Extremists are misguided when quoting some of the Qur’an’s verses
Rabbi Allen S. Maller
Prophecy is the means whereby God offers guidance to human beings through human messengers. Just as God’s mercy takes precedence over his wrath and thereby determines the nature of wrath, so also God’s guidance takes precedence over his misguidance. Guidance itself demands the existence of misguidance. Without the misguidance embodied by Satan, the prophetic messages would not test believers.
Without distance, there can be no nearness; without wrong, no right; without darkness, no perception of light. All the distinctions that allow for a cosmos to exist depend upon the diversification and differentiation of the divine qualities. On the moral and spiritual level, this diversification becomes manifest through the paths of guidance and misguidance, represented by Prophets and people influenced by Satan.
An excellent example of misguidance by extremists is the frequent misuse of verses from the Qur’an that apply to some Christians and Jews, as if they applied to all Christians and Jews. For example, defining Christians and Jews as “the descendants of apes and pigs” is widespread today in religious, educational and public discourse in the Arab world. In a weekly sermon (April 2002) the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Al-Tantawi, one of the most senior authorities in the Sunni Muslim world, described Jews as “the enemies of Allah, sons of pigs and apes.”
In truth, the Qur’an never states all Jews were turned into apes or pigs; but clearly states that only some Jews were: “…They are those whom Allah has cast aside and on whom His wrath has fallen and of whom He has made some as apes and swine…” (5:60); “…You have surely known the end of those from amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath, in consequence of which We condemned them: Be ye like apes, despised” (2:65).
That in every generation there were some Jews who failed to live according to the covenant that God had made with B’nai Israel- the Jewish People is correct; just as in every generation some Muslims within the Muslim Umma have failed to live according to Islamic teachings. In every religious community of human beings there are many individuals who act like apes and pigs, and then fail to repent and amend their behavior. To them the Qur’an states: “When, instead of amending, they became more persistent in the pursuit of that which they were forbidden, We condemned them: Be ye as apes, despised” (7:166).
The Qur’an states specifically: “They are not all alike. Some of the People of the Book are firmly committed to the truth. They recite the Verses of Allah during the hours of night, and remain in the state of [prayer] prostration before their Lord.” (3:113 – Qadri) Again we see the explicit declaration that the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) are not all alike. Some “…are firmly committed to the truth. They recite the Verses of Allah during the hours of night, and remain in the state of [prayer] prostration before their Lord.” and some do not; just as some Muslims pray everyday and are committed to the truth, and some Muslims do not.
Those who imply that Christians and Jews in general are “the descendants of apes and pigs” are like satans spreading misguidance for political purposes. There teachings should be rejected.
Wherever there have been prophets, there have been satans. The Qur’an uses the word satans to refer to some jinn and also to some human beings. To be a satan is to be an enemy of the prophets and an embodiment of misguidance: “We have appointed to every prophet an enemy-satans from among mankind and jinn, revealing fancy words to each other as delusion. Yet, had thy Lord willed, they would never have done it. So leave them with what they are fabricating. (Quran 6:112)
Religious people can and do disagree, but when they distort the meaning of Holy Scriptures for political purposes; they should be called satans and their efforts should be rejected. This fact is expressed in the Qur’an as follows: “ Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians; any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:62)
Thus, although the covenant God made at Mount Sinai was with the whole community of Israel, this community like all other religious communities, has various parties. Some people among them had [good] hearts like rocks that spring forth streams, while others only yield water when split, and others sink for fear of Allah (2:74). It is this last segment of the Children of Israel that Prophet Muhammad refers to when he rebukes the Children of Israel.
The Qur’an correctly understood doesn’t attack all of Israel. Every community, including the Muslim umma, contains groups of faithful believers and a party who disbelieve. This has always been true and sadly will remain true until the end of time when Judgment Day will occur. The fact that there were only four rightly guided califs shows how quickly power tends to corrupt.
Prophet Muhammad himself knew that corruption, disbelief and evil would be coming after his death. Abu Said Al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “You will surely follow in the ways of those before you, span by span and cubit by cubit, so much so that if they were to enter an iguana’s hole, you would follow after them.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He replied, “Then, who else?” (Bukhari 3197 and Muslim 4822)
Of course, a person who belongs to a true monotheistic religion, and does not stand faithfully for his or her religion’s moral and religious demands, will not enjoy their religion’s benefits. As the Qur’an states: “If only they (all) had stood by the Torah, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is among them a party on the right course; but many of them follow a course that is evil.” (5:66)
The distinction between ‘some’ and ‘many’ Christians and Jews in general, and ‘all’; must always be clearly made. Those who fail to make it are behaving like satans perverting the words of God for political purposes.
Rabbi Maller’s web site is: www.rabbimaller.com