Quranic justification for antisemitic incitement is being taught to American Muslim children.
One would have hoped that the barbaric Oct. 7 Hamas massacre would prompt at least transient denunciations of the terror group and its Islamist ideology from the majority of the American Muslim community. The community’s response on the street, at universities and now a Colorado mosque teaching impressionable children have extinguished that pipe dream.
On Oct. 22, Imam Umar Mitchell of the Umar Ibn Al-Khattab mosque in Aurora, Colorado taught a Quranic lesson to children at the Colorado Muslims Community Center. His lesson included defamatory descriptions of Jews that appear in the Quran. He called the Jews inveterate liars (2:10, 3:75) who never abide by their contracts and covenants (2:61, 3:112, 4:155, 5:13), murder their prophets (2:61, 3:112, 3:181, 4:155) and even attempted to murder Jesus.
Mitchell also recounted the Quranic story of Jewish fishermen transformed by Allah into “literal physical monkeys” for fishing on Saturday (2:65, elaborated in 7:163, 7:164, 7;165, 7:166; verse 5:60 refers to the Jews as “apes and pigs”). He further insisted that Israel consistently defeats the Palestinians because the Jews deceive Palestinians into trusting them. He added, “It is not hate speech for you to be aware of these things.”
This depressing litany of defamatory slurs was interspersed by Mitchell’s call-and-response with his indoctrinated audience:
Mitchell: So I’m going to ask you: If this is the group of people who broke their rules with Allah, should you trust these people today?
Mitchell: Does this sound like good worshippers?
Mitchell: He (Allah) made them into monkeys. Literal physical monkeys. Monkeys. Does this sound like a people you want to do business with?
What is tragic is that Mitchell’s Quranic interpretations are consistent with authoritative classical and modern interpretations, as well as modern Islamic pedagogy.
Since the end of the 12th century CE, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University and its mosque have represented the apogee of Sunni Islamic religious education. It is essentially the de facto Vatican of Sunni Islam. By and large, its pedagogy supports Mitchell’s presentation.
It has been validated, for example, by the former head of Al-Azhar’s religious fatwa committee, Sheikh Atiyyah Saqr. In 2004, Saqr publishedJews’ 20 Bad Traits As Described in the Koran, which provided Quranic citations accusing the Jews of lying, believing lies, disputing and quarreling, hiding the truth and supporting deception, rebelling against the prophets and rejecting their guidance, hypocrisy, wishing evil on people, feeling pain at others’ happiness and happiness at others’ afflictions, rudeness and vulgarity, murder of innocents, mercilessness and heartlessness, breaking promises, cowardice and miserliness.
Further authoritative confirmation of Mitchell’s message is evident in the scholarship of Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the renowned late grand imam of Al-Azhar. He was one of the most revered modern authorities on Quranic exegesis, having edited a 15-volume contemporary commentary on the text. He also helped create the largest online website of classical and contemporary Quranic commentaries.
Tantawi’s Ph.D. thesis provided a summary gloss on the Quranic depiction of Jews, emphasizing its timeless relevance and denouncing Jews who rejected Islam as “maleficent deniers.” He granted Muslims license to commit violence against them in order to extirpate Jewish “evil”:
Quran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah (2:61, 3:112), corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places (4:46), consuming the people’s wealth frivolously (4:161), refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do (3:120, 5:79) and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted (lascivious) envy (2:109). … Only a minority of the Jews keep their word. … All Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims (3:113), the bad ones do not. … 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.
Tantawi’s gloss on Quran 5:60—which dubs the Jews “apes and pigs”—condemned in broad terms “the corrupt thinking and false assumptions and claims of the Jews.” He further maintained, “What you [Jews] claim is even more evil as shown in the penalty that has befallen you as you have been cursed and become estranged from Allah’s mercy and compassion, and what has befallen your ancestors, of whom some were transformed into apes, others into pigs.”
In April 2002, as grand imam, Tantawi referred to Israeli Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs.” That same month, he sanctioned suicide bombing “martyrdom” operations against “any Israeli, including children, women and teenagers,” notwithstanding the gruesome Netanya Passover massacre on March 27, 2002.
We must take such an expert at his word and conclude that, sadly, when Muslim clerics and educators engage in antisemitic incitement, they have more than enough Quran on their side.