Growing up as a Muslim in Pakistan, I was taught to hate Jews and Israel and to participate in anti-Israel and anti-Zionism demonstrations.
On Sunday, September 25, I addressed the Glasgow Friends of Israel Conference in the city, with the words; Aslaam -o- Alykum (Peace and blessings be upon you all)
Reading into the history of my faith and the history of Islam I came to realise that the perspective adopted by many Muslims today towards Israel and the Jewish people is completely distorted and often deliberately misinformed, for political not religious reasons.
While Christianity held historic animosities towards Jews, it was never a phenomenon amongst Muslims. In reality Muslims frequently supported their Jewish cousins throughout Islamic history.
During the Islamic era in Spain, Jewish people were not only protected, but were free to exercise their beliefs. They held high level government positions in the state of Andalusia. Meanwhile, a virulent form of anti-Semitism afflicted much of Europe. That disease has now, unfortunately, become endemic in the Islamic world. As Europe colonised the Middle East, its anti-Jewish ideas infiltrated the Arab world.
We Muslims cannot and should not be anti-Semitic. Our holy book, the Quran supports Judaism. The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad is mentioned only a few times, but the Prophet Moses is mentioned 25 times.
In the words of one historian “it was European converts to Islam who brought anti-Semitism into the Arab world.”
A new wave of political and religious hatred rose in the 19th century when the Jewish state of Israel emerged. Muslims were told by Europeans, that Jews had taken our holy land and would persecute Muslims, but in fact, this land, especially the city of Jerusalem was a more sacred place to the Jewish people than us Muslims. Muslims were never persecuted under the Jewish state of Israel. The Jewish state of Israel is a reality now as is the Muslim state of Pakistan. Israel is a land of peace and prosperity where peoples of all faiths live together and exercise their religion without fear of persecution or hate. The state of Israel protects the rights of minorities and their places of worship.
The pre-eminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars of the Middle Ages, served Saladin as his physician in Twelfth century. Jews such as Maimonides became personal physicians of governors in Islamic era. The most famous example is Shmuel Hanagid, who was not only vizier of the Muslim king of Granada, but also a commander of his armies.
It also guarantees freedom of religion for all. Every religious community is free to observe its holidays and weekly day of rest and to administer its internal affairs. Each has its own religious council and courts, recognised by the law of Israel and with jurisdiction over all religious affairs.
There are nearly two million Arab citizens of Israel and there are more than 400 mosques in the state of Israel and are about 350 Muslim Imams who are getting their salaries and pension from the Israeli government. These Mosques are protected by the Jewish State and their Muslim citizens have full and equal rights in the state. They live side by side with their Jewish cousins in peace and unity.
Israel is home to a widely diverse population from many ethnic, religious, cultural and social backgrounds. The Israeli society is relatively young and is characterised by social and religious commitment, political ideology, economic resourcefulness and cultural creativity, all of which contribute momentum to its continuing development.
Hundreds of Israeli Muslims serve in the IDF to protect their land of Israel and its people.
While Muslims face many challenges across the globe one of them being Islamophobia we cannot stop and counter this hateful behaviour until we tackle the menace of anti-Semitism. Muslim and Jewish communities in the UK must unite and fight against the intolerance of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We need to sit together and listen to each other, we must never let the extremists win by spreading hate and creating division.
If ever there was a time to be a fundamentalist for peace, this is the time. If ever there was a need for fanatical belief in a shared future for Palestinians and Israelis, the need is now. There can be a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians but both nations need to work on it very seriously, there are barriers but it’s not impossible at all. There are always two kinds of people in the world: Those who believe in the possibility of peace and those who do not.
Apology and Forgiveness will be central to progress, without forgiveness, no any peace plan will work. The apology was a key to peace in South Africa and both nations, Israelis and Palestinians should forgive each other and take a positive step in future.
Recognition and Acceptances is just as important. Palestinians and Arabs have to accept Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish historical, religious and emotional connection to the Temple Mount. This is consistent with Islamic traditions. At the same time, Israelis have to accept that there is a Palestinian people—not merely “West Bankers”— and acknowledge the historical memory of the Palestinians even it is only a 70 years old but the reality is this they exist now. Israel must also see it as a Middle Eastern country, not a western country.
Through mutual religious tolerance, great progress can be made, though the anti-peace groups will do everything to brainwash, blackmail and persuade us that peace is not possible.
I hope, we can educate a new generation in the language of peace and dialogue, rejecting the boycotts, barriers and divisions of the past.
I agree with the most of the article, and I also work to foster peace between Jews and Muslims esp when I was living in California. For quite a few years I went regularly to synagogues and learnt on Judaism. However, I noted that you r conflating Judaism with Israel, and thats I feel is dishonest. In berkeley there is Kehilla Community Synagogue and many other Jewish religious groups who support Palestinian rights, abnd want to transform israel into a secular democracy for all its citizens regardless of religion. R they bad Jews or whaat?
You wrote “Recognition and Acceptances is just as important. Palestinians and Arabs have to accept Israel as a Jewish state.” How about Jewish groups? There r many orthodox Jewish religious groups that oppose Israel being a Jewish state due to religious reasons eg Israels biggest orthodox group Edah https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edah_HaChareidis. So r u gonna force them to accept Israel as a Jewish state—which they deny for religious reasons?
The great social value of the article you wrote, is undermined by the ending of that essay! Your citing of the Arabist empire golden ages, is the very vital point, that you so very eloquently compared with the modern state of Israel’s civil social treatment of Muslim ethnic PalestineArabs, called IsraeliArab citizens! The problem is, the Arabist empire racism, that has tried to play the divide & rule game of creating an artificial separate PalestineArab identity, from the generic Arab identity! The whole issue of an ethnic nation ,called PalestineArab, is rooted in the Arabist empire colonizing of ethnic JudaeanHebrew country! That is , just as SudanArab colonizing, is still working over Darfur! The original PalestineArab nationalist father of racist Arabism , violated the Koran’s explicit pro Zionism! That PalestineArab Nazi Mufti, was the head of his “Palestine Arab Party”! That PalestineArab mufti, was also the central Nazi racist, organizing force, all across the Arabist empire environs! The Arabist empire golden ages, were an excellent example of Koran rooted civil social life, animated by social tolerance! But the current, post WW-II era of Arabist empire colonial racism, is exemplified by the SudanArab race war genocide, against Darfur Muslim non Arabs! Before we try to get a social handle on the local PalestineArab rights, to some kind of distinct civil social environs, we had better learn to follow the Koran’s explicit pro Zionism & the Koran’s prohibition against Arabist empire racism!
The beauty of your social value, to civil social Islam, is embodied in your display of your social tolerance! You lay out the short history of the golden ages of civil social Islam! You eloquently remind us, to learn to reach across the artificial divides of anti Semitism & Islamo-phobia! You point out the civil social frameworks of both the current Zionist Israeli treatment of Arab Muslim Israelis, as a reflection of the Islamic golden ages, civil social integrating of JudaeaoArabs! But the problem with the post WW-II Arabist empire colonial provinces, is the Arabist empire racism, that occupies the controlling, central power cartels, over the civil social totality of the Arabist empire environs! Darfur Muslim non Arabs, are the obvious example of ethnic Africans ,violated by racist Arabism’s empire, violating the Koran’s prohibiting all the SudanArab state does, against the ethnic African Muslim non Arabs of Darfur! The same goes for EgyptianArabist colonial empire racism, against the pre Arabist empire, EgyptiCoptic native, first nation, ethnic social culture! The same goes for the Arabist empire colonial racism, against the pre Arabist empire, first nation of the Tamazight Berbers of north Africa! These Tamazight Berbers, are also Muslim non Arabs, occupied by Arabist empire, colonial racism! The same goes for the MauritanianArab state occupation, over the all Muslim non Arabs’ social world of the Mauritanian Fulanis & the smaller, more local ethnic Muslim non Arabs of the Senegambia environs! This is in addition to the Mauritanian Black Moorish serfs, the offspring of Arabist empire enslaved Fulanis & any else, in the way of Arabist white Moor racist colonial occupation! This is all the Arabist empire colonial provinces’ diverse cultural social world,occupied by racist Arabism’s empire of confederated states! These Arabist empire racists,violate the Koran’s explicit prohibiting of racism! Meanwhile, the PalestineArab local colony of Arabist empire racism, continues to violate the Koran’s explicitly stated, simple,100% pro Zionism! Before we say that there is a separate ethnic, national culture of PalestineArab peoplehood ,is in it’s totality, distinct from generic Arab civil social culture, let’s follow the Koran’s 100% pro Zionism! Also, let’s follow the Koran’s 100% ban or prohibiting of racist Arabism’s empire of genocidal slavery!
am glad of this article, 1492 was a tragedy for spain, the inquisition a mandate for theft of property and coercion, am glad to read reports like this to get a clearer perspective as australia and new zealand are about as far away as one can get, the uttermost part of the earth from the beloved jerusalem but our anzac soldiers, my grand uncle in 1917 ad was at bersheba.