Muslim and anti-Semitism: a brief history

Nowadays, it is often taken for granted that Muslims are staunch Anti-Semites. Most people in the West either do not know, or deliberately ignore, historical facts to the contrary.

History of Jews in Muslim Lands

Compared to Europe, Jews faired much better in Muslim lands over 1300+ years.

Even after conspiring against the nascent Muslim state in Madina, Prophet Muhammad allowed most of Jews to remain inside that state. The Jews remained in the oasis of Khaybar till long after his death. The prophet's own armor was with a Jew as collateral for money he borrowed.

When the Khaybar Jews were deported after an incident involving the beating of Caliph Omar's son, they were deported inside Muslim lands in Al-Sham (Syria/Palestine).

Jewish scholars flourish in Muslim Lands

Many Jewish scholars flourished under Muslim rule in Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad. These include highly respected and learned figures such as Yaqub ibn Killis, Saadia Gaon, Issac Alfasi, Issac ibn Ghiyyat, Ibn Gabirol, Abraham and Moses ben Ezra, Samuel Ha-Nagid, Joseph ibn Migas, David ben Marwan al-Mekamez, Yehuda Halevi, Bahya ibn Paquda, Maimonides, Joseph ben Judah, Al-Harizi, and even Ibn Kammuna, among countless others.

Jews holding high offices

Many Jews held high positions, including court physicians, merchants, and even viziers in several states from east to west. Among them are Ibn Killis in Egypt, Samuel Ha-Nagid, his son Joseph Naghrela in Cordoba.

When the Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal, they found refuge in lands controlled by the Ottoman Empire, giving rise to the Sephardi Jewish culture. Another segment of Jews are the Mizrahis, who existed in Muslim land before that Iberian expulsion.

Occasional persecution and pogroms

This is not to say that all was rosy all the time. There were occasions of forced conversions, e.g. under the puritan Almohades in the Maghreb, and under Al-Hakem, the eccenric ruler of Fatimid Egypt. However, these rulers made everyone under them suffer, and the conversions were repealed a few years later, as they are not from sincere conviction. Occasional pogroms did happen, but were rare. The most famous is when Joseph Nagrela (Samuel Ha-Nagid's son) was vizier of the berber Ibn Badis. Berber soldiers resented Joseph's influence and a mob of them attacked the palace and killed Joseph.

Those events were rare, and when they happened, they were part of wider conflicts, such as civil unrest, or general oppression for all.

Establishment of the State of Israel

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the 20th century changed the attitude towards Jews in the Arab world and Muslims in general. Israel and Judaism are often mixed together in a political conflict about land. Land that is sacred for all three Abrahamic faiths that is.

Alliance with Nazis and Axis

Between World War I and World War II, most Arab states allied themselves with the Nazis and the Axis powers. The reason is not simply anti-Semetism, but rather a resentment to the British occupation by allying with their enemies. There was hope that the Axis would win and hence Arab lands would overthrow the British occupation (in Egypt, Palestine, and Iraq).

Several scholars have pointed out that the current political conflict is with Israel and Zionist ideology. That is separate from Judaism, which has co-existed with Muslims and Christians in the region for a long time.

Contemporary perspectives

Two contemporary Western scholars have written recent articles on the topic. Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan Muslims and Anti-Semitism an op-ed in the French Le Monde. American scholar, Hamza Yusuf wrote Holocaust denial undermines Islam, published in Tikkun, a progressive Jewish web site by Rabbi Lerner.



Oh yeah that make

Oh yeah that make sense....

Taliban blew up Buddha statue under islamic rule. Non muslims had to wear special symbol under Taliban regime.

Even muslims under muslims rules are not spared. Non Saudi are always dicriminated against Saudi. So do Shia.

Yeah, right ...

Yeah, right ... you take the two extreme examples in modern history and try to generalize from those exception.

Similarly, I can take the examples of the atrocities of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and make them the true face to Christianity and Christians everywhere.

Would that be fair?
Khalid Baheyeldin

So u agree there is no

So u agree there is no difference between Crusaders and radical islam....
Two wrongs do not make it right.....

Those are not exceptions....the list goes on...

Bali, Aus, Spain, London, Sudan, Lebo, KSA,........

The difference is that Crusade occurs 1000 years ago....but muslims are behaving barbaric in 21st century....time to wake up

Modern actions of muslims do not project what you are trying to imply. Stop living in the glorious past, Name me one good muslim goverance country, or one good muslim ruler or one democratic, progressive muslim country.... Time to focus in actions not just words and history of glorious islam

you lived in KSA, Are non muslims are allowed to build there places of worship there? like muslims are free to build mosque in any western nation? i can give you more examples but it will take too much know how it is like..

No, you are mixing up many things

I don't agree that Crusaders and radical Islam are the same, for whatever definition you have for "radical Islam".

You are mixing too many things together, fundamentalism, radicalism, extremism, and terrorism.

The Crusades were acts from within the establishment (Church and States) at the time, while terrorism today is by outlawed groups, not a declared war on the other by the states. As I have mentioned elsewhere, both Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahri ran into trouble in their home countries, whether legal, political or both.

Your examples are even mixed up. Spain, Bali and London are terrorism by cells from outlawed groups. Saudi Don't know what you mean by Aus (Australia? What is happening there) and Lebo (Lebanon? What about it? Sectarian strife has been ongoing there for a long time). What about Sudan? You mean Darfur? Did you know both sides of the conflict are Muslims?

The article is not about living in the past at all. It is about drawing from a tolerant past for lessons today that has been forgotten.

It is true that modern Muslim countries are bad examples. You have to know the reason why: they were first under foreign occupation, then after a period of chaotic genesis, they are run by military dictatorships to this day, so no democracy could have taken hold. We see it slowly emerging in places like Turkey, and Malaysia, but it will take time to develop, like it did in the West. Trying to impose democracy from outside never works. It does not take hold, and you can see how Iraq has been in chaos because of abrupt change precipitated by foreign intervention.

The question on places of worship in KSA has been answered before: there are no native Saudi Christians, and all the foreign workers (be they Muslim on not) are there temporarily (to make a quick buck).
Khalid Baheyeldin