Tuesday, October 28, 2014

‘Sacralized’ Jew-Hate?

Here’s a news flash: there might be something new under the sun. It isn’t Jew-hate. Jew-hate is old. It’s old-fashioned. It’s out of style.

What’s new is ‘sacralized’ Jew-hate. That’s Jew-hate that’s become part of a religion’s theology.

Of course, this might not be as new as you think. Some Christians may have already ‘sacralised’ Jew-hate. They blame Jews for killing the Christian god. Such blame means that anti-Semitism (Jew-hate) has become intertwined into Christianity’s basic theology.

But ‘sacralization’ isn’t about Christianity. Christianity is old-fashioned. This Jew-hate is about something new. It’s about Islam.

‘Sacralization’ means to imbue an idea with a religious significance. It suggests that an idea has been incorporated into religious theology, to make that idea part of religious teaching.

The word has recently shown up in an essay about Islamic Jew-hate (“Sunni Islam’s “Vatican”: Jews Responsible For Jihad Terrorism”, Family Security Matters, October 3, 2014).  This essay argues that Islamic Jew-hate is real and pervasive—and has a religious source. That source isn’t maverick clerics in Pakistan or Bethlehem. The source is Al Azhar University, in Cairo, Egypt.

Al Azhar appears to be a main Islamic teaching center. Its mission (and the mission of its related Mosque) is to spread Islamic religion and culture. It’s considered to be “the de facto Vatican of Sunni Islam” (ibid).

According to the essay’s author (Andrew G. Bostom), the leader of Al Azhar University has great power. He has a major educational pulpit from which to spread his brand of Islam.

Bostom characterized the brand of Islam that comes from this University as an “unreformed, unrepentant jihad bellicosity and infidel hatred” (ibid). Bostom claims it promotes a “sacralized Islamic animosity” that is directed, unsurprisingly, against Jews (ibid).

To call Islamic Jew-hate ‘sacralized’ might be a stretch. Bostom’s essay isn’t complete. He doesn’t define ‘sacralization’. He doesn’t demonstrate how it’s different from the good old-fashioned of Jew-hate found in some Christian doctrine. He doesn’t validate how it manifests itself within Islam outside the Al Azhar University.

Still, it’s an interesting characterization. It suggests that, at some level, Jew-hate has been rationalized into Islam. It suggests that a conscious process of religious institutionalization places Jew-hate at the center of modern Islamic practice.

Is he correct?

Bostom argues that he is correct. He says that Islam's canon--the Koran, the hadith and the sira--are redolent with Islamic Jew-hate (ibid). Jew-hate is, in other words, already part of Islam’s basic religious texts (since some deny this, the question is, who’s right about Islam’s basic texts? Bostom believes he is).

Bostom argues that Jew-hate references from these texts have been catalogued by the late Sunni Muslim Papal equivalent, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, who served as the Grand Imam of Sunni Islam's Vatican, Al Azhar University, for 14 years, from 1996, till his death in March, 2010.  Tantawi's "academic" magnum opus, a 700 page treatise entitled, "Jews in the Koran and the Traditions", includes this catalogue of Jew-hate. Bostom then says that Tantawi concludes his magnum opus on the Jews by sanctioning harsh discrimination (what he calls bigoted, even violent behaviour) towards Jews (ibid).

Tantawi's successor, Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the current Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, picks up this anti-Jew thread where Tantawi left off. In an interview which aired on Channel 1, Egyptian TV, October 25, 2013, Al-Tayeb discussed how the Koran has inspired Muslim hatred of Jews since the advent of Islam (ibid). Bostom quotes Al-Tayeb as having said,

“A verse in the Koran [5:82] explains the Muslims' relations with the Jews...This is an historical perspective, which has not changed to this day. See how we suffer today from global Zionism and Judaism...Since the inception of Islam 1,400 years ago, we have been suffering from Jewish and Zionist interference in Muslim affairs".

If the Koran is quoted this way in order to demonize or attack  Jews and Zionism, do we conclude that modern Islam (our only concern here) ‘sacralizes’ Jew-hate? You’ll have to decide that for yourself.

In the end, of course, it doesn’t matter what we call the demonization of Jews, Judaism and Zionism. Whatever we call it—church-sanctioned or sacralized--all of it should be repulsive.

It isn’t. No one in Islam seems to care enough to speak out against such discriminatory language. No one in the West cares enough, either.

What people in the West do care about these days, however, is that Bostom dares to criticize Islam. Instead of addressing his criticism, they will call him an ‘Islamophobe’. They will demand he be censured. Then they will ignore his criticism.

The G-d of Israel has a Story He wants to you see. That Story is the unfolding of the Final Redemption of the Jewish people.

Will ‘sacralized’ Islamic Jew-hate and Western acceptance of such hate play a role in fulfilling Biblical Jewish prophecy? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, read your Tanach. Watch your Evening News.

The G-d of Israel won’t disappoint you.


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