Today brings still more Qur’anic antisemitism:
And the Jews say, “The hand of Allah is chained.” Chained are their hands, and cursed are they for what they say. Rather, both His hands are extended; He spends however He wills. And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. And We have cast among them animosity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection. Every time they kindled the fire of war [against you], Allah extinguished it. And they strive throughout the land [causing] corruption, and Allah does not like corrupters. (Qur’an 5:64)
“The hand of Allah is chained”? It is unclear what Jewish concept, if any, the Qur’an is referring to in this case. Ibn Kathir comments: “Allah states that the Jews, may Allah’s continuous curses descend on them until the Day of Resurrection, describe Him as a miser. Allah is far holier than what they attribute to Him.”
Allah is also absolute will, with hand absolutely unfettered: Allah’s unfettered hand is a vivid image of divine freedom. Such a God can be bound by no laws. Muslim theologians argued during the long controversy with the heretical Islamic Mu”˜tazilite sect, which exalted human reason beyond the point that the eventual victors were willing to tolerate, that Allah was free to act as he pleased, even to the extent that he was not bound to govern the universe according to consistent and observable laws. “He cannot be questioned concerning what He does” (Qur’an 21:23).
Accordingly, there was no point to observing the workings of the physical world; there was no reason to expect that any pattern to its workings would be consistent, or even discernible. If Allah could not be counted on to be consistent, why waste time observing the order of things? It could change tomorrow. Stanley Jaki, a Catholic priest and physicist, explains that it was the renowned Sufi thinker al-Ghazali who “denounced natural laws, the very objective of science, as a blasphemous constraint upon the free will of Allah.”
The great twelfth-century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides explained orthodox Islamic cosmology in similar terms, noting that Islamic thinkers of his day assumed “the possibility that an existing being should be larger or smaller than it really is, or that it should be different in form and position from what it really is; e.g., a man might have the height of a mountain, might have several heads, and fly in the air; or an elephant might be as small as an insect, or an insect as huge as an elephant. This method of admitting possibilities is applied to the whole Universe.”
Relatively early in its history, therefore, science was deprived in the Islamic world of the philosophical foundation it needed in order to flourish. It found that philosophical foundation only in Christian Europe, where it was assumed that God was good and had constructed the universe according to consistent and observable laws. Such an idea would have been for pious Muslims tantamount to saying, “Allah’s hand is fettered.”
This same verse also says that whenever the Jews “kindled the fire of war [against you], Allah extinguished it” That is, says the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, “war against the Prophet(s).” According to Bulandshahri, “The Jews make every effort to instigate wars against the Muslims, but Allah foils their attempts each time, either by instilling terror in their hearts or by their defeat in these battles.” The Jews also “strive to do mischief on earth” — that is, fasaad (ÙÙŽØ³ÙŽØ§Ø¯) — for which the punishment is specified in Qur’an 5:33: “they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land.”