Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History

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Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History

Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.jpg
Author    Andrew G. Bostom
Language    English
Subject(s)    Antisemitism, Islam
Publisher    Prometheus Books
Released    June 1, 2008
Pages    766
ISBN    978-1591025542

Book Summary

The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism tackles two common misconceptions; that Islamic antisemitism actually does not exist, as proven by the so-called "Islamic Golden Age". And that if it does exist, it was only borrowed from Christian Europe or the Nazis and is not intrinsic to Islam.

Bostom methodically works his way through mountains of primary sources, and he presents that data to the reader, with full citations to original texts. Bostom uses Islam's own documents, including Islamic legal documents on Jews, and historical accounts of Jewish life in Muslim lands, reaching the inevitable conclusion: from the earliest days, from its founding by Prophet Muhammad, and from its central text, the Qur'an, antisemitism has been and still is a central aspect of Islam.

Through historical analysis, it is shown that there was no "Islamic Golden Age" when persons of various faiths lived in peace and harmony under wise, tolerant Islamic rulers, and that from the days of Muhammad, non-Muslims under Muslim rule were subject to taxation, humiliation, oppression, exile, and murder.

It is shown that Muslims have a readily discernible and uniquely Islamic form of antisemitism and that they did not learn this antisemitism from Christians. For instance, Muslims who had never met a Jew or a Christian brought their culturally-ingrained antisemitism with them into India, a largely Hindu and Buddhist sub-continent. Nor did they acquire antisemitism from "Scientific Racism" or Nazism's racial disdain for Jews. Arabs are Semites, just as Jews are. Yet Muslims forced Jews to wear distinctive badges more than a thousand years before Hitler did so. Christians and Hindus also had to wear identifying badges under Muslim leaders.

It is shown that the Qur'an itself is a significant source of hostility towards Jews as well as other foundational texts. Most notoriously, the Qur'anic verses equating Jews with "pigs and monkeys." Then there is the hadith, or saying of Muhammad, that rocks will speak to Muslims, asking them to kill Jews. These verses are freely cited by Islamic religious leaders today in sermons. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, exercised extreme hostility toward Jews.

The first section of The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism is an introduction of about 140 pages by Bostom which essentially summaries all the evidence for Islamic antisemitism, detailing the anti-Jewish motifs in Islamic sacred texts, particularly the Qur'an, as well as their historical manifestations. The next few sections simply reproduce the full texts from the Qur'an, hadith and sira.

There are then two sections devoted to reprinting primary sources from Muslim scholars and writers of the modern and premodern age - including Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the current and nearest Muslim equivalent of the Pope. Page after page is filled with unadulterated hatred and wild conspiracy theories in which every bad thing that has ever happened in the world is attributed to the Jews. The Muslim historian Tabari, for instance, was convinced that the entire Sunni-Shiite divide was invented by Jews as part of a grand conspiracy to destroy Islam.

The next section is a series of essays on the modern and historical condition of Jewish populations around the world. Contributors include Bostom himself and Bat Ye'or.

The final section is a series of historical and primary source documents detailing the plight of Jews from early Islam to today. The very last chapter - Chapter 69 - is simply a collection of quotes from Muslim leaders around the world in which they call for the physical annihilation of not only the Jewish State of Israel, but the entire Jewish population of the world.[1]


"Andrew Bostom produces a vast literature of Middle Eastern Islamic antisemitism, and critics may be as surprised at his conclusions as they are unable to refute his carefully compiled corpus of evidence." —Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, author of Carnage and Culture (2001), and A War Like No Other (2005)

"As a reference tool, Bostom’s book is overwhelmingly successful. His own chapter marshals quotations and documentation – bolstered by nearly 1,000 footnotes – that should remove all doubt about how central anti-Semitism has been and still is to Islam and to the civilization built around it." —Leon Cohen, Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

"For years scholars focused almost exclusively on the roots of Christian and secular antisemitism to understand the animosity targeted toward Jews in Western civilization during more than two millennia. But there's a parallel tradition, one far more explosive today: Islamic antisemitism and anti-Zionism. September 11, 2001 fostered a new age of conflict based on it. It's crucial that we don't shy away from analyzing its misconceptions, its history and strategies. Postponing such exploration is not only foolish but dangerous. Andrew Bostom offers a wide-ranging sampler of readings to start the task, from the Qur'an itself and the early biographers of Muhammad to the pre-modern theologians and jurists, and onwards to the major articulators of discontent in the modern era. His eye-opening anthology should become an essential resource." —Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture & Five-College 40th Anniversary Professor, Amherst College, author of The Disappearance: A Novella and Stories, and editor of The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature and The Scroll and the Cross: 1,000 Years of Jewish-Hispanic Literature.

"important and deeply discouraging." —Benny Morris, professor of History in the Middle East Studies department of Ben-Gurion University, Israel

"Stimulating and informative: a fascinating and disturbing voyage of historical discovery...It is magnificent." —Martin Gilbert, official biographer of Winston Churchill, and author of Never Again: A History of the Holocaust, (2000), and The Jews of Arab Lands: Their History in Maps, (1976)

"The publication of the present anthology...is a ground breaking event of major scholarly, cultural, and political significance....Everyone interested in Jewish and Islamic history, as well as current events in the Middle East should read this book--and soon." —Steven T. Katz, Director, Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, Boston University, and author of Post-Holocaust Dialogues (1984), and The Holocaust in Historical Context (1994)

"the author delves in considerable detail into the main sources of Islamic jurisprudence - the Koran and the Hadith, complemented by the Sirah (the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad), where an abundance of references, usually not complimentary but rather derogatory, are made to Jews, collectively known as Israi'liyyat (Israelites' stories). This is a trove of anti-Jewish stereotypes that have become the Shari'a-based uncontested "truth" about the People of the Book. Those accounts are invariably cited in sermons during Friday prayers, thus assuring their universal diffusion among Muslim constituents and the constant poisoning of the souls of young and adult Muslims alike, something that renders their fundamentally negative attitudes to Jews and Israel unchangeable." —Raphael Israeli, Professor of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Chinese history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the steering committee of the Ariel Center for Policy Research

"[A] priceless, indispensable, and authoritative resource which is being made available when it is most needed. —Richard L Rubenstein, President Emeritus University of Bridgeport; Lawton Distinguished Professor of Religion Emeritus, Florida State University; Author, After Auschwitz, The Cunning of History, and Jihad and Genocide: The Nuclear Dimension (forthcoming)

"Andrew Bostom has performed a rare and welcome service with the publication of The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism. He has patiently assembled an enormous body of primary sources that document the brutal Jew-hatred that has characterized much of Islamic culture from its earliest days. The book's importance goes far beyond the historical record, for it shows convincingly that the fledgling movement--and widespread Western hopes--to reform Islam, and imbue it with anything approaching true toleration, faces enormous obstacles." —Dr. Michael Ledeen, author of Universal Fascism (1972), and most recently, The Iranian Time Bomb (2007)

"Andrew Bostom's book is timely and instructive in educating all who wish to learn the roots of Islamic Antisemitism. It is one of the most important books of our time and should be read by all." —Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel (2007), and The Caged Virgin (2006)

See Also

External Links


  1. This book description is derived from Amazon.com reviews submitted by Danusha V. Goska and B. D. Wilson.