Former New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind recently (this past May, 2019) gushed that peripatetic Australian Shiite Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, was “a great friend of the Jewish people.” Adding a testament to Tawhidi’s alleged singular veracity, Hikind further declared the good Imam had “taken it upon himself to tell the truth.”
Notwithstanding such praise, Tawhidi’s appearance at an interfaith seminar last Thursday, October 17th in Manhattan, revealed the good Imam’s complete denial of the truth about both the clear doctrinal basis, and accompanying half-millennium ad nauseum historical manifestations of Shiite Islam’s virulent Antisemitism. Tawhidi’s response to a very specific query, prefaced by irrefragable, easy to understand historical details (see embedded video, and transcript, below), was a toxic amalgam of brazen takiya (“sacralized” Islamic dissimulation), and non-sequitur, bizarre gibberish.
Event moderator Rabbi Elie Abadie read Tawhidi a 1950 quote by Walter Fischel (d. 1973), historian par excellence of Persian Jewry, describing the chronic, humiliating persecution of Iranian Jewry under Shiite theocratic rule during the Safavid, and subsequent Qajar dynasties (1501-~1724; 1795-1925, respectively), animated by Shiism’s “najis”(“impurity”)-inspired Jew-hatred. Rabbi Abadie then logically challenged Tawhidi’s public assertion that Iranian Shiite Antisemitism was non-existent in Iran until after the 1979 Khomeini putsch, by asking,
‘Isn’t it accurate to say that all that the Khomeini Revolution did was to restore those intolerant Shiite doctrines which were fleetingly eliminated during the Pahlavi period (a much more secular, Westernized era) from 1925-1979?’”
I said that before 1979 the Iranian community had no problem with the Jewish people. And what I meant was that before the Ayatollahs took over the government, the Shia Muslims in general—and we could even extend this to Iraq—the Shia Muslims in general—don’t have a problem with the Jewish people… Before 1979, the Jews and Muslims in Iran lived in peace… And when I say the Shia were good with the Jews, you can always compare. The Jewish community in Iran has been thriving for a very long time.
Not once did Tawhidi address the core issues of Shiism’s najis doctrine, and intimately related canonical Islamic Jew-hatred (which Shiism has in common, identically, with Sunni Islam, adding its own unique hateful motifs). Nor did he acknowledge what this odious Shiite doctrine engendered: the 500-year ongoing continuum of persecution of Iranian Jews, including pogroms that rendered areas of Iran with former Jewish populations, Judenrein. Tawhidi, instead, belched forth inanities about “Safavid drunken thugs,” and their heirs, today, “the crazy tyrants in Teheran,” also called “Safavids,” by (Sunni) “Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and the UAE (United Arab Emirates).”
What follows (beneath the embedded video), is a brief, evidence-based rebuttal of Tawhidi’s dishonest, Kafkaesque misrepresentations. All of this discussion, with annotations derives from my book, “Iran’s Final Solution For Israel—The Legacy of Jihad and Shi-ite Islamic Jew-Hatred in Iran.”
(See also a transcript of the video exchange, at the bottom of this blog)
At the outset of the 16th century, Iran’s Safavid rulers formally established Shiite Islam as the state religion, while permitting a clerical hierarchy nearly unlimited control and influence over all aspects of public life. The profound influence of the Shiite clerical elite, continued for almost four centuries, although interrupted, between 1722-1795 (during a period precipitated by Sunni Afghan invasion, starting in 1719, and the subsequent attempt to re-cast Twelver Shiism as simply another Sunni school of Islamic Law, under Nadir Shah), through the later Qajar period (1795-1925), as characterized by the Persianophile scholar, E.G. Browne:
The Mujtahids [an eminent, very learned Muslim jurist/scholar who is qualified to interpret the law] and Mulla [a scholar, not of Mujtahid stature] are a great force in Persia and concern themselves with every department of human activity from the minutest detail of personal purification to the largest issues of politics.
These Shiiite clerics emphasized the notion of the ritual uncleanliness (najis) of Jews, in particular, but also Christians, Zoroastrians, and others, as the cornerstone of inter-confessional relationships toward non-Muslims. Restrictive codes for Jews, influenced by the conception of najis, were developed by the powerful Shiite clerical leadership, and regularly applied during both the Safavid and Qajar periods, the latter extending into the modern era (i.e., 1925). Their application across a span of four centuries was confirmed, independently by multiple foreign travelers during the 16th to 18th century Safavid dynasty, the subsequent the observations of the mid-19th century traveler Benjamin (in Table 1), and a listing of the 1892 Hamadan edict conditions in (Table 2).
Table 1. Listing by Israel Joseph Benjamin (1818-1864) of the “Oppressions” Suffered by Persian Jews, During the Mid-19th Century
- Throughout Persia the Jews are obliged to live in a part of town separated from the other inhabitants; for they are considered as unclean creatures, who bring contamination with their intercourse and presence.
- They have no right to carry on trade in stuff goods.
- Even in the streets of their own quarter of the town they are not allowed to keep open any shop. They may only sell there spices and drugs, or carry on the trade of a jeweler, in which they have attained great perfection.
- Under the pretext of their being unclean, they are treated with the greatest severity, and should they enter a street, inhabited by Mussulmans, they are pelted by the boys and mob with stones and dirt.
- For the same reason they are forbidden to go out when it rains; for it is said the rain would wash dirt off them, which would sully the feet of the Mussulmans.
- If a Jew is recognized as such in the streets, he is subjected to the greatest of insults. The passers-by spit in his face, and sometimes beat him so unmercifully and is obliged to be carried home.
- If a Persian kills a Jew, and the family of the deceased can bring forward two Mussulmans as witnesses to the fact, the murderer is punished by a fine of 12 tumauns (600 piastres); but if two such witnesses cannot be produced, the crime remains unpunished, even thought it has been publicly committed, and is well known.
- The flesh of the animals slaughtered according to Hebrew custom, but as Trefe declared, must not be sold to any Mussulmans. The slaughterers are compelled to bury the meat, for even the Christians do not venture to buy it, fearing the mockery and insult of the Persians.
- If a Jew enters a shop to buy anything, he is forbidden to inspect the goods, but must stand at respectful distance and ask the price. Should his hand incautiously touch the goods, he must take them at any price the seller chooses for them.
- Sometimes the Persians intrude into the dwellings of the Jews and take possession of whatever pleases them. Should the owner make the least opposition in defense of his property, he incurs the danger of atoning for it with his life.
- Upon the least dispute between a Jew and a Persian, the former is immediately dragged before the Achund [Muslim cleric] and, if the complainant can bring forward two witnesses, the Jew is condemned to pay a heavy fine. If he is too poor to pay this penalty in money, he must pay it in his person. He is stripped to the waist, bound to a stake, and receives forty blows with a stick. Should the sufferer utter the least cry of pain during this proceeding, the blows already given are not counted, and the punishment is begun afresh.
- In the same manner, the Jewish children, when they get into a quarrel with those of the Mussulmans, are immediately lead before the Achund [Muslim cleric], and punished with blows.
- A Jew who travels in Persia is taxed in every inn and every caravanserai he enters. If he hesitates to satisfy any demands that may happen to be made on him, they fall upon him, and maltreat him until he yields to their terms.
- If, as already mentioned, a Jew shows himself in the street during the three days of Katel (Ashura; feast of the mourning for the death of the Persian founder of the religion of Ali) he is sure to be murdered.
- Daily and hourly new suspicions are raised against the Jews, in order to obtain excuses for fresh extortion; the desire of gain is always the chief incitement to fanaticism.
Table 2. Conditions Imposed Upon the Jews of Hamadan, 1892
- The Jews are forbidden to leave their houses when it rains or snows [to prevent the impurity of the Jews being transmitted to the Shiite Muslims]
- Jewish women are obliged to expose their faces in public [like prostitutes].
- They must cover themselves with a two colored izar (an izar is a big piece of amterial with which eastern women are obliged to cover themselves when leaving their houses].
- The men must not wear fine clothes, the only material being permitted them being a blue cotton fabric.
- They are forbidden to wear matching shoes.
- Every Jew is obliged to wear a piece of red cloth on his chest.
- A Jew must never overtake a Muslim on a public street.
- He is forbidden to talk loudly to a Muslim.
- A Jewish creditor of a Muslim must claim his debt in a quavering and respectful manner.
- If a Muslim insults a Jew, the latter must drop his head and remain silent.
- A Jew who buys meat must wrap and conceal it carefully from Muslims.
- It is forbidden to build fine edifices.
- It is forbidden for him to have a house higher than that of his Muslim neighbor.
- Neither must he use plaster for whitewashing.
- The entrance of his house must be low.
- The Jew cannot put on his coat; he must be satisfied to carry it rolled under his arm.
- It is forbidden for him to cut his beard, or even to trim it slightly with scissors.
- It is forbidden for Jews to leave the town or enjoy the fresh air of the countryside.
- It is forbidden for Jewish doctors to ride on horseback [this right was generally forbidden to all non-Muslims, except doctors].
- A Jew suspected of drinking spirits must not appear in the street; if he does he should be put to death immediately.
- Weddings must be celebrated in the greatest secrecy.
- Jews must not consume good fruit.
A letter (dated October, 27, 1892) by S. Somekh of The Alliance Israelite Universelle, regarding the Hamadan edict, provides this context:
The latter [i.e., the Jews] have a choice between automatic acceptance, conversion to Islam, or their annihilation. Some who live from hand to mouth have consented to these humiliating and cruel conditions through fear, without offering resistance; thirty of the most prominent members of the community were surprised in the telegraph office, where they had gone to telegraph their grievances to Teheran. They were compelled to embrace the Muslim faith to escape from certain death. But the majority is in hiding and does not dare to venture into the streets…
Mohammad Baqer Majlisi (d. 1699), the highest institutionalized clerical officer under both Shah Sulayman (1666-1694) and Shah Husayn (1694-1722), is recognized as the most influential cleric of the Safavid Shiite theocracy in Persia. Majlisi was also the late 17th century political equivalent of Ayatollah Khomeini.
By design, Majlisi wrote many works in Persian to disseminate key aspects of the Shiite ethos among ordinary persons. In his magnum opus Bihar al-anwar (“Oceans of Light”), Majlisi clarified the two aspects of the non-Muslim’s ostensible “impurity.” The first concerns “spiritual impurity” (najasa ma’nawiyya) caused by “their essential nastiness, and the corruption of their beliefs” (khubth batinihim wa-su’i it’tiqadihim). The second aspect flows logically from the first: the concrete, physical impurity, frequently called “juridical impurity” (najasa shar’iyya [Sharia]), that is, an impurity defined by legal prescriptions. Majlisi’s treatise, “Lightning Bolts Against the Jews”, was written in Persian, and despite its title, was actually an overall guideline to anti-dhimmi regulations for all non-Muslims within the Shiite theocracy. Al-Majlisi, in this treatise, describes the standard humiliating requisites for non-Muslims living under the Sharia, first and foremost, the blood ransom jizya poll-tax, based on Koran 9:29. He then enumerates six other restrictions relating to worship, housing, dress, transportation, and weapons (specifically, i.e., to render the dhimmis defenseless), before outlining the unique Shiite impurity or “najis” regulations, as per their “juridical impurity.” It is these latter najis prohibitions which lead Anthropology Professor Laurence Loeb (who studied and lived within the Jewish community of Southern Iran in the early 1970s) to observe, “Fear of pollution by Jews led to great excesses and peculiar behavior by Muslims.”
According to al-Majlisi,
And, that they should not enter the pool while a Muslim is bathing at the public baths…It is also incumbent upon Muslims that they should not accept from them victuals with which they had come into contact, such as distillates , which cannot be purified. If something can be purified, such as clothes, if they are dry, they can be accepted, they are clean. But if they [the dhimmis] had come into contact with those cloths in moisture they should be rinsed with water after being obtained. As for hide, or that which has been made of hide such as shoes and boots, and meat, whose religious cleanliness and lawfulness are conditional on the animal’s being slaughtered [according to the Sharia], these may not be taken from them. Similarly, liquids that have been preserved in skins, such as oils, grape syrup, [fruit] juices, myrobalan [an astringent fruit extract used in tanning], and the like, if they have been put in skin containers or water skins, these should [also] not be accepted from them…It would also be better if the ruler of the Muslims would establish that all infidels could not move out of their homes on days when it rains or snows because they would make Muslims impure. [emphasis added]
Daniel Tsadik’s 2007 study of Iranian Jewry during the 19th, through early 20th centuries, cites important Shiite treatises—Sayyid Muhammad Ali Khurasani Tabai’s 1876 Najasat-i Ayniyah-yi-Kuffar (“The Real Impurity of the Infidels”), and Sheikh Muhammad Shariatmadar-Astrabadi’s Najasat-i Ahl-i-Kitab (“The Impurity of the People of the Book”), published in 1908—as re-affirming that infidel Jews and Christians were najis. These publications validate Tsadik’s observation that, “the nineteenth [and early twentieth] century’s most prominent jurists usually declared non-Muslims, specifically Jews, to be impure.”
The enduring, applied nature of the fanatical najis regulation prohibiting dhimmis from being outdoors during rain and/or snow, is well established. For examples, see (Table 1, above) item 5 of Benjamin’s list of “oppressions”, and item 1 of Hamadan’s 1892 (Table 2, above) anti-Jewish regulations, as well as this account provided by the missionary Napier Malcolm who lived in the Yezd area at the close of the 19th century:
They [the strict Shi’as] make a distinction between wet and dry; only a few years ago it was dangerous for an Armenian Christian to leave his suburb and go into the bazaars in Isfahan on a wet [rainy] day. “A wet dog is worse than a dry dog.”
Moreover, the late Persian Jewish scholar Sarah (Sorour) Soroudi related this family anecdote:
In his youth, early in the 20th century, my late father was eyewitness to the implementation of this regulation. A group of elder Jewish leaders in Kashan had to approach the head clergy of the town (a Shi’i community from early Islamic times, long before the Safavids, and known for its religious fervor) to discuss a matter of great urgency to the community. It was a rainy day and they had to send a Muslim messenger to ask for special permission to leave the ghetto. Permission granted, they reached the house of the clergy but, because of the rain, they were not allowed to stand even in the hallway. They remained outside, drenched, and talked to the mullah who stood inside next to the window. As late as 1923, the Jews of Iran counted this regulation as one of the anti-Jewish restrictions still practiced in the country.
And this disconcerting 20th century anecdote from an informant living in Shiraz, was recounted by Laurence Loeb:
When I was a boy, I went with my father to the house of a non- Jew on business. When we were on our way, it started to rain. We stopped near a man who had apparently fallen and was bleeding. As we started to help him, a Muslim akhond (theologian) stopped and asked me who I was and what I was doing. Upon discovering that I was a Jew, he reached for a stick to hit me for defiling him by being near him in the rain. My father ran to him and begged the akhond [Shiite Muslim cleric] to hit him instead.
Meir Bar-Asher’s 2013 analysis on Shiite doctrine regarding Judaism and Jews underscores the extensive overlap between Sunni and Shiite conceptions. Bar-Asher notes,
Given that both Sunni and Shiite Islam are based largely on the same religious sources, we can expect to see similarities between them with regards to the focus of their theological and juridical attitude to Jews and their religion.
He adds indeed, “the two great branches of Islam share many common points in their attitude toward Judaism,” that includes, “notably,” pejorative “aspects of Jews and their religion,” which “holds true for the past as well as for recent periods.” Bar-Asher summarizes, “the main negative aspects, the reasons for Allah’s disappointment with the Jews according to the Koran and the Hadith,”— understandings shared between Sunnis and Shiites—as follows:
…the Jews falsified their Scripture, deviated from the monotheistic faith as shown, for example, by the worship of the golden calf, and attributed a son to Allah, as do the Christians, according to Koran 9 :30 “The Jews said, ‘Uzayr is the son of Allah,’ and the Christians said, ‘The messiah is the son of Allah…’ ”. Further, they are accused of assassinating the prophets and breaking the Alliance with Allah. These reasons, among others, lead to the Koranic assertion trusting Jews and Christians is forbidden and avoiding all alliances and contracts with them is an obligation.
An additional shared antisemitic motif described by the Bar-Asher, is Islam’s replacement theology pertaining to Judaism and Jews.
The idea of the people of Israel as prototype of the Shiites is expressed in exegetic traditions attributed to the imams Muhammad al-Baqir and Ja’far al-Sadiq. In their commentaries on Koranic verse 2:47/(2:40): “O sons of Israel! Remember the bounties I bestowed upon you! I preferred you over all others,” the first Imamite Koranic commentaries attributed to the Imam al- Sadiq the idea that…the true chosen people referred to is none other than the family of the Prophet Muhammad, that is, the Shiite Imams…Another illustration of this identification of the family of Muhammad, that is, the Shiites, with the people of Israel is found in the same work [i.e., al-Majlisi’s Bihar al-anwar], The Prophet is said to have declared, “I am ‘Abd Allah and my name is Ahmad, and I am also the son of ‘Abd Allah and my name is Israel. All that Allah ordained for Israel, he also ordained for me and wherever there is reference to Israel he also referred to me.” The implication of this identification of Muhammad with Israel/ Jacob is that the Prophet and his descendants are seen to be the continuation of the Israelites of the Bible.
Noting what he characterizes as the “the majority trend that emerges from Koranic exegeses, the literature of the Hadith, and juridical writings” amongst the Shiite theologians and jurists, Bar-Asher ascribes to them “a certain zeal in the rejection of Jews and Christians.” Bar-Asher concludes there is a greater severity in the Shiite position on the impurity (“najis’) of Jews and Christians (and I must add, Zoroastrians).
According to these sources, Jews and Christians should be considered as infidels and consequently as impure. Shiites, as Sunnis in fact, justify this position by broadening the meaning of the term shirk (associationism, polytheism, idolatry). Nonetheless, the Shiite position on this question seems much harsher.
Predictably, and far worse, as opposed to merely unpleasant, “odd behaviors” by individual Muslims towards Jews, the dehumanizing character of popularized “impurity” regulations, when combined with Shiite Islam’s theological Jew-hatred, appears to have fomented recurring Muslim anti-Jewish violence, including pogroms and forced conversions, throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, into the early 20th century.
Pahlavi rule (1925-1979) introduced Western-leaning secularizing trends that largely eliminated the pre-existing four centuries of Safavid-Qajar Iranian Shiite theocratic norms. When the relatively brief Pahlavi period collapsed, and was toppled by the retrograde Khomeini “revolution,” Iran returned to its pre-1925 Shiite theocratic status, punctuated by a revitalization of Shiism’s najis-inspired Jew-hatred.
Two profoundly influential Shiite clerics, Allameh Tabatabai (d. 1981), and Ayatollah Montazeri (d. 2009), epitomize how this mainstream Shiite revitalization extended well-beyond “Khomeinism”—and whatever “radical” features one wishes to attribute to it.
The mainstream Islamic Studies academy—both Western and Iranian—have designated Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai the leading modern Shiite religious scholar and philosopher, dubbing him a “theosopher.” Allameh [Allamah] Tabatabaei [Tabatabai] University, named in honor of this celebrated Shiite authority and “theosopher,” is the largest specialized state social sciences university in Iran and the Middle East, with 17000 students and 500 full-time faculty members. Affirming his continued lofty stature, and relevance, an Iranian national conference was held on May 3, 2012, in Qom, dedicated to “recognizing the interpretative methods and principles used by Allameh [Allamah] Tabatabaee [Tabatabai] in [his Koranic] exegesis.” Tabatabai’s al-Mizān fi tafsir al-Qurʾān “The measure of balance/justly held scales in the interpretation of the Quran,” a 21-volume Arabic opus, which is regarded as the most important contemporary Shiite Koranic commentary.
Lest there be any doubt about Tabatabai’s endorsement of the classical, authoritative Antisemitic Koranic exegeses, he announces the onset, at Koran 2:40–44, of his own shared “rebuking” of the Jews which continues for over 100 verses thereafter:
Now begins the rebuking of the Jews that continues for more than a hundred verses. Allah reminds them of the bounties bestowed, of the honors given; contrasting it with their ingratitude and disobedience; showing how at every juncture they paid the favors of Allah with disregard of their covenant, open rebellion against divine commands and even with polytheism. The series reminds them of twelve events of their history — … all of which shows how they were chosen to receive the especial favors of Allah. But their ingratitude runs parallel to it. They repeatedly broke the covenants made with Allah, committed capital sins, heinous crimes and shameful deeds; more despicable was their spiritual poverty and moral bankruptcy — in open defiance to their book and total disregard to reason. It was all because their hearts were hardened, their souls lost and their endeavors worthless.
The pagan tribes of Aws and Khazraj lived with the Jews of Medina, and they knew that the latter followed a divine religion and a revealed book. Thus it was not too much to expect them to believe in the latest in the series of divine religions and books. This was the basis of their hope that the Jews would accept the Apostle of Allah as the true prophet, and would strengthen the cause of religion, and actively participate in the propagation of truth. But no sooner did the Prophet migrate to Medina than the Jews showed their latent hostility. The hope was shattered and the expectation turned to disappointment. That is why Allah addresses the believers, saying: “Do you then hope that they would believe in you?” Concealment of truth and alteration of divine words was their deep-rooted life pattern. Why wonder if they go back on what they used to say before the advent of Islam?
Tabatabai also offers a traditionalist gloss on Koran 2:61, 2:88–2:93, and 3:112–3:116, which accuse the Jews of “prophet-killing,” “disbelief” in, and “disobedience” to, Allah, engendering His wrath, “hatching conspiracies” against Islam and the Muslim prophet Muhammad, and therefore, deserving permanent abasement, which was then “stamped” upon them.
[2:61] Their disobedience and perennial excesses caused them to reject the signs of Allah and kill the prophets… Needless to say that murder, and especially of the prophets, and rejection of the signs of Allah cannot be termed as mere disobedience. It should be the other way round. But if we take the disobedience to mean disclosing the secrets then it would be perfectly right to say that they killed the prophets, because they (disobeyed them and) did not keep their secrets and thus delivered them into the hands of their enemies who killed them.
[2:89-2:93] They knew that Muhammad was the awaited Prophet, because all the attributes and particulars mentioned in their books fitted on him perfectly. And yet they denied his truth… [T] hey returned doubly enraged. It may also mean that they invited double wrath of Allah upon themselves — the first because they disbelieved in Torah and the second because they disbelieved in the Quran. The verse says that they were partisans of the Prophet long before he was born; they prayed to Allah for victory by his name and his Book. When the Prophet was sent and the Quran was revealed, they very well recognized that he was the Prophet in whose name they used to pray for victory, and whose coming they awaited. But they were overwhelmed by envy and arrogance. No sooner did the Prophet begin his call then they denied his truth, and forgot all that they used to tell about the awaited prophet. It was not surprising as they had earlier disbelieved in Torah too. Thus they committed disbelief after disbelief, and invited the wrath of Allah upon themselves, not once but twice…“We believe in that which was revealed to us”. If this claim of yours is correct then why did you kill the prophets of Allah? And why did you disbelieve in Musa [Moses] by taking the calf for a god? And why did you say, “We hear and disobey”, when We took a promise from you and lifted the mountain over you?… “Evil is that which your belief bids you . . .”: It is a derisive expression ridiculing them for their killings of the prophets, their disbelief in Musa and their arrogance in committing sin after sin and then claiming that they were the true believers. The verse tauntingly asks them: Is this what your belief bids you?
[3:112-3:116] The verses, as you see, now revert to the original theme, describing the behavior of the People of the Book — and particularly the Jews —exposing their disbelief in the Divine Revelation, their going astray and their hindering the believers from the way of Allah… Abasement is stamped on them as a design is stamped on a coin, or it encompasses them as a tent encompasses a man. Anyhow, they are either branded with, or overwhelmed by abasement and humiliation — except when they get a protection or guarantee from Allah and a protection or guarantee from men… Abasement is stamped on them; it means that Allah has ordained a law affirming their abasement. This meaning is supported by the proviso ‘‘wherever they are found’’. Obviously, it means that wherever the believers find them and subjugate them; this proviso is obviously more appropriate to legislative abasement, one of whose effects is the payment of the jizya [i.e., the Koranic poll-tax for Jews, per Koran 9:29, whose payment was often accompanied by debasing rituals]. The meaning of the verse therefore is as follows: They are abased and humiliated, according to the law of Islamic Sharia…‘‘those who disbelieve’’ refers to the other groups of the People of the Book which did not respond to the call of the Prophet; those were the people who used to hatch conspiracies against Islam and had left no stone unturned in extinguishing the light of the truth. Obviously, it describes the Jews’ behavior with the Muslims.
Koran 5:64 is an overt, ancient Koranic warning of “Jewish conspiracism.” Tabatabai, adding a deliberate and transparent pejorative reference to the Jews of modern Israel, and their alleged promulgation of “ethnic supremacism,” glosses this verse as follows:
“whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out”: To kindle a fire is to inflame it, and to put it out is to extinguish it. The meaning is clear. There is another possibility that the clause: “whenever they kindle a fire,” explains the preceding clause: “and We put enmity and hatred . . .” Thus the meaning will be as follows: Whenever they kindled a fire of war against the Prophet and the believers, Allah puts it out by reviving their internal discords and differences. The context points to the divine decree that their endeavors in kindling the fire of war against the divine religion and against the Muslims (because of their belief in Allah and His signs) are bound to fail. However, it does not cover those wars, which the Jews might wage against the Muslims, not for religious motive, but because of politics, or because of ideas of racial or national superiority.
Tabatabai’s gloss on Koran 5:71 continues his rhetorical assault on the stubborn, vain, and ultimately (and deservedly!) self-destructive behaviors of the Jews, because of their inherent—“Jewishness”:
This blindness and deafness have been caused by their delusion that there would be no affliction; and apparently that delusion had emanated from their vanity and conceit that they had a special status before Allah because they were from the seed of Israel, and they were sons and beloveds of Allah. Therefore, no evil would fall to them no matter what they did and what they indulged in. The meaning of the verse then is as follows – and Allah knows better: They, because of their vanity that they enjoyed the prestige of Jewishness, thought that they would not be afflicted by any evil, and would not be put on trial no matter what they did; this thought and delusion blinded their eyes – so they cannot see the truth – and deafened their ears – so they cannot listen to their Prophets’ [i.e., Muhammad’s] call which would have benefited them. This interpretation favors what we have said earlier that these verses are a sort of proof of the verse: Surely those who believe and those who are Jews… It shows in short that names and titles are not to avail anyone anything. Look at these Jews who thought that they had a special prestige because they were Jews; yet this delusion did not do them any good, rather it made them blind and deaf and led them to perils of destruction and tribulation when they called the Prophets of Allah liars and murdered them.
It adversely alludes to the Jews who were cursed by their own prophets, and it was because they exceeded the limit, and continued in this transgression generation after generation. The words: “They used not to forbid . . . evil was that which they did,” explain that transgression.
Koran 5:82, arguably the central Koranic verse defining Islam’s eternal attitudes towards Jews and Judaism (as recently expounded by Sunni Islam’s reigning Papal equivalent, Al-Azhar University Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb), is glossed by Tabatabai, thusly:
[T]he Jews, although they had the same alternatives as the Christians, and they could retain their religion with payment of the jizyah [Koranic poll tax, per verse 9:29], yet they continued in their haughtiness, became harder in their bigotry, and turned to double dealing and deception. They broke their covenants, eagerly waited calamities to befall the Muslims and dealt to them the bitterest deal…[T]he enmity of the Jews…toward the divine religion [Islam] and their sustained arrogance and bigotry, have continued exactly in the same manner even after the Prophet… These unchanged characteristics…confirm what the Mighty Book [the Koran] had indicated.
Tabatabai’s exegesis on 9:29 merits particular consideration because this verse is not only the eternal jihad war directive against Jews (as well as Christians, and Zoroastrians), but the ultimate rationale for the discriminatory system of governance imposed upon the survivors of these creeds vanquished by fighting, or those groups of these “real infidels”—in his words—who submit without a fight. Objects of chastisement, the Muslims are to be incited against these reprobates, and violently subject them to an Islamic order, which features, prominently, enforced payment of the blood ransom, jizya.
So then the purpose for describing them as not forbidding what Allah and His messenger forbade, is to rebuke and defame them, and to arouse the believers and incite them towards battling them for not submitting to Allah’s and His prophet’s prohibitions in their religious practice, and for allowing themselves to fall into Divinely forbidden practices and violating [dishonoring, raping] what is sacrosanct… [The Muslims] should battle them [only] in order to bring them [Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians] under the dhimma [“pact” of submission] so that they will no [longer] openly practice any immorality and evil will be contained among them.
The concluding summary of Tabatabai’s gloss on Koran 9:29 re-emphasizes this overarching principle: Jews (and Christians, and Zoroastrians—“scriptuaries,” or “People of the Book”) must be fought, subdued, and humbled because they constitute a chronic danger to an Islamic, Sharia-based society, and its mores.
Regarding their characteristics that necessitate fighting them, as mentioned in the beginning of the verse, followed by them giving the jizya to uphold their protection [i.e., from renewal of the jihad war against them!], it informs [us] that the purpose of humiliating them is their submission to an Islamic lifestyle and to a righteous religious government within an Islamic society. They shall not be equal to Muslims nor stand out against with them as an independent identity, free to express anything their souls feel like, nor to publicize the doctrines and activities invented by their lunacies that corrupt human societies. This all relates to them handing over money from their hands out of a contemptible position. So the meaning of the verse (and Allah knows best) is: Fight the People of the Book who do not [truly] believe in Allah or in the Last Day, with a faith that is acceptable and uncorrupted from being proper, and who do not forbid what is forbidden in Islam namely those [crimes] that, when committed, corrupt human society, and who do not abide by a religion that conforms with the divine creation. Fight them and persist in fighting them until they are humbled among you, and submit to your rule.
Tabatabai’s modern Koranic Kampf re-affirms 500 years of Iranian Shiite Islam’s intense theo-political animus toward the Jews, conjoined to a broader jihad war for the submission of all non-Muslims under the Sharia. These views were openly espoused by the most iconic, authoritative figure of contemporary Shiism.
Finally, Ayatollah Montazeri, the (2009) “reformist Green Movement’s” purported ideological inspiration, despite political disagreements with Ayatollah Khomeini, shared Khomeini’s traditionalist views on juridical impurity, and provided an extensive litany of specific juridical illustrations, and guidelines. Montazeri also adamantly upheld the doctrine of “spiritual impurity.” Two native Iranian scholars, Sorour Soroudi and Eliz Sanasarian have analyzed Montazeri’s views on najis, Sanasarian noting:
Montazeri saw nejasat [najis] in twelve items including blood, dogs, pigs, wine, and kafirs [i.e., primarily, non-Muslims]…A kafir’s body, including hair, nails, and body fluids was to be avoided. The purchase, sale, or receiving of meat and fat from either non-Muslim countries or a kafir were forbidden.
Montazeri further argued that a non-Muslim’s (kafir’s) impurity was, “a political order from Islam and must be adhered to by the followers of Islam, and the goal [was] to promote general hatred toward those who are outside Muslim circles.” This “hatred” was to assure that Muslims would not succumb to corrupt, i.e., non-Islamic thoughts.
Imam Tawhidi’s disingenuous avoidance of all this doctrinal and historical evidence, substituting counterfactual affirmations, and weird “explanatory” allusions to drunkenness, stands as permanent attestation to his mendacity.
Transcript of the 10/17/19 question and answer exchange between Rabbi Elie Abadie and Imam Tawhidi:
[Elie Abadie] “So, Imam Tawhidi, Andrew Bostom, who is the author of The Legacy of Jihad, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, (and) Sharia Versus Freedom—he claims that you have said that there is no Shiite Islamic Antisemitism in Iran till 1979. If that’s the case and to the degree that Walter Fischer (sic, Fischel), who was a pre-eminent Jewish historian of Persian Jewry, in 1950, from his essay, ‘The Jews of Persia,’ writes that, ‘the Safavid dynasty introduced Shia Islam as the [Persian] state religion under the Shah Ismail, 1502 -1524 (his reign). They made the ritual uncleanliness, najis, in Arabic, of the non-believer as one of their principal cornerstone policies. This ritual uncleanliness of non-Muslims led to a number of restrictions upon the daily life of all non-believers (non-Muslims) in Persia. The Qajar rulers (the succeeding Shiite dysnasty, 1795-1925) from the late 18th century, till 1925, inherited this intolerant attitude towards the non-believers, and therefore the Jew, being ritually unclean, according to them, had to be differentiated from the the believer (Muslim) externally in every possible way. This became the most decisive factor in making the life of the Jews in the 19th century in Iran an uninterrupted sequence of persecution and oppression. Jews could not appear in public with their dress, much less perform their religious ceremonies, without being treated with scorn and contempt by the Muslim inhabitants of Persia, especially the Jews of Meshed—in their hidden life as (crypto-)Jews—that is very well known in the late 1800s (note: actually 1834-1848).’ So the question is, ‘Isn’t it accurate to say that all that the Khomeini Revolution did was to restore those intolerant Shiite doctrines which were fleetingly eliminated during the Pahlavi period (a much more secular, Westernized era) from 1925-1979?’”
[Tawhidi] “Thank you very much. He (Bostom) quoted me (Tawhidi) very accurately. But I think there was more to that statement than just what he stated. I said that before 1979 the Iranian community had no problem with the Jewish people. And what I meant was that before the Ayatollahs took over the government, the Shia Muslims in general—and we could even extend this to Iraq—the Shia Muslims in general—don’t have a problem with the Jewish people. My brother here (Ali Adi, and Israeli Arab Muslim) is a Sunni. I am not saying him (Adi), but the Sunni leaders call us Shia the Jews of Islam. So we Shia, we don’t really have any ambitions to establish governments, which is why the real authentic scholars in Islam do not recognize the Iranian regime. We (Note: Tawhidi is proclaiming himself an authoritative, “authentic” scholar) don’t believe that Muhammad had a government. And we’re against all of the caliphs and all of the caliphates. Which is why ISIS butchers us. The Shia Muslims have always been buseinessmen, farmers, people who lived their lives however they liked, day to day, and we don’t get involved in any of this. Before 1979, the Jews and Muslims in Iran lived in peace. The Safavi (Safavid) dynasty—yes, on paper they seem as though they had a manifesto, an ideology. They were drunken thugs. Nobody took them seriously. The Safavis themselves, they used to kill each other over power. And they were switching from Sunni to Shia, Shia to Sunni. They don’t even know what they want. And because of that today, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) they refer to the crazy tyrants in Teheran, they call them ‘Safavids,’ because they’re showing the same behavior as the Safavids did. This (the current Iranian regime) is not a stable dynasty. This is a dynasty of mullahs and the only reason why the majority of Shia are silent about their corruption, that is beacsue most of the Shia shrines, the holy sites in Meshed, in Qom, in Shia Islam in general, were renovated by the Safavis, and their names are on them in calligraphy. So if I were to say this man (presumably a Safavid ruler, etc.) is a drunken thug, then how can his name be engraved in the holy site in gol, in Meshed, or Qom? So this chapter of development within the Iranian, or Persia—the Persian region—is somewhat—we’re silent about that—because it shames us. But today no one takes it seriously. And when I say the Shia were good with the Jews, you can always compare. The Jewish community in Iran has been thriving for a very long time. Khomeini and his gang, they came, and they drove them out. They left a small minority, which the Rabbi mentioned, but they’re only there so that the Ayatollahs can say, ‘See we have Jews in Iran. We love them!.’”…