Muslims and Jews: A historical surprise

Mosque and Synagogue in Paramaribo, Suriname

Once upon a time, a widely circulated Jewish document described Islam as "an act of God's Mercy".

Also, Jews in the near East, north Africa and Spain threw their support behind advancing Muslim Arab armies.

No, these aren't fairy tales or propaganda. The relationship between Muslims and Jews really was that cooperative and marked by peaceful coexistence.

Just ask Khalid Siddiqi of the Islamic Education and Information Center in San Jose, California where he also teaches Islamic Studies and Arabic at Chabot College and Ohlone College.

Siddiqi notes that the first quote above is from S. D. Goitein's book Jews and Arabs. The second is from Merlin Swartz's 'The Position of Jews in Arab lands following the rise of Islam' (reprinted from The Muslim World. Hartford Seminary Foundation LXI1970).

Swartz also says the Muslim Arab conquest marked the dawn of a new era. Those forces that had led to the progressive isolation and disruption of Jewish life were not only checked they were dramatically reversed.

In an interview with Sound Vision, Siddiqi gave numerous examples of Jews flourishing under Muslim rule in places like Spain, Morocco, North African in general and various parts of the Middle East.

Siddiqi points out that Islam as a religion has given specific guidelines for the followers of Islam to base their relationship with any non-Muslim. These include People of Scripture, like the Jews, people who belong to other religions, and even atheists. Non-Muslims must be treated on the basis of Birr (kindness) and Qist (justice), as referred to Surah 60 verse 8 of the Quran.

It started at the time of the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him)

The peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Jews began at the time of the Prophet.

Siddiqi notes that the Jews welcomed the Prophet when he arrived in Madinah at the time of Hijrah (migration), along with the rest of the city's inhabitants.

But the Prophet had begun the step towards good relations with Jewish and other communities in Madinah even before getting there.

After receiving an invitation to Madinah from one of the city's tribes that had accepted Islam, the Prophet signed treaties with the city's Jewish, Christian and polytheist tribes before he arrived there.

These treaties clearly laid out responsibilities of each of the parties. It was based on these that the Prophet established the Mithaq al Madinah, the constitution of Madinah.

Siddiqi says this was the first constitution of the world and one of the greatest political documents ever prepared by any human being. It is the oldest surviving constitution of any state.

Under this constitution, any Jew who followed the Muslims was entitled to their assistance and the same rights as anyone of them without any injustice or partisanship.

It said the Jews are an Ummah (community of believers) alongside the Muslims. The Jews have their religion and the Muslims theirs. As well, it noted that each will assist one another against any violation of this covenant.

Jews during the Muslim era

Despite this early breach of contract, there are still numerous examples from Muslim history of Muslim-Jewish cooperation and coexistence.

Siddiqi gave examples of how Muslim Spain, which was a "golden era" of creativity and advancement for Muslims was also one for Jews.

While Europe was in its Dark Ages and Jews were reviled there, Muslims in Spain during the same period worked side by side with Jews in developing literature, science and art.

Together, they translated classical Greek texts into Arabic. This task later helped Europe move out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance.

Jews flourished under Muslim rule in Egypt as well, where they achieved very high positions in government.

Siddiqi quotes some lines from an Arab poet of that time, to illustrate: 'Today the Jews have reached the summit of their hopes and have become aristocrats. Power and riches have they and from them councilors and princes are chosen'.

Today: the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland has destroyed good Muslim-Jewish relations

So what happened?

Although not the only cause, a large part of the deterioration in Muslim-Jewish relations comes from the emergence of Zionism, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland by Zionist Jews and British colonizers, as well as their continuing oppression.

Siddiqi says, "while this reaction results in anti-Jewish feeling it must be seen in its proper historical context. It must be remembered that anti-Jewish sentiments in so far as it is to be found in the contemporary Arab world is strictly a modern phenomenon and one that runs counter to the time honored Islamic tradition of fraternity and tolerance.

"The very widespread popular notion that present day Arab-Jewish hostility is but another chapter in a long history of mutual animosity is totally false. If there is one thing the past makes clear it is precisely that Arabs and Jews can live together peacefully and in a mutually beneficial relationship. History also makes it very clear that they are the heirs to the Islamic tradition of openness and tolerance."

The key to reestablishing good relations between Muslims and Jews again is justice, notes Siddiqui. This principle is foreign to neither Islam nor Judaism.

In Islam, standing up for justice, he points out, must be done even if it is against ourselves, our parents, our kin, the rich or the poor. This is clearly mentioned in the Quran (4:135).

Siddiqi points out that the emphasis on justice is also mentioned in Jewish scripture in the prophecies of Michael in chapter three: "Zion shall be redeemed with justice and by those who will come to her with righteousness."


Photo Attribution:


If you look back in the past, Jews and Muslims lived unitedly together!
Many Jewish rabbi had said, their lives among the Muslims flourished!
Many Jews were sheltered by Muslims against Hitler and His forces!
These are words coming straight from the rabbi!
Jews lived and flourished in Muslim and Arab Lands – Rabbi Yisroel *
Judaism & Islam similarities *


toronto, on

There is only one way to gain peace and that is to accept Israel within its biblical borders, all of it. You cannot be a Muslim and be against the Kingdom of Israel because if you are you are against the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), indeed you are against Allah.

So give us back our land, all of it and live in peace with us (your brothers and sister) beloved Ishmael so that we together can transform this world of darkness, fornication and ignorance into the Paradise YHWH created it to be.

"To Moses We [Allah] gave nine clear signs. Ask the Israelites how he [Moses] first appeared amongst them. Pharoah said to him: 'Moses, I can see that you are bewitched.' 'You know full well,' he [Moses] replied, 'that none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth has revealed these visible signs. Pharoah, you are doomed.'"

"Pharoah sought to scare them [the Israelites] out of the land [of Israel]: but We [Allah] drowned him [Pharoah] together with all who were with him. Then We [Allah] said to the Israelites: 'Dwell in this land [the Land of Israel]. When the promise of the hereafter [End of Days] comes to be fulfilled, We [Allah] shall assemble you [the Israelites] all together [in the Land of Israel]."

"We [Allah] have revealed the Qur'an with the truth, and with the truth it has come down. We have sent you [Mohammed] forth only to proclaim good news and to give warning."


The Quran is talking about the children of Israel who followed moses. So it is not talking about every person living israel, just the ones in history who helped moses spread the message.

@Lynn: there are about 5000 moroccans jewish left in morocco most of them in the economic capital casablanca and about 1.5million in the world (France,canada and Israel). I am sure you are aware that many of them left in the sixties for populating israel as wanted by some international jewish organizations (dare I say Zionist organization) ... The remaining spread between Canada, US , France etc... those who stayed and refused to live were soon or later caught by the economical difficulties of the newly independent country . So did their sons & daughter: The lack of employment opportunities, the fact that french has been innoculated to them by the colonial power and before by the alliance israelite reduced their possibilities to get a job led to an economic immigration started which has been carried on by people from both faiths; Those who studied abroad stayed abroad , those who were struggling went out of the country. Today, the community is small compared to what it was and count mainly old people,

Hope this helps to answer your question. you may want to check Rick Gold website which gives a quite fair overview of morroco's judaism side if you are interested in moroccan judaism. (although some of his points should be clarified and interpreted in the historical environment of the country)



Just came back from Morocco. The reason there are not many Jews left in Morocco is that the state of Israel actively encourages Jews to move to Israel while it bombs and harasses its Palestinians.



"In an interview with Sound Vision, Siddiqi gave numerous examples of Jews flourishing under Muslim rule in places like Spain, Morocco, North African in general and various parts of the Middle East."If this is so true; Why then, you must ask, are there no Jews and few Christians left in Morocco today?I do appreciate that this site allows free commenting from both sides.


Great article, thank you so much for this. I'd also suggest reading Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal for more details on this topic.



Oh please. Readers, do not be mislead by this incorrect drivel. Sound Vision is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and wants everyone to believe Islam is all good and no bad. However, the great Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides wrote, "Inasmuch as the Muslims could not find a single proof in the entire Bible nor a reference or possible allusion to their prophet which they could utilize, they were compelled to accuse us saying, “You have altered the text of the Torah, and expunged every trace of the name of Mohammed therefrom.” They could find nothing stronger than this ignominious argument."Maimonides himself fled the oppression of Muslims in Spain. And he warned his fellow Jews that ignoring this horrible treatment was very dangerous. So, dear readers, it remains! Maimonides:"Remember, my co-religionists, that on account of the vast number of our sins, God has hurled us in the midst of this people, the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us, as Scripture has forewarned us, ‘Our enemies themselves shall judge us’ (Deuteronomy 32:31). Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase and hate us as much as they …. Although we were dishonored by them beyond human endurance, and had to put with their fabrications, yet we behaved like him who is depicted by the inspired writer, “But I am as a deaf man, I hear not, and I am as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.” (Psalms 38:14). Similarly our sages instructed us to bear the prevarications and preposterousness of Ishmael in silence. They found a cryptic allusion for this attitude in the names of his sons “Mishma, Dumah, and Massa” (Genesis 25:14), which was interpreted to mean, “Listen, be silent, and endure.” (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, ad locum). We have acquiesced, both old and young, to inure ourselves to humiliation, as Isaiah instructed us “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair.” (50:6). All this notwithstanding, we do not escape this continued maltreatment which well nigh crushes us. No matter how much we suffer and elect to remain at peace with them, they stir up strife and sedition, as David predicted, “I am all peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” (Psalms 120:7). If, therefore, we start trouble and claim power from them absurdly and preposterously we certainly give ourselves up to destruction.”


Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhist, atheist.. i mean honestly does it really matter what and how the other person prays or think.. i mean i do understand that democracy is an ideology and we as human beings try our best to get as close as possible to this perfect world. but what is it going to take or add to you as a person or as wealth if your neighbor thinks or prays in a different way or if he doesn't pray or think at all .. i mean honestly what is happening is ridiculous. i agree that people need to acknowledge that there is a difference between religion and fanatic parties. i mean im muslim i have christian friends and muslim friends and i really wish i had jews friends diversity is nice people should try that.. i mean what i dont understand is when for example 1 Muslims fighting against 1 christian lol and u see a bunch of muslims defending that muslim and a bunch of christian defending that christian without even knowing whats going on. like come on.. and what happening with the propaganda world wide against islam i do take it as an offense because i as many others like me are not narrow minded.. someone had commented that islam and jews are the only 2 religion that have only one God. dude thats not something to say i mean lol its not up to you to judge or to comment on stuff like that.. and u need to relate to everyone coz we are all humans we all have red blood and we all eventually will die.. we all laugh smile cry and have emotions.. Islam teaches us ethics and ethics are not dont drink dont sin dont kill .. ethics are to have a wide heart and to understand and preach in a peaceful way .. people will want to be like you if you show ethics, honesty, understanding, knowledge, respect no matter what religion u follow... and its about setting a good example and about disciplining yourself to good ethics and behavior.. there is good Muslims and bad Muslims good Christians and bad Christians good Jews and bad Jews, good atheist and bad atheists good Buddhist and bad ones . this one relates to upraising and education at home and school and not religion. and when considering fanatic Muslims, Christians, Jews , or any other religion or belief .. fanaticism is fanaticism and once you reach that point you are no longer following any religion. there is a HUGE difference between religious people who are more committed to religion than others from the same faith and between fanatics.point is its only when us as humans will be able to relate to others from the humanitarian perspective and doing it honestly not for the image or popularity. i mean im not an idiot i dont want to go in politics right now but i mean i have a brain i think i know whats right and whats wrong and i know when my leaders or other leaders are giving me the "bull speech" .. one last thing to add. the propaganda against Islam is allowed by Muslims themselves no one else to blame. unfortunately because of the corruption. corruption is everywhere but its what you do to minimize it and its damage and the rules and regulations that doesn't differentiate between one person and another just because he X or Y or Z.. that's what differs the developing countries from the developed ones. one last thought is that the struggle is a power struggle there is a correlation between power, money and religion mix all 3 and u have a recipe for a disaster.



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