Hatred and Violence in the Qur’an Awareness Month: “We cursed them for their breaking of the covenant”
Still more Jew-hatred in today’s installment:
The People of the Scripture ask you to bring down to them a book from the heaven. But they had asked of Moses [even] greater than that and said, “Show us Allah outright,” so the thunderbolt struck them for their wrongdoing. Then they took the calf [for worship] after clear evidences had come to them, and We pardoned that. And We gave Moses a clear authority.
And We raised over them the mount for [refusal of] their covenant; and We said to them, “Enter the gate bowing humbly”, and We said to them, “Do not transgress on the sabbath”, and We took from them a solemn covenant.
And [We cursed them] for their breaking of the covenant and their disbelief in the signs of Allah and their killing of the prophets without right and their saying, “Our hearts are wrapped”. Rather, Allah has sealed them because of their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few. And [We cursed them] for their disbelief and their saying against Mary a great slander, and [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise. (Qur’an 4: 153-158)
This translation is from a Muslim site, Sahih International; they added the “we cursed them” glosses in brackets.
This passage retails more hatred of the Jews and the Christians, the “People of the Scripture.” Says Ibn Kathir: “Allah threatens those who disbelieve in Him and in His Messengers, such as the Jews and Christians, who differentiate between Allah and His Messengers regarding faith”¦.The Jews, may Allah curse them, believe in the Prophets, except “˜Isa [Jesus] and Muhammad, peace be upon them. The Christians believe in the Prophets but reject their Final and Seal, and the most honored among the prophets, Muhammad, peace be upon him”¦.Therefore, whoever rejects only one of Allah”s Prophets, he will have disbelieved in all of them, because it is required from mankind to believe in every prophet whom Allah sent to the people of the earth.”
After the Jews disobeyed Allah repeatedly, Allah “sealed them because of their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few” (v. 155). The Jews boast that they killed Jesus, but “they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them” (v. 157).
Ibn Kathir explains: “When Allah sent “˜Isa [Jesus] with proofs and guidance, the Jews, may Allah”s curses, anger, torment and punishment be upon them, envied him because of his prophethood and obvious miracles”¦” They stirred up “the king of Damascus at that time, a Greek polytheist who worshipped the stars” to order his deputy in Jerusalem to arrest Jesus. Jesus, perceiving this, asked those with him, “Who volunteers to be made to look like me, for which he will be my companion in Paradise?” A young man volunteered, whereupon “Allah made the young man look exactly like “˜Isa, while a hole opened in the roof of the house, and “˜Isa was made to sleep and ascended to heaven while asleep.” Then “those surrounding the house saw the man who looked like “˜Isa, they thought that he was “˜Isa. So they took him at night, crucified him and placed a crown of thorns on his head. The Jews then boasted that they killed “˜Isa and some Christians accepted their false claim, due to their ignorance and lack of reason.”
Other sources offer other theories: Wahb bin Munabbah, Qatadah, and Mujahid say that Jesus was with seventy of his disciples when the guards came to arrest him, and all seventy were made to look just like Jesus; one stepped forward and was crucified. The Ruhul Ma”ani identifies the one who was made to look like Jesus and crucified as the one who betrayed him for thirty dirhams “” Judas. Allama Baghawi says it was a sentry who was guarding Jesus after his arrest.
In any case, this may seem like mere theological one upmanship, but coming from a book that commands its adherents to wage war against and subjugate those whose belief is deemed unacceptable, it carries with it more than a hint of menace. This hatred has played itself out in Muslim persecution of Jews and Christians for centuries.