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Q7: Muslims and Jews

The relationship between Arabs and Jews is very long and complicated. Both of them branch out from the same origin as they are both Semitic people who speak Semitic languages, Arabic and Hebrew. In fact, Jews, along with Christians, are known to Muslims as “Ahl Al Kitab” (People of the Book) due to their closeness as they are also Abrahamic Faiths and they share many similar believes regarding creation, Prophets and many doctrines.

It is mentioned in the Quran: “Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.” (Aal Imran 3:110)

During the time of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH, there were many Jews in Medina and there are many narrations of them approaching him and questioning him with some even converting to Islam such as Abdullah ibn Salaam, may Allah be pleased with him, who was a Jewish Rabbi and Safiya bint Huyyay, may Allah be pleased with her, who was one of the wives of the Prophet PBUH and converted to Islam from Judaism. There was even a narration where some of the wives of the Prophet PBUH mocked her because of her Jewish ancestry so the Prophet PBUH defended her and advised her to make reference to her ancestry related to Prophets Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron) –i.e.: she was related to two Prophets through ancestry and was married to a Prophet. For further details about her, you can watch my video about her from here:

Muslims and Jews also shared a very close and friendly relationship throughout history including during the Golden Age of Islamic History such as in Andalucía (Spain and Portugal) whereby Muslims, Christians and Jews lived and worked together and when Christians regained control of Spain, Muslims and Jews were both expelled and many Jews took refuge in Muslim countries such as in Morocco and there are Jewish Quarters there. If you ever visit the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, you can also see the “Hall of the Lions”, where you can see a statue of 12 lions. This was gifted to the Muslims living the area by the Jewish community who were pleased with the way the Muslims treated them. Likewise, Muslims, Christians and Jews worked closely together in Baghdad in Iraq where they translated many of the original works of the Ancient Greeks into Arabic (there was a similar translation movement in Toledo in Spain). This was despite Jewish people being expelled in most of Europe by Christians at the time. For further details, check out this documentary, “An Islamic History of Europe” by former BBC journalist, Rageh Omar:

There have also been some notable examples of Muslims protecting Jews such as during the Second World War when Khaled Abdul Wahab from Tunisia helped to protect many Jews. Likewise, the Imam or Head of the Paris Mosque in France, Si Kadour Benghabrit, hid many Jews inside the mosque and even gave them Muslim identities to protect them. For further details, you can watch my video, French Muslims:

Therefore, as a whole, Muslims have had a close relationship with Jews. Things are not perfect and there have been some serious, notable conflicts, most recently the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Perhaps this has led to much of the “hatred” towards all Jews that we see today.

 

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