Justifying a view of Muslims as essentially untrustworthy and potentially violent by quoting the Koran has an interesting historical analog.
In 1700 Johann Andreas Eisenmenger collated and published a comprehensive account of the reasons Jews posed a threat to Christian society. Translated, the title was Judaism Unmasked. The Jewish religious texts, Eisenmenger warned, were the evidence that the Jews hated and sought the harm of non-Jews. He brushed aside contemporary Jewish intellectuals who interpreted their own writings more in accord with modern values and went straight to the sources themselves.
. . . casting aside the interpretations accepted by his contemporary Jews in his quest to reconstruct the world of Judaism by studying the sources themselves.
From a range of Jewish texts he set out
to prove the worthlessness of the Talmud to which the Jews attribute religious authority close to that of the Bible. Five chapters are devoted to Jewish beliefs regarding the Messiah and to eschatology and resurrection. All this is intended to prove that the Jews are ingrained with superstitions and illusionary conceptions.
However, Eisenmenger attacks Judaism principally for its attitude toward other religions and their adherents. The point of this attack is to show that the Jews are commanded by their religion to abuse that which is sacred to all other religions, and above all that which is sacred to Christianity. The Jewish tradition prohibits robbery, deceit, and even murder only in relations between Jews, while the property and even the life of the Christian are as good as outlawed. If that is the tenor of the tradition into which Jews are initiated from childhood, one should not be surprised by their actual behavior should they be found abusing articles of Christian worship, that is, desecrating the host, or be caught in deceit, robbery, or even murder. (Katz, 17-18)
He supported his belief with Jewish texts saying that the Jews were commanded by their religion to commit the very crimes he accused them of.
Eisenmenger . . . wanted to demonstrate that everything derogatory or discriminatory that appeared in the Jewish tradition regarding any people whatsoever was seen by the Jew as applicable to his Christian contemporaries. The Christians are identified with the minim of whom it had been said, “Lowering down, but not raising up”; with Amalek, whose memory the Jews are commanded to blot out; and even with the seven nations whom the conquerors of Biblical Canaan were commanded to destroy. In the future, in the Messianic age, the commandment of destruction would apply to all mankind save the Jews. As the Jews awaited their redeemer every day, it stood to reason that they would carry out the commandment of destruction even in the present on those whom it was within their reach to injure and harm.
Eisenmenger’s point of departure was the belief that the Jews were habitually robbing and murdering their Christian neighbors. He believed the tales of ritual murder, of the desecration of the host and the like, regardless of whether they stemmed from folklore or from medieval chroniclers who failed to distinguish between fact and fancy. He supported his belief with Jewish texts saying that the Jews were commanded by their religion to commit the very crimes he accused them of. In his attempt to make this point, Eisenmenger drives his interpretation to the height of absurdity. In every case where he found such expressions as “deserves death” . . . he explained them as requiring a death penalty to be imposed by human hands. . . . Jewish scholars would also interpret metaphors and figures of speech literally whenever the conclusions to be drawn from such interpretations corresponded to their views. . . . To anyone who is knowledgeable in traditional Jewish literature, Eisenmenger’s interpretations read like a parody of both the legal and homiletic literature. . . . . [F]or the reader who is unfamiliar with that literature: he may fall for Eisenmenger’s conclusions, not knowing that they are no more than the very assumptions that preceded the writer’s examination of the material. He may accept the image of the Jews as a community of superstitious fools, hostile to those around them and despising whatever is holy to their neighbors. Completely unscrupulous in their behavior toward the stranger outside their community, therefore they cheat and wrong those who have business contacts with them, and this they do by command of their religion. If they are brought to court, their oaths are not to be trusted because they regard lying under oath of little consequence when their fellow litigant is a non-Jew. Their loyalty to the state is no more than lip service; and, in fact, they violate the law with impunity and are willing to betray their king and serve his enemies as spies and secret agents. The Jew cannot even be trusted in matters of life and death, and Christians who take treatment from a Jewish doctor endanger their lives. Eisenmenger fully believed the reports, in Christian chronicles and folk tales alike, that many a child had died at Jewish hands in order to satisfy ritual needs. Eisenmenger tried to gain the reader’s confidence by quoting chapter and verse demonstrating that the absolutely unethical behavior of the Jew derived from that decadent source of his religion, the Talmud and Rabbinical literature. (19-20)
According to […], Islam does not develop, and neither do Muslims; they merely are. . . .
Edward Said, see How anti-Muslim hostility has replaced the old anti-Semitism
Jewish history was also conceived as a single historical unit both by Jewish tradition and by Christianity, the latter, of course, regarding the appearance of Jesus as a decisive turning point. However, while the traditional concept, Jewish or Christian, was that the unity derived from a divine mission, Voltaire explained it in terms of permanent qualities deeply rooted in the spirit and character of the people. Evidence of these characteristics could be taken from any period in the history of the people: after all, periodization is essentially an external matter, and time creates no barriers between generations. Consequently, Voltaire’s method allowed him to transfer his data from one period to the next and to attribute the basic characteristics of the Biblical people to later generations. Likewise, it is hardly surprising to find the converse: qualities discovered in later periods are attributed to Biblical Jews. That Jews are drawn to money and that they deal in business transactions and usury could be postulated in the light of their occupation in the Middle Ages and modern times, and Voltaire projects this stereotype back to the Biblical age. For example, the Bible does not indicate explicitly any desire on the part of the Jewish people to rule over other nations, but in the Talmudic and medieval periods deluding images of the Messianic era did arise. These were the basis for the Christian polemic contending that the Jews sought world domination. Ex post facto, polemicists found supporting material for this view in the Bible as well; Voltaire accepted their Christian accusations and incorporated them in his rationalistic indictment. (42-43)
Katz describes a list of other prominent names through history who followed the arguments and methods of Eisenmenger and Voltaire, too many to cover here in any sort of detail. The point is clear:
The reference to the Talmudic sources, usually based on Rohling’s Talmudjude, became a steady feature of anti-Semitic propaganda.
Or if not the Talmud, it was the Old Testament that rang out the warning:
Duhring, on the other hand, held, as we have seen, the Old Testament’s teaching responsible for Jewish immorality and regarded the “recent citation of Talmudic instances” to be superfluous. (267)
One dramatic scene . . .
In a gathering of some five hundred participants in April 1882, a speaker named Franz Holubek declared that “The Jews have not shown themselves worthy of emancipation . . . The Jew is no longer a co-citizen. He made himself our master, our oppressor . . . Do you know what gives these people the right to put their foot on our neck? The Talmud, in which you Christians are called dogs, donkeys, and pigs.’’ This invective provoked an uproar in the audience, causing the police to dissolve the meeting. Holubek was indicted for interreligious incitement but in the ensuing trial, defended by Pattai, he was found innocent. The line of defense was that the alleged invective conformed to scholarly established truth as stated in the learned treatise The Talmudjude, by August Rohling, professor of Hebrew literature at Charles University in Prague. (285)
Katz, Jacob. 1982. From Prejudice to Destruction: Anti-Semitism, 1700–1933. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
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34 thoughts on “Why Anti-Muslim Hostility is Comparable to Anti-Semitism”
Only, in the case of Islam, it does have a theology which orders its followers to conquer the world and subjugate the non-Muslims.
I can understand that many Muslims simply don’t know about this theology. But it is there.
And it is very difficult for peaceful Muslims to use theological answers to get out of it.
It is Allah himself, according to Islamic theology, who orders the believers to “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” (Quran 9:29, Sahih International)
This verse is one of the last which Islamic theology considers to be revealed to Muhammad, and it has not been abrogated.
There is only one little loophole, but only for the time being.
Muslims are allowed to temporarily make peace with non-Muslims, if the Muslims are far weaker than non-Muslims. This gives them the time to gain strength. When the Muslims are stronger than the non-Muslims, they have to fight the non-Muslims again.
For now, the Islamic world is in shambles. For several decades to come, it will be badly defeated if it tries to conquer non-Muslim lands, especially the West, Russia, China and India.
This is the only theological recourse the peaceful Muslims have. They could say: well, we are so weak at this moment that we probably won’t have to fight the infidels in our lifetimes.
And there is a joint effort by all Islamic nations under the umbrella of the the OIC (the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) to impose Sharia Law on the rest of the world. They have made their own version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its own version called the “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam” affirms Sharia Law as its only source.
I don’t want to accuse every single Muslim. Many Muslims simply have no idea. There really seems to be some kind of Islamic conspiracy to bring the world under the authority of Sharia Law.
Arguing just like Eisenmenger. It was all there in their religious texts. That’s the proof of what Jews believed and what they were really like, what motivated them. It was their “ideology”, their religion, their teachings, . . . . .
We have differences of opinion about how big Islamic fundamentalism is. You think it is small. I think it is big. I also have the impression that you have no problems with a theocracy. The OIC clearly wants to abolish the distinction between church and state. It just cannot be good for non-Muslims, women, and the LGBT-community.
I don’t understand what I have said that makes you think I believe Islamic fundamentalism “is small”. It is certainly a minority of Muslims worldwide, but I don’t think I have ever said it is “small” — but I have posted on how it has grown, avalanched if you like, in the last century or two, and have pointed to the main actors and causes involved in that increase. I have also spoken of how the “majority” of Muslims have reacted to it.
I certainly can’t imagine what I have said that leads you to think I have “no problems with a theocracy”. I am tempted to say “that’s crazy” if you really think I think that.
I had that impression because you support Hamas, and because you apparently don’t see “the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam” as not something of a problem. It is impressive that the whole bloc of Islamic countries including moderate Albania supports sharia law. The wish among Muslims worldwide to live under sharia law must be huge, because after all, all the Islamic nations support Sharia!
And you know what? The OIC wants the Western Countries to open their borders. I think: of course! So, Muslims will migrate to the West, and then they can become majorities there and make Western Countries join the OIC and become signatories to “the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam” which uses sharia law as the only source of jurisprudence.
In what sense do you mean I “support Hamas”? I hope you are not seriously suggesting I support their targeting of civilians for murder or their retaliation against Israeli crimes with their own murders.
As for the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam — where have I ever discussed that?
I would prefer you to stick to responding to my own arguments and posting about what Muslims themselves say, including the terrorists. You are treating Muslims as a massive undifferentiated block all with one mind — the same sort of dehumanized thinking that is the mark of anti-semitism.
It is clear you generally support Hamas: https://vridar.org/2018/06/27/understanding-hamas-in-gaza/
That you don’t support their targeting of civilians is a little disagreement you have with them.
You never discussed the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, but I see that as a tacit support of it. That all Muslims countries in the world support this declaration is proof that the discriminatory sharia law is wildly supported in the Islamic world, and that the separation of religion and state is not supported either. It defeats the point you make in this post that Muslims generally don’t take their scriptures very seriously.
I agree that there are some, what one would call, secular Muslims. Some Muslims don’t understand their religion, they never read the Quran or anything about Islam at all. They are only Muslims in name. But they are a small minority.
Your accusation that I find killing civilians to be a matter of a “little disagreement” is offensive in the extreme.
Please tell me how understanding an enemy is considered support for an enemy. I have also posted often on understanding ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists. Do you really think I support them? Does understanding criminal behaviour equate to support for criminal behaviour?
On the contrary, if we want peace then it is absolutely necessary to understand all parties involved — unless we would prefer to simply kill off every last one of those we deem to be our enemy, no matter how long it takes and how many innocents are killed along the way.
I find it difficult to understand you.
Understanding why someone has the views they have, or does the things they do, does not imply “support for” their views or actions. But understanding others can go a long way to working towards an effective peace. In my experience people are rarely all black or all white, all good or all evil.
I mean widely supported, not “wildly” supported.
I want to approach this issue differently.
What if, we just accept that some people distrust Jews, or Muslims, or anybody else.
As long as they believe everybody should have equal rights everything is fine.
There is nothing in principle wrong about being anti-Jewish. What the Nazis did wrong is that they believed Jews were a separate race, lower than cockroaches, who should be destroyed.
Today all kinds of people are despised. Trump is despised by many respectable people, and many Americans voted for him. The people who voted for Trump are despised as well. The extreme right which represents about a fifth of the population in many European countries are despised as well. It is fine, as long as we don’t believe Trump supporters should be refused at a restaurant, or thrown out of the country, or annihilated, or refused at the border, or forced to pay extra taxes, etc…
The history of racism can be traced along a continuum. That’s pretty much what two books I have mentioned here do: they show how what began as essentially ignorance or mild fear or dislike, over time, step by step, graduated to such extreme loathing that made assorted violence and systematic ethnic cleansing a reality. (The books I am thinking of are Elon’s Pity of it All and especially Katz’s From Predudice to Destruction.)
Feelings that begin as relatively mild “distrust” or “dislike” in conditions where personal contact is minimal and generally things are good can be triggered in such a way that when conditions change so do the feelings of dislike intensify, sometimes to outright violence.
People of our own ethnicity and cultural background with whom we strongly disagree politically can potentially become friends again simply by changing their political views and attitudes. Dislike of Muslims, (and for some people, Jews) is not so easy to set aside because racist attitudes tend to see them in terms of “essences”, they are “essentially” untrustworthy by their very religious cum national identity.
But Muslims and other religious people can change their view too, they can become atheists!
You said: “Dislike of Muslims, (and for some people, Jews) is not so easy to set aside because racist attitudes tend to see them in terms of “essences”, they are “essentially” untrustworthy by their very religious cum national identity.”
Isn’t it logical, having the Islamic ideology of world conquest in mind, and the fact that for many centuries Muslims actually did manage to conquer lots of territory, including large parts of Europe? Who says their descendants won’t perform the same feat as Muslims have done for centuries?
You said: “The history of racism can be traced along a continuum.”
That’s the fallacy of the slippery slope. I think Muslims who claim Islam/Quran/Sharia Law is peaceful, should be allowed to be criticized without the danger of being called a racist. It is not colonialism or Orientalism to do so.
Your premise is entirely that of the essentialist thinking I am trying to address. You come across as assuming that all Muslims, by the mere fact of being (genuine) Muslims”, are somehow infused with this ideology of “of world conquest in mind”, and that their past history must be seen as further evidence of this “ideological mindset”.
Your responses are simply repeating the mindset I have seen much evidence to dispute, the mindset that I have found entirely restricted to political ideological tracts that you somehow seem to think should be equated with the Koran.
Regarding the idea you don’t have problems with sharia law, that’s what you seem to have said in this post:
A short summary: religious law can change over time, these religious laws are not so harsh anymore. Modern Muslims who want Sharia Law have modern enlightened rules in mind (equality, no torture, freedom of speech, democracy…), not stoning of adulterers or infidels having to pay the poll tax.
In my honest opinion, having studied Islamic theology carefully, this is not possible. The Quran has some safeguards built in against modernization. The Quran calls Muslims who refuse to fight the Jihad hypocrites who will burn in hell. The Quran says the infidels should be fought until only Allah is worshiped. This moment has not been reached and this means that Muslims still have to fight the infidels until the bitter end.
You seem to be thinking of Muslims as a single bloc. My post was an attempt to break down that thinking. We cannot bracket all Christians or all Jews together as having the same view of their books or what the bible says about how to live. We know there are myriads of interpretations that are related to different social and cultural backgrounds.
If my post was saying anything it was that there is no one single view of the meaning of sharia law.
I kind of despair that anyone should interpret my post as expressing some sort of support for any kind of sharia law.
Your last paragraph is only repeating the very mindsets that are being disputed. There is no one interpretation of the Koran any more than there exists one interpretation of the Bible. And it is invalid for anyone to come along from the outside and say, See, your Bible says this, so you are a hypocrite if you don’t do this; or The Bible says you must do X, so if you do X you are doing it because the Bible says so — completely ignoring the most fundamental point of logic that correlation does not mean causation.
Instead of trying to understand Muslims by reading the Koran, why not get to know some Muslims and ask THEM how they interpret or understand the Koran. That’s what I have attempted to do and what is behind my posts.
It’s also what I have done with my readings of interviews with and research into extremist groups behind terrorist violence. They do NOT simply rely upon the Koran but they interpret and apply it through other ideological material I have referred to.
Looks like indirect “ad Hitlerum”, an attempt to implicate guilt by association based on superfluous similarities.
Even Muslim hostility against non Muslims would make a better analogy, since just as antisemitism, it’s rooted in religious BS.
Sorry, I meant superficial, obviously.
Yep, in the ninetienth century an antisemite once criticized Talmud, that’s a shocker.
Thing is, one doesn’t have to be anti-anything to find the contents of Talmud, Bible, Koran condemnable. Then compare the reasons why this obvious point is being brought up in each context, and the analogy goes poof.
Not just the nineteenth century — if you read my post. Yes, there were Jews who did indeed fit the stereotype and from which other Jews sought to distance themselves. Just like Muslims today — and just like ignorant haters of Muslims.
We who have taken the time to think about religious writings and ideas are in the minority. Those of us who have, after thinking about them, come to the conclusion that they are complete nonsense are in an even smaller minority. The unfortunate truth is that there are still many people who believe and take very seriously their respective religious writings. This is no doubt a tragedy and a danger to all mankind.
I invite you to peruse some of my posts on what anthropologists and sociologists and others have come to learn about the nature of religion and religious belief:
Wrong tense, they haven’t come to anything yet, they’re still looking.
Especially when we bunch sociologists and anthropologists together – cognitive anthropologists often deny sociology the explanatory power when it comes to religion, and vice versa.
Interesting stuff overall, but it’s best if you understand what it is, and what it’s not.
I challenge you to actually read what the academic specialists in the subjects about religion and Muslims actually have found through systematic research.
I do not think that many people will argue that there is a single way that all or most Muslims interpret their religious, as Eisenmenger argues about Jews. However, there are large numbers of Muslims who do interpret their text in such a pay as to produce atrocities on a large scale and fairly regularly. Here is an example from last week – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/31/quashing-of-asia-bibis-blasphemy-charge-will-not-end-her-suffering.
I just don’t know how many people are threatened with execution for blasphemy in non-islamic countries.
Of cause certain feminist groups are importing such insane pratices into the United States at a remarkable rate. The number of innocent people who have been fired or arrested and jailed for blasphemy against feminist ideology rivals the number of people arrested for their words against Islam in Islamic countries.
I am not “hating” Muslims, I have a terror of them.
One does not forgo their safety by going into a arrondissement of Jews, but the Muslims they have formatted their ZUS, their places where those who are not Muslim cannot enter without risking the attack or the rape if they are women and just go nearby.
We do not invade their mosques but they kill us in synagogues and stores, and in their own countries the Muslims they now slaughter and rape the christians, as they slaughtered and raped their Jews 60 years ago.
This is not opinion, this is fact.
And the gouvernments of the West are without courage, but they continue to invite Muslims into their borders, for fear if they do not someone will form a malign opinion of them and call them naughty.
And any private citizen who does have courage to display the atrocities Muslim, she is relegated to psychiatry, the same tool of silencing as used by the former Soviet state, the methods of which the democracies so-called are embracing like fallen women.
You think you are safe in Australia, and enjoy the luxury of isolation to cling to your liberal opinions, but the opinions of you will change rapidly when the Muslims Indonesian they come swarming across the ocean and their will they impose on you.
But, then there will be no one left to hear you.
On the assumption that you are serious and not teasing us with your comment, I can only say that you have soaked up and believed a great many fearful misconceptions and false ideas about Muslims as a people. I have lived in Indonesia among Muslims, and I have lived in Singapore in a Muslim quarter (as far as Singapore allows such quarters to exist since their official policy is to mix the different peoples; but there are nonetheless distinctly Muslim areas), and I have walked through “Muslim enclaves” in cities in Australia. I am very sorry that you are filled with such terrible misconceptions. I wish you could get to know some Muslims personally. Many of them in Western countries do have “open days” where they invite others to visit their mosques and attend talks explaining their beliefs, practices and histories. I would like to encourage you to keep a lookout for one of those and attend — with a friend, of course, to help you feel secure 🙂
The author is plain deluded. On an blog advertising mostly atheist viewpoint, he’s literally pushing forth a woman into a mosque, knowing full well that women in general remain more prone to brainwashing under cults, particularly those which operate through fear like Islam. Never thought would see an advice like “hey, go to a mosque. Believe whatever lies they tell.” and remain completely blind to 99% terrorist organizations on International Blacklist being Islamic jihadists. (The remaining 1% are communist extremists.) Any person who follows an utterly debauched and violent man like Muhammad is deluded. There is no Allah. Why is the author telling a woman to go into Mosque and sap up some superstitions? Is he on Turkish bankroll to spread Islamic propaganda here?
This seems to be another lefty ideologue that the author is trying to push. Whitewashing of Islam is in full view. The very fact that one uses the word “Muslim” to describe a person means we give legitimacy to that religion, which should not be done. Christians do not identify them as just Christian. They use their nationality(mostly) or ethnicity. Why not use a proper term such as Arab, Paki, Syrian, Somali etc. to describe that person instead of just “Muslim”?
This is because of Islamic tendency towards imposing a cultural uniformity(via cultural genocide) on host nation, so that only “Muslim” identity remains. Who cares what Islamic theology says? Author probably thinks if good sayings exist in 5% of Quran, maybe Muslims will accept that much only. Wrong. Quran is for them an immutable holy book. Islam is the root .problem. The concept of “abrogation” itself lays foundation for deception and “holy lying”. Maybe the author likes Islam. Maybe he can fight for acceptance of it here in Australia. Maybe he wants those minarets sounding their five times a day damn irritating chants on street corners.
I don’t. Most people in west don’t. They do not want no go zones where alcohol is banned, or to have fights erupt over a hamburger hawker passing by. Or tolerate Islam’s bloody slaughter festivals. Muslims can remain in whatever rotten state they like. Nobody imports inferior goods or inferior culture into their country.
Hi Oliver, I have worked with and been house-entertained by and lived alongside Muslims, even entered a few mosques. I highly recommend it. It’s definitely something you should try. Seriously. Talk to them. Ask them your questions. Hear them. You won’t be brainwashed because you won’t let that happen, but you can get to know them, on a personal level. Try it.
Katz writes “the Bible does not indicate explicitly any desire on the part of the Jewish people to rule over other nations”
This is an apologetic rhetoric, and a clever one.
The HB states in several passages that the god of the Jews is going to rule the world and that Jews are going to be the priests. In the HB the priests are the rulers of people.
The Bible is presenting the Jews as victims of the desires of their god and Katz used this for his claims.
He is right that many assumptions in “Judaism Unmasked” are ridicules, but this does not means that any argument or assumption that can be found in “Judaism Unmasked” is ridicules.
Katz is also right that Talmud was used too many times to present Judaism in a negative light. But what about Maimonides? He was supposed to be a great Talmudic scholar, if not the greatest, do we have to abandon and Maimonides cause he was messianic? Do we have any data at all that Jews were not messianic at any given time?
If not then this passage is just apologetic rhetoric:
“but in the Talmudic and medieval periods deluding images of the Messianic era did arise. These were the basis for the Christian polemic contending that the Jews sought world domination.”
So Said is correct that there is nothing in the Hebrew Bible that requires all the faithful or the genetic victims of Judah to plot to rule the world — or even that a story in an ancient text exhorts some sort of mind-control on any people today.
The Qur’an is a text with a set of contexts – it is true that it is used as a universal but it is also true that if verses are taken in isolation then there is need to limit them to their instantaneous application. That is each verse is revealed in a historical setting and context and in turn each verse lends itself to a wider universal picture. When taking a single verse it should be constrained to the historical setting only and when looking for its universal meaning and application it should be seen against ALL verses that point to the same topic or have some bearing on related matters.
In the case of treatment of non-Muslims there are several other places in the Qur’an that contextualise the verses and several commentaries that show the limitations of each verse. Without going in to the details here … I would say that even if you brush aside contemporary Muslim opinion ans only use texts – if used properly that is not cherry-picked verses but ALL verses on a matter then a fuller context can be found.
Rather I would say that those who wish to portray Muslims or any people as people who want to make enemies of others are the very people who want to make enemies of them. For whatever reason.
There are indeed Muslim clerics who do seek to interpret the Koran in the way you suggest.