Saturday, December 26, 2015, an audio statement (transcribed fully here) allegedly issued by Islamic State “Caliph”, al-Baghdadi, contained the following threat to the Jewish State of Israel, and Jews in general:
The Jews thought we forgot Palestine and that they had distracted us from it. Not at all, Jews. We did not forget Palestine for a moment. With the help of Allah, we will not forget it… The pioneers of the jihadist fighters will surround you on a day that you think is distant and we know is close. We are getting closer every day. You will never find comfort in Palestine, Jews. Palestine will not be your land or your home, but it will be a graveyard for you. Allah assembled you in Palestine so that the Muslims kill you, so that you may hide behind stones and trees (i.e., hiding behind “stones and trees,” explicitly references the canonical utterance [hadith] of Islam’s prophet Muhammad, Sahih Muslim Book 041, 6985; “Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] 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;’”).
Despite incessant efforts at denial by non-Muslim and Muslim apologists for Islam of all ilks, Al-Baghdadi’s rhetoric of annihilationist Jew-hatred is firmly rooted in Islamic theology, re-affirmed by Islam’s most authoritative modern religious teaching institutions, and grotesquely popular amongst the world’s Muslims.
Sunni Islam’s leading religious teaching institution (since the mid-13th century founding of the Egyptian Mamluk dynasty), and de facto Vatican, is Cairo’s Al-Azhar University. During a May 10, 2013 sermon at Al- Azhar, Muhammad Al-Mahdi, a senior scholar and head of Al-Azhar’s Sharia [Islamic law] association proclaimed the same end of times Jew-annihilating hadith just featured in the putative audio statement by IS’s al-Baghdadi. Current Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb is the Papal equivalent of Al-Azhar University. In the spring of 2002, al-Tayeb (then Al-Azhar Mufti), extolled Palestinian jihadist homicide bombing “martyrdom operations” against Israeli Jews—including civilian non-combatants — as reported by an Al-Azhar affiliated Arabic website. As Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, al-Tayeb has publicly reiterated Islam’s canonical, Jew-hating bigotry. During an interview with al-Tayeb, which aired on Channel 1, Egyptian TV, October 25, 2013, he gave a brief explanation of the ongoing relevance of the Koranic verse 5:82 which has been invoked—successfully—to inspire Muslim hatred of Jews since the advent of Islam:
A verse in the Koran explains the Muslims’ relations with the Jews…This is an historical perspective, which has not changed to this day. See how we suffer today from global Zionism and Judaism…Since the inception of Islam 1,400 years ago, we have been suffering from Jewish and Zionist interference in Muslim affairs. This is a cause of great distress for the Muslims. The Koran said it and history has proven it: “You shall find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers to be the Jews …” [5:82]
As I describe in my book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, Grand Imam Al-Tayaeb’s assessment is upheld by a continuum of authoritative Koranic exegeses that span over a thousand years up to the present day.
The classical Koranic commentaries on Koran 5:82 by Tabari (d. 923), Zamakashari (d. 1143), Baydawi (d. 1316), and Ibn Kathir (d. 1373) demonstrate a uniformity of opinion regarding the confirmed animus of the Jews toward the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of Koran 2:61 (i.e., for killing prophets, and transgressing against the will of Allah, repeated at verses including 2:90–91, 3:112, 3:181, and 4:155). Indeed, Koran 1:7, the final verse of the Koran’s short opening sura or chapter, which reiterates this curse (as “Allah’s anger”), is repeated 17 times per day during a pious Muslim’s five daily prayer sessions.
The Koranic “prophet-killing” motif is “updated” with impeccable archetypal logic in the traditions (hadith) and early Muslim biographies (sira) of Muhammad wherein the Jews are accused of the conspiratorial assassination of Muhammad (deemed a “martyrdom”) by poisoning. Moreover, the most authoritative Shiite Islamic theologians—classical and modern—confirm all these Jew-hating themes from the Koran, hadith, and sira, adding the notion that Jewish conspirators were also responsible for the killing of Shiism’s iconic martyrs, the 4th “Rightly Guided” Caliph Ali (d. 661), and his son Husayn (d. 680).
Less than a year after his invocation of Koran 5:82 to rationalize perpetual Muslim Jew-hatred—consistent with his belief in (and promulgation of) Islam’s “sacralized,” conspiratorial Jew-hating canon—Grand Imam al-Tayeb insisted that the jihad terrorism ravaging the Middle East, epitomized by ISIS, is due to the machinations of “Global Zionism,” i.e., Jews. During a televised statement which aired on Channel 1 Egyptian TV, September 8, 2014, al-Tayeb intoned:
All the fundamentalist terrorist groups are the new products of imperialism, in the service of global Zionism in its new version, and its plot to destroy the [Middle] East and tear [the] region apart.
The late Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, from 1996 until his death in March 2010, was al-Tayeb’s predecessor at Al-Azhar Grand Imam. My extensive and fully representative extracts in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism from Tantawi’s magnum opus—an utterly vile 700 pp. tract (Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna [“The Children of Israel in the Qur’an and the Sunna”]) glorifying Islam’s incomparable output of doctrinal Jew-hatred from its core texts, i.e. the Koran, hadith, sira, and most important Koranic commentaries— is irrefragable proof of his convictions. Tantawi included this compendious summary in his 700 page treatise, rationalizing Muslim Jew-hatred:
[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/ 3:112], corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness…only a minority of the Jews keep their word…[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims [Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.
But it is Tantawi’s open-ended sanctioning of genocidal violence against the inveterately “maleficent Jews” that merits particular attention (from p. 394):
the Jews always remain maleficent deniers… they should desist from their negative denial…some Jews went way overboard in their denying hostility, so gentle persuasion can do no good with them, so use force with them and treat them in the way you see as effective in ridding them of their evil. One may go so far as to ban their religion, their persons, their wealth, and their villages.
Such traditional, institutionalized Islamic Jew-hatred is the ultimate source for the global epidemic of strongly bigoted Muslim attitudes towards Jews documented by unprecedented Anti-Defamation League (ADL) surveys conducted in 2014, and updated in 2015. “Scaling” conspiratorial Jew-hatred, based upon an index of eleven antisemitic stereotypes, 50% of the world’s Muslims harbored the most intense animus (affirming ≥ 6/11 stereotypes), a rate 2 to 3-fold higher than among any other major faith (i.e., Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism), or those professing no religion. Fully 75% of Middle East and North Africa Muslims, overall, expressed this level of Jew-hating intensity, ranging between 92%-93% in Gaza/the West Bank and Iraq, to 74%-75% in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, respectively.
Follow-up 2015 ADL data from Western European Muslims (an oversample of the Belgian, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and UK Muslim populations) revealed that 55% shared this level of Jew-hatred. These Western European ADL findings are consistent with prior analyses of the indoctrination of Muslim European youth and adults with textual Islamic Jew-hatred, and European Union data that acts of overt antisemitic violence are at least ~25-fold more likely to be committed by Muslims, relative to non-Muslims.
Clearly, the scourge of religiously sanctioned Muslim Jew-hatred is not confined to so-called “extremist,” or “radical Islamic” groups, and ideologues. Gimlet-eyed, morally uncompromised acknowledgment of how institutional, mainstream Islam advocates such genocidal Jew-hatred is long—and tragically—overdue.