Hatred and Violence in the Qur’an Awareness Month: “There is a party of the People of the Book yearn to make you go astray”
Today’s installment for Hatred and Violence in the Qur’an Awareness Month comes from sura 3, in which a large blast of hatred is directed toward the People of the Book — the Qur’an’s designation primarily for Jews and Christians — for knowing that Islam is true and yet rejecting it, “wittingly,” and even trying to draw Muslims away from the truth:
Say: ‘People of the Book! Come now to a word common between us and you, that we serve none but God, and that we associate not aught with Him, and do not some of us take others as Lords, apart from God.’ And if they turn their backs, say: ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims.’
People of the Book! Why do you dispute concerning Abraham? The Torah was not sent down, neither the Gospel, but after him. What, have you no reason? Ha, you are the ones who dispute on what you know; why then dispute you touching a matter of which you know not anything? God knows, and you know not. No; Abraham in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian; but he was a Muslim and one pure of faith; certainly he was never of the idolaters. Surely the people standing closest to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet, and those who believe; and God is the Protector of the believers.
There is a party of the People of the Book yearn to make you go astray; yet none they make to stray, except themselves, but they are not aware.
People of the Book! Why do you disbelieve in God’s signs, which you yourselves witness? People of the Book! Why do you confound the truth with vanity, and conceal the truth and that wittingly? There is a party of the People of the Book say, ‘Believe in what has been sent down upon those who believe at the beginning of the day, and disbelieve at the end of it; haply they will then return; and believe not any but him who follows your religion.’ Say: ‘The true guidance is God’s guidance — that anyone should be given the like of what you have been given, or dispute with you before your Lord.’ Say: ‘Surely bounty is in the hand of God; He gives it unto whomsoever He will; and God is All-embracing, All-knowing. He singles out for His mercy whom He will; God is of bounty abounding.’
And of the People of the Book is he who, if thou trust him with a hundredweight, will restore it thee; and of them is he who, if thou trust him with one pound, will not restore it thee, unless ever thou standest over him. That, because they say, ‘There is no way over us as to the common people.’ They speak falsehood against God and that wittingly. Nay, but whoso fulfils his covenant and fears God, God loves the godfearing.
Those that sell God’s covenant, and their oaths, for a little price, there shall be no share for them in the world to come; God shall not speak to them neither look on them on the Resurrection Day, neither will He purify them; and for them awaits a painful chastisement. And there is a sect of them twist their tongues with the Book, that you may suppose it part of the Book, yet it is not part of the Book; and they say, ‘It is from God,’ yet it is not from God, and they speak falsehood against God, and that wittingly. It belongs not to any mortal that God should give him the Book, the Judgment, the Prophethood, then he should say to men, ‘Be you servants to me apart from God.’ Rather, ‘Be you masters in that you know the Book, and in that you study.’
He would never order you to take the angels and the Prophets as Lords; what, would He order you to disbelieve, after you have surrendered? And when God took compact with the Prophets: ‘That I have given you of Book and Wisdom; then there shall come to you a Messenger confirming what is with you — you shall believe in him and you shall help him; do you agree?’ He said. ‘And do you take My load on you on that condition?’ They said, ‘We do agree.’ God said, ‘Bear witness so, and I shall be with you among the witnesses.’ Then whosoever turns his back after that — they are the ungodly. (Qur’an 3:64-82)
This section of the Qur”an”s Sura 3, “The Family of Imran,” continues to charge that Jews and Christians reject Islam only out of perversity, and calls them back to the true faith of Abraham. V. 64 calls upon the People of the Book to accept Islam. This is presented as an invitation to an agreement, a “word common between us and you, that we serve none but God, and that we associate not aught with Him.” This would (in the Islamic view) require Christians to reject Christ”s divinity.
Then Allah rebukes the Jews and Christians for arguing over something about which they “know not anything” (v. 66): the religion of Abraham. The Patriarch couldn”t have been a Jew or a Christian, says v. 65, because the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him. In reality, he was a Muslim hanif (ØÙŽÙ†ÙÙŠÙÙ‹Ø§ Ù…Ù‘ÙØ³Ù’Ù„ÙÙ…Ù‹) (v. 67) ““ as the Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains: “Abraham in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian, but he was a Muslim, professing the Oneness of God, and a hanÄ«f, who inclined away from all other religions towards the upright one; and he was never of the idolaters.” What”s more, Muhammad and the Muslims are “the nearest of kin to Abraham,” as Ibn Kathir says: “This Ayah [verse] means, “˜The people who have the most right to be followers of Ibrahim are those who followed his religion and this Prophet, Muhammad, and his Companions”¦”
Of course, if Abraham was a Muslim, Judaism and Christianity are completely illegitimate. The Jews and Christians are simply renegades from the true faith of their own prophets ““ which was Islam — and renegades who know they’re rebelling from the truth but do it anyway. And that is the view of Judaism and Christianity that many Muslims have today. V. 69 emphasizes the perversity of some of the Jews and Christians: they wish to lead the Muslims astray, when it is actually they who go astray, rejecting the “signs” of Allah even though they are witnesses of them (v. 70). Says Maududi: “This is why the Qur”an repeatedly blames them for maliciously misrepresenting the signs of God which they saw with their own eyes and to which they themselves attested.” And they even stooped, as recounted in verses 71-2, to subterfuges to try to turn others away from Islam: “they speak falsehood against God, and that wittingly” (v. 75). Among these dirty tricks, they pass off their own words as Holy Scripture (v. 78); some skeptics have speculated that Muhammad himself, seeking information about earlier revelations, was among their victims, before he caught on to the ruse.
In sum, a passage clearly designed to inculcate hatred of and contempt for the “People of the Book.”