A common misconception about Islam is that it espouses hostility with Jews and Christians. The verse quoted in this regard is:
“O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other.”
In this regard, it is important to note the following:
a. The Arabic word used in the Qur’an is awliyah. As a general rule, believers are encouraged to turn only to God for protection and security.
a. It is necessary to consider this verse in light of other verses of the Qur’an such as:
“Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure.”
“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.”
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
1. Islam permits Muslim men to marry chaste women from among the Jews and Christians. The Muslim man is obligated to treat his Jewish or Christian wife with mercy, love and compassion. Which is more intimate, the marital relationship or friendship? Does it make sense that a Muslim would be permitted to marry a non-Muslim, but not befriend one?
2. It is ludicrous to say that the Prophet of Islam or the Qur’an is anti-Semitic, because the Prophet himself was Semitic.
3. How could the Qur’an be considered anti-Semitic when the name of Moses is mentioned many more times than the name of Muhammed ? The Quran describes the original Torah revealed to Moses as giving light and guidance, and demands the respecting of the rights of all people, including Jews.
4. It is incumbent on Muslims to believe in the original revelation sent to Prophets Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). The criticism in the Qur’an is aimed at distortions and sinful acts of Jews, Christians as well as some Muslims.
5. It is true that in parts of the Muslim world, one can find anti-Semitic views. These have nothing to do with the Qur’an and are a distortion of Qur’anic principles. Political problems often take a religious hue, and like every community, fanatics exist among Muslims too.
6. Through the better part of the history of Islamic civilization, Muslims understood that their faith required that they treat people of all religions with respect. Christians and Jews lived in peace and security within the Ottoman Empire. In Muslim Spain, Muslims and Jews co-operated in creating a glorious civilization, whose light shone over Europe during the Middle Ages. None of this would have been possible, if the Qur’an, the fountainhead of Islamic teachings, preached hostility towards people of other faiths.