Dr. Youssuf Al-Hadhiri, a columnist for the Yemeni paper 'Aden Al-Ghad, came out against the practice of Muslim clerics and preachers to call the Jews "descendants of apes and pigs" and entrench this expression in the Muslim public discourse. In a recent article, he discusses the Koranic verses that are the source of this expression in order to prove that it is false, and argues that the use of this expression only damages Islam.
Below are translated excerpts from the article:
Dr. Youssuf Al-Hadhiri
"From the dawn of our lives we were raised on a number of terms [that we absorbed] during our studies, from our teachers, from some of the media [outlets] and from prevalent social messages, until [they became part of] the Islamic culture that we… rely upon in our attitude towards other religions, and especially towards Judaism and Christianity. However, the most important term that we have lived with, and still live with, is [the one used to] describe members of [these] other two religions, namely 'the descendants of apes and pigs.' In fact, this has become a concept fixed in our minds, for we believe that it descended from the Lord of the Universe to our revered prophet, the faithful Muhammad…
"However, once, as I was perusing the Koranic verses that describe the story and [explain] the source of this notion of the apes and its connection to Judaism and Jews, I found myself beset by questions that sprang to my mind and caused me to sense a discrepancy between my rationalism and method for drawing conclusions and [the opinions of] Muslim religious clerics, jurisprudents and preachers who have long been [inculcating] this concept and this perception in Muslim society.
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"Let's go back to the beginning – to the forefathers of these descendants whom we have long been describing as apes. If we are logical and honest with ourselves and with others, regardless of the hostility and the conflict that has existed between [us and] them throughout history, we [must examine] the story about the Sabbath violators whom Allah addressed. The [Koranic] tale about them says: 'And ask them (O Muhammad) about the town that was by the sea - when they transgressed in (the matter of) the sabbath - when their fish came to them openly on their sabbath day, and the day they had no sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were defiantly disobedient. And when a community among them said, "Why do you advise (or warn) a people whom Allah is (about) to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?" They (the advisors) said, "To be absolved before your Lord and perhaps they may fear Him." And when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying. So when they were insolent about that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, "Be apes, despised"' [Koran 7:163-167].
"Whoever studies these verses logically, clear headedly and honestly, will discover that the people described in them were subdivided into three groups: a group whose members Allah transformed into apes after they disobeyed him, opposed his edicts and fished on the Sabbath; and two groups that did not fish, [but rather] fulfilled God's commandment and the prohibition on fishing that he imposed on them. Moreover, one group of the two even fulfilled [the order] to prohibit evil and advised the first rebellious group to obey Allah and fear him. Hence, only the rebellious ones changed their form and became animals, whereas the members of the obedient group remained human… Since we all know that animals give birth to animals, this means that the Jewish humans whom Allah transformed into apes, if they were able to multiply back then, they must have given birth to apes who gave birth to [more] apes, and so on until this very day. [Hence, their current] offspring are apes, and not humans, as we unfortunately hear from some Muslim scholars, jurisprudents and preachers [who] scold them and curse them. On the other hand, the laws of nature and logic [dictate that] the humans whose shape Allah did not alter, and who obeyed his edicts during that period, produced offspring who are human to this very day. Therefore the Jews who are our contemporaries are descendants of the Jews who obeyed Allah during that period. In other words, they are descendants of people who were believers, regardless of their present condition [as believers or unbelievers], and they are not the descendants of apes and pigs, as some of the minds who harm the Islamic religion and its faithful Prophet currently disseminate.
"Whoever investigates the Prophet's biography and the hadiths he uttered will not find a single mention of [the Jews] being the descendants of apes and pigs. We never heard these sayings [until] religion was mixed with politics and clerics became immersed in politics from head to toe. Judaism and Christianity are two religions that we Muslims must believe in, otherwise our belief will be deficient or unacceptable in the eyes of Allah… The use of such expressions adversely affects our Islamic religion, although it is innocent of such expressions and of the people using them, whose [conduct] reflects on them alone, not on Islam…"
 See MEMRI Report no. 11, "Based on Koranic Verses, Interpretations, and Traditions, Muslim Clerics State: The Jews Are the Descendants of Apes, Pigs, And Other Animals," November 1, 2002.
 'Aden Al-Ghad (Yemen), May 27, 2013.