Real Islam calls for peace with the Jewish people

The author writes: "The interpretations I put forth are shared by classical Islamic scholars and also shared by my professors at Al-Azhar (Egypt) University today."

Dr. Omer Salem

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Arutz Sheva has been hosting a debate between Muslims who believe that the Qu'ran wants Jews and Muslims to live in peace  and those who consider this interpretation of Islam a fantasy. The following article, linked below to the previous ones on the topic, is part of this debate.

On January 13th 2016, Arutz Sheva posted an op-ed by Dr. Stephen M. Kirby entitled: “Jewish-Muslim coexistence through the Koran? Wishful thinking.” His article was a rebuttal to Rebecca Abrahamson’s op-ed entitled: “Dr. Omer Salem, A Bridge for Peace?” On January 24th, Arutz Sheva posted another article by Dr. Kirby, "Fantasy Islam," this in response to Adnan Oktar's article "A call for sanity: How the Qu'ran-abiding Muslims view the Jews,"  which itself was an answer to Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld's analysis and critique of the UK deciding to teach Islam in its schools.

Dr. Salem's new article:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Kirby for the time and research he conducted to come up with his rebuttal. Herein, I reply to each point made by Dr. Kirby. The Qur’anic verses cited here are based on the most widely accepted English translation: The meaning of the Qur’an.[1] But, before I start would like to remind my audience of seven premises:

Most of the time, it is not possible to convey the exact meaning of the original text. This is especially true in works of sacred texts and literature. For example, the Tanakh was translated to four ancient languages and became the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Targum, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Latin Vulgata, each book with its nuances and adherents, which do not necessarily agree with each other.


I am a tireless advocate for the Jewish people’s need to live freely in the Holy Land, as well as their need for security.
The Arabic Qur’an, like the Hebrew Bible, can be interpreted to justify war or to sue for peace. One could read the Qur’an or the Bible, and be guided to acceptance and respect of “the other” which leads to peace; one could read the Qur’an or the Bible, and be led to rejection and animosity of “the other” and war. See Isaiah (9:16) and Qur’an 2:26. In the Muslim Ummah (nation), there are more than forty acceptable books of tafseer (exegesis). In my rebuttal I would like to limit my sources to four major books of tafseer: Tabari (d. 936 AD), Razi (d. 1209), al-Suyūṭī (d. 1505) and Ibn Ashur (d. 1973)

According to the Qur’an, People of the Book are not all the same, among them are the believer and the disbeliever. This highlighted in Q3:113: " Not all of Ahlul Kitab are alike:” According to the Qur’an, the believer among the people of the book will have their reward in the hereafter and the disbeliever of the people of the book will have their punishment in the hereafter. (2:69) The believer among the people of the book is defined in this verse in the Qur’an (2:69) “…any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness (צֶדֶק), shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

The Qur’an praises Ahlul Qur’an (Muslims) and Ahlul Kitab (Jews) in many verses. Also, the Qur’an condemns actions by Ahlul Qur’an (Muslims) and Ahlul Kitab (Jews) in many verses. In that respect, the Qur’an is not much different from the book of Deuteronomy or the book of Isaiah praising and condemning the Israelites.

Dr. Kirby cited Q2:109 as an example of “the People of the Book having enmity and hatred toward Muslims.” The verse says: “Quite a number of the People of the Book wish they could Turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, from selfish envy, after the Truth hath become Manifest unto them: But forgive and overlook, Till Allah accomplish His purpose; for Allah Hath power over all things.”

In the above verse Allah states that “Quite a number of the People of the Book” and does not say “all of the People of the Book,” also notice that Allah commanded the Muslim people by saying: “But forgive and overlook, Till Allah accomplish His purpose,” According to the eleventh century Muslim scholar Fakhrul Din Al-Razi (d. 1208) “Till Allah accomplish His purpose” in this context means “Till the day of judgement.”[2] This means that Muslims should forgive and overlook the enmity directed towards them by some of the People of the Book until the day of Judgement.

Dr. Kirby cited Q3:71 as an example of  the People of the Book mixing truth with falsehood and concealing the truth. Here is what the verse says: "Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe Truth with falsehood, and conceal the Truth, while ye have knowledge?”

This verse and the two verses before it and the two verses after it constitute one unit (Q3:69-73) and all five verses talk about only some of Ahlul Kitab. Again, not all Ahlul Kitab behave in the manner described in this verse.

Indeed, looked at historically, the majority of Jews in the Arabian peninsula at the time of Muhammad were keeping a Sadducean form of Judaism, one that Rabbinic Jews reject. Were those Sadduceans  not “concealing” the true path of Rabbinic Judaism? Are there not forms of “Judaism” today that some readers here do not hold as authentic?

In fact the Qur’an confirms that People of the Book are: (1) Not all of them are alike Q3:113, (2)  happy with the revelations given to prophet Muhammad as delineated in verse (Q13:36) " Those to whom We have given the Book rejoice at what hath been revealed unto thee:" (3) And when the Qur’an is recited to them, they [people of the Book] say: "We believe therein, for it is the Truth from our Lord: indeed we have been Muslims (bowing to God’s Will) from before this Qur’an. (Q28:53) In the last two examples, the proper God fearing Jews are indeed happy that the universal Noachide covenant is being restored, as would most of you today. Indedd the terms “Muslim” can be used to mean “submitter” and God fearer. Look in your targum Onkelos where the first century CE sage translates God fearer to Salamai and Muslamai. So the word “Muslim” was used to mean God Fearer by a Jewish sage centuries before the ministry of Muhammad (pbuh).

Dr. Kirby cited Q3:98-99 as an example that the People of the Book “know that Islam is the true faith but they reject it anyway and hinder those seeking to follow Islam.” This interpretation of the verses is not necessarily accurate in light of Q3:113, Q13:36 and Q28:53. In addition, according to Al-Razi these two verses and the one verse after it constitute one unit (Q3:98-100) and all three-verses talk about a section of Ahlul Kitab. Not all Ahlul Kitab behave in the manner described in those verses. That is why Allah mentioned in Q3:113 : “not all of them are alike,” and in Q13:36 “" Those to whom We have given the Book rejoice at what hath been revealed unto thee.”

Dr. Kirby cited 4:47 as an example of “Allah commanding the People of the Book to believe in Islam and Prophet Muhammad, or He will efface faces and turn them hindwards.” Again, this verse is taken out of context and according to Al-Razi it is combined with the verse before it and the verse after it as one unit (Q4:46-48). Yes, the Jewish people are commanded to believe that Qur’an is a message from God revealed to Prophet Muhammad who is a messenger from God. (You also believe that Noah was a prophet and revealed the seven laws to all humanity.)

But, Jews are commanded to follow their own scripture—the Torah; or, if they were not Jewish according to the standards of Rabbinic Judaism,  or if their own scripture is too cumbersome for them, then they are welcome to follow the scripture that is much less cumbersome—the Qur’an. The Qur’an confirms this meaning in Q7:157 “He [Muhammad] releases them [the Jews] from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them.” He released the non-Jews who were part of the Jewish community, and also welcomes Jews who wish to embrace Islam, while still accepting Jews who adhere to Torah.

It is important to know that the Holy Qur’an in multiple verses commands the Jewish people to obey the revelations given to them through Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), here are four examples: (1) But why do they [the Jews] come to thee [Muhammad] for decision, when they have their own Torah before them?- in the Torah is the plain command of Allah. Q5:43; (2) we commanded them [in the Torah]: "Transgress not in the matter of the Sabbath." And we took from them [the Jewish people] a solemn covenant.  Q4:156; (3) And Allah said [to the Jewish people]: "I am with you: if ye (but) establish regular prayers, practice regular charity, believe in my messengers, honor and assist them, and loan to Allah a beautiful loan, verily I will wipe out from you your evils, and admit you to gardens with rivers flowing beneath; (Q5:12); (4) To each among you [Muslims and Jews] have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. “(Q5:48)

Dr. Kirby cited 9:29 as an example of Muslims “commanded to fight the People of the Book until those People pay the jizyah, with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” This is a portion of one of the most misunderstood verses of the Qur’an. Here is the complete verse: “Fight those who believe neither in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

In this verse is a commandment to fight people who do not believe in God. To the best of my knowledge, God-fearing Jews believe in God. Please note that the verse talks about fighting people who do not believe in God even if they are people of the book, because, it is assumed that people of the book are supposed to believe in God. As to the part of the verse that deals with “the religion of Truth:” according to Razi, the religion of Truth is submission to the will of God, and God-fearing Jews do submit to God. Therefore the Jizya is directed not towards all Jews but towards atheist Jews. This verse proves my thesis that “Jews cleaving to the laws of Moses will be respected by Muslims” they will not have to pay Jizyah in a Muslim State.

Dr. Kirby cited 98:6 saying that: “if the People of the Book don’t believe in Islam, then they are among the worst of creatures and they will abide in the Fires of Hell.” Again this is part of a verse that should be considered in context, it should be read with the verse before it and the verse after it as one unit to get to the intended meaning. Here is what the verse says: “Those who reject Truth, among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein. They are the worst of creatures.” Please note the conjunction “among.” It is clear that the verse does not say that “all People of the Book will be in hell fire,” it says that “Those who reject Truth, among the People of the Book… will be in Hell-Fire.” That is why God said about people of the book “Not all of them are alike” Q3:113. Also, that people of the book rejoice at what hath been revealed unto thee [O’Muhammad]. (Q13:36). The noun “Truth” in this context is referring to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Dr. Kirby said: “If Muslims truly believe that the Koran consists of the Words of Allah, then there is no support in the Koran for claiming that Jews will earn respect in the Muslim world by being viewed as People of the Book.” To answer such claim I would like to remind Dr. Kirby that there is support, in the Qur’an, for claiming that God-fearing Jews are considered people of the Book and will earn respect in the Muslim world by being viewed as People of the Book. Such support is clearly stated in many verses in the Qur’an including following verses: (1) Not all of them are alike. Q3:113. (2) People of the book rejoice at what hath been revealed unto thee [O’Muhammad]. (Q13:36). (3) Of the people of Moses there is a section that guide and do justice in the light of truth.  (Q7:159). (4) And those to whom knowledge has come (people of the book) see that the Revelation sent down to thee from thy Lord - that is the Truth, and that it guides to the Path of the Exalted (in might), Worthy of all praise. (Q34:6)

Dr. Kerby cited 5:82 as an example of “the Jews are among the worst enemies of the Muslims.” Here is what the verse says: “Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe to be the Jews and those who are polytheists.” Yes, the verse is clear about the enmity of atheist Jews directed towards the newly formed Muslim nation. Sure there was enmity from the Sadducean Jews – Muhammed (pbuh) was disrupting their power base by declaring that some members of the Sadducean Jewish community are not really God-fearing Jews, not bound by Torah, and should leave that group and join Noachidism or the sharia of Muhammed (pbuh). Again, most readers here would welcome that.

In addition, just as Allah stated regarding all forms of enmity, Allah gave the Muslim people the cure for such enmity. The remedy of such enmity is found in chapter 41 verse 34 of the Holy Qur’an: “Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!” Incidentally, this verse has its equivalent in the Tanakh, book of Proverbs (16:7) “When man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, even his enemies become his friends.”

Dr. Kirby cited 3:28, 5:51, 5:57, 9:30 and 60:13 as an example of “Muslims are forbidden from being friends with Jews.” The Qur’an makes a distinction between atheist Jews and God-fearing Jews. For Muslims, atheist Jews are to be avoided and G-d fearing Jews to be befriended.

Yes, Muslims are forbidden from being friends with atheist Jews. However, Muslims are not forbidden from being friends with God-fearing Jews.

The proof of that statement can be found in many verses including 3:113, 13:36 and 7:157. Also, the common operative word in all those verses is the Arabic word Walī (Arabic ولي , plural Awliyā أولياء), its lexical meaning being “supporter”, “guardian” or “protector”. The Muslim cannot take an atheist Jew as a friend, but a Muslim could take a God-fearing Jew as a friend.[3]

Dr. Kirby cited 49:13 and 5:48 to indicate that “Muslims and Jews are “coreligionists.” Well, Muslims and atheist Jews are not coreligionists. However, Muslims and God-fearing Jews are coreligionists. As to the verse 49:13 : “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” Allah has bestowed the quality and attribute of piety (Taqwa تقوى) equally on God-fearing Muslims and God-fearing Jews. This can be found in 3:115, 4:131 and 21:48.

A God-fearing Jew who believes in the oneness of God, honors his/her parents, upholds the laws of Moses will have the mercy of Allah as indicated in 3:69, 5:69.

Dr. Kirby cited 5:48 to show that “Salem appears to be selecting only portions of verses and is engaging in his own personal interpretation of the Koran.” Here is the entire verse: “To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute;”

Here is the commentary on this verse by Tabari,[4] and Razi.[5] The Holy Qur’an acts as a witness and guardian (not nullifier) of the Torah and Gospel. Then Allah instructs: O’ Muhammad, judge between People of the Book by what Allah hath revealed in their books, for example, the Jews should be judged based on their book,[6] and the Christians should be judged based on their own book.[7]

Dr. Kirby makes a claim that “Salem …interpretation is at odds with those of authoritative Koran commentators over the centuries.” In fact the interpretation I am presenting is supported by Tabari, al-Razi, al-Suyūṭī and Ibn Ashur, and is not poisoned by power politics.

Dr. Kirby cites the verse 3:85 to show that “Salem is ignoring the clear message of the Koran.” Here is the verse: “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).” “Islam” in this context bears the broader meaning of submission to God. A God-fearing Jew in this sense is one who submits to God, and can easily be counted among the people of the Book. The people of the Book are Muslims in the sense of submitters, as indicated in the Holy Qur’an Q28:52-53: “Those to whom We sent the Book before this [the Jewish people],- they do believe in this (revelation) * And when it is recited to them, they say: "We believe therein, for it is the Truth from our Lord: indeed we have been Muslims (bowing to Allah's Will) from before this.”

Dr. Kirby cited my statements on Jihadul Nafs and Jihadul Sayeef as having “no basis in Islamic doctrine.” In fact those two types of Jihad have basis in Islamic doctrine starting with the Holy Qur’an itself which delineate the concept of Jihadul Nafs in Q25:52 “Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness, with the (Qur'an).” It is clear from this Meccan verse that Allah is instructing the newly found Ummah to strive in the path of Allah, not by the sword, but by the Qur’an—that is Jihadul Nafs.[8]

Dr. Kirby cited Hadith No. 2926 in Sahih Al-Bukhari. He cited the Hadith to indicate that Muslims and Jews could not prosper “side by side.” This Hadith of the Stone and the Tree is authenticated by Imam Bukhari (d. 870 AD) and is directed towards atheist Jews. In sharp contrast, God-fearing Jews, followers of the Sharia of Moses, peace be upon him, are considered Ahlul Kitab and they will not be subject to that Hadith.

Dr. Kirby cited Hadith No. 2644 in Sunan Ibn Majah, He cited the Hadith to indicate that “the blood money for the Jews and Christians is half of the blood money for the Muslims.” This Hadith is authenticated by Ibn Majeh (d. 887 AD) and is directed towards atheist Jews and atheist Christians. In sharp contrast, God-fearing Jews, followers of the Shari’a of Moses, peace be upon him; and God-fearing Christians, following of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, are considered Ahlul Kitab and they are not subject to that Hadith.

Dr. Kirby cited Hadith No. 2167, 2767 and 1767 by Sahih Muslim. All three Hadith mentioned contain negative language to rebuke atheist Jews and do not refer to God-fearing Jews. God-fearing Jews are actually considered Ahlul Kitab who respect the laws of Moses. The negative language in those three Hadith amounts to rebuke for the Israelites similar to what prophet Moses said in Deuteronomy (31:24): “For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the Lord while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die!”

The language in those Hadith is not much worse that the language used by Prophet Isaiah to rebuke the Israelites (1:4) “Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.”

Finally, I would like to briefly outline the relationship between the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible as reveled to Prophet Muhammad:

Concerning the purpose of the Qur’an for Jews, there are two main purposes. First, to facilitate reconciliation between Jews and Christians: “(O Muhammad) we have only revealed to you the Holy Qur’an so that you may clarify to them (Jews and Christians), those things in which they differ and as guidance and a mercy for those who believe.”[9] With viewing the Holy Qur’an, not aa a book of nullification of previous scripture, but, as a book of reconciliation between Jews and Christians, Ahlul Qur’an and Ahlul Kitab will enjoy much better relations and avoid much conflict, especially over the Holy Land.

The second purpose relating to Jews and Christians concerns the unity of basic universal religion. This is revealed in surah 42:15 “ . . . and say (O’ Muhammad): I believe in what Allah has revealed of the Book (Torah and - Gospel), and I am commanded to make amends between you; Allah is our Lord and your Lord; we shall have our deeds and you shall have your deeds; There is no contention (dispute) between us and you: Allah will gather us together, and to Allah is the return.”

Allah is instructing that there is no contention or dispute “between us Muslims and you Jews” because all revelations come from the same source—Allah. Some might say, but the Qur’an says that the Prophet Muhammad was sent to all mankind, to Arabs and non-Arabs, Jews and Christians, and all must follow him.[10] To that the Qur’an tells us that every prophet came with a general message and a specific message. The general message is meant for all mankind, this is the Deen (universal law) of Islam. Deen is comparable to the universal Noahide laws. In this regard there is no distinction between the prophets.

The specific message refers to the Shari’a (covenant) that was assigned to each Ummah (nation). The first religion was given to Adam (pbuh). Jews call this the Noachide covenant since an extra commandment regarding eating meat was added with Noah. Muslims call this first universal covenant Islam (submission).[11] Jews can thus view Judaism as a form of Islam when the term “Islam” is used in its universal sense. Jews and Christians have their own specific Shari’a—their own scriptures and prophets, patriarchs and saints, yet their basic belief systems are consistent with Islam. Thus the Qur’an states that Jews and Christians have a special status within the Ummah (nation) of Islam.

The Qur’an is clear about the role of Jews and Christians within the restored religion of the Prophet Ibrahim as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. As long as Jews and Christians follow the morals and ethics revealed in their own books, they should be left to worship God according to their own conscience, and their assessment will be left to Allah on the Day of Judgment. (5:48)

Just as Allah warns Ahlul Kitab who do not follow the morals and ethics revealed in their scriptures, Allah also has a strong admonition for Ahlul Qur’an who do not follow the morals and ethics revealed in the Holy Qur’an. (72:23)

The Qur’an was not revealed so that Jews would abandon their faith, their prophet Moses and abrogate their book, the Torah, in order to follow the Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an was not revealed so that Christians would abandon their faith, their prophet Jesus Christ and abrogate their books—the Greek Septuagint for Protestants or the Latin Vulgate for Catholics—in order to follow the Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an was revealed for two reasons: Dignitism and d’awa (invitation).[12] “Dignitism” means to invite Jews to uphold the best morals and ethics that their own tradition has to offer as delineated in the Hebrew Torah, and to invite Christians to follow and uphold the best morals and ethics their own tradition has to offer as delineated in the Christian Bible.[13]

D’awa means “invitation” or “outreach”. It is offered to those Ahlul Kitab who do not follow their faith, or to people who do not have any religion. In one sense, the Prophet Muhammad was sent to invite them all to the restored religion of the Prophet Abraham - Islam, in this sense meaning the sharia of Muhammad (pbuh). This would mean that members of the Jewish community who are not following Torah, Christians who are not following Injil (Gospel), Noachides and those without any religion are invited to embrace Islam in the sense of embracing the sharia of Muhammad (pbuh).

There is ample room in Islam to accept Jews, Christians, and Noahides fully as they are, encouraging them to cleave to their faiths and prophets. This holds the view that the Shari’a (covenant) of Torah was incorrectly being required of the non-Jewish Edomites, Ammonites and Nabateans of Arabia. At the time of the Prophet Muhammad, Jewish leaders who were keeping a Sadducean-based form of Judaism were competing for power in the Arabian Peninsula and were trying to expand their influence by encouraging converts who were not converted according to the Rabbinic tradition and were not accepted by Rabbinic Jews. Rabbinic Judaism, the continuation of the Pharisaic movement, was at odds with Sadducean Judaism, and it was Sadducean Judaism that was more prevalent in Arabia at the time of Muhammad.[14]

The Prophet Muhammad came to release these non-Jews from the Shari’a of the Torah, which in the view of Rabbinic Judaism never applied to them, and restore them to the monotheism of the Shari’a of the Prophet Abraham (pbuh), otherwise known as Noachidism.[15]

Thus, the prophet Muhammed was in that sense in agreement with Rabbinic Judaism vis-avis “authentic and inauthentic”, and this can serve as a base for conciliation even today. The Qur’an says that the Prophet Muhammad was sent to offer compassion, grace and mercy to creation and not to coerce, curse or condemn creation.[16]

Imagine a non-Jewish prophet rising up today and declaring, say, that so called converts to Judaism who did not convert according to acceptable Rabbinic standards are not actually Jewish, and are invited to keep Noachidism? Most readers here would welcome such a courageous stand.

Muhammad (pbuh) was telling false converts to Sadducean Judaism that they are released from their false identity, are not bound by Torah, and can be Noachides or Muhammedi Muslims, plain and simple. And most of you would welcome that.

This parallels Jesus Christ’s(pbuh) ministry to the “lost sheep of Israel.” At Jesus’ time too, in the Holy Land, Herod had previously expanded the definition of “who is a Jew” in order to make the Jewish empire mightier. Why did Jesus say  “the lost sheep of Israel” and not just “Israel”? Because he was not talking to all Jews, just those who were part of the Jewish community who according to Rabbinic standards were not really Jewish and thus not bound by the sharia of Torah. Again, most readers here would welcome that.

Islam does welcome even God fearing Jews and Christians to follow the shari’a of Muhammed, but I say again, supports those who cleave to their shari’a – that of Torah or Injil (Gospel). If Jews or Christians choose voluntarily to follow the message revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, they are welcome to do so, and they will have their reward doubled, once for following what was revealed to them, and once for following the new message revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, as indicated in the Holy Qur’an.[17]

Jews and Christians should not be taunted, insulted, or ridiculed because they follow a Shari’a other than the Prophet Muhammad’s Shari’a or a book other than the Holy Qur’an. They should be treated with Ihsan—kindness, respect, and integrity. They should be inspired and encouraged to follow the best guidance they have in their own Holy Scriptures.[18]

Allah prohibited the believers against reviling, cursing, abusing, or insulting non-Muslim or their deities.[19] Therefore, as Muslims, one should treat others with respect, kindness, and integrity. One should implement the recommendations made in the recent document released from Al Azhar University, Egypt, which promotes “full respect of divine religions . . . . [and to] protect and fully respect [all] places of worship.”[20]

It is important for Jews and Muslims to be reminded that God is Merciful and Graceful,[21]  the Prophet Muhammad is a messenger of Mercy and Grace,[22]  and the Holy Qur’an is the message of Mercy and Grace.[23]

We should all be reminded that there is a difference between religion and power politics. Religion is the belief in and worship of a supernatural power called Allah or God. Religion is about relationship with God and kindness to neighbor. Power politics on the other hand is about action by a person or state to increase power or influence over people or states. Power politics is not concerned with God or with kindness to other human beings. Power politics is about administering resources to maximize state power. Therefore, when a state or a religious leader issues a damaging decree they are in effect practicing power politics, not religion.

Conclusion

I am thankful that my desire for peace between Jews and Muslims is appreciated by Dr. Kirby.  Furthermore, by encouraging both Jews and Muslims to deepen their attachment to their own scriptures, peace can be attained. In order to have peace between Muslims and Jews, it is important for Muslims to view Islam as calling for peace with Jews and for Jews to view Judaism as calling for peace with Muslims.

I also wish to point out that I am telling Muslims to cleave to scripture as well, and I am a tireless advocate for the Jewish people’s need to live freely in the Holy Land, as well as their need for security. Please see just two such examples in attached video and paper below. [24] [25] This has been my mission and my readings of both the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Tanakh, and as stated above, the interpretations I put forth are shared by classical Islamic scholars and also shared by my professors at Al-Azhar University today. I am not alone. You can see a list of these scholars in my book, "The Missing Peace: The Role of Religion in the Arab Israeli Conflict.".

Dr. Omer Salem is the author of "The Missing Peace: The Role of Religion in the Arab Israeli Conflict."

Sources:

[1] Abdullah Yûsuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an,(Maryland: Amana Publications, 2009)

[2] Tafseer al Fakhr al-Razi, (Cairo: Darul Fikr, 2005) volume 3, page 241.

[3] See Hawi li-l Fatawi (2:241ff), and for more information on hadiths about the Abdal see ‘Ajluni’s Kashf (#35) and Sakhawi’s Maqasid (#8).

[4] Tafseer Tabari, Editor: Abdullah al-Turkey (Riyadh: Dar Aalam el Kutub, 2005) volume 8, pages 485-500.

[5] Tafseer al-Razi, Editor: M. Saleh Zarkan (Lebanon: Darul Fikr, 2005) volume 12, pages 10-13.

[6] Q5:43 “But why do they [the Jews] come to thee for decision, when they have their own law before them?- therein is the plain command of Allah;

[7] Q5:47 “Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein.”

[8] Tafseer Tabari, Editor: Abdullah al-Turkey (Riyadh: Dar Aalam el Kutub, 2005) volume 17, pages 470. Tafseer al-Razi, Editor: M. Saleh Zarkan (Lebanon: Darul Fikr, 2005) volume 24, pages 90.

[9] Q16:64.

[10] Q34:28

[11] Q42:13

[12] “Dignitism” is a word coined by the author of this book to indicate that people who believe differently from each other still deserve acceptance and respect because we are all created in the image of God. Dignitism implies that there is more than one way to worship God and to be a good human being.

[13] Ibid. Q5:66: “And if they [the Jews] had kept up [the moral and ethical teachings of] the Torah and [the Christians had kept up the moral and ethical teachings of] the Gospel and that which was revealed to them from their Lord, they would certainly have eaten from above them and from beneath their feet (which means to have comfortable and fulfilling lives)”

[14] The Sadducees (Hebrew: צְדוּקִים Sĕdûqîm) were a sect of Jews that was active in Judea during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BCE through the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The sect was identified by Josephus (d. 100 AD) with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. As a whole, the sect fulfilled various political, social, and

religious roles, including maintaining the Temple. The Sadducees are often compared to other contemporaneous sects, including the Pharisees and the Essenes.

The Pharisees (/’færə,si:z/) were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought in the Holy Land during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs became the foundational, liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism (the term ‘Judaism’ today almost always refers to Rabbinic Judaism).

[15] Teshuvot ha-Rambam 2, no. 293

[16] Q21:107: “We have only sent thee (O Muhammad) as a Mercy for all humanity.”

[17] “They [Jews and Christians] shall be granted their reward twice, because they are steadfast and they repel evil with good and spend out of what We have given them.” Ibid. Q28:53

[18] Q39:23: “Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful Message in the form of Books, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects).”

[19] Q6:108: “And insult not those whom they [non-Muslims] worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge. Thus we have made alluring to each people their own doings; then to their Lord is their return and [their lord] shall then inform them of all that they used to do.”

[20] Associated Press, “Al-Azhar sheik proposes bill of rights, aiming to balance out Islamists in Egypt constitution”, The Washington Post Foreign Policy, January 10, 2012

[21] Qur’an 6:54 “your Lord has ordained mercy on Himself,”

[22] Qur’an 21:107 “We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures.”

[23] Qur’an 64:16 “a guide and a mercy to those who believe.”

[24] Paper delivered in Egypt http://www.academia.edu/1404941/what_could_happen_if20

[25] My talk in Egypt, June 2015, see notes in English attached  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mvt-HmARXc



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