October 7th, 2023 and Authoritative Islam’s Modern Qur’anic Jihadism, and Jew-Hatred—Foremost contemporary Sunni and Shi’ite Qur’anic commentators on the jihad against the “morally bankrupt,” “evil” Jews

Beginning mere hours after the October 7, 2023 attacks, Sunni Islam’s Vatican equivalent Al-Azhar University—its Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb, leading ancillary clerics, and formal “Fatwa (religious edict) Committee”—sanctioned and celebrated Hamas’ jihad carnage, on Al-Azhar’s social media platforms. During October 7th itself, ignoring Hamas’ precipitating murderous atrocities, which were not mentioned at all, and well before the Israel Defense Forces’ counter-offensive in Gaza, Al-Azhar, with al-Tayyeb’s imprimatur, declared officially:

“Al-Azhar salutes with utmost pride the resistance efforts of the proud Palestinian people…Al-Azhar supports the hearts and hands of the proud Palestinian people who have imbued  us with spirit and faith and restored us to life, after we thought that would never happen, and prays that Allah grant them steadfastness, peace of mind and strength.”

Muhammad Omar Al-Qady, dean of the Faculty for Islamic and Arabic Studies at Al-Azhar University, addressed Hamas’ October 7th  attacks in posts on his personal Facebook account October 17 and 18, 2023.  He praised the Hamas attackers and longed for the liquidation of the Jews, whom he called “the descendants of apes and pigs (per Qur’an 5:60).”  Al-Qady’s October 17, 2023 post intoned:

“[When I say] resistance I mean the jihad fighters in Palestine, who defend their honor and land, those who fight against their enemy and ours, namely the Jews… I ask Allah to strengthen His soldiers and His camp and grant our brothers in Gaza, in Palestine and in the rest of the Muslim countries victory over their enemy and ours, the enemy of Allah and humanity, the cursed descendants of apes and pigs [i.e., the Jews].”

Referencing additional Qur’anic condemnations of Jews, Al-Qady wrote on October 18, 2023:

“Allah, bring perdition upon the cursed (Qur’an 5:78) and treacherous (Jews), the murderers of prophets (Qur’an 2:61, 3:112)…” 

Abbas Shuman, current inspector general of Al-Azhar’s Fatwa committees, at his Facebook account, October 7, 2023, expressed support for Hamas’ terror attack earlier that day, and on October 18, 2023 “rejoiced” over “the demise of the descendants of apes and pigs.”

October 18-19, 2023, Al-Azhar’s “Global Center for Online Fatwas” issued a formal religious ruling declaring that all Israelis, including non-combatants, were legitimate targets of jihad terror. Specifically, it claimed, “the term ‘civilians’ does not apply to the Zionist settlers of the occupied land.” This sentiment is entirely consistent with the Islamic legal logic of Al Azhar fatwas, or the resolutions of Al-Azhar Conference Proceedings, issued since immediately after the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, prior to the 1956 Sinai War, before the 1967 Six-Day War, and at The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, September, 1968. That “Islamic legal logic” has always been rooted in jihad, and sacralized Islamic Jew-hatred.

Each year, The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center (RISSC)—a pre-eminent avatar of interfaith dialogue, and mainstream, “moderate Islam,” issues its annual rankings of “The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims.” Current Al Azhar University Grand Imam Al-Tayyeb, was the number 1 ranked Muslim figure for 2017 in “The Muslim 500”. His “The Muslim 500” profile stated,

“Influence: Highest scholarly authority for the majority of Sunni Muslims, runs the foremost and largest Sunni Islamic university. School of Thought: Traditional Sunni”

Notwithstanding his 2017 lionization by the RISSC, as Egypt’s Grand Mufti, and since 2010, till now, Al Azhar Grand Imam, Al-Tayyeb has sanctioned homicide bombing murder of Israeli Jews, including non-combatants, and twice (here; here) publicly condemned Jews, eternally, while invoking Qur’an 5:82—a central Antisemitic verse—for causing “Muslim distress…since the inception of Islam 1400 years ago.”

Already by the mid-9th century, the renowned Muslim polymath of the Abbasid (Baghdad) Caliphate, al-Jahiz (d. 869), observed that Qur’an 5:82 (“You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews…”) was the “most potent” cause of Muslim animus toward Jews, which greatly exceeded their hatred of Christians.

Sadly, more than 1150 years later, this verse continues to shape contemporary Muslim attitudes towards Jews, as illustrated not only by Grand Imam al-Tayyeb. Consider the modern glosses on Qur’an 5:82 by, arguably, the two most important Qur’anic commentators of our era, Shiite exegete Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai (1904-1981), [here; here; here] and his Sunni counterpart, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (1928-2010). [here; here; here; here]

Allameh is an honorific title for great scholars of Islamic jurisprudence. The mainstream Islamic Studies academy—both Western and Iranian—has designated Allameh Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai the leading modern Shiite religious scholar and philosopher, dubbing him a “theosopher.” Tabatabai’s al-Mizān fi tafsir al-Qurʾān “The measure of balance/justly held scales in the interpretation of the Qur’an,” a 21-volume Arabic opus, is regarded as the most important contemporary Shiite Qur’anic commentary. [here; here] Allameh 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 17,000 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 Tabatabaee [Tabatabai] in [his Qur’anic] exegesis.”

Here is Tabatabai’s gloss on Qur’an 5:82—the central Qur’anic verse defining Islam’s eternal attitudes towards Jews and Judaism—from al-Mizan:

“…the Jews, they had their own scholars, no doubt; but they behaved proudly, and their arrogance and stubbornness did not let them be prepared for accepting the truth…Jews, although they had the same alternatives as the Christians, and they could retain their religion with payment of the jizyah [Qur’anic 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 Qur’an] had indicated.”

Tabatabai further provides this general description of the Qur’anic portrayal of the Jews, beginning at Qur’an 2:40 to 2:44, and continuing for over a hundred 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 for reason. It was all because their hearts were hardened, their souls lost and their endeavors worthless.”

The late Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University—Papal equivalent of Sunni Islam’s Vatican—Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (d. 2010), was one of the most revered modern authorities on Qur’anic exegesis having edited a magnum opus 15-volume modern Qur’anic commentary, and helped create the largest online website of such analyses. Tantawi gloss on Qur’an 5:82 from this authoritative work, comports with Tabatabai’s:

“The Almighty’s (Allah’s) words, ‘You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers to be the Jews”…is a statement that serves, in continuation, to reinforce other verses that preceded it, verses that documented the many despicable characteristics, and crooked and cunning ways of the Jews. The Almighty asserted—through linguistic devices—the content of the message entailed in the statement, and the addressee is the Prophet (Muhammad), and it can also be anyone who is entitled to preach to warn that their (the Jews) condition is no secret to anyone. Their enmity is rooted in envy, spite, stubbornness, and pride. Once these vices overcome the soul, it will not be able to find the way to the righteous path and the true religion (Islam)…The first object to His (Allah’s) saying ‘You will surely find,’ is ‘the most intense of the people.’ The second object is ‘the Jews.’ Al-Alusi  said that it is apparently the Jews in general that are meant here. That is to say, those who were in the presence of the Apostle (Muhammad) from the Jews of Medina, and others. This view is supported by the Apostle who said, ‘Whenever a Jew is alone with a Muslim, he (the Jew) will strive to kill him (the Muslim).’…It was said that one of the doctrines of the Jews is to cause harm to those who disagree with them in matters of religion by any means possible. Mentioning Jews before those who associate others with Allah is a declaration that they are more intense and far surpass the other group in their animosity (toward Muslims).”

Tantawi’s earlier Ph.D. thesis, published originally in 1968 as Banū Isrāʼīl fī al-Qurʼān wa-al-Sunnah” (“The Children of Israel (Jews) in the Qur’an and Traditions”), provided this summary gloss on the Qur’anic depiction of Jews, emphasizing its timeless relevance, and denouncing Jews who rejected Islam as “maleficent deniers,” even granting Muslims license to commit violence against them, to extirpate Jewish “evil”:

“(The) Qur’an describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah (2:61/ 3:112 ], corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places (4:46) , consuming the people’s wealth frivolously (4:161), refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do (3:1205:79), and other ugly characteristics  caused by their deep-rooted (lascivious) envy (2:109)…only a minority of the Jews keep their word…All Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims (3:113), the bad ones do not…[T]he Jews always remain maleficent deniers….they should desist from their negative denial…some Jews went way overboard in their denying hostility, so gentle persuasion can do no good with them, so use force with them and treat them in the way you see as effective in ridding them of their evil. One may go so far as to ban their religion, their persons, their wealth, and their villages.”

Some 30-years later, when he became Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Tantawi introduced the 1997 re-publication of his Ph.D. thesis by making plain his “updated” perspective was unchanged:

“We Muslims have been harmed a great deal by the Jews… It was the Jews who fought the Islamic call with every possible weapon. They were the ones who usurped- with the help of the countries of the infidels- part of our holy land- Palestine- and established a country for them there in 1948. Against this historical background, writers have written hundreds of books and articles and did a lot of research on the Jews and Palestine. However, most of what has been written concentrates on political, historical, economic, and military aspects. Religious aspects and perspectives are still in dire need of sound scientific writings that base their delineation of the Jews on the Book of Almighty Allah (the Qur’an) and the Sunna (sayings) of His Messenger…My main goal for choosing the topic of my dissertation “The Children of Israel in the Qur’an and the Traditions” is to reveal- to Moslem youth in particular and to the rational, reasonable, and fair-minded people in general the state of the Children of Israel, their history, ethics, lies, depravity, and immorality, relying on what has been mentioned about them in the Holy  Qur’an, the Sunna, and the correct and unequivocal historical facts.”

Islam conjoins such theological Jew-hatred—as expressed by Qur’an 5:82, its authoritative gloss, and myriad other Qur’anic verses, and related hateful motifs in the traditions of Islam’s prophet Muhammad, and their interpretations—with the animus of the perpetual jihad war against Jews (and Christians/ “scriptuaries”), to be waged (and renewed) until their complete submission to an Islamic, Sharia-based order. Qur’an 9:29 elucidates this eternal jihad mandate, succinctly:

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth (Islam) from those who were given the Scripture (Jews/other ‘scriptuaries’) – [fight] until they give the jizya (Qur’anic poll-tax, in lieu of being slain) willingly while they are humbled (such as the humiliating jizya collection ‘rituals’, blows, mock beheadings, etc.).”

 Again, we can turn to the pre-eminent modern Qur’anic exegetes, Tabatabai and Tantawi, for definitive instruction on how Muslims are to understand Qur’an 9:29, today. These glosses on Qur’an 9:29, extracted, below, reiterate an overarching principle, established across a millennium of uniform commentary on this verse: Jews (and other “scriptuaries,” or “People of the Book,” including Christians, and perhaps Zoroastrians) must be fought, subdued, and humbled because they constitute a chronic danger to an Islamic, Sharia-based society, and its mores. Tabatabai emphasizes the Jews’/scriptuaries’ corrupting “lunacies” in the corporeal world, while Tantawi’s gloss adds a comment on their “excruciatingly painful” punishment in the hereafter:

(Tabatabai) “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.”

(Tantawi) “The reasons for the order to fight them are: they do not believe in Allah and the Last Day, they do not prohibit what Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad] have prohibited, and they do not adopt the religion of truth (Islam)…The meaning is fight those who have these attributes from among the People of the Scripture until they pay the jizya willingly and submissively (while) they are humbled, humiliated and subservient to your rule over them…Taking the jizya from them…is also a way of contributing to the advancement and prosperity of the Islamic state…It is an acknowledgement on their behalf to submit to the instructions of this state…Those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day, those who do not prohibit what Allah and His Apostle [Muhammad] have prohibited, and who do not adopt the religion of truth (i.e., Islam) as their religion deserve this humiliation and ignominy in this world. As for the afterlife, their torture would be excruciatingly painful and everlasting.”

There is an ugly corollary to the incessant preaching of this authoritative, “sacralized” Qur’anic Jew-hating jihadism to Muslim populations, worldwide—the pandemic of disproportionate, extreme Muslim Jew-hatred evident in polling data for two decades, ongoing. Till now, this sickening Muslim phenomenon has gone entirely unacknowledged, let alone challenged by non-Muslim political and religious leaders, including Jews. Such utter lack of acknowledgment and response, especially on the part of Jewish leadership, reflects a moral turpitude equal to that of the Muslim purveyors of this hatred.


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