Understanding Hamas’s Mainstream Koranic Jew-Hatred

The Bahr essentials of Koranic Jew-hatred

The invaluable MEMRI has excerpted and translated some very illuminating remarks from a Friday sermon delivered by Ahmad Bahr, deputy speaker of the Hamas parliament, and broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV, September 23, 2011.

Most importantly, as the Hamas “Parliamentarian” himself reminds us, appositely, his citation of a defining Koranic depiction of  the Jews, verse 7:167, must be viewed in its appropriate Islamic context, i.e., the mainstream exegesis (formal interpretation) of Koran 7:167 by seminal Koranic commentators, both classical and contemporary.

Ahmad Bahr also couples Koran 7:167 to the Koranic depiction of the Jews as apes and pigs (Koran 5:60). Dating back to the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s 7th century invocation of the Koran 5:60 “metaphor,” prior to besieging and slaughtering the Median Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza, this “sacralized,” debasing imagery has been used to incite murderous Muslim attacks on Jews (see here, pp. 54-56)  since the advent of Islam, from pogroms against defenseless, ghettoized Jewish “dhimmis,” to full-scale military campaigns against the modern Jewish State of Israel.

Ahmad Bahr [quoting Koran 7:167]: “Allah said: ‘Your Lord said that he would send against them, until the Day of Judgment, those who would afflict them with cruel torment. The Lord is quick in retribution, but he is also Most Forgiving and Most Merciful.’ Allah Akbar!” [The Arberry translation of this verse, 7:167, reads as: “And when Thy Lord proclaimed He would send forth against them, unto the Day of Resurrection, those who should visit them with evil chastisement. Surely thy Lord is swift in retribution; surely He is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.]…The commentators said with regard to this blessed verse that Allah would impose the nation of Muhammad upon the Jews until the Day of Judgment, when they would be defeated and Allah would transform them, just as He transformed them [into apes and pigs; Koran 5:60] when they disobeyed Him…That is why Allah imposed the nation of Muhammad, and the jihad-waging Palestinian people, upon those siblings of apes and pigs, until we sweep them out of our land and our holy places.” […]

Delusive nostrums aside, what is critical to comprehend is that Ahmad Bahr’s understanding of these Koranic portrayals of the Jews is not some “radical,” let alone deliberately deceitful and inflammatory interpretation. His gloss on 7:167 is in fact entirely consistent with its mainstream, authoritative Islamic exegesis, past and present.

Al-Suyuti (1445-1505) was born in Cairo, where his father taught Shaf’i law (one of the four major schools of Sunni Islamic Law), and acted as a substitute kadi. He is recognized as the most prolific author in the realm of Islamic literature. A brilliant multidisciplinary scholar, Al-Suyuti was a learned jurist, historian, and biographer. Among his many scholarly contributions are about twenty works of Koranic studies, including seminal Koranic commentaries (Tafsir). Tafsir al-Jalalayn, meaning “The Commentary of the Two Jalals,” is named after its two authors, Al-Suyuti, and his mentor Jalalu’d-Din al-Mahalli (1389-1459), who wrote the initial half of this classic work. Al-Suyuti completed Tafsir al-Jalalayn following al-Mahalli’s death. These apt comments heralded the appearance of a 1378 pp. English translation of Tafsir al-Jalalayn in 2007 by an accomplished contemporary Arabic to English translator:

The publication of this book is a landmark in the history of Islamic literature in English. With this work, for the first time, a complete translation of one of the great classical commentaries on the Holy Qur’an becomes available to English-speaking readers. For half a millennium Tafsir al-Jalalayn has been considered the essential first step in the study of the meanings of the Qur’an by teachers and students throughout the Islamic world Although it is among the shortest and simplest .of the ‘complete commentaries, it is at the same time both wide-ranging and profound. This translation gives non-Arabic speakers access to one of the seminal works of classical tafsir literature. It is hoped that it will prove a valuable aid to the correct understanding of the Qur’anic Revelation throughout the English-speaking world. Aisha Abdurrahman at Tarjumana Bewley is one today’s most prolific translators of classical Arabic work into English. Aisha Bewley not only understands Arabic but she is also aware of the basic meanings and nature of teachings and history of Islam. Her knowledge is born of experience and direct transmission, not merely academic theory and learning by rote. For more than twenty-five years she has been concerned with making the contents of many classical works in Arabic more Accessible to English-speaking readers for the first time…

The gloss on Koran 7:167 from Tafsir Al-Jalalyan states:

Then your Lord announced and informed them that He would send against them—the Jews—until the Day of Rising people who would inflict an evil punishment on them. People would abase them and take jizya from them. At first they paid it to the Magians [Zoroastrians, likely] and when our Prophet [Muhammad], may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was sent, he imposed it on them.

A graduate of the Darul Ulum Deoband, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi (1898-1976) taught for twenty-seven years until 1943. During this period, approximately thirty thousand students from all over the world experienced his discourses. He also managed the Darul Ifta department of Darul Ulum Deoband, where juristic questions from across the world were discussed, and served as the Grand Mufti of India prior to the Partition of India. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Mufti Muhammad Shafi moved to Karachi, where he established Darul Ulum Karachi in 1950. After only a few months, it had more than two thousand students. His two sons, Mufti Muhammad Rafi Uthmani and Justice (R) Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmani currently teach at the institute. Mufti Muhammad Shafi  is the author of “Ma’ariful Qur’an [Koran]”—a work begun the mid-1950s, and completed in 1974—which is the best-known work of tafsir (Koranic commentary) in Urdu. He also wrote more than three hundred books. In addition to his literary works, Mufti Muhammad Shafi   broadcasted tafsir of the Koran on Radio Pakistan for a number of years.

Mufti Muhammad Shafi’s authoritative modern gloss on Koran 7:167—which antedates the creation of Hamas (i.e., as per its 1988 “covenant” of jihad and Jew-hatred) by some two decades—appropriately updates the context of this verse and its intrinsic, timeless Jew-hatred, to Muslim eschatology, and the jihad waged for Israel’s destruction.

…Allah will keep sending up to the Day of Doom, some individuals or groups of people who will punish and bring disgrace to them [the Jews] In fact, this is what has been happening to them up to this day. They had been dominated and disdainfully treated by others as has been recorded by history…History has recorded that they have been continually persecuted by one people nor another right from the time of the Prophet Sulayman (Solomon) to the present age. Their imprisonment by Nebuchadnezzar and persecution at the hands of subsequent kings, then their defeat and ignominious fate at the hands of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad] and his Caliph Umar al-Faruq are obvious example[s] of this fact…We may not be in doubt about their present government in Palestine, as it is a common knowledge that the state of Israel is, in fact, a part of the world powers, created by them for their political objectives against the Muslim Ummah. They are still ruled over and dominated by others. It is in fact a military base of America. The day these powers stop providing them with their aid they shall not be able to maintain their existence for long…Their present state in Palestine should not cause any doubt as they have come together in a place the last stage according to the prophecies made by the Holy Prophet. He informed us in authentic traditions that Prophet Isa [the Muslim Jesus] shall come down to the earth from heavens before the end of the world, and all the Christians shall embrace Islam. He [Isa] shall fight a war against the Jews and put them to death. The culprits of Allah are not summoned through police, or other agencies; they are driven to their place of death by the causes created by the will of Allah. The Prophet Isa is to descend from heavens in the land of Syria. He shall fight war with the Jews. The Prophet Isa has been saved the trouble of seeking the Jews in different parts of the world by causing them to gather in Palestine. As to their present political power and sovereignty in the State of Israel, it is a delusion which beguiles only those who are not conversant with world politics. The so-called State of Israel is , in fact, a common camp ground of the big powers like America, Russia, and England. It depends upon the aid of its masters for its existence. It has to serve the aims and objectives of its Masters. They [the Jews] are still living in real servitude, and aare deprived of their free rule in [the] true sense of the word. The Holy Quran has informed us of their disgrace and distress up to the end of time in these words: [Shafi then Quotes Koran 7:167]…



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