworthy documentation, it is evidently vain to try to take account of the value judgments that Muslim criticism emits regarding any isolated tradition, any collection, or the individual credibility of any traditionalist. Therefore I have been very wide-ranging in making use of documents and the “six books”, as well as of the Musnad by Ahmed ibn Hanbal and the Muwatta by Mālik, not forgetting the commentaries to which I was able to have access, Kastalāni on Buhārī, Nawawi on Muslim, and Zurkāni on the Muwatta. Ibn Sa’d’s Tabakāt and Tabarī’s Tafsīr have also been consulted. It would no doubt have been possible and even desirable to prolong this promenade through the vast fields of the hadith.

The remainder of this discussion of antisemitism in the hadith relies upon the themes developed by Vajda, amplified with excerpts from the canonical hadith, and other Traditions, themselves.

Both anti-dhimmi and specific anti-Jewish motifs figure prominently in Vajda’s detailed assessment. He begins by emphasizing Goldziher’s prior “discovery” of the animating principle prescribed for Muslims with regard to the customs of non-Muslims: khalifuhum, which means, “do not do like them.” [44]Vajda illustrates this attitude with regard to basic grooming and dress: [45]

“Leaving his apartments, the prophet found old men Ansar whose beards were white. He told them: ‘Assembly of Ansār, dye yourselves red or yellow and do the contrary of the people of the Book.’ We told him: ‘Apostle of Allah, the people of the Book wear the sirwāl (pantaloons) and do not wear the izār.’ The prophet says ‘Wear the sirwāl and wear the izār, and do the contrary of the people of the Book.’ We told him ‘The people of the Book wear ankle-boots (huff) and do not wear sandals (na’l).’ He says: “Wear ankle-boots and wear sandals, and do the contrary of the people of the Book.’ We told him: ‘The people of the Book trim their beards and grow their mustaches.” He says: “Trim the mustache and grow the beard, and do the contrary of the people of the Book.”

“grow your beard, remove your mustaches, alter your white hair and do not resemble Jews or Christians.”

The prophet also forbids as a Jewish custom the qaza (partial removal of the hair).

Also branded was the use of false hair/hairpieces/wigs. According to a tradition reported in several compilations (Sa’id b. al-Musayyab and Humayd b. ‘Abdalrahmān), during the last khuTba that he pronounced in Medina, the caliph Mu’awiya I showed the faithful a toupée of false hair, saying “I never saw that done except among the Jews, the prophet had called it ‘falseness’ (zūr)’’; or in another version: “people of Medina, where are your wise men? I heard the prophet, who prohibited doing the like and said: ‘the children of Israel perished when their women took [false hair]’.”

Almost always it is recommended to dye the hair in contrast to the Jews, (or to Jews and Christians).

Even sanctioned Muslim practices of onanism/masturbation, and bestiality (as Vajda notes, “…on which the hadiths cited by Tabari [d. 923] give such exact, if repellant details” [46]), in particular with slaves whom the Muslims wished to avoid impregnating, became a source of friction vis a vis the Jews. [47]

The Jews protested against this procedure [coitus interruptus with slaves]. Here is what a tradition of Abū Sa’īd al-Hudrī relates: someone comes to find the prophet and tells him: “I have a slave with whom I interrupt coitus, for I do not want her to conceive, but I want what men want. But the Jews claim that coitus interruptus is an attenuated case of the exposure of newborn girls.” The prophet replied: “The Jews have lied. If Allah wants to create it, you are not capable of preventing [the child from being conceived].”

The same Companion found himself implicated in an analogous incident after the expedition of al’Muraysi in year 5 [after the Hijra, i.e., 622]. The partial restraint of the Muslims, permitting them the satisfaction of their concupiscence without compromising the hope for ransoming the captives, was approved by the prophet, with the same motive as in the preceding hadith. But when Abū Sa’īd wanted to sell a young girl from the booty, a Jew observed at the market that she was certainly pregnant by him; the Muslim assured him that he had practiced ‘azl, to which the Jew replied that it was an attenuated form of coitus. Informed of this discussion, the prophet could only denounce the lies of the Jews.

The frankly reproving attitude of the Jews toward the sexual dissipation of the Arabs may be illustrated by many Talmudic texts. They found conjugal relations during the day repugnant, at least unless they were invisible. The indecencies committed in the course of the act implied physical infirmities for any child: muteness, deafness, blindness, paralysis. Onanism was severely reproved.

The customs to be observed at funerals, the matters of burial plots and tombs, and more decidedly, Muhammad’s view of the fate of buried Jews, also illustrate anti-Jewish animus. [48]

Another tradition (‘Bāda b. al’Sāmit) recounts that in following funerals, the prophet had the habit of standing until the dead person was put in his tomb. One day a haber [rabbi] passed and told him that the Jews did likewise, at which Mohammed invited those attending to sit down so as not to do as the Jews.

Still, in another opinion, “one should not go with slow steps with the coffin like the Jews do.” ‘Imrān b. al-Husayn (died 52) ordered when dying: “when after my death you take me outside, go quickly and do not walk slowly like the Jews and the Christians.”

A hadith that was widespread relates that during his agony the prophet cursed the Jews and Christians who had taken the tombs of their prophets as sites of worship.

When the prophet was taken by an attack, he threw a hamīsa (a sort of robe) over his face; when he came around, we lifted him while he said: ‘May God curse the Jews and the Christians, they have taken the tombs of their prophets for sites of worship’ (Aysha adds: ‘he put them on guard [Muslims] against similar practices’). Elsewhere, one finds this curse without the tale that frames it, Abũ ‘Bayda relates it as the prophet’s last recommendation, at the same time as the order to expel the Jews from the Arabian peninsula.

“Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) Once Allah's Apostle passed by (the grave of) a Jewess whose relatives were weeping over her. He said, ‘They are weeping over her and she is being tortured in her grave.’ ”

“ ’Amra daughter of 'Abd al Rahman narrated that she heard (from) 'A'isha and made a mention to her about 'Abdullah b. 'Umar as saying: ‘The dead is punished because of the lamentation of the living.’ Upon this 'A'isha said: ‘May Allah have mercy upon the father of 'Abd al-Rahman (Ibn 'Umar). He did not tell a lie, but he forgot or made a mistake. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) happened to pass by a (dead) Jewess who was being lamented. Upon this he said: ‘They weep over her and she is being punished in the grave’.”

Moreover, public lamentation over the dead became forbidden to the Jews (and Christians). [49]

The hadith further condemn certain physical gestures for being specific to Jews. [50]

A hadith disapproves of Muslims who salute each other by making a sign with their fingers like the Jews, or with the hand like the Christians. Aisha did not like her protégé Masrūq to put his hands on his hips for, she said, only the Jews do that.

Raising the hands in prayer is a Jewish gesture.

One should not sway (nawadān) while praying, as the Jews do.

The hadith also portray the Jews hatred and jealousy of Muhammad. Vajda observes that according to the hadith [51],

…the Jews knew very well that it was Mohammed who should accomplish the prediction of their books. If, then, they did not follow him, this was not out of ignorance but out of jealousy and national particularism.

He then provides two examples of this recurring motif [52]:

“The apostle of Allah entered the Bayt al-Midrās and said: ‘Send me the wisest person among you.’ They said: ‘It is Abdallāh b. Sũriyā.’ The apostle of Allah remained alone with him and adjured him by his religion, by the blessings that God had showered [on the Jews] by nourishing them with manna and [salwaa] quail and protecting them by clouds [to answer him]: ‘Do you know that I am the apostle of Allah?’ He answered: ‘By God, yes, and of course these people [the Jews] know what I know and that your description is clearly found in the Torah, but they are envious of you.’ [The prophet:] ‘What prevents you yourself?’ He answered: ‘I feel repugnant at doing otherwise than my people, but perhaps they will follow you and convert to Islam, and then I will convert [also]’.”

“A Jew said to his comrade: ‘Let us go find the prophet to ask him about this verse (Koran 17:101): “We brought Moses nine signs”.’ His comrade says: ‘Do not say prophet in speaking of him, for if he heard this, he would have four eyes.’ They ask him and he tells them: ‘You would not associate anything with God, you would not commit larceny, you would not fornicate, you would not kill the soul that God has forbidden, except through justice, you would not practice magic, you would not lend at usury, you would not deliver the innocent to the men invested with authority to be put to death, you would not slander an honest women [var. you would not desert the army on campaign] and on you, Jews, it is especially imposed to not violate the Sabbath.’ He embraced his hands and his feet, saying: ‘We confess that you are a prophet.’ He said: ‘And what prevents you from following me?’ They replied: ‘David prayed that [prophecy?] never quit his descendants and so we fear that the Jews would kill us if we converted to Islam’.”

Despite being convinced of the authenticity of Mohammed’s divine mission, as Vajda notes, the hadith accusation that the Jews did not become votaries of Islam due to pride in their birth and appetite for domination, became a recurrent theme in later Muslim polemics. [53]

Striking evidence of Jewish perfidy in the hadith is illustrated by their continual, surreptitious cursing of the Muslims while ostensibly offering proper greetings [54]:

“A Jew greeted the apostle of Allah by saying al-sām ‘alayka (May poison be on you, for may peace be upon you.) [The prophet said:] ‘Bring him to me.’ He told him: ‘Did you say al-sām ‘alayka?’ ‘Yes.’ The apostle of Allah said: ‘When the people of the Book greet use, say wa’alayka’.”

A slightly more developed version: “When the prophet was sitting amid his companions, here comes a Jew who greets them. The prophet had him come back and asked him: ‘What did you say?’ ‘I said al-sām ‘alayka.’ The prophet concluded: ‘When an individual of people of the Book greets you, say and to you, meaning what you have said’.”

A slightly dramatized tale: “A Jew passed by the prophet and his companions, greeted them, and the prophet’s companions returned the greeting. The prophet declared: ‘He said al-sām ‘alaykum.’ They apprehended the Jew, brought him back, and he admitted it. The prophet said: ‘Render back to them what they said’.”

Another version features ‘Omar with his habitual violence: “An individual of the people of the Book arrived and greeted the prophet by saying al-sām ‘alaykumi. Then ‘Omar said: ‘Apostle of Allah, should I cut off his head?’ He answered: ‘No. When they greet you, say wa’alaykum’.”

Elsewhere, the scene is embellished by Aysha’s intervention: “The Jews came to find the prophet and told him al-sām ‘alayka. The prophet replied [to them]: ‘Al-sām ‘alaykum.’ Then Aysha cried: ‘Al-sām ‘alaykum, brothers of monkeys and pigs and the curse of Allah and his anger!’ The prophet said: ‘Gently.’ She replied: ‘Apostle of Allah, did you not hear what they said?’ The prophet: ‘Did you not hear what I replied to them? [Know] Aysha [that] gentleness ornaments everything, but everything is spoiled if one suppresses it’.”

Vajda offers these explanations for why the hadith are so richly endowed with (and “pleased to raise”) examples attesting to Jewish perfidy. [55]

It is impossible for a real incident to be the basis of this group of anecdotes, which are mutually irreconcilable. But it is also probable that they were born of the desire to legitimate a governing arrangement whose practical application must have suffered some difficulties in conquered countries, where even the most elementary relations were daily making the new masters confront a significant non-Muslim population.

This important series of hadiths illustrates so vividly the insolence and crudeness of Jews that later, when the jurists (fukahā; especially Western ones) decreed pitiless sanctions against whoever insulted or mocked the prophet, it was wondered why Mohammed had not dealt severely with the Jews who saluted him with al-sām ‘alaykum. The cadi/judge ‘Iyād replied: ‘especially [he used] diplomacy so as not to scare minds away at the start of Islam by rigorous measures; in addition, the incriminating words of the Jews had not been pronounced distinctly enough to constitute a public outrage.’

Another commonplace charge in the hadith is that Jews altered their sacred texts deleting Muhammad’s name and precise description. Vajda includes these two vivid examples [56]:

This was transmitted in the name of ‘Abdallāh b. Mas’ūd: “Allah sent his prophet to have someone entered into paradise. He entered into the synagogue [al-kanīsa] [where] a Jew was just in the course of reading [them] the Torah. When they [the Jews] arrived at the description of the prophet, they stopped. But in a corner of the synagogue was a sick person. The prophet said: ‘Why did you stop?’ The sick person replied: ‘They arrived at the description of the prophet, which is why they stopped.’ Then the sick person dragged himself up to the book of the Torah, grabbed it and read until he came to the description of the prophet and of his community and he said: ‘Here is your description and the description of your community. I confess that there is no other God but Allah and that you are the apostle of Allah.’ Then he rendered up his soul.”

Another version of the same story is found in Ibn Sa’d. The prophet accompanied by Abũ Bakr and ‘Omar passed beside a Jew who was reading in a book of the Torah for one of his sick parents. The prophet adjured the Jew to tell him if his description was found in the Torah. When he shook his head no, the sick person contradicted him, pronounced profession of Muslim faith, and expired. The prophet himself recited the prayer at his burial and wrapped him in his winding sheet.

However the prime example of the Jews illegitimate alteration of the Torah cited in the hadith “with most self-satisfaction” concerns the prescribed punishment for adultery. As per the hadith, a controversy arose between the Jews and Muslims over legislation concerning adultery. The narrative emphasizes the Jews perfidy and overt disrespect for their own revealed scriptures. Vajda examines several of these hadith [57]:

The Jews brought to the prophet an adulterous couple and claimed that their book prescribed punishing them by blackening their faces so as to cover them with shame. Mohammed told them: “You are lying, [the punishment ordered] for this crime is lapidation; so bring the Torah and recite it if you are telling the truth” (Cf. Koran 3:93, which in context relates to the alimentary prohibitions of the Jews). The one-eyed reader of the Jews named Ibn Sūriyā started to read; arriving at a certain passage, he covered it with his hand. Mohammed invited him to lift it; when he lifted it, it shone. So, the Jews admitted that lapidation was indeed prescribed in the Torah, but then kept this law hidden. The prophet had the guilty ones stoned.

[Sahih] Muslim gives this story with several isnād [chains of transmission] In the first hadith, the punishment indicated by the Jews is a little more exactly described: “We blacken their faces, we place them on a mounting, their faces turned toward each other, and we make them take a tour of the town. The reader is anonymous [Some fellow] (fatā); it is ‘Abdallāh b. Salām who engages the prophet in ordering the reader to raise his mind, under which is found the verse about lapidation. One of the versions gathered by Abū Dāwūd situates the scene in the Bayt al-Midrās (house of study); another specifies that the guilty ones received a hundred lashes with a tarred cord.

Another variant in [Sahih] Muslim and in Ibn Māja highlights the perfidy of the Jews even more, as well as the little respect they have for their revealed book. “They passed by the prophet with a flagellated Jew with a blackened face. He called them and asked them: ‘Is that the punishment for adultery that you find in your book?’ ‘Yes.’ He fetches one of their wise men and adjures him by the God who revealed the Torah to Moses to tell him if this is really the punishment for adultery [ordered] in their book. The latter answered; ‘No, if you had not adjured me in this fashion I would not have told you. We found [that the punishment for adultery is] lapidation, but this sin was widespread among our great and when we seized great personages, we let them off, but to the weak we applied the punishment. [Finally] we said to ourselves: “Let us agree on a punishment that we will apply to the great as to the weak.” We then instituted the blackening of the face and flagellation instead of lapidation.’ The apostle of Allah cried: ‘God, I am the first who has revived your order after they killed it off.’ On which came the revelation of Koran 5: 41, [‘O Messenger! Let not them grieve thee who vie one with another in the race to disbelief, of such as say with their mouths: “We believe, but their hearts believe not, and of the Jews: listeners for the sake of falsehood, listeners on behalf of other folk who come not unto thee, changing words from their context and saying: If this be given unto you, receive it, but if this be not given unto you, then beware! He whom Allah doometh unto sin, thou (by thine efforts) wilt avail him naught against Allah. Those are they for whom the Will of Allah is that He cleanse not their hearts. Theirs in the world will be ignominy, and in the Hereafter an awful doom’.]

Bearing in mind that the Qur’an itself prescribes flagellation for adultery (i.e., Qur’an 24:2, “The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them [with] a hundred stripes”), if confirmed by four eyewitnesses, Vajda summarizes the ironies in alleging Jewish perfidy with regard to the stoning of adulterers [58]:

The prophet reproaches the Jews for having substituted a rule they had themselves invented for God’s own law concerning adultery. He applies this law to a Jew, and if one believes the traditions (which are no more or less worthy of credit than any others), he applied it, as did [Caliph] ‘Omar, to the Muslims too. Nevertheless, the “lapidation verse” has not been accepted in the Koran’s canonic text, which replaces it, in the most recent passages relating to adultery, precisely with the flagellation whose practice by the Jews is regarded as an arbitrary alteration of the primitive revelation. Unless one rejects en bloc the traditions relating to the rajm [lapidation = stoning] as forged for the sole purpose of shaming the Jews as falsifiers of their revelation and to glorify Mohammed, who saw clearly through their criminal actions, it is necessary to regard the procedure censured by the prophet as having been really used in the ghettos (juiveries) of Hijāz. But in that case, the effective legislation of the Koran concerning the punishment of adultery, definitively consecrated by surah 24 [verse 2], derives in a direct line from Jewish practice, consecrated by Mohammed.

Another series of hadiths elaborate on Qur’an 3:93 (“All food was lawful unto the Children of Israel, save that which Israel forbade himself, (in days) before the Torah was revealed. Say: Produce the Torah and read it (unto us) if ye are truthful.”), and associated Qur’anic exegeses, which accuse the Jews of misrepresenting their alimentary prohibitions, most notably camel’s flesh, as in fact described in the Torah (Leviticus 11:4—“Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.”). Vajda notes for example, that the classical Qur’anic commentator Tabari [59],

…gathered a great number of interpretations of this verse. According to Suddī, Jacob [the Biblical patriarch] suffered in the night from sciatica; he made the vow never to eat any nerve if God would deliver him from this malady. The Jews claim to follow their ancestor but they are lying, for it is God who imposed on them alimentary restrictions, on account of their sins. According to Dahhāk the verse means to say that neither before nor after the revelation did God forbid anything to the Jews, except that for the reason that we know, Jacob made the vow to abstain from consuming nerves. Ibn ‘Abbās explains: any food was permitted to the children of Israel before the revelation of the Torah, but Jacob forswore nerves, and his children imitated him, without the interdiction being in the Torah. Tabarī lingers over this exegesis, not without modifying it. Before the revelation of the Torah, nothing was forbidden to the children of Israel, but Jacob, suffering from sciatica, forswore nerves, etc. Then, in revealing the Torah, God prohibited certain foods to the Jews.

Additional hadiths cited by Vajda present matters with a slight variation—Jacob’s prohibition on camel’s flesh and milk is self-imposed [60]:

‘Abdallāh b. Katīr (and others): Jacob, suffering from sciatica, renounces by a vow, so as to get better, his preferred food: flesh and milk of the camel. According to Hasan, the Jews falsely pretended that the interdiction by Jacob of camel flesh is found in the Torah, whereas in fact it is prior to the revelation and is not in the Torah at all; this is also the opinion of Ibn Abbās. The latter doctor reconciles the two series of traditions by teaching that Jacob forbid himself both the nerves and flesh of camels. He had consumed meat not cleaned of the sciatic nerve and fell ill and swore never to eat it again.

As Vajda further indicates, Tabari subscribes to this latter interpretation because [61],

…the Jews still prohibit nerves [in general] and the flesh of the camel [in particular]. He then cites, under the name of Ibn ‘Abbās, the question the Jews put to Mohammed that we have seen. Mohammed invites the Jews to bring the Torah and read it so as to make manifest their falsehood; God has never forbid these things. It is a proof of the authenticity of Mohammed’s mission that he, an‘ummī [i.e., a/the prophet] has unmasked the lie of Jewish doctors that most of their co-religionists had not perceived.

Vajda’s concluding analysis summarized the evolution of this anti-Jewish polemical theme, which ignores Leviticus (11:4) [62]:

Let us try to retrace the evolution of this polemic theme, whose elements we have just analyzed. The familiar narration of Genesis (Jacob’s struggle with the angel in Genesis 32:25-33) closes with the remark: “This is why the children of Israel do not eat the sciatic nerve.” So this is a custom that was never raised, within the Pentateuch, to the rank of a positive interdiction. The Biblical motif is unknown or ignored by Muslim tradition. The Koran speaks, without being precise, of a prohibition voluntarily assumed by Israel. Tradition designates as the object of the interdiction either the sciatic nerve (with a motive alien to Jewish sources) or else the meat and milk of the camel. These two indications are reconciled, but the tendency (supported indeed by the remainder of the Koranic verse) that is everywhere subsidiary, is to demonstrate that the interdiction is not revealed and hence is expressly willed by God (or else, according to some who are still in conformity with the thinking of the Koran on this point, imposed after the fact on Jews on account of their sins). It is due to Jacob’s private initiative, something followed by his descendants, but it does not oblige the Muslims by any means to do so.

The Muslim polemic does not want to admit that this interdiction is written in the Torah, for that would put the national dish of the Arabs on the same footing as pork, for example.

Other traditions attribute evil spells to the Jews. Vajda provides two examples of this motif, the latter not being consistently clear as to its “magical origins” in the various iterations [63]:

The biography of the prophet recounts that he had a spell cast upon him by the Jew Labīd’A’sam. The charm was broken when, thanks to the intervention of Jibril (or Jibril and Mikā’il, or two anonymous personages), who indicated the place where Labīd had hidden the hair of the prophet, which he had taken and braided into magic knots and introduced into the male flower of the palm tree.

Another case is much less clear. Ibn ’Omar recounts that when he went to Khaybar to attend the division of the crop between Jews and the treasurer of Egypt, in conformity with the pact in force, the Jews bewitched him so well that his right hand froze at the fist. It was after this event that ‘Omar expelled them from Khaybar.

Bukhārī’s version leaves out the bewitching; ‘Abdallāh b.’Omar was the victim of a nocturnal assault when he went to Khaybar to inspect a property he owned. According to a tradition from Wākidī. The Jews were expelled for having incited slaves to assassinate their masters. Finally, a tradition recorded by Ibn Sa’d reports that ‘Omar expelled the Jews of Khaybar because at that time the Muslims already had enough manpower to cultivate their palm groves without turning to tenant farmers.Consequently it is difficult to admit the historicity or at the very least the magic origin of the accident of Ibn ‘Omar. This story had to have been invented so as to lay the responsibility for the expulsion of the Jews of Khaybar on themselves.

And after the Muslims had initially conquered the Jewish farming oasis of Khaybar, one of the vanquished Jewesses reportedly served Muhammad poisoned mutton (or goat), which resulted, ultimately, in his protracted, agonizing death [64]:

Anas reported that a Jewess came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) with poisoned mutton and he took of that what had been brought to him (Allah's Messenger). (When the effect of this poison were felt by him) he called for her and asked her about that, whereupon she said: I had determined to kill you. Thereupon he said: Allah will never give you the power to do it. He (the narrator) said that they (the Companion's of the Holy Prophet) said: Should we not kill her? Thereupon he said: No. He (Anas) said: I felt (the affects of this poison) on the uvula of Allah's Messenger. [Sahih Muslim Book 026, Number 5430]

Narrated Anas bin Malik: A Jewess brought a poisoned (cooked) sheep for the Prophet who ate from it. She was brought to the Prophet and he was asked, "Shall we kill her?" He said, "No." I continued to see the effect of the poison on the palate of the mouth of Allah's Apostle . [Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786]

Ibn Sa‘d’s biography, however, maintains that the offending Jewess gave Muhammad poisoned goat, and insists that she was not spared [65]:

She [a Khaybar Jewess, Zaynab Bint al-Harith] poisoned the goat putting more poison in the forelegs…The Apostle of Allah took the foreleg, a piece of which he put into his mouth...The Apostle of Allah sent for Zaynab Bint al-Harith [and]…handed her over to [those] who put her to death…The Apostle of Allah lived after this three years, till in consequence of his pain he passed away. During his illness he used to say: I did not cease to find the effect of the poisoned morsel I took at Khaybar.

Vajda’s research further demonstrates how Muslim eschatology highlights the Jews supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—and as per another tradition, the Dajjâl is in fact Jewish. [66] Armand Abel, the renowned Belgian scholar of Islam includes this summary characterization of the Dajjâl (from his official entry, “al-Dajdjal,” in the Encyclopedia of Islam [67]): “A giant, false prophet, king of the Jews, representations of him vary according to the degree of literary information available or the predominating prejudices.” At his appearance, other traditions state that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree. Thus, according to a canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985), if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!” [68] Another hadith variant, which takes place in Jerusalem is described by James Robson. [69]

…most of the Arabs will be in Jerusalem when Jesus [i.e., Isa [70], 259 the Muslim Jesus] will descend. The imam will give place to him, but Jesus will tell him to lead the prayers. Afterwards, Jesus will order the door to be opened, and the Dajjal will be seen there will 70,000 armed Jews. The Dajjal will begin to melt, but Jesus will pursue and catch him and kill him at the east gate of Ludd. God will rout the Jews who will find that even the places where they shelter will shout out where they are hiding.

Vajda emphasizes how the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology [71]:

Not only are the Jews vanquished in the eschatological war, but they will serve as ransom for the Muslims in the fires of hell. The sins of certain Muslims will weigh on them like mountains, but on the day of resurrection, these sins will be lifted and laid upon the Jews.

And in the corporeal world, Vajda observes, “distrust must reign” in Muslims relations with Jews, because [72],

the Jews…are rebels to the solicitations of Islam and keep their religious traditions in a way liable to lead Muslims into error. Even when Islam knowingly borrows from Judaism, these borrowings are presented as amendments of the corresponding Jewish customs, unless they expressly forge traditions that aim to efface the true origin of the rite in question, by transposing it either into Arab paganism or into “Israelite” or pre-Israelite antiquity… especially beware of asking them for information of a religious kind

But it is the Jews stubborn malevolence, Vajda further notes, that is their defining worldly characteristic [73]:

Jews are represented in the darkest colors [i.e., in the hadith]. Convinced by the clear testimony of their books that Mohammed was the true prophet, they refused to convert, out of envy, jealousy and national particularism, even out of private interest. They have falsified their sacred books and do not apply the laws of God; nevertheless, they pursued Mohammed with their raillery and their oaths, and harassed him with questions, an enterprise that turned to their own confusion and merely corroborated the authenticity of the supernatural science of the prophet. From words they moved to action: sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.

Vajda concludes that these archetypes, in turn, justify Muslim animus towards the Jews, and the admonition to at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination”, as dhimmis, treated “with contempt”, under certain “humiliating arrangements.” [74] Subsequent regional surveys across time (including the documents section) will provide copious evidence of the chronic anti-Jewish animus—sanctioned by the hadith—which was an indelible feature of the dhimmi condition for Jews.

One particularly tragic fate befell the Jews of Yemen based on rigid adherence to a motif in the hadith (and sira). Imam al-Mahdi, a pious 17th century Yemenite ruler, acted upon the well-known statement from the canonical hadith, attributed to a death bed wish of Muhammad himself, as recorded by Umar (the second Rightly Guided Caliph), “Two religions shall not remain together in the peninsula of the Arabs.” [75] In his fanatic zeal for Islam, al-Mahdi wished to fulfill the mandate of this hadith in Yemen as well. Thus Al-Mahdi, in 1679-1680, ordered the entire Jewish population of Yemen – men, women and children— exiled to the plain of Tihama, known for its salty water and soil, and generally unfavorable climate. [76] A twentieth-century German tourist described Tihama as follows [77]:

Tihama is a dreadful place because of its terrible heat. Temperatures of fifty degrees centigrade in the shade last for several days. The Bedouins, who are used to a variety of climatic conditions, do not dare to cross the coastal strip between the Red Sea and the mountains of Yemen before sunset… the meager waters of the inner Tihama are salty and not potable, at least as far as Europeans are concerned. Therefore, for example, the drinking water for the port city Hudayda must be carried on the backs of donkeys from mountains as far as eighty miles away. The climate of Tihama is the most harmful to one's health in the entire Arabian peninsula. Harsh cases of malaria which gradually destroy the health of its inhabitants are a common occurrence. Even the Italian physicians in Hudayda are not able to do much against it.

In addition to the expulsion, there were destructions of synagogues, desecrations of the Torah scrolls, and inducements for conversion to Islam. Only one quarter of those thousands of Jews expelled returned to their homes; the rest perished, dying primarily from exposure, due to the intense heat, lack of potable water, and the resultant spread of epidemic disease. Of the major Yemenite Jewish community in San’a, for example, which had numbered about 10,000, only about one tenth, i.e., 1,000, survived this catastrophic exile. [78]

Brief modern examples, presented below, illustrate the ongoing relevance of two Jewish archetypes from the hadith as sources of Islamic antisemitism.

The Qur’anic curse (verse 2:61, repeated in 3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily) rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, is updated with perfect archetypal logic in the canonical hadith allegation of Muhammad’s poisoning by a Khaybar Jewess, which culminates in his painful and protracted death. Eliz Sanasarian provides a striking contemporary (1980s) example from Iran which affirmed this hadith account as objective, factual history during the examination of young adult candidates for national teacher training programs. Sanasarian notes [79],

…the subject became one of the questions in the ideological test for the Teachers’ Training College where students were given a multiple-choice question in order to identify the instigator of the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad, the “correct” answer being “a Jewess.”

The 1988 Hamas Charter, in section 7 [80], quotes from the apocalyptic canonical hadith (“The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.”), detailing one account of the Jews annihilation. And a British television investigation reported on January 11, 2007 revealed this eschatological theme was part of a video sermon during which a Sheikh (Feiz) could be seen, “…imitating the noise of a pig when referring to Jewish people [consistent with Qur’an 5:60], who he says will be killed (in a mass extermination) on the ‘day of judgment’”. A digital video disc (DVD) format recording of this sermon was sold at the London Central Mosque, “one of London’s most established mosques”, in Regents Park. [81] Such contemporary eschatological antisemitism began to be popularized two decades ago when the Egyptian writer Sayyid Ayyub started publishing works in Arabic maintaining that the Dajjal was already active on Earth, and that he was Jewish. [82] Ayyub’s view was reiterated more recently by an Indian Muslim writer, Mohamad Yasin Owadally [83], who is convinced that “the Jews are waiting impatiently for the coming of Dajjal, their beloved king [84],” because [85]:

Zionists in their bloodthirsty lust for power are not satisfied with Palestine. In their arrogance, they openly admit that they want all Syria…LebanonJordan…Iraq…Iskenderun [former Alexandretta, in southwestern Turkey]…the Sinai…the Delta area of Egypt and the Upper Hejaz and Najd….They even want the holy Medinah ….Their main aim is to exterminate Islam

Antisemitism in the The Early Muslim Biographies of Muhammad (Sira; Sirat)

Sīra, which can mean “epistle”, “pamphlet”, or “manifesto”, also means “biography”, “…the life and times of…”. The most widely used names for the traditional early Muslim accounts of Muhammad’s life and background are “The sīra”, “sīrat rasūl allāh”, or “sīra al-nabawiyya.” [86]

Ibn Ishaq of Medina (d. 767-770) [87], composed the earliest full-length biography of Muhammad, Sīrat Rasūl Allāh (Biography of the Prophet of Allah) [88], nearly 150 years after the Muslim prophet’s death. However, as Raven has observed, “…there has hardly been any written standard text by Ishaq himself…we depend upon his transmitters [89],” most notably Ibn Hisham’s (d. 834) selections from Ishaq’s work. [90] The combined efforts of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hishm produced a biography which placed Muhammad in the tradition of the earlier prophets, with Ibn Hisham (perhaps) focusing the perspective on ancient Arabia. [91] Two other important early Muslim biographies of Muhammad were composed by al-Wakidi (d. 822) [92], and his student and secretary, Ibn Sa‘d (d. 845). [93] The accounts by al-Wakidi (Kitāb al-Maghāzī) and Ibn Sa‘d (Kitāb al-Tabakāt al-kabīr), concentrate on the life and times of Muhammad, only [94], in particular the many battles, razzias (raids), and even political assassinations he led, or sanctioned. [95]

Michael Cook’s assessment of the sīra [96], including Ishaq’s foundational biography (which according to A. Guillaume, author of an authoritative modern English translation of Sīrat Rasūl Allāh [97] 277, “…had no serious rival…”), recalls the intractable limitations discussed earlier with regard to the hadith [98] as sources of objective history. On the one hand, Cook observes, there is a prevalent view [99],

…that the chains are genuine and the authorities are authors. Thus we can simply extend back the kind of reconstruction that works for the biographies of Ibn Ishaq’s day. For example, he and his contemporaries make frequent reference to Zuhri (d. 742), a major figure of the previous generation. An energetic researcher could then collect all the quotations relating to the life of Muhammad that are given on Zuhri’s authority, and hope to emerge with something like a reconstruction of his work. It would of course have to be conceded that the further back we go, the more blurred our reconstructions are likely to become. But this is a small price to pay for the overall assurance of the reliability of our sources. If these sources preserve for us a literature that reaches back to the contemporaries of Muhammad, and if they preserve the testimony of numerous independent witnesses, then there is little room for the skeptic in the study of Muhammad’s life.

Yet Cook also makes clear that [100],

…false ascription was rife among the eighth-century scholars, and that in any case Ibn Ishaq and his contemporaries were drawing on an oral tradition. Neither of these propositions is as arbitrary as it sounds. We have reason to believe that numerous traditions on questions of dogma and law were provided with spurious chains of authorities by those who put them in circulation; and at the same time we have much evidence of controversy in the eighth century as to whether it was permissible to reduce oral tradition to writing. The implications of this view for the reliability of our sources are clearly rather negative. If we cannot trust the chains of authorities, we can no longer claim to know that we have before us the separately transmitted accounts of independent witnesses; and if knowledge of the life of Muhammad was transmitted orally for a century before it was reduced to writing, then the chances are that the material will have undergone considerable alteration in the process.

Disregarding their validity as sources for the historical advent of Islam, what matters, ultimately is the lasting impact of the pious Muslim narrative as recorded in the sīra on Islamic doctrine and Muslim behavior. Robert Spencer’s 2006 biography of Muhammad elucidates this point [101]:

…it is less important to know what really happened in Muhammad’s life than what Muslims have generally accepted as having happened, for the latter still forms the foundation of Muslim belief, practice, and law.

Ibn Ishaq’s biography chronicles the evolution of Muhammad’s teaching and behaviors which accompanied the hijra, or migration to Medina from Mecca, in 622. Initially [102],

The apostle had not been given permission to fight, or allowed to shed blood…He had simply been ordered to call men to God and endure insult and forgive the ignorant. The Quraysh had persecuted his followers, seducing some from their religion, and exiling others from their country. They had to choose whether to give up their religion, be maltreated at home, or to flee the country, some to Abyssinia [Ethiopia], others to Medina.

Then after being “wronged” and “badly treated” Muhammad and his followers were enjoined to fight in self-defense [103]:

When Quraysh became insolent toward God and rejected his gracious purpose, accused his Prophet of lying, and ill-treated and exiled those who served Him and proclaimed His unity, believed in his prophet, and held fast to His religion, He gave permission to His apostle to fight and to protect himself against those who wronged them and treated them badly. The first verse which was sent down on this subject from what I have heard from ‘Urwa b. al-Zubayr and other learned persons was: [Qur’an 22:39-41] “Permission is given to those who fight because they have been wronged. God is well able to help them,—those who have been driven out of their houses without right only because they said God is our Lord. Had not God used some men to keep back others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques wherein the name of God is constantly mentioned would have been destroyed. Assuredly God will help those who help Him. God is Almighty. Those who if we make them strong in the land will establish prayer, pay the poor tax, enjoin kindness, and forbid iniquity. To God belongs the end of matters”. The meaning is: “I have allowed them to fight only because they have been unjustly treated while their sole offense against men has been that they worship God. When they are in the ascendant they will establish prayer, pay the poor tax, enjoin kindness, and forbid iniquity, i.e., the prophet and his companions, all of them.”

Robert Spencer emphasizes that the phrase, “When they are in the ascendant” refers to the establishment of a ruling Islamic community or state wherein Muslims will perform regularly prescribed prayer, pay the zakat (“poor tax”), and institute the Shari’a (Islamic Law). [104]

But the revelation process continues—Ibn Ishaq tellingly quotes Qur’an 2:193 sanctioning aggressive warfare—a doctrine which was ultimately elaborated into the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad. [105]

Then God sent down to him: “Fight them so that there be no more seduction [i.e., to idolatry; modern translations state “persecution”, or “oppression”], i.e., until no believer is seduced from his religion. “And the religion is God’s. i.e., until God alone is worshipped.

Such was the mindset when, according to Ibn Ishaq [106],

…the apostle commanded his companions, the emigrants of his people and those Muslims who were with him in Mecca, to emigrate and to link up with their brethren the Anṣār [107]

At the time of Muhammad’s arrival in Medina (622), several Jewish tribes, most importantly the Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nadir, and Banu Qurayza inhabited the city. [108] Muslim sources described Medina (Yathrib) as having been a Jewish city founded by a Palestinian diaspora population which had survived the revolt against the Romans. Distinct from the nomadic Arab tribes, the Jews of the north Arabian peninsula were highly productive oasis farmers. These Jews were eventually joined by itinerant Arab tribes from southern Arabia who settled adjacent to them and transitioned to a sedentary existence. [109] The pagan Arab inhabitants of Medina in 622 were composed of two clans, the Aws and Khazraj (sometimes referred to collectively as Banu Qayla [110]). Bitter and sanguinary rivalries and divisions—the Jewish B. Nadir and B. Quraysh tribes siding with the Aws, the Jewish B. Qaynuqa with the Khazraj—had taken their toll on all these Medinan tribes. Soon after Muhammad reached Medina in September of 622, he purportedly created a federation consisting of the Medinan tribes and his followers from Mecca, based upon an agreement known as the Constitution of Medina. Ibn Ishaq describes this putative document, as follows [111]:

The apostle wrote a document concerning the emigrants and the helpers in which he made a friendly agreement with the Jews and established them in their religion and their property, and stated the reciprocal obligations…

Thorough analyses by modern scholars indicate that this constitution was part of Muhammad’s design to neutralize the Jews and establish a hegemonic order, which is in fact what occurred. The assessments of Julius Wellhausen (1889), A.J. Wensinck (1908), and Moshe Gil (1974), which concur on this critical argument, are presented chronologically.

Julius Wellhausen [112]:

I doubt that there was indeed a written agreement of which both parties had a copy. The Jews never referred to their document. The Banū Qurayza claimed that there was no agreement between them and Muhammad. Their leader Kacb ibn Asad, did not tear up a document, rather a shoelace, to demonstrate symbolically the breach with the Medinans. In any case, there cannot have been a general agreement with the Jews, but only special arrangements with individual clans, for the Jews were no political unit, rather each of their clans formed a confederation with the neighboring Arab clan. As far as I am concerned, Muhammad left the existing relations of individual Jewish clans with the families or clans of the aṇsār and incorporated them in the ummah. This was all he did. Muhammad had no direct relationship with the Jews but only by way of the aṇsār. It was only they who had obligations towards the Jews, and had to honor them. Muhamamd’s obligations derived from this, and it was only because of consideration for the aṇsār that he did not declare them fair game…In spite of what has been said, I do not doubt the authenticity of the constitution as transmitted by Ibn Isḥāq. But it did not represent an agreement with the Jews…

[Islamic] Tradition has a simple explanation why Muhammad’s relation with the Jews was so little affected by the agreement: Every hostile act of Muhammad was precipitated by the Jews and justified by planned or accomplished treachery, even though they had no intention openly to break the agreement. Muhammad himself supplies the interpretation in Koran 8:55-58 [113]: 293 “Lo! the worst of beasts in Allah's sight are the ungrateful who will not believe.[8:55]; Those of them with whom thou madest a treaty, and then at every opportunity they break their treaty, and they keep not duty (to Allah). [8:56]; If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember. [8:57]; And if thou fearest treachery from any folk, then throw back to them (their treaty) fairly. Lo! Allah loveth not the treacherous. [8:58]”

We, however, will find that it was Muhammad who committed the perfidy. He gladly used every chance to punish the Jews, and contrived to create reasons if there were none.

A.J. Wensinck [114]:

The constitution was no treaty concluded between muhājirūn, aṇsār, and the Jews. It was an edict defining the relation of the three parties; above them was Allah, i.e., Muhammad. It was evidence of his great authority that, after a short stay in Medina, he, the stranger could lay down the law for all segments of the population.

In religious matters the break with the Jews was irreconcilable. Muhammad did not express his annoyance over this. For the time being, he needed the Jews and included them in the ummah. His first plan failed; he had come to Medina hoping the town would soon be a religious unity as a theocratic monarchy under his leadership. If the Jews would have recognized him, this hope might have been realized…But the Jews showed no such inclination. What to do? They could not be attacked openly because Muhammad’s position was still insufficiently established. All he could do was to use them in his plans, or in any case, neutralize them.

When he realized that in the long run a common basis was impossible, he looked for an alternative which he found in the dogma of the religion of Abraham. The proclamation of this dogma coincided with the break with the Jews. Therefore, the constitution must have been written in the middle of the year 2 A.H. [year 2 after the hijra of 622; year 1 starts July 16, 622, and year 2 on July 5, 623] because the terminus ad quem [goal or finishing point] for dating the document is the battle of Badr in Ramaḍān 2 A.H. Quite clearly, it is unthinkable that after the battle of Badr Muhammad should have promised the Jews help against internal or external enemies, freedom of worship, or declared the territory of Yathrib [Medina] inviolable ground since he was on the point of attacking Banū Qaynuqāc. The battle of Badr gave Muhammad the opportunity to repeal all concessions made to the Jews. This victory was a success which increased his authority among Banū Qaylah [i.e., the Aws and Khazraj, or aṇsār] and allowed him to act with far greater confidence. From then on he felt he could do without the Jews; consequently he did not wait long to express his exasperation.

Moshe Gil [115]:

The document is better understood as an act of preparation for war, and not as its result. Through his alliance with the Arab tribes of Medina the Prophet gained enough strength to achieve a gradual anti-Jewish policy, despite the reluctance of his Medinese allies, who had formerly been those of the Jews…It is therefore an obvious alibi that Muslim sources have developed a tradition about a treaty between Muhammad and the Jews, be it this document or a lost one, as presumed by some modern scholars. Elsewhere, it is declared in complete sincerity that Muhammad, without invoking any treaty, simply asked the B. Qaynuqāc before taking action against them, to accept Islam. [116] 296 One of the ḥulafā’ [allies, confederates] cUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit of the clan B. cAwf declares that he takes as walīs [ruler] God and His Prophet, and renounces (abra’u) the ḥ̣ilf [oath, sworn alliance] with B. Qaynuqāc. cUbāda also says further to ‘Abdallah b. Ubayy: Taghayyarat al qulūbu wa-maḥā’l-islāmu’l-cuhūda (“The disposition of the hearts has changed and Islam has cancelled [any] treaties”). Usayd b. Ḥuḍayr, when reminded by the B. Qurayẓa about the fact that they are mawālī [clients, feudal tenants] of his tribe, the Aws, answers: “There is no cahd ill [contractual obligation] between us”. The document therefore, was not a covenant with the Jews. On the contrary, it was a formal statement of intent to disengage the Arab clans of Medina from the Jewish neighbors they had been allied with up to that time.

Hartwig Hirschfeld’s detailed analysis of Muhammad’s interactions with the Jews includes this opening summary of the “mutual disappointment” that characterized their relationship, and the predictably disastrous results for the Jews. [117]

The Jews, for their part, were singularly disappointed in their expectations. The way in which Muhammad understood revelation, his ignorance and his clumsiness in religious questions in no way encouraged them to greet him as their Messiah. He tried at first to win them over to his teachings by sweetness and persuasion; they replied by posing once again the questions that they had already asked him; his answers, filled with gross errors, provoked their laughter and mockery. From this, of course, resulted a deep hostility between Muhammad and the Jews, whose only crime was to pass a severe judgment on the enterprise of this Arab who styled himself “God’s prophet” and to find his conduct ridiculous, his knowledge false, and his regulations thoughtless. This judgment, which was well founded, was nevertheless politically incorrect [une faute politique], and the consequences thereof inevitably would prove to be disastrous for a minority that lacked direction or cohesion.

During his attempts at proselytization, Muhammad’s ignorance of Jewish doctrine was ridiculed by rabbis and Jewish poets. [118] Ibn Ishaq accuses them of “hostility…, envy, hatred, and malice because God ha[d] chosen his apostle from the Arabs” [119], consistent with the Muslim traditionalists perspective [120]:

It was the Jewish rabbis who used to annoy the apostle with questions and introduce confusion, so as to confound the truth with falsity. The Quran used to come down in reference to these questions of theirs, though some of the questions about what was allowed and forbidden came from the Muslims themselves.

In essence, Ibn Ishaq concedes, these Jews, especially the rabbis, made queries of
Muhammad [121]:

These were the Jewish rabbis, the rancorous opponents of the apostle and his companions, the men who asked questions, and stirred up trouble against Islam to try to extinguish it…
Ibn Ishaq records [122] one fortuitous conversion of a Jew to Islam—the rabbi ‘Abdallah b. Salam, whose example was followed by several members of the B. Qaynuqa tribe. [123] However, as Hirschfeld observes [124],
These conversions,…were still exceptional cases, and Islam had few initiates among the Jews. The followers of Mohammed were almost all uneducated, rough-hewn Arabs, ignorant even of the very principles of the religion that they had embraced. As for the Jews, they responded to the prophet’s advances with jesting. That is when Mohammed began to replace persuasion with violence; those who were not sincere in the Moslem beliefs, whether Jews or Arabs, were beaten and driven from the mosques. Abu Bakr [the first “rightly Guided Caliph”, d. 634] himself, who was usually so prudent and moderate, made his way into the Jewish school and rained blows upon the rabbi Finḥāṣ. To reward him for this exploit, Mohammed favored him with a revelation. [Qur’an 3:177-181/186]

Ibn Ishaq’s description of Abu Bakr’s outburst includes these details [125]: 305

Abu Bakr went into a Jewish school and found a good many men gathered round a certain Finḥāṣ, one of their learned rabbis, and another rabbi called Ashya‘. Abu Bakr called on the former to fear God and become a Muslim because he knew that Muhammad was the apostle of God who had brought the truth from Him and that they would find it written in the Torah and the Gospel. Finḥāṣ replied: “We are not poor compared to Allah but He is poor compared to us. We do not humble ourselves to Him as He humbles Himself to us; we are independent of Him while He needs us. Were He independent of us He would not ask us to lend Him our money as your master pretends, prohibiting you to take interest and allowing us to. Had He been independent of us He would not have given us interest.”

Abu Bakr was enraged and hit Finḥāṣ hard in the face, saying, “Were it not for the treaty between us I would cut off your head, you enemy of Allah!” Finḥāṣ immediately went to the apostle and said, “Look, Muhammad, at what your companion has done.” The apostle asked Abu Bakr what had impelled him to do such a thing and he answered: “The enemy of Allah spoke blasphemy. He alleged that Allah was poor and that they were rich and I was so angry that I hit his face.” Finḥāṣ contradicted this and denied that he had said it, so Allah sent down refuting him and confirming what Abu Bakr had said: “Allah has heard the speech of those who say: "Allah is poor and we are rich." We shall write what they say and their killing the prophets wrongfully and we shall say, Taste the punishment of burning.” [Qur’an 3:181]

And there came down concerning Abu Bakr and the anger that he felt: “And you will certainly hear from those who received the book before you and from the polytheists much wrong but if you persevere and fear God that is of the steadfastness of things.” [Qur’an 3:186]

Then He said concerning what Finḥāṣ and the other rabbis with him said: “And when God laid a charge upon those who had received the book: You are to make it clear to men and not to conceal it, they cast it behind their backs and sold it for a small price. Wretched is the exchange! Think not that those who rejoice in what they have done and want to be praised for what they have not done-think not that they will escape the punishment: theirs will be a painful punishment.” [Qur’an 3:187] He means Finḥāṣ and Ashya‘ and the rabbis like them who rejoice in what they enjoy of worldly things by making error attractive to men and wish to be praised for what they have not done so that men will say they are learned when they are nothing of the kind, not bringing them to truth and guidance and wanting men to say that they have so done.

At about the same time, Muhammad is said to have written a letter to the Jews of Khaybar (then mostly belonging to the B. Nadir tribe), attempting to convert them to Islam. This appeal was to no avail [126], as were others, despite Muhammad’s proselytizing zeal. [127] The Jews stubborn refusal to convert to Islam altered, decisively, the trajectory of Muhammad’s religious thinking, as characterized by Hirschfeld [128]:

The resistance that the Jews put up to all attempts at converting them changed in a singular manner the direction of Muhammad’s religious thinking. Until then he had adopted Jewish ceremonies for his new religion; he had been turning toward Jerusalem to pray and had used the same method as the Jews of calling the faithful together to prayer…finally, he had the faithful summoned from the top of a tower by a man’s voice. Then he commanded the Muslims to turn toward Mecca while they prayed. This sudden change, to his way of thinking, had a twofold purpose: to show the Jews that he was making himself independent of their laws, and to flatter the national self-esteem of the Arabs. Although he responded weakly to the Jews who were astonished at this change, there is nevertheless no doubt about his real sentiment.

It was around that time that Muhammad inaugurated a new system of propaganda to recruit followers and to put an end to opposition against his teachings: he used force. Upon learning that a caravan of Quraysh was about to get under way, he instructed a certain number of his friends to position themselves in ambush so as to attack the travelers. One of the Quraysh was killed, two others were taken captive, while the fourth fled. This incident took place during the holy month of the Arabs, in which it was forbidden to engage in battle. Muhammad, who had even shared with the murderers in the spoils from his enemies, justified his conduct and that of his friends by means of a new revelation. (Qur’an 2:217) [129] The Jews vehemently scoffed at this modus operandi of the prophet, who of course resolved that he would take revenge on his adversaries as soon as circumstances would allow.

The Battle of Badr—during which the Muslims, aided by Allah and a thousand angels—killed 49 Meccans, took an equal number prisoner, and acquired considerable booty—established the power of nascent Islam. [130] Afterward, Muhammad launched a campaign of political assassinations of Jewish (or presumptively Jewish) poets and leaders. [131] These assassinations were followed by the siege, expropriation, and expulsion of the Medinan Jewish tribes B. Qaynuqa and B. Nadir, and the subsequent massacre of the Jewish men of the B. Qurayza whose wives, children, and possessions were then seized as booty by the Muslims. [132]

Asma, daughter of Marwan, wrote satirical verses against Muhammad, so he ordered her assassination. [133] Hirschfeld writes that Muslim traditionalists (such as Wakidi) “…justify this murder by saying that this woman was Jewish and defiled the mosques.” [134] The following is William Muir’s description of Asma’s assassination and its aftermath, according to the sira [135]:

The first blood shed at Medina with the countenance of Mahomet was that of a woman. Asma, daughter of Marwan, belonged to a disaffected tribe, the Bani Aus, and to a family which had not yet thrown off their ancestral faith. She made no secret of her dislike to Islam; and being a poetess, composed some couplets, after the battle of Bedr [Badr], on the folly of her fellow citizens in receiving and trusting one who had slain the chief men amongst his own people. The verses spread from mouth to mouth (for such was one of the few means possessed by the Arabs of giving expression to public opinion), and at least reached the ears of the Mussulmans. They were offended; and Omeir, a blind man of the same tribe (and according to some a former husband of Asma) vowed that he would kill the author. It was but a few days after the return of Mahomet from Bedr, that this man, in the dead of night, crept into the apartment where, surrounded by her little ones, Asma lay asleep. Feeling stealthily with his hand, he removed her infant from her breast, and plunged his sword into her bosom with such force that it passed through her back. Next morning, being present in the Mosque at prayers, Mahomet, who was aware of the bloody design, said to Omeir: “Hast thou slain the daughter of Marwan?” “Yes”, he answered; “but tell me is there any cause of apprehension for what I have done?” “None”, said Mahomet; “a couple of goats will not knock their haeds together for it.” Then turning to the people assembled in the Mosque, he said: “If ye desire to see a man that hath assisted the Lord and his Propeht, look ye here! “What!” Omar exclaimed, “the blind Omeir!” “Nay”, replied the Prophet, “call him not blind; rather call him Omeir the Seeing”.

As the assassin returned to his home in Upper Medina, he passed the sons of Asma burying their mother; they accused him of the murder, which without compunction he avowed, and added that if they dared to repeat such things as she had uttered, he would slay the whole clan of them. The bloody threat had the desired effect. Those of the family who had secretly espoused the cause of Mahomet, now succumbed before the fierce determination and growing influence of the Prophet’s followers. Indeed, as Sprenger [136] remarks, the only course by which they could now preserve their honor without entering on a hopeless blood-feud, was the adoption of Islam.

Soon afterwards, another (Jewish) poet who dared to write verses critical of Muhammad, Abu ‘Afak, reportedly a centenarian, was assassinated on Muhammad’s order, while he slept. Muir provides these details [137]:

Many weeks did not elapse before another foul murder was committed by the express command of Mahomet. Abu Afak belonged to the Bani Amr (whose doubtful loyalty is marked by the message sent to them by Mahomet on his march to Bedr); he had embraced Judaism, but still lived with his tribe in Upper Medina. Though (as is said) above a hundred years of age he was active in his opposition to the new religion. He, too, composed some stinging and disloyal verses which annoyed the Mussulmans. The Prophet signified his wish for his assassination by saying: “Who will rid me of this pestilent fellow?” A convert from amongst the Bani Amr watched his opportunity, and falling unawares upon the aged man, as he slept in the court-yard outside his house, dispatched him with his sword. The death shriek of the Jew drew the neighbors to the spot; but though they vowed vengeance against the murderer, he escaped unrecognized.

Attempting to exploit the fear aroused by these assassinations [138], Muhammad admonished the Jews of Medina (specifically, the B. Qaynuqa) one more time to convert to Islam. Ibn Ishaq records this threatening appeal, and the associated Qur’anic revelation (3:12-3:13) [139]:

The apostle assembled them in their market and addressed them as follows: “O Jews, beware lest God bring upon you the vengeance that He brought upon Quraysh and become Muslims. You know that I am a prophet who has been sent – you will find that in your scriptures and God's covenant with you.” They replied, “O Muhammad, you seem to think that we are your people. Do not deceive yourself because you encountered a people with no knowledge of war and got the better of them; for by God if we fight you, you will find that we are real men!”

A freedman of the family of Zayd b. Thabit from Sa'id b. Jubayr or from ‘Ikrima from Ibn ‘Abbas told me that the latter said the following verses came down about them: “Say to those who disbelieve: you will be vanquished and gathered to Hell, an evil resting place. You have already had a sign in the two forces which met, i.e. the apostle's companions at Badr and the Quraysh. “One force fought in the way of God; the other, disbelievers, thought they saw double their own force with their very eyes. God strengthens with His help whom He will. Verily in that is an example for the discerning.”

Once the B. Qaynuqa defied this threat the outcome was predictable. Muir recounts the events leading to their subjugation and expulsion from Medina [140]:

An incident soon occurred which afforded the pretext for an attack. An Arab girl married to a convert of Medina, went to a goldsmith’s shop in the marketplace of the Cainucaa [B. Qaynuqa], and, while waiting for some ornaments, sat down. A silly neighbor, unperceived, pinned the lower hem of her skirt behind to the upper dress. When she arose, the awkward exposure excited laughter, and she screamed with shame. A Mussulman, being apprised of the affront, slew the offending Jew; the brethren of the Jew, in their trun fell upon the Mussulman and killed him. The family of the murdered Mussulman appealed to the converts of Medina, who espoused their cause. Though bound by a friendly treaty, Mahomet made no attempt to compose the quarrel, nor any demand that the guilty should be singled out and brought to justice. Without further communication, he marshaled his followers, and, placing the great white banner in the hands of Hamza, marched forth to attack the offending tribe. Their settlement was sufficiently fortified to resist assault. It was therefore invested, and a strict blockade maintained. This happened within one month from the Battle of Bedr.

The Bani Cainucaa were besieged closely by Mahomet for fifteen days. They had expected that Abdallah ibn Obey and the Bani Khazraj, with whom they had long been in close bonds of defensive alliance, would have interfered in their behalf; but no one dared to stir. At last, despairing of the looked-for aid, they surrendered at discretion. As, one by one, they issued from the stronghold, their hands were tied behind their backs, and preparations made for execution. But Abdallah, fallen as he was from his high estate, could not endure to see his faithful allies massacred in cold blood. Approaching Mahomet, he begged for mercy to be shown them; but Mahomet turned his face away. Abdallah persisted in his suit, and seizing the Prophet by the side, as he stood armed in his coat of mail, reiterated the petition. “Let me alone!” cried Mahomet; but Abdallah did not relax his hold. The marks of anger mantled in the Prophet’s face, and again he exclaimed loudly: “Wretch, let me go!” “Nay!” said Abdallah, “I will not let thee go until thou hast compassion on my friends; 300 soldiers armed in mail, and 400 unequipped—they defended me on the fields of Hadaick and Boath from every foe. Wilt thou cut them down in one day, O Mahomet? As for me, I am one that verily feareth the vicissitudes of fortune.” Abdallah was yet too strong for Mahomet with safety to neglect the appeal so urgently preferred. “Let them go!” the Prophet said, reluctantly; “God curse them, and God curse him also!” So Mahomet released them from death, and commanded that they should be sent into exile. They were lead forth some distance by Obada, one of the Khazrajite “leaders;” thence they proceeded to the Jewish settlement of Wadi al Cora, and, there being assisted with carriage, reached Adzraat, a territory on the confines of Syria.

The spoil consisted mainly of armor and goldsmiths’ tools, for that was the chief occupation of the tribe: they possessed no agricultural property, nor any fields. Mahomet took his choice of arms—three bows, three swords, and two coats of mail. The royal fifth was then set aside, and the remainder distributed amongst the army.

Muhammad’s ultimate political goals vis a vis the Jews were becoming quite apparent [141]:

The Jews might now see clearly the designs of Mahomet. It was no petty question of an affronted female. Blood had no doubt been shed in the quarrel; but it was shed equally on both sides. And had there not been a deadly enmity, and a predetermination to root out the Israelites, the difference might easily have been composed. Moreover Mahomet was bound by treaty to deal justly and amicably with the tribe: the murderer alone was “liable to retaliation”. Indeed, of such minor importance was the quarrel, that some biographers do not mention it at ll, but justify the attack by a divine revelation of Jewish treachery. The violent proceedings of Mahomet widened also to some extent the breach between his followers and the disaffected citizens. Abdallah thus upbraided Obada (they were both principals in the confederacy with the Bani Cainucaa) for the part he had taken in abandoning their allies, and aiding in their exile: “What! Art thou free from the oath with which we ratified their alliance? Hast thou forgotten how they stood by us, and shed for us their blood, on such and such a field?”—and he bgean enumerating the engagements in which they had fought together. Obada cut him short with the decisive answer: “Hearts have changed. Islam hath blotted all treaties out.”

The expulsion of the B. Qaynuqa made the remaining Jewish tribes of Medina more vulnerable. Following a series of caravan raids (of varied success), and an interlude of calm [142], Muhammad began a renewed campaign of assassinations starting with the murder of Ka’b b. al ‘Ashraf, the son of a Jewess from the B. Nadir. Ibn Warraq summarizes the events surrounding this assassination [143]:

He [Ka’b] had gone to Mecca after the battle of Badr and had composed poems in praise of the dead, trying to stir up the Meccans to avenge their heroes of Badr. Rather foolishly he returned to Medina, where Muhammad prayed aloud, “O Lord, deliver me from the son of Ashraf, in whatsoever way it seems good to you, because of his open sedition and his verses.” But the Banu Nadir were powerful enough to protect Ka’b, and the Muslims who volunteered to murder him explained to the Prophet that only by cunning could they hope to accomplish their task. The conspirators met in Muhamamd’s house, and as they emerged at night, the Prophet gave them his full blessings. Pretending to be Ka’b’s friends, the Muslims lured him out into the night and, in a suitable spot near a waterfall, murdered him. They threw Ka’b’s head at the Prophet’s feet. Muhammad praised their good work in the cause of God.

Ibn Ishaq records these telling words of one of the conspirators [144]:

Our attack upon God’s enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life.

Indeed this fear was well founded, as on the very morning after Ka’b’s murder, Muhammad encouraged the Muslims to slay Jews indiscriminately, according to Ibn Ishaq [145]:

The apostle said, “Kill any Jew that fails into your power.” Thereupon Muhayyisa b. Mas'ud leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom they had social and business relations, and killed him. Huwayyisa was not a Muslim at the time though he was the elder brother. When Muhayyisa killed him Huwayyisa began to beat him, saying, “You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?” Muhayyisa answered, “Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off.” He said that this was the beginning of Huwayyisa's acceptance of Islam. The other replied, “By God, if Muhammad had ordered you to kill me would you have killed me?” He said, “Yes, by God, had he ordered me to cut off your head I would have done so.” He exclaimed, “By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvelous!” and he became a Muslim.

Not surprisingly, as Muir notes [146],

The Jews were now in extreme alarm. None ventured abroad. Every family lived in fear of a night attack; every individual dreaded the fate of Kab and Ibn Sanin…the Jews thenceforward lived (as well they might) in a state of depression and disquietude.

Clearly these murders, particularly of Ka’b, were a prelude to a general attack on the B. Nadir. But this enterprise was delayed by the Muslims defeat at Uhud (A.H.3; 625 C.E.), a setback to Muhammad’s power and prestige. [147] Hirschfeld characterizes his inevitable course of action [148]:

In order to restore his military glory and avenge their insults—the mere memory of which roused his indignation—the prophet resolved to have done with the Jews. Furthermore he felt encouraged by the calm and indifference with which they had witnessed the expulsion of the Banu Qaynuqa and the murder of Ka’b.

The alleged pretext for Muhammad’s campaign against the B. Nadir, and the results of the Muslims attack, are summarized by Hirschfeld, as follows [149]:

A Muslim had killed two members of the Banu Amir tribe. Muhammad, accompanied by Abu Bakr, Umar and Ali, went to the Banu Nadir and asked them to join with him in apologizing for that double murder. His friends waited for him at the entrance to his dwelling; they saw him return in great haste. Muhammad told them that a divine revelation warned him that the Jew ‘Amr b. Jiḥāsh (b. Ka’b), refusing to obey the orders of Sallam b. Mishkam, was planning to throw a rock down on him from the height of his citadel so as to kill him. This accusation was certainly false and only served as a pretext to attack the Banu Nadir, whose destruction had been decided long ago. Muhammad laid siege to the citadels of his enemies and, contrary to all customs, gave orders to burn and cut down the palm trees at Boeira. Abdallah b. Ubayy urged those who were under siege not to persist, and he promised to intercede in their favor with the prophet. The latter agreed to allow the Banu Nadir to come out of their fortresses, unarmed, and he permitted each group of three persons to take with them a camel’s load of their belongings. The Banu Nadir accepted these conditions, loaded their beasts, carrying off the wooden materials of which their houses were built, and withdrew, to the sound of music, to the North, where they settled, partly in Khaybar, partly in Adzraât in Syria. Among those who decided to stay in Khaybar were the brother and the sons of Kinana Rabi b. Abu’l-Huqayq and the rabbi Huyayy. Two Banu Nadir, Yāmīn b. cUmayr and Abou Sad b. Wahb, embraced Islam in order to save their fortune and remain in Medina. The lands and houses of the emigrants were divided up among the Muslims.

Hirschfeld concludes that the forced emigration of the B. Nadir resulted from a lack of “energy, resolve, and unity”, compounded by a fearful awareness “…they would not be able to continue living in a land where betrayal and murder prevailed, and where their adversaries would surely increase in numbers and strength over time.”[150] Muhammad, in contrast, was well aware of the bounty of the exiled B. Nadir, whose lands and possessions became Muslim booty, celebrated in Qur’an 59: 1-10, and subsequently codified into Islamic Law (as “fay territory” etc.) [151] Ibn Ishaq emphasizes how this “Sura (Sura 59) of Exile” [152],

…came down in which is recorded how God wreaked His vengeance on them [the Jews] and gave His apostle power over them and how He dealt with them. God said: “He it is who turned out those who disbelieved of the scripture people from their homes to the first exile. You did not think that they would go out and they thought that their forts would protect them from God. But God came upon them from a direction they had not reckoned and He cast terror into their hearts so that they destroyed their houses with their own hands and the hands of the believers.” That refers to their destroying their houses to extract the lintels of the doors when they carried them away. “So consider this, you who have understanding. Had not God prescribed deportation against them,” which was vengeance from God, “He would have punished them in this world,” i.e. with the sword, “and in the next world there would be the punishment of hell” as well. “The palm-trees which you cut down or left standing upon their roots.” Lina means other than the best kind of dates. “It was by God's permission,” i.e. they were cut down by God's order; it was not destruction but was vengeance from God, “and to humble evil­doers. “The spoil which God gave the apostle from them,” i.e., from B. al-Nadir. “You did not urge on your cavalry or riding camels for the sake of it, but God gives His apostle power over whom He wills and God is Almighty,” i.e., it was peculiar to him , “The spoil which God gave the apostle from the people of the towns belongs to God and His apostle.” What the Muslims gallop against with horses and camels and what is captured by force of arms belongs to God and the apostle. “And is for the next of kin and orphans and the poor and the wayfarer so that it should not circulate among your rich men; and what the apostle gives you take and abstain from what he forbids you.” He says this is another division between Muslims concerning what is taken in war according to what God prescribed to him.

Then God said, “Have you seen those who are disaffected,” meaning ‘Abdullah b. Ubayy and his companions and those who are like-minded “who say to their brothers of the scripture people who disbelieve,” i.e. the B. Al-Nadir, up to the words “like those who a short time before them tasted the misery of their acts and had a painful punishment,” i.e. the B. Qaynuqa. Then as far as the words “Like Satan when he said to man Disbelieve”, and when man disbelieved he said, “I am quit of you. I fear Allah the Lord of the worlds and the punishment of both is that they will be in hell ever­lastingly. That is the reward of the evildoers.”

The last remaining Jewish tribe in Medina was Banu Qurayza. During the Battle of the Trench (627), when the Meccans and their allies had besieged Medina, B. Qurayza contributed to the city’s defense, but on the whole remained neutral. [153] After a fortuitous storm helped break the siege, the loyalty of the B. Qurayza was questioned, and Muhammad, inspired by another divine revelation, moved against them. [154] When Muhammad approached the fortifications of the B. Qurayza, according to Ibn Ishaq, he declared, “You brothers of apes, has God disgraced you and brought his vengeance upon you?” [155]

A consensus Muslim account of the subsequent events which lead to the massacre of the B. Qurayza has been compiled by M.J. Kister. [156] Twice the Qurayza made offers to surrender, and depart from their stronghold, leaving behind their land and property. Initially they requested to take one camel load of possessions per person, but when Muhammad refused this request, the Qurayza asked to be allowed to depart without any property, taking with them only their families. However, Muhammad insisted that the Qurayza surrender unconditionally and subject themselves to his judgment. Compelled to surrender, the Qurayza were lead to Medina. The men with their hands pinioned behind their backs, were put in a court, while the women and children were said to have been put into a separate court. A third (and final) appeal for leniency for the Qurayza was made to Muhammad by their tribal allies the Aws. Muhammad again declined, and instead he appointed as arbiter Sa’d Mu’ad from the Aws, who soon rendered his concise verdict: the men were to be put to death, the women and children sold into slavery, the spoils to be divided among the Muslims.

Muhammad ratified the judgment stating that Sa’d’s decree was a decree of Allah pronounced from above the Seven Heavens. Thus some 600 to 900 men from the Qurayza were lead on Muhammad’s order to the Market of Medina. Trenches were dug and the men were beheaded, and their decapitated corpses buried in the trenches while Muhammad watched in attendance. Male youths who had not reached puberty were spared. Women and children were sold into slavery, a number of them being distributed as gifts among Muhammad’s companions. According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad chose one of the Qurayza women (Rayhana) for himself. The Qurayza’s property and other possessions (including weapons) were also divided up as additional “booty” among the Muslims. The following details have been chronicled consistently by Muslim sources: the arbiter (Sa’d Mu’ad) was appointed by Muhammad himself; Muhammad observed in person the horrific executions; Muhammad claimed as a wife a woman (Rayhana) previously married to one of the slaughtered Qurayza tribesmen; the substantial material benefits (i.e., property; receipts from the sale of the enslaved) which accrued to the Muslims as a result of the massacre; the extinction of the Qurayza.

Abu Yusuf (d. 798), the prominent Hanafi jurist who advised Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid (d. 809), made the following observations about the Qurayza massacre in his writings on
jihad: [157]

Whenever the Muslims besiege an enemy stronghold, establish a treaty with the besieged who agree to surrender on certain conditions that will be decided by a delegate, and this man decides that their soldiers are to be executed and their women and children taken prisoner, this decision is lawful. This was the decision of Sa’ad b. Mu’ad in connection with the Banu Qurayza…it is up to the imam to decide what treatment is to be meted out to them and he will choose that which is preferable for religion and for Islam. If he esteems that the execution of the fighting men and the enslavement of their women and children is better for Islam and its followers, then he will act thus, emulating the example of Sa’ad b. Mu’ad.

Al-Mawardi (d. 1072), another eminent Muslim jurist from Baghdad, characterized the slaughter of the Qurayza as a religious duty incumbent on Muhammad. Kister quotes al-Mawardi as follows: “…it was not permitted (for Muhammad) to forgive (in a case of ) God’s injunction incumbent upon them; he could only forgive (transgressions) in matters concerning his own person.” [158] The notion that this slaughter was sanctioned by God as revealed to Muhammad was, according to Kister, reflective of “…the current (as of 1986) Sunni view about the slaughter of the Banu Qurayza.” [159]

W.H.T. Gairdner, also relying exclusively upon Muslim sources characterizing the slaughter of the Qurayza, highlights the pivotal role that Muhammad himself played in orchestrating the overall events: [160]

The umpire who gave the fatal decision (Sa’ad) was extravagantly praised by Muhammad. Yet his action was wholly and admittedly due to his lust for personal vengeance on a tribe which had occasioned him a painful wound. In the agony of its treatment he cried out- “O God, let not my soul go forth ere thou has cooled my eye from the Bani Quraiza”. This was the arbiter to whose word the fate of that tribe was given over. His sentiments were well-known to Muhammad, who appointed him. It is perfectly clear from that that their slaughter had been decreed. What makes it clearer still is the assertion of another biographer that Muhammad had refused to treat with the Bani Quraiza at all until they had “come down to receive the judgment of the Apostle of God”. Accordingly “they came down”; in other words put themselves in his power. And only then was the arbitration of Sa’ad proposed and accepted- but not accepted until it had been forced on him by Muhammad; for Sa’ad first declined and tried to make Muhammad take the responsibility, but was told “qad amarak Allahu takhuma fihim” “Allah has commanded you to give sentence in their case”. From every point of view therefore the evidence is simply crushing that Muhammad was the ultimate author of this massacre.

In the immediate aftermath of the massacre, the Muslims benefited substantially from the Qurayza’s assets which they seized as booty. The land and property acquired helped the Muslims gain their economic independence. The military strength of the Muslim community of Medina grew due to the weapons obtained, and the fact that captured women and children taken as slaves were sold for horses and more weapons, facilitating enlargement of the Muslim armed forces for further conquests. Conversely, the Jewish tribe of the Qurayza ceased to exist.

Muhammad prepared for his campaign against Khaybar—a farming oasis and the last Jewish stronghold in Northern Arabia, where survivors (most notably, the B. Nadir) of the Muslims earlier attacks on Medinan Jewry had also sought refuge—by two further political assassinations. Hirschfeld describes these murders of prominent Khaybar Jews [161]:

Abu Rafi Sallam b. Abu’l-Huqayq was in Khaybar. Muhammad, who feared that he might cause him difficulties, sent murderers after him. Five men from the tribe of the Khazraj traveled to Khaybar, slipped into Sallam’s dwelling at night and closed the doors. Sallam was on the upper floor; his wife went down and asked the men what they wanted. They replied that they had come to buy some wheat, entered the chamber where Sallam was in bed, and stabbed him. At the cries of the victim’s wife, some Jews came running with torches, but the murderers had managed to escape.After the death of Sallâm, the chieftain of the Jews of Khaybar was Al-Yoseir b. Rizâm. Since the latter was one of those who had incited the Ghatafan to attack the prophet, Muhammad sent against him a band of assassins headed by the poet Abdallâh b. Rawâha, which included the murderers of Abu Rafi Sallam. Their plan failed, but they managed to persuade Al-Yoseir that Muhammad was summoning him to appoint him to an important position. Seduced by that promise, he left for Medina, accompanied by several friends. Along the way, the men who had been sent by Muhammad attacked those who had trusted their words and killed them.

Ibn Ishaq’s account of Abu Rafi Sallam b. Abu’l-Huqayq’s assassionation spares none of the gruesome details [162]:

When they [the Muslim assassins] got to Khaybar they went to Sallam’s house by night, having locked every door in the settlement on the inhabitants. Now he was in an upper chamber of his to which a ladder led up. They mounted this until they came to the door and asked to be allowed to come in. His wife came out and asked who they were and they told her that they were Arabs in search of supplies. She told them that their man was here and that they could come in. When we entered I we bolted the door of the room on her and ourselves fearing lest something should come between us and him. His wife shrieked and warned him of us, so we ran at him with our swords as he was on his bed. The only thing that guided us in the darkness of the night was his whiteness like an Egyptian blanket. When his wife shrieked one of our number would lift his sword against her; then he would remember the apostle's ban on killing women and withdraw his hand; but for that we would have made an end of her that night. When we had smitten him with our swords 'Abdullah b. Unays bore down with his sword into his belly until it went right through him, as he was saying “Qaṭnī, qạtnī” i.e. “It's enough.”

We [the Muslim assassins] went out. Now ‘Abdullah b. ‘Atik had poor sight, and fell from the ladder and sprained his arm severely, so we carried him until we brought him to one of their water channels and went into it. The people lit lamps and went in search of us in all directions until, despairing of find­ing us, they returned to their master and gathered round him as he was dying. We asked each other how we could know that the enemy of God was dead, and one of us volunteered to go and see; so off he went and mingled with the people. He said, “I found his wife and some Jews gathered round him. She had a lamp in her hand and was peering into his face and saying to them ‘By God, I certainly heard the voice of 'Abdullah b. 'Atik. Then I decided I must be wrong and thought ‘How can Ibn 'Atik be in this country?’” Then she turned towards him, looking into his face, and said, 'By the God of the Jews he is dead!' Never have I heard sweeter words than those.

Then he came to us and told us the news, and we picked up our companion and took him to the apostle and told him that we had killed God's enemy . We disputed before him as to who had killed him, each of us laying claim to the deed. The apostle demanded to see our swords and when he looked at them he said, “It is the sword of ‘Abdullah b. Unays that killed him; I can see traces of food on it.”

The brutal, sanguinary assaults by the Muslims which ensued shortly afterwards resulted in the complete subjugation of the Jews of Khaybar (and by extension, Fadak), as summarized by Hirschfeld [163]:

These murders were the prelude to a general attack against the Israelites of Khaybar. Muhammad, at the head of 1,400 foot soldiers and 300 horsemen, marched against that city and arrived during the night. In the morning the Israelites, going out to the fields as usual, noticed armed Muslims everywhere.

Little by little all the forts fell into the hands of the Muslims, with the exception of Wâtih and Solâlim. A great number of Jews were taken prisoner, among them Kinana b. Ar-Rabi b. Abu’l-Huqayq and his fiancée, Safiyya daughter of Huyayy. Safiyya was very beautiful, and Muhammad wanted to take her as his wife; he summoned her fiancé Kinana, and under the pretext of making him tell where he had hidden the treasures of the Banu Nadir that had been entrusted to his protection, he subjected him to atrocious tortures, put him to death, and then married Saffiya. All the combatants who were captured with weapons in hand were killed; almost nine hundred died in this way.

The two other forts that were still putting up resistance surrendered shortly after to the Muslims. The soldiers’ lives were spared, but they had to hand over all their treasures to Muhammad and abandon their lands to the victors. However, since they were better farmers than the Muslims, they could continue to cultivate these lands, on the condition that they would deliver half of the harvest to their masters and leave the countryside as soon as Muhammad demanded it. The Jews of Fadak, whose chieftain was named Youschah b. Noun, and those of Teimâ and Wâdi-l-Kôrâ, terrified by the defeat of the inhabitants of Khaybar, likewise submitted to Muhammad

Ibn Ishaq chronicled the torture-murder of Kinana b. Ar-Rabi b. Abu’l-Huqayq, on Muhammad’s orders, as follows [164]:

When he [Muhammad] asked him [Kinana] about the rest [of the treasure] he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr b. al-'Awwam, “Torture him until you extract what he has,” so he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud.

Following the conquest of Khaybar, the hadith and sira accounts refer to an event which updates with impeccable logic the Qur’anic curse upon the Jews (2:61) for having wrongfully slain Allah’s earlier prophets—a Khaybar Jewess is accused of serving Muhammad poisoned mutton (or goat), leading ultimately to his protracted and painful death. [165] Ibn Sa‘d’s sira (Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir) focuses on the Jewish conspiracy behind this poisoning, while insisting adamantly that the Khaybar Jewess perpetrator was put to death [166]:

The Jews discussed about poisons and became united in one poison. She [a Khaybar Jewess, Zaynab Bint al-Harith] poisoned the goat putting more poison in the forelegs…The Apostle of Allah took the foreleg, a piece of which he put into his mouth...The Apostle of Allah sent for Zaynab Bint al-Harith [and]…handed her over to the heirs of Bishr Ibn al-Barra [who the Jewess had also poisoned, leading to his rapid death] who put her to death. This is the approved version [emphasis added]…The Apostle of Allah lived after this three years, till in consequence of his pain he passed away. During his illness he used to say: I did not cease to find the effect of the poisoned morsel I took at Khaybar…

The political rationale for Muhammad’s campaign against Khaybar has been discussed by Hirschfeld and D.S. Margoliouth. Hirschfeld, in his review [167] of Leone Caetani’s Annali dell Islam, agrees with the latter’s assessment,

The author [Caetani] is undoubtedly right in saying that the reasons given by the Muslim traditionalists are worthless, as Muhammad’s real motive was a purely political one, an additional motive being the opportunity which it gave of employing a number of followers unskilled in work but eager for spoil.

Hirschfeld then adds, based upon his own research of the documentary record [168],

The expedition against Khaybar was a distinct breach of faith, as two years previously Muhammad had given the Jews of Khaybar and Maqna a charter of liberty which has fortunately been preserved, and traces of which are also to be found in the works of al-Wakidi and al-Baladhuri.

Margoliouth expands upon these arguments, and concludes [169],

…in plundering Meccans he [Muhammad] could plead that he had been driven from his home and possessions: and with the Jewish tribes of Medina he had in each case some outrage, real or pretended, to avenge. But the people of Khaybar, all that distance from Medina, had certainly done him and his followers no wrong: for their leaving unavenged the murder of one [170] of their number by his emissary was no act of aggression. Ali, when told to lead the forces against them, had to enquire for what he was fighting: and was told that he must compel them to adopt the formulae of Islam. Khaybar was attacked because there was booty to be acquired there, and the plea for attacking it was that its inhabitants were not Muslims.

Georges Vajda, in turn, reminds us of the theological animus which motivated Muhammad’s political subjugation of the Jews, specifically, and became an indelible part of Muslim attitudes toward Jews across space and time. [171]

The more Mohammed advanced his career in Medina, the more his resentment against Jews grew. This evolution was rather natural since the Jews, not content with disappointing his expectations of seeing them rally unreservedly to his cause, riddled him with sarcasm, cast doubt on the authenticity of his prophetic mission, and lastly had the fault of possessing vast resources in chattels and land, which the prophet could not do without in order to secure his domination in Medina and the execution of vast projects of religious and political conquest.

Muhammad’s campaigns against the Jews of Northern Arabia (i.e., Medina and Khaybar) may have had both near and long term ramifications: the launching of the Great Jihad [172] which would subject the major Jewish communities of the Near East to Muslim conquest and colonization, and the imposition of Islamic Law. Although Antisemitic Islamic motifs from the hadith, and sira were much more commonly employed in daily life as a form of chronic discrimination against Jews—sanctioned by Islamic Law—they have also been used to incite, more extensive persecutions, including mass violence against Jewish communities. [173]

The rise of Jewish nationalism—Zionism—posed a predictable, if completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order—jihad-imposed chronic dhimmitude for Jews—of apocalyptic magnitude. As Bat Ye’or has explained [174],

…because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad.

Historian Saul S. Friedman, also citing the emergence of Zionism (as an ideology anathema to the Islamic system of dhimmitude for Jews), concluded that this modern movement, and the creation of the Jewish State of Israel has, not surprisingly, unleashed a torrent of annihilationist Islamic antisemitism, “the brew of thirteen centuries of intolerance” [175]:

Since 1896, the development of modern, political Zionism has placed new tension on, and even destroyed, the traditional master-serf relationship that existed between Arab and Jew in the Middle East. An Arab world that could not tolerate the presence of a single, “arrogant” Jewish vizier in its history was now confronted by a modern state staffed with self-confident Jewish ministers.

This is exactly the Islamic context in which the widespread, “resurgent” use of Jew annihilationist apocalyptic motifs from the hadith—exemplified by the Hamas charter—would be an anticipated, even commonplace occurrence. Indeed, as noted at the outset, the same eschatological references to Jew annihilation have been repeated within prominent US mosques far removed from the battlegrounds of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East [176]

The uncomfortable examination of Islamic doctrines and history is required in order to understand the enduring phenomenon of Muslim Jew hatred, which dates back to the origins of Islam. We can no longer view Muslim Jew hatred—including annihilationist strains of this apocalyptic hatred—as a “borrowed phenomenon,” seen primarily, let alone exclusively, through the prism of Nazism and the Holocaust, the tragic legacy of Judeophobic Christian traditions, or “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” from Czarist Russia.


[1] The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Individual Terrorists. Fawaz Damra.
[2] The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Al Arian’s “Active Arm.” April 7, 1991.
[3] The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Fawaz Damra Fund Raising for Jihad. April 7, 1991.
[4] NOW, Week of 7/7/06, Public Broadcasting System. Profile: Imam Fawaz Damra
[5] “Brother says deported imam was arrested by Israel in West Bank upon his arrival.” The International Herald Tribune, January 8, 2007.
[6] David Briggs. “Islamic Center of Cleveland imam Ahmed Alzaree resigns before starting job.” October 30, 2007. The Cleveland Plain Dealer;=2
[7] David Briggs. “Islamic Center hires new imam to replace deported” September 25, 2007. The Cleveland Plain Dealer
[8] Briggs, “Islamic Center of Cleveland imam Ahmed Alzaree resigns before starting job.”
[9] “The Day of Judgment.” By Imam Ahmed Alzaree. Friday, March 7, 2003
[10] Briggs, “Islamic Center of Cleveland imam Ahmed Alzaree resigns before starting job.”
[11] Andrew G. Bostom. “Antisemitism in the Qur’an: Motifs and Historical Manifestations.” Dhimmi Watch, April 7, 2008,
[12] Mark Durie. “Isa, the Muslim Jesus.” In, Robert Spencer, editor, The Myth of Islamic Tolerance, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 2005, pp. 541-555.
[13] Sunan Abu Dawud Book 37, Number 4310:
Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (peace be upon him). He will descent (to the earth). When you see him, recognize him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him.
[14] Andrew Bostom. “Jews as Christ-Killers in Islam.”, Wednesday, March 03, 2004
[15] Sunan Abu Dawud Book 37, Number 4310
[16] Sahih Muslim Book 041, Number 6985: Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless 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, or 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.
[17] “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas.” Middle East Media Research Institute. Special Dispatch Series, No. 1092. February 14, 2006.;=sd&ID;=SP109206
Ibn Kathir’s commentary on Koran 4:155-159 also discusses Isa’s (the Muslim Jesus’) role in defeating the Dajjal, and his Jewish minions, invoking the apocalyptic canonical hadith of Jew annihilation, Sahih Muslim Book 041, Number 6985. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 3, Riyadh, 2000, pp. 33-34.)
[18] Samau’al Al-Maghribi. “Ifham Al-Yahud.” [“Silencing the Jews.”] Edited and Translated by Moshe Perlmann. Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 32, 1964, p. 19.
[19] Moshe Perlmann, “Eleventh Century Andalusian Authors on the Jews of Granada” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, 1948-49, Vol. 18, pp. 269-290.
[20] Perlmann, “Eleventh Century Andalusian Authors on the Jews of Granada,” p.284; Reinhart Dozy. Spanish Islam: A History of the Muslims in Spain, Translated by Francis Griffin Stokes, London, 1915 (reissued by Kessinger Publishing), p. 653.
[21] Richard Gottheil, Joseph Jacobs. “The Crusades” in The Jewish Encyclopedia;=C
[22] Andrew G. Bostom. The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History. Prometheus Books, Amherst, N.Y., 2008, 768 pp.
[23] Jennie Lebel. The Mufti of Jerusalem Haj-Amin el-Husseini and National Socialism. Cigoja Stampa, Belgrade, Serbia, 2007. English translation by Paul Munch, 373 pp.
[24] Ibid., pp. 311-320.
[25] Sahih Muslim Book 041, Number 6985
[26] Ibid.
[27] Bostom. “Antisemitism in the Qur’an: Motifs and Historical Manifestations.”
[28] J. Robson. “Hadith”. Edited by P. Bearman, Th. Biaqnquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and W.P. Heinrichs, Brill, 2006, Brill Online; J. Robson. “Tradition, The Second Foundation of Islam”, Muslim World, 1951, Vol. 41, pp. 22, 24.
[29] Robson. “Hadith”; Robson. “Tradition”, pp. 22,23
[30]Robson. “Hadith”; Robson. “Tradition”, p.24.
[31] H. Lammens. Islam: Beliefs and Institutions, (reprint) New Delhi, 2002, p. 69.
[32] Ibid., p. 65.
[33] Robson. “Tradition”, p. 31.
[34] Ibid., p. 31.
[35] Ibid., p. 32.
[36] Robson in “Hadith” and “Traditions, pp. 25-30.
[37] Ignaz Goldziher. Muslim Studies. Two Volumes. Translated by C.R. Barber and S.M. Stern, London, 1967-1971, Vol. 2, p. 19
[38] Joseph Schacht. “A Revaluation of Islamic Traditions”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1949, pp. 143-154. Re-published in, Ibn Warraq (editor), The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, Amherst, New York, 2000, pp. 358-367.
[39] Ibid., pp. 366,361
[40] Ibid., p. 360
[41] Goldziher, Muslim Studies., Vol. 2, pp. 18-19.
[42] Georges Vajda. “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit”, Journal Asiatique, 1937, Vol. 229, pp. 57-127. A first time English translation of this essay, in full, is provided in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, pp. 235-260.
[43]Vajda. “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit”, p. 61.
[44] Ibid., p. 63
[45] Ibid., pp. 63-65.
[46] Ibid., p. 72.
[47] Ibid., pp. 72-73.
[48] Ibid., pp. 75-81; Sahih Bukhari Volume 2, Book 23, Number 376; Sahih Muslim Book 004, Number 2029.
[49] Vajda. “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit,” p. 78.
[50] Ibid., pp.83-84.
[51] Ibid., p. 85
[52] Ibid., pp. 86-87.
[53] Ibid., p. 87.
[54] Ibid., pp. 87-89.
[55] Ibid. pp. 88, 90
[56] Ibid. pp. 91-92.
[57] Ibid., pp. 93-96.
[58] Ibid., pp. 97-98.
[59] Ibid., p. 104.
[60] Ibid., pp. 104-105.
[61] Ibid., p. 105.
[62] Ibid., pp. 106, 105.
[63] Ibid., pp. 108-109.
[64]Sahih Muslim Book 026, Number 5430; Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786
[65] Ibn Sa‘d. Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir. Volume 2, New Delhi, 1993; pp. 249-252. English translation by S. Moinul Haq and H.K. Ghazanfar.
[66] Vajda. “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit”, pp. 112-13.
[67] Armand Abel. “al-Dadjdjal” Encyclopedia of Islam. Edited by P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill 2008. Brill Online.
[68] Vajda. “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit”, pp. 112-13.
[69]Robson. “Tradition”, p.259.
[70] Mark Durie. “Isa, the Muslim Jesus”, in Robert Spencer, editor, The Myth of Islamic Tolerance, Amherst, New York, 2005, pp. 541-555.
[71] Vajda. “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit”, pp. 112-13; Regarding the the ransoming of prisoners of Muslim enemies vanquished by jihad (see Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, p. 149), the great Maliki jurist and polymath Averroes (d. 1198), wrote:

Most scholars are agreed that, in his dealings with captives, various policies are open to the Imam [head of the Islamic state, caliph]. He may pardon them, kill them, or release them…on ransom...

[72] Vajda. “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit”, p. 110
[73] Vajda. “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit”, pp. 124-125.
[74] Ibid., pp. 110, 125.
[75] Sahih Bukhari, vol. 3, no. 2730, in the Book of the Conditions; Sahih Muslim vol. 3, no. 4366; Ibn Ishaq (Guillaume translation) p. 525 (sections 779-80).
[76]Yehuda Ratzaby. “The Expulsion of Yemenite Jewry to Mawza' in 1679-80 in Light of Recently Discovered Sources” Zion, 1972, Vol. 37, pp. 197-215. [Hebrew; (English translation by Rivkah Fishman)]; Yehuda Ratzaby. “The Expulsion to the Desert.” Et-Mol [Hebrew; (English translation by Rivkah Fishman)] 9, 3 [53] (Jan 1984) 16-18.
[77] H. Helfritz, Land ohne Schatten (Leipzig, 1934), 212-213, cited in Ratzaby, “The Expulsion of Yemenite Jewry to Mawza' in 1679-80”
[78] Ratzaby, ““The Expulsion of Yemenite Jewry to Mawza' in 1679-80”, and “The Expulsion to the Desert.”
[79] Eliz Sanasarian. Religious Minorities in Iran, Cambridge, England, 2000, p. 111.
[80] “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement—Hamas”, Middle East Media Research Institute.
[81] David Byers. “Report: London mosque’s DVDs predict mass extermination of Jews”, European Jewish Press January 11, 2007.
[82] David Cook, “Muslim Fears of the Year 2000,” Middle East Quarterly, V, 2 (June 1998), pp. 51-62.
[83] Mohamad Yasin Owadally, Emergence of Dajjal. The Jewish King (Delhi, India, 2001).
[84] Ibid., p. 12.
[85] Ibid., pp. 35-36.
[86] W. Raven. “Sira”. Encyclopedia of Islam. Edited by P. Bearman, Th. Biaqnquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and W.P. Heinrichs, Brill, 2006, Brill Online.
[87] J.M.B. Jones. “Ibn Ishak Muhammad b. Ishak b. Yasar b. Khiyar (according to some sources, b. Khabbar, or Kuman, or Kutan)”. Encyclopedia of Islam. Edited by P. Bearman, Th. Biaqnquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and W.P. Heinrichs, Brill, 2006, Brill Online.
[88] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad.
[89] Raven, “Sira”.
[90] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad.
[91] Raven, “Sira”.
[92] S. Leder. “al- Wakidī , Muhammad b . ‘Umar b. Wakidi.” Encyclopedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2006. Brill Online.
[93] J.W. Fück. “Ibn Sa‘d , Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muhammad b. Sa‘d b. Manī c al-Basrī al-Hās̲h̲imī Kātib al-Wākidī”. Encyclopedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2006. Brill Online.
[94] Raven, “Sira”.
[95] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”.
[96] Michael Cook. Muhammad. Oxford, England, 1983, 1996, pp. 64-65.
[97] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. xiv.
[98] See notes 37-41 above, and the associated text which refers to the analyses of the hadith by Ignaz Goldziher and Joseph Schacht.
[99] Cook, Muhammad, pp. 64-65.
[100] Ibid. p. 65.
[101] Robert Spencer. The Truth About Muhammad. Regnery Books, Washington, D.C., 2006, p. 31.
[102] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p.212.
[103] Ibid., 212-213.
[104] Spencer. The Truth About Muhammad, p. 78.
[105] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 213.; See also, for a discussion of jihad, Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad.
[106] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 213.
[107] W. Montgomery Watt. “Al Ansar”. Encyclopedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2006. Brill Online. Watt writes:

“the helpers”, the usual designation of those men of Medina who supported Muhammad, in distinction from the muhājirūn or “emigrants”, i.e., his Meccan followers. After the general conversion of the Arabs to Islam the old name of al-Aws and al-Khazraj jointly, Banu Kayla, fell out of use and was replaced by Ansar, the individual being known as Ansari. In this way the early services of the men of Medina to the cause of Islam were honorably commemorated.

[108] Hirschfeld. “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine” 1885, Vol. 10, pp. 10-31.
[109] Moshe Gil. A History of Palestine, 634-1099, translated by Ethel Broido, Cambridge and New York, 1992, p. 11.
[110] W. Montgomery Watt. “Al Ansar”.
[111] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p.231.
[112] Julius Wellhausen. “Muhammad’s Constitution of Medina” (first published as “Muhammads Gemeindeordnung von Medina” from Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, Berlin, 1889, IV, pp. 67-83.), published as an excursus in, Arent Jan Wensinck. Muhammad and the Jews of Medina, English translation by Wolfgang H. Behn, Berlin, 1982, pp. 137, 136.
[113] The exegeses of Ibn Kathir (14th century) and Mawdudi (20th century) make clear that these verses refer to the “B. Qurayza” (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Riyadh, Vol. 4, p. 347), specifically, or the Jews of Medina (Mawdudi, Towards Understanding the Qur’an, Vol. 3, pp. 160-161.)
[114] Arent Jan Wensinck. Muhammad and the Jews of Medina (first published as Mohammed en de Joden te Medina, Leiden, 1908), with an excursus [appendix] from Julius Wellhausen’s “Muhammad’s Constitution of Medina” (first published as “Muhammads Gemeindeordnung von Medina” from Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, Berlin, 1889, IV, pp. 67-83.) English translation by Wolfgang H. Behn, Berlin, 1982, pp. 70-71.
[115] Moshe Gil. “The Constitution of Medina: A Reconsideration” Israel Oriental Studies, Vol. 4, 1974, pp. 64-65.
[116] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 363.
[117] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, p. 11
[118] Ibid., pp. 11-12.
[119] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 239.
[120] Ibid., p. 239
[121] Ibid., p. 240.
[122] Ibid., p. 240.
[123] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, p. 13.
[124] Ibid., p. 13.
[125] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., pp. 263-264.
[126] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, p. 14.
[127] Ibid., p.15
[128] Ibid., pp. 15-16.
[129] Qur’an 2:217—“They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can. And whoso becometh a renegade and dieth in his disbelief: such are they whose works have fallen both in the world and the Hereafter. Such are rightful owners of the Fire: they will abide therein.”. Ibn Kathir’s commentary (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 1, p, 602.) explains the killings thus:

This Ayah means if you had killed during the Sacred Month, they (the disbelievers of Quraysh) have hindered you from the path of Allah and disbelieved in it. They also prevented you from entering the Sacred Mosque, and expelled you from it, while you are its people, “a greater transgression with Allah” than killing whom you killed among them. Also, “…and Al-Fitnah (persecution) is worse than killing” means, trying to force the Muslims to revert from their religion, and re-embrace Kufr (disbelief) after they had believed, is worse with Allah than killing.

[130] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, p. 16; Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim, p.93.
[131] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, pp. 16-21; 27-28; Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim, pp. 93-95.
[132] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, pp. 16-27.
[133] Sir William Muir. The Life of Mahomet. London, 1878 (Kessinger Reprints, 2003), pp. 248-249; Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, p. 16; Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim, pp. 93-94.
[134] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, p. 16.
[135] Muir, The Life of Mahomet, pp. 248-249.
[136] Aloys Sprenger (1813-1893), an Austrian Orientalist and Professor of Oriental Languages at Bern (1858-1881), was a prolific writer, editor, and collector of Islamic literature, especially hadith literature. See Wolfgang Behn, Concise Biographical Companion to Index Islamicus, Leiden, 2004, Vol.3, p. 435.
[137] Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 249.
[138] Ibid., p. 249.
[139] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 363.
[140] Muir, The Life of Mahomet, pp. 250-251.
[141] Ibid., pp. 251-252.
[142] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, pp. 17-18; Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim, p. 94.
[143] Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim, pp. 94-95.
[144] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 368.
[145] Ibid., p. 369.
[146] Muir, The Life of Mahomet, pp. 258-259.
[147] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, p. 20; Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim, p. 95.
[148] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, p. 20.
[149] Ibid., pp.20-21.
[150] Ibid., p. 21.
[151] The expression “fay” is found in Qur’an 59: 6-10, which describes Muhammad’s attack upon the Jewish tribe, Banu Nadir. In the traditional Muslim interpretation of these verses the theocratic conception of property rights is confirmed, as voiced by the Prophet—Allah returns to the Believers the possessions of His foes, what is properly His. See Leone Caetani. Annali dell’ Islam, Milan, 1905-1926, Vol. 5, p. 332.
[152] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., pp. 438-439.
[153] Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim, p. 95.
[154] Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 325; Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim, p. 95.
[155] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 461, actually uses the word “monkeys.” “Apes” and “monkeys” are used interchangeably in translation. See for example, Norman Stillman’s translation of this same excerpt in The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern Times, p. 137, which refers to the Jews as “apes”.
[156] M.J. Kister, “The massacre of the Banū Qurayẓa: a re-examination of a tradition” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, Vol. 8, 1986, pp. 61-96.
[157]Abu Yusuf Ya’qub Le Livre de l’impot foncier, Translated from Arabic and annotated by Edmond Fagnan. Paris, 1921. English translation in Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, pp. 172-173.
[158] Kister, “The massacre of the Banū Qurayẓa”, p. 69.
[159] Kister, “The massacre of the Banū Qurayẓa”, p. 69 ff.
[160] W.H. T. Gairdner, “Muhammad Without Camouflage”, The Moslem World, Vol. 9, 1919, p. 36.
[161] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, pp. 28-30.
[162] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., pp. 482-483.
[163] Hirschfeld, “Essai sur l’histoire des Juifs de Medine”, 1885, pp. 28-30.
[164] Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 515.
[165] Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786; Sahih Muslim Book 026, Number 5430; Sunan Abu Dawud Book 39, Number 4498; Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., p. 516; Ibn Sa’d. Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, pp. 249-252.
[166] Ibn Sa’d. Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, pp. 249-252.
[167] Hartwig Hirschfeld. “The Annals of Islam”. Review of Annali dell’Islam compilati de Leone Caetani, Principe de Teano, Volume 2, Milan, 1907, in The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1908, Vol. 20, p. 876.
[168] Ibid., p. 876. Regarding the breached treaty, Hirschfeld refers to its existence in his own essay “The Arabic Portion of the Cairo Genizah at Cambridge”, The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1905, Vol. 15, pp. 170-174.
[169] D.S. Margoliouth. Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, London 1905 (reprinted in New Delhi, India, 1985), pp. 362-363.
[170] See note 161 above, and the related text, in which Hirshfeld discusses two assassinations of Khaybar Jews, prior to the Muslims assault, which is confirmed by Ibn Ishaq (Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad., pp. 665-666, and 482-483.)
[171] Vajda. “Juifs et musulmans selon le Hadit”, p. 85.
[172] Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, pp. 37-56.
[173] Andrew G. Bostom, editor, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, Prometheus Books, Amherst, N.Y., 2008, 768 pp.
[174] Bat Ye’or. “The New Egyptian Jew Hatred—Local Elements and External Influences”, in Andrew G. Bostom, editor, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, Prometheus Books, Amherst, N.Y., 2008, p. 617.
[175] Saul S. Friedman. Without Future. The Plight of Syrian Jewry. Praeger, New York, 1989, p. 9.
[176] See notes 1-10, above

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Jews are represented in the darkest colors. Convinced by the clear testimony of their books that Mohammed was the true prophet, they refused to convert, out of envy, jealousy and national particularism, even out of private interest. They have falsified their sacred books and do not apply the laws of God; nevertheless, they pursued Mohammed with their raillery and their oaths, and harassed him with questions, an enterprise that turned to their own confusion and merely corroborated the authenticity of the supernatural science of the prophet. From words they moved to action: sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.
it sounds to me more like the Muslims are talking about themselves

Once this reference book appears, it will be hard ever again for others to claim, or to pretend (see Bernard Lewis, see Matthias Kuntzel) that antisemitism in Islam -- different in its main promptings, textual and societal,from that observable in Western Christendom - is in the main a child of ideological currents in Western Europe --that is, the antisemitism of Karl Lueger in Vienna, of Charles Maurras and the anti-dreyfusards in France, and of course, the apotheosis of it all, embodied in the arch-criminal regime of the maniacs who got an entire country to endorse them, the Nazis under Adolf Hitler, who found sympathizers in West and in East, but did not create antisemitism, in either its Christian or Islamic form. Hajj Amin el Husseini had no need to receive tutorials from Adolf Hitler, though they shared a vision of what should be done with the Jews.

Golly, this stuff is brilliant, but it's almost beyond me to read this much text on a computer screen. I need the book.

I wonder how it comes about that Bernard Lewis, with all his undoubted learning, can be so mistaken on this important point? His reputation is hardly that of a temporizer.

Mr Spencer -

I assume this is a sneak preview/ sampler/ taster of Mr Bostom's latest book?

Somebody has GOT to translate it into Modern Hebrew.

A very suitable posting as Passover approaches.

May all the holy angels surround the borders of Israel, and all Jews everywhere; more mundanely, may the Lord inspire governments and security services of non-Muslim lands to special vigilance on behalf of their Jewish citizens, to guard them against would-be Mohammedan assassins.

To Marisol, and all Jewish people reading and/ or posting here: may your Passover celebration be blessed and joyful!

To all my fellow Gentiles: I commend the magnificent Book of Exodus. Read it aloud, pay attention, and your hair will stand on end.

And read Tom Cahill's beautiful little book, "The Gifts of the Jews"; and Joshua Berman's wonderful article, 'God's Alliance With Man', which exposes the radically revolutionary nature of the Sinai Covenant when understood in the light of the politico-religious formulae of the ancient world whose language it both uses - and, magnificently, subverts. In that Covenant lie the intellectual moves that would, in the end, make possible the view of humanity, of human freedom and responsibility, that we in the west now take for granted. (One might also try to track down Franz Rosenzweig's, 'The Star of Redemption').

Both Nazism and Islam hate the Jews with an all-consuming hatred, both want to destroy or to crush them, because both are pagan-totalitarian-imperial, obliterating the individual in the collective; whereas Judaism, with the TaNaKh, defies that system at every level.

There is something wonderfully appropriate about the fact that the actor who plays 'Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived', in the 'Harry Potter' films, is ...Jewish, the son of a Jewish mother.

Israel is...the People Who Lived; and 'voldemort' keeps on trying to kill them.

Am Yisrael chai!

The Jews wouldn't buy the deceitful drivel of the plagiarizing pedophile "prophet", so he hated them.

Thieves always hate those who catch them koran-handed.

Still waiting for my copy of Bostom's book; hoping it's coming SOON!