Anti-Semitism goes against the principles of Islam which encourage pluralism and diversity, while categorically forbidding any forms of injustice and oppression.

Anti-Semitism goes against Islam

Further reading

'In our inherent contradictions as humans, and in order to validate our own pain, we deny the pain of others. But it is in acknowledging the pain of others that we achieve fully our humanity'

Holocaust Denial Undermines Islam
By Hamza Yusuf

Anti-Semitism – a racial hatred of Jews – undermines the principles of Islam. The Quran celebrates the variety of peoples and cultures, encouraging humankind to recognise the diversity of creation. To act with hostility and intolerance towards our fellow man goes against the Quranic teaching. The Quran gives warning repeatedly through the example of Satan – who was the first to express racism and prejudice towards Adam, based on feelings of superiority, “I am better than him: You created me from fire and him from clay.” (7:12) Through this paradigm, the Quran strongly cautions against discrimination and arrogance – to do so would be to act against faith. Anti-semitism is thus anti-Islamic. To act with hostility and intolerance towards our fellow man goes against the Quranic teaching. The Quranic and Prophetic message respects Jews as “People of the Book”, a term that gives Jews and Christians a special acknowledgment in Islam. For Muslims to be unjust towards Jews would be in effect, to be unjust against themselves, since they share Abrahamic roots and are, above all others, closest to Muslims in religious tradition.

Muhammad was clear about the treatment of Jews, who were protected under the Charter of Medina which stated: "Let it be known, if any one commits injustice, insults, aggravates, mistreats, or abuses a person of the People of the Book he will have to answer me on the Day of Judgment." Modern historians like Bernard Lewis and Norman Stillman argue that anti-Semitism was an alien concept in Islam; rather it was something imported to Muslims lands through increased European contact in the nineteenth and twentieth century. “European anti-Semitism,” Lewis writes, “in both its theological and racist versions, was essentially alien to Islamic traditions, culture, and modes of thought.”

The dehumanisation of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity has no place in Islam. As such, the scriptures of Islam do not provide any basis for anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial, no matter the situation. While some individuals may provide so-called ‘theological’ arguments (based on a misconstrued and shallow reading of Islam) for such anti-Islamic behaviour, this should certainly not be viewed as the normative position of Islam. Muslims and Jews have co-existed for over 1,430 years and their shared theology, heritage and history provides firm foundations to re-build relations.

Hamza Yusuf Hanson, an American Muslim scholar, warns that to deny the Holocaust undermines Islam. He says, “It is in acknowledging the pain of others that we achieve fully our humanity. It would greatly help our Jewish brethren to know the historical facts of Jewish experience in the Muslim world, which are often heartening and humanising and very different from their European experience. In our mutual edification, we grow together.” Back to Top

Stories of Coexistence

Jewish progress

The first printing press in Constantinople was established by Sephardic Jews – a testament to the significant contributions Jews were making to the progress of the Ottoman Empire. A sixteenth century Jewish Portuguese scholar, Immanual Abobab, accredits Sultan Bayazid II with disparaging King Ferdinand for expelling Jews from Spain, “You venture to call Ferdinand a wise ruler. He who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine.”