Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The annihilation of the Jews

Here's the transcript of a clip that appeared recently on al-Aqsa television, a Palestinian channel. It's conventional enough stuff, I suppose. I've certainly heard and seen it all before. But it got me thinking.

'Following are excerpts from an interview with Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on July 13, 2008:
Muhsen Abu 'Ita: Naturally, the Koran chapters conveyed to Muhammad in Mecca only rarely deal with the Jews – like in "those who incur Allah's wrath," which appears in the Al-Fatiha chapter. Hence, it is strange to find an entire chapter bearing the name of the Jews, or Bani Israil. It is even more peculiar that this chapter does not talk about the Jews of the Qaynuqa, Nazir, or Qurayza tribes. It talks about the Jews of our times, of this century, using the language of annihilation, the language of grave digging. Note that in this chapter, the Jews were sentenced to annihilation, before even a single Jew existed on the face of the earth. This Koranic chapter talked about the collapse of the so-called state of Israel, before this state was even established. From here stems the importance and oddity of this chapter.
The blessing of Palestine is dependent upon the annihilation of the pit of global corruption in it. When the head of the serpent of corruption is cut off here in Palestine, and its octopus tentacles are severed throughout the world, the real blessing will come. The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land and will be pleasing to men and God.'

Before I make the comment I originally wanted to make about Abu 'Ita's remarks, let me do a little Qur'an interpretation here, because that will also be revealing. Take the following: ' the Koran chapters conveyed to Muhammad in Mecca only rarely deal with the Jews – like in "those who incur Allah's wrath," which appears in the Al-Fatiha chapter'. If you have read the first chapter of the Qur'an, which has only seven verses, you will know why this is dangerous nonsense. Here's Sura 1 (my translation):

'In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds. The Merciful, the Compassionate. King of the Day of Judgement. Thee do we worship, and to thee do we turn for help. Guide us upon the straight path. The path of those upon whom Thou hast shown blessings, not those who have incurred thy wrath, and not those who have gone astray.'

Where are the Jews? This is the first sura, so there is no reference to Jews before it. This is a generalized reference, like the one before it and the one after it. Anything else is speculation. The rest of his interpretation is even more bizarre: 'in this chapter, the Jews were sentenced to annihilation, before even a single Jew existed on the face of the earth. This Koranic chapter talked about the collapse of the so-called state of Israel, before this state was even established.

It's bad enough that the Qur'an does have many negative things to say about Jews, but it's beyond toleration to see Muslim clerics glossing every negative remark in the book as 'Jews'. I have a Qur'an right next to me. What's to stop me going through it verse by verse, and every time it refers to 'unbelievers' or 'enemies' or whatever, arguing 'this means the Jews, and it prophecies the fall of Israel'?

That is the level to which discourse has fallen for many Muslims. It makes any attempt to break out of the present impasse well nigh impossible.

But what I wanted to say is this. What if he's right and Israel does succumb? After all, the forces arrayed against her are greater now than they have ever seemed. If Hizbullah, Hamas, and Iran (for starters), aided and abetted by the UN, the Islamic world, and many Western countries achieve their ends, whether by force or by imposing a one state solution, where will that leave things? The Palestinians will, of course, tear themselves to pieces, Hizbullah will take over Lebanon, and Iran will try to conquer Iraq. The Middle East will be in greater turmoil than ever.

And how will that be resolved? With no more Israel to focus on, the Middle East will need someone to take her place. How long will it be before Surat al-Fatiha is re-interpreted? God's wrath will fall upon the Christians and those Jews who live outside Israel. And this will be a different struggle to the present one. If the Islamists can claim a victory over the Jews, their fervour will be picked up everywhere. It will be obvious that God is on their side. After all, didn't God prophesy the fall of Israel in Surat al-Fatiha? And in every other sura. And does he not now prophesy the fall of America or Britain or anywhere else?

None of this is preposterous. There is no rationality here. Islam has no room for reason or freedom or conscience. It could have, but today's clerics have set their faces hard against those things. Reason is profoundly dangerous to an Islam based on heartfelt acceptance of every word of the Qur'an and the Hadith, dangerous to the clergy who survive by presenting a hardline interpretation of the texts.

People ask why Israel has to defend herself by force. This is the reason, that the forces of moderation in the Islamic world are still too weak to serve as a defence for anyone against jihadist extremism, and jihadist extremism derives much of its inspiration from irrational readings of the Qur'an. The Salafis, Wahhabis, Mawdudists, and many others prefer a literal interpretation of scripture above any nuanced or modernizing commentary. In most countries, Britain included, there's a tendency to pretend that the real risk comes from 'violent extremists' (we're not allowed to call them Muslim extremists any more). But it doesn't. It comes from clerics who provide interpretations like the one we've just had, who extol martyrdom, who condemn terrorism while encouraging suicide bombing in 'Palestine', or who just create a hardline Islam that serves as a breeding ground for every kind of crazy hope and unbalanced fear.


Anochi said...

Dear Denis,

Please contact me at boaz.onroad[@]Gmail.com.
I would like to translete some of your posts to Hebrew for www.Anochi.com.


Anonymous said...

Yeah so here's the thing, I'm assuming you don't speak, read, or understand Arabic to know what the al-Fatiha chapter in the Qu'ran says or means. It's quite funny that you find it weird or odd, that God who is all knowing in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity would have words in the Qu'ran speaking of the destruction or the fall of Israel. That is not weird at all, not even a little. Unlike many other books, the Qu'ran is not one that changes according to people's whims, or according to what is currently happening. God knows what will happen in the future, and when the Qu'ran came about, God knew everything that would happen and its all in there. So please, unless you are a fluent Arabic speaker or can read even a little bit of Arabic don't translate things to appease your argument because its completely false and makes your argument quite weak.

Denis said...

Dear Anonymous. Why do you assume I don't speak, read or understand Arabic in the first place? Perhaps it makes you feel superior in some way. In fact, I have an MA in Arabic and a PhD based largely on reading difficult Arabic texts. I have read the Qur'an in both Arabic and translation. So my impression of what you have to say is very negative. I don't believe God has spoken in the Qur'an, so why don't we start with that for a basis instead of your knee-jerk belief? The Qur'an is not a very impressive book, but Muslims have endowed it with superiority. That's a pity. The Qur'an nowhere speaks of the destruction or fall of Israel; on the contrary, it states that the Jews were given the Holy Land in perpetuity. Read it: it's there,