April 6, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 691

Former Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee Head Sets Out the Jews' 20 Bad Traits As Described in the Qur'an

April 6, 2004
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 691

On March 22, 2004 Sheikh 'Atiyyah Saqr, former head of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee who in the past issued a Fatwa declaring Jews "apes and pigs," [1] was asked the following question this week in an online chat room: "What, according to the Qur'an, are the Jews' main characteristics and qualities?" The following is his answer: [2]

The Bad Traits of the Jews Outweigh Their One Good Trait

Sheikh Saqr lists one positive trait of the Jews [3] , and then 20 bad traits: fabricating; listening to lies; disputing and quarreling; hiding the truth and supporting deception; rebelling against the Prophets and rejecting their guidance; hypocrisy; wishing evil on people; feeling pain at others' happiness and feeling happiness at others' afflictions; rudeness and vulgarity; murder of innocents; mercilessness and heartlessness; breaking promises; cowardice; and miserliness.

In discussing these bad traits, Sheikh Saqr wrote, "We would like to note that these are but some of the most famous traits of the Jews as described in the Qur'an. They have revolted against the divine ordinances, distorted what has been revealed to them and invented new teachings which, they claimed, were much more better than what has been recorded in the Torah.

"It was [because of] these traits that they were not warmly received in all the countries where they tried to reside. Instead, they were either driven out, or lived in isolation.

"It was the Almighty Allah who placed on them His Wrath and [humiliated] them due to their transgression. Almighty Allah told us that He had sent to them those who would pour upon them rain of severe punishment that would last till the Day of Resurrection.

"All this gives us glad tidings of the coming victory of Muslims over [the Jews], as soon as Muslims cling to strong faith and belief in Allah and adopt modern means of technology."

Explaining the discrepancy between the Jews' bad and good traits, Saqr added: "The Qur'an [devoted] a considerable [number] of its verses to talking about Jews [and] their personal qualities and characteristics. The Qur'anic description of Jews is quite impartial, praising them in some occasions where they deserve praise and condemning them in other occasions where they practice blameworthy acts. Yet the latter occasions outnumbered the former, due to their bad qualities and the heinous acts they committed."

Saqr then lists the following 20 "bad traits" of the Jews, as they appear in the Qur'an:

  1. "They used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah. Allah Almighty says: 'That is because they say: We have no duty to the Gentiles. They knowingly speak a lie concerning Allah.' (Al-'Imran: 75) Also: 'The Jews say: Allah's hand is fettered. [But it is] their hands that are fettered and they are accursed for saying [Allah's hands are fettered]. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will' (Al-Ma'idah: 64) In another verse, Almighty Allah says: 'Verily, Allah heard the words of those who said, (when asked for contributions to the war): 'Allah, forsooth, is poor, and we are rich! We shall record their words with their wrongful slaying of the Prophets and we shall say: Taste ye the punishment of burning!' (Al-'Imran: 181)
  2. "They love to listen to lies. Concerning this Allah says: 'And of the Jews: listeners for the sake of falsehood, listeners on behalf of other folk.' (Al-Ma'idah: 41)
  3. "Disobeying Almighty Allah and never observing His commands. Allah says: 'And because they broke their covenant, We have cursed them and hardened their hearts.' (Al-Ma'idah: 13)
  4. "Disputing and quarreling. This is clear in the verse that reads: 'Their Prophet said unto them: Lo! Allah hath raised up Saul to be a king for you. They said: How can he have kingdom over us when we are more deserving of the kingdom than he is, since he hath not been given wealth enough?' (Al-Baqarah: 247)
  5. "Hiding the truth and supporting deception. This can be understood from the verse that reads: '… [They] distort the Scripture with their tongues, that ye may think that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture.' (Al-'Imran: 78)
  6. "Rebelling against the Prophets and rejecting their guidance. This is clear in the verse: 'And when ye said: O Moses! We will not believe in thee till we see Allah plainly.' (Al-Baqarah: 55)
  7. "Hypocrisy. In a verse, we read: 'And when they fall in with those who believe, they say: We believe; but when they go apart to their devils they declare: Lo! we are with you; verily we did but mock.' (Al-Baqarah: 14) In another verse, we read: 'Enjoin ye righteousness upon mankind while ye yourselves forget (to practice it)? And ye are readers of the Scripture! Have ye then no sense?' (Al-Baqarah: 44)
  8. "Giving preference to their own interests over the rulings of religion and the dictates of truth. Allah says [to the Jews]: '… When there cometh unto you a messenger (from Allah) with that which ye yourselves desire not, ye grow arrogant, and some ye disbelieve and some ye slay?' (Al-Baqarah: 87)
  9. "Wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them. This is clear in the verse that reads: 'Many of the People of the Book long to make you disbelievers after your belief, through envy on their own account, after the truth hath become manifest unto them.' (Al-Baqarah: 109)
  10. "They feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity. This is clear in the verse that reads: 'If a lucky chance befall you, it is evil unto them, and if disaster strike you they rejoice thereat.' (Al-'Imran: 120)
  11. "They are known for their arrogance and haughtiness. They claim to be the sons and of Allah and His beloved ones. Allah tells us about this in the verse that reads: 'The Jews and Christians say: We are sons of Allah and His loved ones.' (Al-Ma'idah: 18)
  12. "Utilitarianism and opportunism are among their innate traits. This is clear in the verse that reads: 'And of their taking usury when they were forbidden it, and of their devouring people's wealth by false pretences.' (An-Nisa': 161)
  13. "Their rudeness and vulgarity is beyond description. Referring to this, the Qur'anic verse reads: 'Some of those who are Jews change words from their context and say: We hear and disobey; hear thou as one who heareth not, and Listen to us!, distorting with their tongues and slandering religion. If they had said: We hear and we obey; hear thou, and look at us, it had been better for them, and more upright. But Allah hath cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, save for a few.' (An-Nisa':46)
  14. "It is easy for them to slay people and kill innocents. Nothing in the world is dearer to their hearts than shedding blood and murdering human beings. They never give up this trait even with the Messengers and the Prophets. Allah says: '… And [they] slew the prophets wrongfully.' (Al-Baqarah: 61)
  15. "They are merciless and heartless. In this meaning, the Qur'anic verse explains: 'Then, even after that, your hearts were hardened and became as rocks, or worse than rocks, for hardness.' (Al-Baqarah: 74)
  16. "They never keep their promises or fulfill their words. Almighty Allah says: Is it ever so that when ye make a covenant, a party of you violates it?' The truth is, most of them believe not.' (Al-Baqarah: 100)
  17. "They rush hurriedly to sin and compete in transgression. Allah says: 'They restrained not one another from the wickedness they did. Verily, evil was what they used to do!' (Al-Ma'idah: 79)
  18. "Cowardice and love for this worldly life are undisputable traits [of the Jews]. It is to this that the Qur'an refers when saying: 'Ye [Muslims] are more awful as fear in their [the Jews'] bosoms than Allah. That is because they are people who understand not. They will not fight against you in a group save in fortified villages or from behind walls. Their adversity among themselves is very great. Ye think of them as a whole whereas their hearts are diverse.' (Al-Hashr: 13-14) Allah Almighty also says: 'And thou wilt find them greediest of mankind for life and (greedier) than the idolaters.' (Al-Baqarah: 96)
  19. "Miserliness runs deep in their hearts. Describing this, the Qur'an states: 'Or have they even a share in the Sovereignty? Then in that case, they would not give mankind even the speck on a date stone.' (An-Nisa': 53)
  20. "Distorting Divine Revelation and Allah's Sacred Books. Allah says in this regard: 'Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and say, 'This is from Allah,' that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for what their hands have written, and woe unto them for what they earn thereby.' (Al-Baqara: 79)

[1] April 15, 2002.

[2], March 22, 2004.

[3] According to Sheikh 'Atiyyah Saqr : "The Qur'an has specified a considerable deal of its verses to talking about Jews, their personal qualities and characteristics. The Qur'anic description of Jews is quite impartial; praising them in some occasions where they deserve praise and condemning them in other occasions where they practice blameworthy acts. Yet, the latter occasions outnumbered the former, due to their bad qualities and the heinous acts they used to commit. The Qur'an praises them on the verse that reads: ' And verily We gave the Children of Israel the Scripture and the Command and the Prophethood, and provided them with good things and favored them above (all) peoples.' (Al-Jathiyah:16) i.e. the peoples of their time."

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