6 tips for relating to people of the Jewish faith

A very old jewish pomegranate above a store, Granada, Spain

The forced expulsion of Palestinians, their oppression and the attacks on Masjid al-Aqsa: these are things Muslims cannot bear to see or tolerate. In their anger and disgust, some Muslims mention individual Jews, people as a whole or their faith in a way that is not in line with Islamic teachings.

How can we relate to Jews on a personal level, without compromising our rights and sense of justice and fair play? Here are some ideas:

1. Be just

Remember that justice is a fundamental part of Islam. On a daily level, a person of the Jewish faith who is not harming you or attacking you must not become a target of attack, physical or otherwise.

Islam is a religion of peace and justice and we must demand justice for our brothers and sisters in Palestine, as well as our right to Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinians.

We must also be just in our treatment of Jews. There are examples from the life of the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as well as from the lives of his Companions, especially Umar, who conquered Jerusalem as the second Khalifah that show us how they dealt with Jews in a just manner.

2. Remember your history

Keep in mind that Muslims have, overall, had a much longer history of cooperation and peaceful coexistence with Jews than probably any other group of people.

While Jews were reviled and executed in Europe at different points in time, Muslims have no equivalent of this kind of hatred.

Remind not just Muslims, but also Jews of this history in the next discussion you have with them whether it's in class, at work or elsewhere.

3. Properly understand verses of the Quran and Hadiths about Jews

It is important to get a correct understanding of a number of verses of the Quran as well as sayings of the Prophet on Jews.

Some Muslims take one verse or a few, without looking at when they were revealed or why, as well as the historical circumstances relating to them, as an excuse to mistreat Jews. This is not correct.

Allah does criticize Jews in the Quran. He also criticizes Christians, polytheists, and Muslims. Our Creator has the perspective and the perfect knowledge which none of us can claim.

The purpose of the God's criticism is to invite people to reaffirm their faith in the original teachings brought by the all Prophets and to correct the group's behavior or respond to a question they raised.

Criticism of a people by their Creator though, is not a license to stereotype them, and certainly not an excuse to mistreat them individually or collectively with bad attitudes or behavior.

4. On Palestine

When discussing Palestine know the Muslims' position and state it clearly, confidently and respectfully. Don't compromise on the truth, but don't be rude, verbally abusive or insulting. There is no place for that kind of behavior in Islam, even when discussing an issue as important to Muslims and Jews as Palestine and Jerusalem.

5. Invite them to teaching brought by all of the Prophets

The Quran refers to the Jews as Ahl al-Kitab (People of the Book). There status is exactly the same as of Christians. Allah also gives Muslims this instruction about them:

Say: 'O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, lords and patrons other than God.' If then they turn back, say ye: 'Bear witness that we (at least) are bowing to God's Will.' (3: 64)

6. Don't forget to use Islamic communication skills

To be able to effectively put into practice the previous tip, we have to have the necessary Islamic communication skills. We must speak and deal with all in the nicest possible manner.

We can remember the example of Prophets Moses and Aaron, who are respected by Muslims and Jews alike, and how they approached Pharaoh with Allah's message. Allah's peace and blessings be upon them.

Allah instructed these prophets to address this tyrant and oppressor in the nicest possible manner despite the fact that he had rebelled against the Creator. Moses and Aaron were to help him with their nice talk to rethink his position, become fearful of God and change his ways. (see Quran 20:43-44)

This is a basic principle of Islamic communication and cannot be forgotten, whether the recipients are atheists, Muslims or Jews.

 

Photo Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jewish_pomegranate.jpg

Comments

Very needed article - especially in these times!! May Allah bless you!

Location

Seattle, WA

An excellent article on a very important topic. May Allah reward your efforts.

Location

Seattle, WA

As a Jewish-American who believes in civil discourse and who has a strong interest in Islam I thought this article, "6 tips on how to deal with people of the Jewish faith," to be an excellent guide for interfaith dialogue betweens Muslims and Jews. Sadly, however, I've encountered articles about Jews in other Muslim media that aren't as tolerant. As an example of this type of intolerance I offer the following article from the Islamonline Fatwa Bank: http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=68521 . I'd be very interested to hear from Muslim readers of this message board which of the two articles better represents the predominant thinking about Jews among Muslim-Americans. Thanks! I look forward to reading your replies. Ron from New York

Location

New York

Patronizing. You speak of "truth" and "justice," but never acknowledge that there may be a different opinion than your own. The "expulsion" of the so-called Palestinians is much less a "truth" than the oppression, contempt and, yes, expulsion of Jews by Muslims. The real truth is that there were no Palestinians until someone invented them as a convenient way to steal Jewish land.

Location

Silver Spring

I am a Jewish American. I came to this web site after reading an inflammatory article in a local Jewish newspaper that critisized some of the comments made on this web site in regards to recent bombings, etc. in Israel. I was expecting to see radical rantings about how best to kill more Jews.I have to say that I am very pleasantly surprised to see that faith and perspective are being taught here instead. Sure, there are still some very angry comments if you look. But this article gives me hope for the future.It is so hard to watch what is going on in Israel, on both sides of the war. What most people forget is that all of this fighting and killing is being spurred on by radicals, and by our leaders. For them, there is no chance for peace, because they are misguided. No where in any Jewish teaching does it permit or propose the killing or expulsion of any other people. Just as the Quran promotes peace and tolerance, not killing. The Jews and Palestinians who have guns in there hands have forgotten this.Most of us are everyday people, raising our families, working at our jobs, and looking towards a brighter future. It would be nice to know our families will alive and well tommorrow, and not shot at, blown up or beaten by some idiot with a political or personal agenda.I personally have no gripe with the Palestinian people - my only beef is with the people that intend to harm Jews as a way to "solve" their differences. I hope that we, as everyday people, can hold strong, and not support the fighting and killing as a method of obtaining peace. Instead, support cooperation and rebuilding of old ties. We would be much stronger as a union than as enemies.

Location

Pennsylvania

I'm also Jewish and want to thank soundvision for putting forth this kind of effort. I truly believe that peace in the middle east has to start in people's hearts before it can be a political reality, and sites like this one help us to take that path. Thanks again!

Location

san francisco

Thanks for above article. Together with a Jewish/Israeli 'dissident' I regularly try to convince poeple in the street of the need of a peaceful solution of the conflict by distributing flyers and talking with them. It is however somtimes very hard to keep calm when people deny (what we see as) the truth (see reaction of David above) and/or point to the Palestine suicide missions as the source of all evil. In such cases I always try to end the discussion politely, but often they (most Israeli tourists and 'indigenous' evangelists) won't go and raise their voices, hoping to hinder our action...

Location

Netherlands

Assalamu Alaikum-May Allah(swt) bless SoundVision for trying to be a voice of peace and tolerance in a world where there is too much hatred. Some very good points were made in this article. Insha'Allah, it will be passed around from masjid to masjid so that more can read it. As a Muslim, I can't say that I know the "Muslim" position on Jerusalem. To be quite frank, I'm in favor of the original UN position that it should be an international city--with neither Jews, Muslims, or Christians "owning it." As for Israel and Palestine, Insha'Allah the two states will be able to exist in peace...as the brothers they are. (Of course, I think both Sharon and Arafat will have to go before this will ever happen!)

Location

Florida

"I conceived from the outset a strong objection to Zionism. I considered it immoral that immigrants, assisted by a foreign Great Power, should come from abroad with the avowed intention of attaining to majority in the country and thus to dispossess the people whose country it had been since time immemorial."Leopold Weiss (Born Jewish, later coverted to Islam)

Location

UK

The Jews, people of the book according to Quranic address, who were wronged and expelled from Spain were accepted and looked after by Sultan Bayazid II of Turkey and have always enjoyed cordial relationships with the Muslims, even today. Anyone disturbing this is condemned. The Quran says in 13:25 Those who make mischief on earth: theirs is the curse. The three divine religions lived together in an atmosphere of peace and tolerance in the Muslim world, in Palestine especially but reading is what lacks when blanket statements replace serious academic research. For example, the Ottoman administration established a centuries-long environment of peace and tranquillity in Palestine, which has been in a state of conflict and chaos since the early 20th century. In Jerusalem under Ottoman hegemony Jews worshipped in their synagogues, Christians in their churches and Muslims in their mosques. The British historian and Middle East expert Karen Armstrong describes the capture of Jerusalem by Omar in the early period of Islam in these terms in her book Holy War: The Caliph Omar entered Jerusalem mounted on a white camel, escorted by the magistrate of the city, the Greek Patriarch Sophronius. The Caliph asked to be taken immediately to the Temple Mount and there he knelt in prayer on the spot where his friend Mohammed had made his Night Journey. The Patriarch watched in horror: this, he thought, must be the Abomination of Desolation that the Prophet Daniel had foretold would enter the Temple; this must be Antichrist who would herald the Last Days. Next Omar asked to see the Christian shrines and, while he was in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the time for Muslim prayer came round. Courteously the Patriarch invited him to pray where he was, but Omar as courteously refused. If he knelt to pray in the church, he explained, the Muslims would want to commemorate the event by erecting a mosque there, and that would mean that they would have to demolish the Holy Sepulchre. Instead Omar went to pray at a little distance from the church, and, sure enough, directly opposite the Holy Sepulchre there is still a small mosque dedicated to the Caliph Omar. Karen Armstrong also describes the second Islamic capture of Jerusalem: On 2 October 1187 Saladin and his army entered Jerusalem as conquerors and for the next 800 years Jerusalem would remain a Muslim city... Saladin kept his word, and conquered the city according to the highest Islamic ideals. He did not take revenge for the 1099 massacre, as the Koran advised (16:127), and now that hostilities had ceased he ended the killing (2:193-194). Not a single Christian was killed and there was no plunder. The ransoms were deliberately very low.Professor Edward Said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz recommended the 'Ottoman nation system' if a permanent peace is to be built in the Middle East. What he said was: A Jewish minority can survive the way other minorities in the Arab world survived. …it worked rather well under the Ottoman Empire, with its millet system. What they had then seems a lot more humane than what we have now.Quran is what inspired these historical Leaders of Islam.For example they were submissive to "when you judge between people, to judge with justice" 4:58, "Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives" 4:135, "God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them" 60:8. How could Muhammad kill Jews when one of his wives was one-she later converted? He granted amnesty to the Jews of Khaiber on the agreement that they will pay taxes-and barley grains to that! As for the political treachery of Banu Quraiza, when they were found guilty, they themselves chose Sad as the arbitrator and he was the one that pointed to his throat. Muhammad never took the life of anyone in battle-this is well documented researched fact very much unlike what non Guyanese, media reporters churn out in a daily diet of media hype. Recall Amanpour's statement on this, if you like. Mahatma Gandhi wrote: "Muslims have never indulged themselves in bigotry even in times of greatest grandeur and victory.I have arrived at the conclusion that Islam's spreading rapidly was not by the sword. On the contrary, it was primarily owing to its simplicity, logicality, its Prophet's great modesty, his trueness to his promises and his unlimited faithfulness towards every Muslim that many people willingly accepted Islam."

Location

Guyana

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