6 tips on how to relate to people of the Jewish faith
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.
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