Islam, the Koran, and the Jews
Fact Paper 40
© Samuel Kurinsky, all rights reserved
- Jews Under Islamic Rule
- Muhammad's Personal Life
- Muhammad's Battles with the Jews
- Muhammad's Revelations
- On Jews and Other "Disbelievers"
- Regarding Christianity
- Heaven and Hell
- Women in the Koran
- Koran's Rendition of the Torah
- Muhammad and the Bedouins
The necessity for the separation of religion and state is starkly apparent in how the precepts of the Koran are applied by Islamic fundamentalists. In and out of government, fundamentalist Muslims present a clear and present danger to modern society.
For Muslims the Qur'an (anglicized to "Koran" ) is the literal word of God as given to Muhammad by the angel, Gabriel.
A portion of the Koran concerns charity and other benign aspects of civil comportment. Moderate Muslims elaborate these positive attributes and gloss over the rest. By far the greatest portion, however, over 60% of the text of the Koran, is devoted to polemics against unbelievers, justifications for placing them in submission or killing them, on rewards for those who believe in Allah (especially for those who war against unbelievers), and punishment for unbelievers on earth and in the hereafter.
The remaining 40%, largely devoted to exhortations to believe in God and his prophet, and to transcriptions of and additions to the stories in the Torah and Gospel, as the Christian and Judaic scriptures are termed. These verses are likewise peppered with similar admonishments to believers and dire threats to unbelievers, termed "infidels."
Of the more than 6000 verses contained in the 114 chapters of the Koran, less than fifty mention the poor, needy and orphans, the main humanitarian concern in the Koran. In addition, the amassing of wealth is denigrated, the implication being that the dispersal of such wealth through alms to the poor, needy and orphans, and in particular to the cause of Islam, is an obligation of the rich.
The Koran is pervaded with latent anti-Semitism in its narrow sense. That is, the hatred is not directed against ethnic Semites in general. Many Muslims are, indeed, Semites. The venom is directed in particular against Jews. Albeit the Jewish, Christian, and all other religions other than Islam qualify as being "infidel," the references to Jews are vituperative on personal as well as on religious grounds. Typical of scores of such references is: "Verily, you will find the Jews the greediest of mankind for life and even greedier than those [pagans and Christians] who ascribe partners to Allah" (2.96).
On the one hand, the Koran makes it a duty for its adherents to respect other faiths . The passages to that effect are selected out and quoted by apologists for Islam. Tolerance for adherents to other religions, however, is predicated on submission to a superior Islam, and the payment of special taxes to the Islamic state.
Islam is the only one of the great religions of the world that presently justifies killing in the cause of God, and makes it an obligation of the true "believer." Justifications for killing unbelievers are given with only the most tenuous of restrictions. The "limits" set on slaughtering unbelievers are put in contexts that are subject to wide interpretation.
That such verses are learned by heart and repeated from an early age on by millions of Muslim children is a chilling aspect of the Koran's teaching.
Jews Under Islamic Rule
Tolerance for the practice of other faiths was a pragmatic necessity for Islamic regimes during the early stages of Islam. In addition to taxes, the Muslims benefitted from Jewish literacy, commercial acumen, and artisanship.
An example of this process involves the foundation of the town of Kairawan ("The Camp"), which became the capital of Afriqiya, the country known today as Tunisia. The Caliph ordered the governor of Egypt to send there a thousand Jewish and Coptic families. The Jews were to supply the productive and commercial backbone of the region, whereas the Copts were to displace the Byzantine Christians. Kairawan burgeoned to become largely a Judaic community and a notable center of Judaic learning.
No less important was Jewish craftsmanship, an aspect of a contribution to Islamic civilization which remained in Judaic hands into modern times. Manual labor was considered demeaning by Arabic overlords, and socially unsuitable for Muslims in general.
Haim Hillel Ben Sasson, in the monumental work A History of the Jewish People (1976, 395), summarizes Jewish livelihoods in the Islamic Countries:
"The diversified branches of the crafts and commerce were the main occupation of Jews in the cities. At the same time there were other Jews, in the border areas of the Caliphate and in Africa, who continued to engage in agriculture for a very long time."
"Jewish craftsmen were plentiful in the cities and made up a large part of the Jewish population. In fact, it appears that this economic class had existed as early as the end of the classical period. A hostile Moslem writer went so far as to claim that 'among the Jews one finds only dyers, tanners blood-letters (i.e., barbers and surgeons), butchers and waterskin repairers.' However, he was referring only to those occupations to which he wanted to draw attention [as being the most demeaning]. More objective sources mention also Jewish blacksmiths, gold and silversmiths, harness-makers and shoemakers, some of whom were itinerant craftsmen working in Moslem villages."1
The Ottomans wisely made welcome Jews escaping the tentacles of the Inquisition. In return, the Jews built factories on the Bosporus that supplied the munitions and artillery that enabled the Ottomans to build a great empire.
In 1791, William Lempriere authored a work on his tour of the Ottoman region, in which he described the condition of the Jews in each district. "Every part of the empire," he wrote, "more or less abounds with Jews, who originally were expelled from Spain and Portugal, and who fled into Barbary as a place of refuge. These people are not confined to towns, but are spread over the whole face of the country. Mount Atlas itself not excepted..."
"... the whole country depends on their industry and ingenuity and could hardly subsist as a nation without their assistance. They are the only mechanics in this part of the world [and are] entrusted in the coinage of money, as I myself have witnessed."2
At the end of the nineteenth century, Mordechai Hacohen in his work Haghid Mordechai, documented the fact that virtually all crafts and commerce of North-central Africa were in the hands of the Jews.
"The Jews appear as a group, specializing in trading and crafts, which is ritually and socially separated from the Moslems, who specialize in agriculture... The Jews are non-combatants, not being allowed to carry arms. Yet in their role as smiths, they are responsible for making and repairing arms."
Thus we come to realize that the ancient North African guns, knives and swords of exquisite workmanship, weapons whose hand-wrought metals were engraved with elaborate patterns or inlaid with mother-of-pearl, the very weapons that now command high prices on the antiques market, are not of Arabic provenance at all but were produced by Judaic smiths! And that is not all!
"[Jewish] blacksmiths," Mordechai continued, "fan charcoal fires and create useful tools: hammers, axes, hatchets, scythes, plows, and all the other tools required by the people of the region. They also repair weapons. These artisan's shops are in the entrances of their homes. The Berber who needs any tool will bring the metal and the charcoal to the Jew's house."3
Much of modern Islam has a different set of priorities. A return of the fundamentalists to the basics of the Koran constitutes a clear and present danger not only to the Jews, but to modern civilization. The seriousness of this threat requires that its foundation be thoroughly understood.
A study of Muhammad's life and the Koran is therefore essential.
Muhammad's Personal Life
Muhammad was born in Medina in 570. His father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was about six years old. He was brought up by an uncle. Little more is known about his early years than that he was poor and minimally educated.
At twenty-five years of age Muhammad married his wealthy employer, Khadija Bibi, a woman 15 years his senior. He was the third husband of the widow. They had several children. The boys died young, and the girls were given away in marriage. They adopted a son, Zayed. Khadija died when Muhammad was about 49 years old.
Between the ages of 49 and 63, Muhammad married twelve more wives. His third wife, Ayesha, was six (some say nine) years old. She was the daughter of Abu Bakr, a disciple of Muhammad, and apparently his favorite.
Zainab, his ninth wife, was initially married to Zayed, his adopted son. One day the prophet "beheld in a loose undress, the beauty of Zainab, and burst forth into an ejaculation of devotion and desire... [Zayed] took the hint and yielded without hesitation to the love of the benefactor." Zayed divorced Zainab so that his father-in-law Muhammad could marry her.
In chapter 33 of Mohammed's recitations, he relates that this arrangement was ordained by Allah:
33.37: ... But when Zayed had accomplished his want of her, We [Allah] gave her to you as wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah's command shall be performed.
33.38: There is no harm in the Prophet doing that which Allah has ordained for him; such has been the course of Allah with respect to those who had gone before; and the command of Allah is a decree that is made absolute.
Muhammad also had a number of concubines, among whom was Mary, a Christian girl, and two Jewish girls, Jawairya and Rehana, captured after their husbands were killed in battles with the Jews. Jawairya eventually gave up her Jewish faith and became Muhammad's thirteenth wife. Rehana refused to give up her faith and continued to live as a concubine against her will.
Mohammad had a run-in with one of his wives. It resulted in the following verse of Muhammad's recitation:
66.5: Maybe his Lord, if he [Muhammad] divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive, faithful, obedient, penitent, adorers, fasters, widows, and virgins.
Muhammad's epileptic fits grew more frequent and his health declined during the last four years of his life. He believed that he had been poisoned by a Jewish woman as revenge after the battle of Khaybar (see below). He died on June 8, 632.4
Muhammad's Battles with the Jews
The well-known battles that Muhammad fought were:
624 C.E. The battle of Badr: the Jewish tribe of Qurayza was defeated. (See verses 3.23 - 3.143 below).
625 C.E. The battle of Uhud. The Muslims were defeated. (See verses 3.155 - 3.172 below).
627 C.E. The Jewish tribe of Qurayza was raided by Muhammad. Some 700 men were beheaded. Edward Gibbon, in his classic history, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire described the aftermath of the assault:
"Seven hundred Jews were dragged in chains to the market-place of the city; they descended alive into the grave prepared for their execution and burial and the apostle beheld with an inflexible eye the slaughter of his helpless victims. Their sheep and camels were inherited by the Musulmans: three hundred cuirasses, five hundred pikes, a thousand lances, composed the most useful portion of the spoil."
Soldiers are advised in the Koran (8.69): "So enjoy the booty you have gained in war, lawful and good, and be afraid of Allah"
Again (9.103): Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them.
And so on...
629 C.E. The Jews are defeated at the Battle of Khaybar. The surviving males were put to the sword.
In 630 C.E. Mecca was taken by Muhammad. The entire population was converted to Islam and the Kaaba established as the religious center of Islam.
In 610 C.E., while asleep in Ramadan; Gabriel's voice called to Muhammad from heaven with the command, "Recite! Recite! Recite!" The angel recited three verses, and when Muhammad awoke he had these verses "inscribed in his heart." From then on, Muhammad believed himself to be a prophet and messenger of God, the last of seven prophets (beginning with Abraham and ending with prophet number six, Jesus Christ). He believed he was delegated by God to infuse the last and most important of God''s messages throughout the world. The people of the Book (Jews and Christians), had gone astray. The purpose of the Recitation was to restore them to the proper path, and to make believers of the pagans.
The Koran remained essentially an oral text throughout Muhammad's lifetime. The text resided only in the memories of Muhammad and his followers. New recitations came to Muhammad from time to time. Typically, a revelation would put Muhammad in a trance-like state. Muhammad repeated what he had heard to people trained in remembering verses. Some verses were written down on whatever was at hand. As Muhammad added verses, his followers would re-memorize the text in the light of the additions or edits. Certain verses revealed to Muhammad were later repudiated by him as "satanic" verses revealed not by Gabriel but by Satan. These verses were expunged from the text that so many had memorized.
Under Gabriel's guidance, Muhammad organized these verses into chapters
After Muhammad's death, a version of the text of the Koran may have been written down during the brief Caliphate of his disciple Abu Bakr (632-4). If so, only a single copy existed for over a decade after the death of Muhammad. Otherwise, the Koran remained primarily an oral text in the memories of the faithful. Two factors affected the integrity of the text. First, among the faithful who died in various military expeditions were those who had memorized the Koranic text. That meant that one of the oral copies of the Koran disappeared forever. Second, the expansion of Islam swelled the ranks of the faithful. Many of these new converts spoke other languages and the original Arabic of the Koran began to corrupt. Faced with these threats to the integrity of the Koran, the Caliph 'Uthman B. Affan (644-656), Muhammad's son-in-law, ordered a written rescension to be made. This final assemblage, the 'Uthmanic rescension, is the version of the Koran that has remained, unchanged, the central holy text of Islam.
The Koran has one overriding theme, endlessly repeated and elaborated: Complete, unequivocal submission to the word of the one and only God as given to Muhammad. In Arabic, Islam or Muslim means "one who submits."
The Torah is often referred to in the Koran. In almost all cases, the account is revised and slanted to show that the Jews were congenital unbelievers and deceivers.
To fully understand the Koran's message, the Koran itself should be read. In lieu of such a study, it is necessary to quote in depth herein from the Koran in order to make evident the dimensions and portent of the lessons presented.
The Koran is composed of 114 surahs (chapters), arranged neither by chronological order nor by subject. A short introductory chapter is followed by a few lengthy chapters, and then by chapters that generally diminish in length. Most of the latter chapters are very short - some no more than a few sentences each.
It is best to examine the Koran by subject. The translation of the Koran employed in this paper as authoritative was co-authored by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali, Ph.D. and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan.5 A second translation employed extensively herein was by M. H. Shakir. published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc.6
Many other translations of the Koran were cross-referenced because it was deemed important to make certain of agreement on the Koran's intent and to eliminate ambiguities.
Left out are the ubiquitous codas to verses praising Allah or otherwise citing Allah as an authority.
On Jews and Other "Disbelievers"
[Christians, Pagans, and Jews are all castigated as unbelievers, but the Koran's main thrust is against Jews. Unbelievers in Muhammad as a prophet of God and in the Koran as God's word, are depicted not only as infidels, but are reviled as vile liars and deceivers. The theme permeating the Koran is typified by the following verse]:
5.78.. Those of the children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus the son of Mary;... Evil is that which they did... Evil is that which their souls have sent before them, for God's wrath is on them, and in the torment shall they dwell for aye. But had they believed in God and the Prophet, and what was revealed to him, they had not taken these for their patrons; but many of them are evildoers.
[This theme is presented in the Koran over and over again. The contexts change, but the message remains the same. The precepts presented, one must emphasize, are to be taken as the lessons that Allah himself commands to be believed as the means to avoid being boiled in Hell.
2.92. Did not Moses came to you with clear proofs, and yet you worshiped the calf after he left, and you were polytheists and wrong-doers.
2.96. Verily, you will find the Jews the greediest of mankind for life and even greedier than those who ascribe partners [other gods] to Allah.
2.100. Is it not [the case] that every time they make a covenant, some party among them throw it aside? Nay! the truth is most of them believe not.
2.124. And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain words, he fulfilled them. He [Allah] said: "Surely I will make you an Imam of men" . Abraham said: :And [what] of my offspring?" My covenant does not include the unjust, said He [Allah].
3.75. Among the people of the Scripture [Jews and Christians] is he who, if entrusted with a Cantar [a great amount of wealth, etc.], will readily pay it back; and among them there is he who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless you constantly stand demanding, because they say: "There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates [Arabs]." But they tell a lie against Allah while they know it.
3.78. Among them are those who distort the Book with their tongues, so that you may think it is from the Book, but it is not from the Book. They say: "This is from Allah," but it is not from Allah. They speak a lie against Allah while they know it. Do not make friends of those outside your religion, since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse...
3.119. Lo! You are the ones who love them but they love you not, and you believe in all the Scriptures while they disbelieve in your Book [Koran]. And when they meet you, they say, "We believe". But when they are alone, they bite the tips of their fingers at you in rage. Say [to them]: "Perish in your rage."
3.120. If a good befalls you, it grieves them, but if some evil overtakes you, they rejoice at it. But if you remain patient and become Al-Muttaqûûn (the pious), not the least harm will their cunning do to you.
4.161. And their taking usury though indeed they were forbidden it and their devouring the property of people falsely, and We have prepared for the unbelievers from among them a painful chastisement.
4.156. And because of their [the Jew's] disbelief and uttering against Mary a grave false charge [that she has committed illegal sexual intercourse].
4.157. And because of their saying [in boast], "We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah," - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man... For surely; they killed him, not Jesus son of Mary.
4.159. And there is none of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), but must believe in him, son of Mary as only a Messenger of Allah and a human being... And on the Day of Resurrection, he [Jesus] will be a witness against them.
4.161. And their taking of Ribââ [usury] though they were forbidden from taking it and their devouring of men's substance wrongfully [bribery, etc.]. And We have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful torment
4.50. Look, how they invent a lie against Allah...
4.52. They are those whom Allah has cursed, and he whom Allah curses, you will not find for him any helper.
5.51. O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and Christians for friends; they are but friends of one another; and whoever among you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them.
5.58. And when you call to prayer they make it a mockery and a joke, because they are a people who will not understand.
5.60. ...Those Jews who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Wrath, some of whom He has transformed into monkeys and swine...
5.62. You see many of them [Jews] hurrying for sin and transgression, and doing illegal things [bribes and usury]. Evil indeed is that which they have been doing.
5.63. Why do not the rabbis and the doctors of law prohibit them from their speaking of what is sinful and their consuming what is unlawfully acquired? Certainly evil is that which they work...
5.66. ...As for most of them, evil is what they do.
7.40. ...The doors of heaven shall not be opened for them, nor shall they enter the garden until the camel pass through the eye of the needle.
7.41. They shall have a bed of hell-fire... thus do We reward the unjust.
8.55. Surely the vilest of animals in Allah's sight are those who disbelieve.
8.56. Those with whom you make an agreement, then they break their agreement every time...
62.5. The likeness of those who were charged with the Torah, then they did not observe it, is as the likeness of the ass bearing books, evil is the likeness of the people who reject the communications of Allah.
[Many references to Jesus appear in the Koran. The Gospel is accepted as a holy book to be followed, and Jesus is cited as a prophet, but Jesus's divinity is denied]:
23.91. Never did Allah take to Himself a son, and never was there with him any (other) god -- in that case would each god have certainly taken away what he created, and some of them would certainly have overpowered others; glory be to Allah above what they describe!
[Slaughtering unbelievers is authorized with some nominal"limits." Killing unbelievers becomes an obligation under many circumstances. Unbelievers are to be spared if they become subject to believers, and pay an obligatory tax].
2.190. Fight in the Way of Allah those who fight you, but transgress not the limits.
2.191. And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief and worshiping of other gods along with Allah) is worse than killing.
2.193. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah and worship is only for Allah..
2.216. Jihad (holy fighting in Allah's Cause) is ordained for you, though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you.
2.243. Did you [O Muhammad] not think of those who went forth from their homes in thousands, fearing death? Allah said to them, "Die!" Then He restored them to life.
3.12. Say [O Muhammad] to those who disbelieve: "You will be defeated and gathered together to Hell, and worst indeed is that place to rest."
[The following passages refer to two battles against Jewish communities, one at Badr, in which the Islamic forces were victorious, and the other at Uhud, in which they were defeated]:
3.13. There has already been a sign for you, O Jews, in the two armies that met [at Badr]: One fought in the Cause of Allah; the others were disbelievers. The believers saw the disbelievers with their own eyes [as] twice their number, although they were thrice their number.
3.139. So do not become weak against your enemy, nor be sad, and you will be victorious if you are indeed believers.
3.141. So does Allah test [or purify] the believers [from sins] and destroy the disbelievers.
3.142. Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought [in His Cause]?
3.143. You wished for martyrdom before you met it. Now you have seen it openly with your own eyes.
[The Koran then turns to the battle of Uhud. The exhortations are rationalizations of the ignominious defeat of the Muslim forces]:
3.155. Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met, it was Shaitâân [Satan] who caused them to backslide[run away from the battlefield] because of some [sins] they had earned. But Allah, indeed, has forgiven them.
3.156. O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve and who say to their brethren when they go out to fight: "If they had stayed with us, they would not have died..." It is Allah that gives life and causes death.
3.157. And if you are killed or die in the Way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all that they amass [of worldly wealth, etc.].
3.158. And whether you die or you are slain, verily to Allah shall you be gathered.
3.166. And what befell you on the day when the two armies met was with Allah's knowledge, that He might know the believers.
3.167. And that He might know the hypocrites. It was said to them: Come, fight in Allah's way, or defend yourselves. They said: "If we knew fighting, we would certainly have followed you." They were on that day much nearer to unbelief than to belief. They said with their mouths what is not in their hearts, and Allah best knows what they conceal.
3.168. Those who said of their brethren whilst they [themselves] held back: "Had they obeyed us, they would not have been killed." Say [to them]: "Then avert death from yourselves if you speak the truth."
3.169. Think not of those who are killed in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive with their Lord are provided sustenance from their Lord.
3.170. They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty, rejoicing for those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind [not yet martyred] that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve.
3.172. Those who answered [the Call of] Allah and the Messenger after being wounded; for those of them who did good deeds and feared Allah, there is a great reward
4.74. Therefore let those who would trade this world's life for the Hereafter fight in the cause of Allah.. Whoever fights in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward.
4.75. . What reason have you for not fighting in the cause of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children..
4.76. Those who believe, fight in the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of Satan. Fight therefore against the friends of the Satan; surely the strategy of the Satan is weak.
4.89. They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be like them; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly [follow] in Allah's way. But if they turn back [to disbelief], then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.
4.91. You will find [those hypocrites] who would like to be safe from you and [also] secure from their own people. As often as they are sent back to the mischief they get thrown into it headlong. Therefore, if they do not withdraw from you, offer you peace, and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; against these We have given you a clear authority.
8.17. You did not slay them, it was Allah Who slew them, and you did not smite when you smote [the enemy], but it was Allah Who smote, and that He might confer upon the believers a good gift from Himself.
8.41. And know that whatever of war-booty that you may gain, verily one-fifth of it is assigned to Allah, and to the Messenger [Muhammad], and to the near relatives [and also] the orphans, the poor, and the wayfarer...
8.57. Therefore if you gain the mastery of them in war, then punish them severely in order to disperse those who are in their rear, that they may learn a lesson.
8.65. O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty steadfast ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred steadfast of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand.
8.66. Now Allah has lightened your burden, for He knows that there is weakness in you. So if there are a hundred steadfast of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand they shall overcome two thousand by Allah's permission
8.67. It is not fit for a prophet that he should take captives unless he has fought and triumphed in the land; you desire the frail goods of this world, while Allah desires [for you] the hereafter.
8.69. So enjoy the booty you have gained in war, lawful and good, and be afraid of Allah.
9.5. So when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. But if they repent and perform prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.
9.13. What! will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Apostle, and they attacked you first; do you fear them? But Allah is most deserving that you should fear Him, if you are believers.
9.14. Fight them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace, and bring you victory over them, and heal the hearts of a believing people.
9.29. Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
9.103. Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them.
9.111. Surely Allah has traded the persons and their property of believers for this, that they shall have the garden. They fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain. A promise [for Paradise] is therefore binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Koran. Who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah?...
Heaven and Hell
[References to heavenly rewards to be granted to believers and punishments to be imposed upon unbelievers are ubiquitous in the Koran. Following are a few typical such references]:
3.14. Attractive for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much gold and silver, beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. These pleasures are of the present world's life, but Allah offers [far more] an excellent return with Him [to Paradise].
3.15. Say: "Shall I inform you of things far better than those? For the pious there are Gardens [Paradise] with their Lord, underneath which rivers flow. Therein is their eternal home and Azwââjun Mutahharatun [purified mates who will have no menses, urine, or stool, etc.], And Allah will be pleased with them.
18.31. These it is for whom are gardens of perpetuity beneath which rivers flow, ornaments shall be given to them therein of bracelets of gold, and they shall wear green robes of fine silk and thick silk brocade interwoven with gold, reclining therein on raised couches; excellent the recompense and goodly the resting place.
[Ten chapters, numbers 56 to 66 are devoted largely to rewards and punishments. Space considerations have led us to condense the promises and exhortations]:
Verses 56.8 - 56.40
How happy are the companions of the right hand [the believers]! These are they who are drawn nigh to Allah in the gardens of bliss.
Reclining on decorated thrones, facing one another. Round about them shall go young lads never altering in age, with goblets and ewers and a cup of pure drink. They shall not be affected with headache thereby, nor shall they get exhausted. They shall have fruits such as they choose, and the flesh of fowl such as they desire.
They shall not hear vain or sinful discourse except the word peace, peace.
Amid thornless lote-trees, and banana-trees with fruits one above another. And extended shade, and water flowing constantly.
And abundant fruit.
And exalted thrones.
Then We have made them virgins, loving, equals in age, for the sake of the companions of the right hand, a numerous company from among the first and a numerous company from among the last. [note in verse 3.15 above, that these virgins will be purified mates who will have no menses, urine, or stool].
Verses 56.9 - 66.5
And (as to) the companions of the left hand [unbelievers]; how wretched are the companions of the left hand! they persisted in the great violation.
In hot wind and boiling water, and the shade of black smoke, neither cool nor honorable.
And they used to say: What! when we die and have become dust and bones, shall we then indeed be raise. Or our fathers of yore?
The first and the last shall most surely be gathered together for the appointed hour of a known day. Then shall you, O you who err and call it a lie. Most surely eat of a tree of Zaqqoom, and fill (your) bellies with it, then drink over it of boiling water as drinks the thirsty camel.
This is their entertainment on the day of requital... He shall have an entertainment of boiling water and burning in hell.
Women in the Koran
[Except for laws concerning divorce and adultery, in which, when aggrieved, women are entitled to certain rights, women's role is to be subservient to men]:
2.223. Your wives are a tilth [fertile ground or "receptacle for your seed"] for you, so go into your tilth when you like, and do good beforehand for yourselves, and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, and know that you will meet Him, and give good news to the believers.
4.34. Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has made some to excel others and because they spend out of their property. Good women are therefore devoutly obedient, guarding their chastity and their husband's property. Those [women] on whose part you fear disobedience, first admonish them, then refuse to share their bed, and last, beat them. Then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them.
22.31. Say to the believing women that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments; let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or male servants not having need [of women], or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known.
Koran's Rendition of the Torah:
[Chapter 2 is entitled "The Cow." It is the story with which the Koran effectively begins. Like many subsequent references to biblical personages and events, the story of Moses and the cow is employed to demonstrate how intransigent, evil, or deceptive were the Jews].
2.67. When Moses said to his people [the Jews]: "Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow." They said, Do you make fun of us?" He said, "I take Allah's refuge from being among the ignorants."
2.68. They said, "Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!" He said, "He [Allah] says, 'It is a cow neither too old nor too young, but between the two conditions', so do what you are commanded."
2.69. They said, "Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us its colour." He said, "He [Allah] says, 'It is a yellow cow, bright in color, pleasing to the beholders.''
2.70. They said, "Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us what kind of a cow it is to be. To us all cows are alike. Surely, if Allah wills, we will be guided."
2.71. He [Moses] said, "He [Allah] says, 'It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields, sound, having no other colour except bright yellow.' " They said, "Now you have brought the truth." So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it.
2.72. And [remember] when you [Jews] killed a man and fell into dispute among yourselves as to the crime. But Allah revealed that which you were hiding.
2.73. So We [Allah] said: "Strike him [the dead man] with a piece of it [the cow]." Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His proofs.
2.74. Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness...
2.75. Do you [believers] expect that they [the Jews]will believe in your religion despite that a party of them [Jewish rabbis] used to listen to the Word of Allah [the Torah], and then knowingly changed it after they understood it?
[The Koran explains why "Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a true Muslim" (3.67)].
2.131. When his Lord said to him [Abraham], "Submit [i.e. be a Muslim]!" He said, "I have submitted myself to the Lord of the 'Alamîîn [all that exists]."
2.132. And this was enjoined by Abraham upon his sons and by Jacob, [saying] "O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the [true] religion, then die not except in the Faith of Islam."
2.133. Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob? When he said unto his sons, "What will you worship after me?" They said, "We shall worship your Ilââh [God - Allah], the Ilââh of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, One Ilââh, and to Him we submit."
2.134. That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn...
2.135. And they say: "Be Jews or Christiansand you will be on the right course." Answer them: "Nay! [we follow] the religion of Abraham"...
2.136. Tell them: "We believe in Allah and in that which had been revealed to us, and in that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and in that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit.
2.138. [Receive] the baptism of Allah, and who is better than Allah in baptizing? Him do we serve.
2.139. Say [to them]: Do you dispute with us about Allah? He is our Lord and your Lord, and we shall have our deeds and you shall have your deeds, [however] we are sincere to Him [implied: ...and you-all are not].
2.141. This is a people [the Jews] whose time has passed. They shall have what they deserve. You [Muslims] shall have what you earn, and you shall not be called upon to answer for what they did.
3.67. Abraham was not a Jew nor a Christian but a true Muslim, and he was not one of the polytheists.
3.68. Verily among mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him and this Prophet [Muhammad] and those who have believed.
3.71. O followers of the Book! Why do you confound the truth with the falsehood and hide the truth while you know?
Muhammad and the Bedouins
[The difficulty Muhammad had converting bedouins is reflected in the Koran. These passages may explain why many modern Bedouins are faithful to Israel. The Druze and the Bedouins are Arabs that serve in the Israeli army].
9.97. The bedouins are the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy, and more likely to be in ignorance of the limits [Allah's Commandments and His Legal Laws, etc.] which Allah has revealed to His Messenger.
9.98. There are some among the bedouins who look upon what they spend [in Allah's Cause] as a fine, and await for calamities to befall you [believers]. On them be the calamity of evil
9.99. There are some among the bedouins who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and look upon what they spend in Allah's Cause as approaches to Allah, and a cause of receiving the Messenger's invocations. Allah will admit them to His Mercy.
9.101. Among the bedouins round about you, some are hypocrites, and so are some among the people of Medina. They exaggerate and persist in hypocrisy. You know them not, [but] We know them. We shall punish them twice, and thereafter they shall be brought back to a great (horrible) torment.
- Haim Hillel Ben Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, Harvard Un Press, 1976, 395.
- William Lempriere, A Tour From Gibraltar to Tangier, Salee, Mogodore, Santa Cruz, Tarudent, and thence over Mount Atlas to Morocco..." London, 1991, pp. 188-92
- Further information about the role of the Jews as artisans under Islamic rule can be found in HHF Fact Paper 19-IV Jews in Africa, Part IV The Islamic Diaspora.
- A. Gosh, The Koran and the Kafirs, available on line at: www.unn.ac.uk/societies/islamic/quran/neindex.htm.
- The Noble Quran, co-authored by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali, Ph.D. and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan. available on line at: www.unn.ac.uk/societies/islamic/quran/neindex.htm.
- M. H. Shakir, The Holy Qur'an, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc. Box 1115, Elmhurst, New York