How deep runs Muslim antisemitism today? Listen to the loud voices of militant Islam and you will here it disparaged as a non-issue. But at least two informed insiders are saying otherwise.
Khaleel Mohammed, assistant professor of religion at San Diego State University, addressed a conference on anti-Semitism taking place in Montreal, according to a report in today's Montreal Gazette:
Anti-Semitism has become an entrenched tenet of Muslim theology, taught to 95 per cent of the religion's adherents in the Islamic world, a U.S. scholar said yesterday at an international conference in Montreal. …
In an interview after his talk, Mohammed, a Muslim who is assistant professor of religion at San Diego State University, said anti-Semitic sentiments have become endemic in Muslim religious teachings. "It has become part of Islamic theology, so the average Muslim learns anti-Semitism in probably a subtler form, not overt anti-Semitism, but learns it as part of his theology," he said.
Although the Muslim holy book, the Koran, preaches respect for Judaism, the Hadith, a collection of the prophet Mohammed's oral proclamations, contains anti-Semitic passages widely quoted by Muslim clerics, Mohammed said. "In Hadith literature ... which Muslims have made to be part and parcel of Islamic teaching, you cannot respect the Jew, the Jew is God's enemy until the end of time. And that's ingrained."
Irfan Khawaja, an adjunct professor of philosophy at The College of New Jersey, wrote a remarkable article in Pakistan Today; just over a year ago, on "The Problem of Muslim Anti-Semitism."
Contempt for Jews was a ubiquitous and inescapable phenomenon in the Arab/Muslim community in which I grew up in New Jersey in the 1970s and 1980s; the bigotry there was such that my brother jokingly referred to the community as "The Fourth Reich." And such attitudes remain in place today.
In the interesting discussion that follows, Khawaja considers several sources of antisemitism in Islamic tradition and muses on the his own experiences.
Once again, I hold that "militant Islam is the problem and moderate is the solution." If Muslim antisemitism is to be addressed, it will have to be done by Muslims. At least we can see the first wisps of a solution in this area. (March 16, 2004)