Does The Quran Criticize Judaism and Christianity?

Q & A
By Reading Islam Staff

Dr. Jamal Badawi (center)
Dr. Jamal Badawi

Q: Does The Quran Criticize Judaism and Christianity?

A: It’s wrong even for you to say that Quran criticizes Judaism as such, or Christianity as such.

More accurately, the Quran criticized the wrong doing of Christians and Jews as Allah sees it.

And by the way, there is criticism of the wrong doing of Muslims. You see after the battle of Uhud, there was criticism also of Muslims. It is not that Islam is saying Muslims are perfect so they shouldn’t be criticized.

Criticism of Wrong Beliefs and Actions

There’s no criticism as such of the whole religion, but criticism of wrong beliefs deviated from the original revelations of these prophets, for correction and bringing them back to it if they accept, and wrong actions.

Take only this one concrete example: Some Jews said to me the Quran is anti-Semitic and anti-Judaic and all this. I said OK, what did the Quran criticize?

It criticized first those who were not honest in their commercial dealing, and in the same verse it said they are not all the same. So what’s the dispute? Are you saying that ethically speaking, this dishonesty is something that should never be criticized because the person is Jew, Christian or Muslim?

If a Muslim does that, he would also be criticized.

Secondly, the Quran criticized devouring riba (usury), and making distinction between having usury between yourselves and usury with others. The Quran quoted that and referred to it. By the way, in the Bible there’s reference to this as well: “You don’t lend your brother; i.e. brother Jew, in usury”. Which means it is OK. Are you saying that ethically speaking there are two different moralities? That usury is OK if the person is gentile, and the Muslim is not, even though it’s there. Ask any sensible person “Do you think that this is ethical? Isn’t it double-standard and double morality?” That’s what the Quran criticized. If a Muslim does that, he would also be criticized.

Thirdly, they say: “But the Quran makes very hostile statements about Jews degrading them like the Nazis did by likening them to animals; that the Jews are descendents of pigs and monkeys”. A lot of you heard that a lot. I must say here- should I put it in a formal story, a real one? Maybe a little recreation in the middle with all this stuff will be useful!

Dialogue with an Imam

I was visiting my late mother, may Allah have mercy on her soul and my siblings and my family in Egypt, and it happened to be in Ramadan so I went for Eid prayer and there was that fellow, masha’Allah a young eloquent man. I think after I met him, I knew that he has a masters degree in Shari`ah. That’s the danger in our Muslim world. A Masters degree in Shari`ah and I have no degrees in Islamic shari`ah. I just studied it so my humble knowledge is nothing to him.

And then he stood up in the khutbah (speech) and in the prayer at the end he said “O Allah destroy the Jews and Christians, especially the Jews, the Jews who are the descendents of monkeys and pigs” At that time there were attacks of on Palestinians.

After he finished his khutbah, I went to him and said “Sheikh, Jazak Allah Kheir (may Allah reward you) for your khutbah and Eid Mubarak to you.” I’m telling you this scenario because sometimes you may be boiling from the inside but one has to control his temper. You see, if somebody says something wrong, you praise something good that he said first, and then you come gently to the critique, it works much better. It’s hikma (wisdom). I told him “I want to ask you about something to get more of your knowledge and wisdom.” He said “Of course”. I made sure that I didn’t talk to him in front of others so that his ego might not take place. That’s what the Prophet recommended by the way, when you give somebody an advice it’s better to be in private. If you had to give advice in public make it general by addressing the mass and not a specific one. This is also a sign of gentleness in correction.

I wonder whether using a different approach might be more conducive to having good neighborly relationships

I said “Sheikh, you were invoking destruction on Christians, and to my knowledge there are many Christian neighbors of Muslims in this area and from my knowledge they have very good and courteous neighborly relationships with each other, and maybe some of them might be even considering Islam. Some of them are afraid because sometimes in Egypt if a Christian converts to Islam s/he might be finished and those who are coming from Egypt are aware of this. There have been some incidents or kidnapped until they are forced back to Christianity. 

I said “There are maybe people who are considering to embrace Islam, and we should really make Islam beloved by them. I wonder whether using a different approach might be more conducive to having good neighborly relationships”. What I really admired in that person was his humbleness and immediate acceptance of truth. He said: “Jazak Allah Khair. You are right.”

I said “OK, forgive me if I ask you that other question. I know that I’m not a specialist, just a common person. But you also spoke about the Jews being descendents from monkeys and pigs.” Then I mentioned to him I’m aware of course that there is mention in the Quran that those who broke the Sabbath the Quran says “and you know that those who broke the Sabbath, and We said to them be apes.” But I told him also “Of course you are more knowledgeable than I am, I’m sure that you are aware that among the commentators of the Quran “mufaserreen”, there are those who interpreted that to be physical change into apes. But there are also who interpreted that allegorically to mean that you became like apes in character like greed. I’m sure that you are aware of that, and I’m not saying by the way that it is impossible that it was physical, because Allah can do it, but at lease it’s subject in the mind of knowledgeable scholars to more than one interpretation so it can be possibly this.

Secondly, I’m sure you know just to remind each other of the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) any person who is mutated will not have a descendent. So how could we say that the present day Jews are the descendents even if they were actually physically changed into apes mutated creatures. I said “I’m not a scientist but I read also that a mutated person doesn’t give birth. It can’t happen scientifically because of mutation.” He looked convinced and said Jazak Allah Khair and promised not to say it again although I didn’t ask him to do so.

Love for Humanity

Subhanallah, there are a lot of those sincere people who would be great if they controlled their temper, but when we let our emotions, our feeling of grievance of the brutalities by those Zionists who hide behind a religion like Judaism. Sometimes it becomes a fashion where people just repeat what some fundamentalists say, and lots of preachers are doing that. And I think that it’s not truthful to start to say that, and it’s harmful for the cause of da`wah as well.

So this is the issue of criticism. It’s correction. It’s not for today’s Jewish and Christian people. What the Quran criticized is what their own scripture criticized. You know what’s the punishment for breaking the Sabbath in the Hebrew scripture? It could be death penalty even. What did the Quran add? It was even criticized in a harsher way in their own scripture.

Jazakum allah kheir for your good listening. We pray to Allah the Almighty to accept our efforts, make it beneficial and help us internalize it. Not only understand it, but to internalize it that when we speak, we speak from the heart. Da`wah is not to pretend something for public relations, and not hypocrisy to just appear nice to people when you in your heart you hate.

No, we have to even change our attitudes and our feelings so that indeed we become like the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was a manifestation in words, feelings and deeds of the love for all humanity.

Jazakum Allah Kheir

Watch Dr. Jamal Badawi's Answer

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Related Links:
Does the Qur'an Teach Tolerance? Dr Badawi Answers
Religious Tolerance in Muslim History
Islam: The Call For Humanity and Equality
Quran Mistranslations and the Image of Islam
Where's the Love in the Quran?

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