Qasim Choudhary, Texas, USA
‘Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe.’– Texas Governor Gregg Abbott
As Gov. Abbott’s tweet spread across the twitterverse, a collective majority let out a sigh of relief knowing that their brothers and sisters in humanity were safe and unharmed. On 15 January 2022, an armed gunman took four people hostage, including a rabbi, at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. After a near 11 hour stand-off, the FBI stormed the synagogue and thankfully, all hostages were safely released. According to reports, the hostage-taker was also making anti-semitic remarks during the ordeal.
It goes without saying that taking innocent people hostage, and uttering anti-semitic sentiments is reprehensible and must be condemned in the strongest of terms. There can be no justification for such acts of violence and hatred.
Simultaneously, bigotry has reared its vicious head on social media to play the blame game, create discord, and malign another religion. What the bigots fail to understand is that as Gov. Abbott was praying, millions of Muslims, Christians, Jews and many others across the country were also praying, imploring for the safety of the hostages.
To those columnists, authors, and politicians holding Islamic ideology as the main culprit for the tragedy in Colleyville, Texas, nothing could be further from the truth. So here is a quick lesson in history showcasing that Islam is in no shape or form anti-Semitic.
How Does the Holy Qur’an view the Jewish People?
Does the Holy book of Muslims encourage its followers to persecute and treat Jews with contempt? Quite the contrary. The Holy Qur’an refers to both Christians and Jews as the ‘People of the Book’. The Prophets Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jesus peace be upon all of them are all, revered Jewish Prophets mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. It is incumbent upon Muslims to love and believe every single one of them.
About Moses (as) it is written:
‘O Moses, I have chosen thee above the people of thy time by My messages and by My word.’The Holy Qur’an 7:145
About Jesus (as) and Elijah (as) it is written:
‘Jesus and Elijah; each one of them was of the virtuous.’The Holy Qur’an 6:86
Regarding Solomon (as) it is mentioned:
‘We bestowed on David, Solomon who was an excellent servant. He was always turning to Us.’The Holy Qur’an 38:31
How Did the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) Treat Jewish People?
As Madinah’s leader, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) ensured that Jews under his sovereignty enjoyed religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and were afforded a position of equality. In fact, under Article 17 of the Madinah charter of 622 penned by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) it states,
‘No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew.’
The pristine and beautiful examples established by the Holy Prophet (sa) were then implemented by those who followed him as well. For example, once during the era of Hazrat Umar (ra), the Second Caliph of Islam, there was a dispute between a Jewish man and a Muslim. Hazrat Umar (ra) believed that the Jewish man was in the right, and made a decision in his favour. Thus, while being the leader of Muslims, he exhibited equitable and fair treatment.
How Does the Holy Qur’an Protect Places of Worship?
Allah the Almighty categorically mentions the importance of respecting all places of worship, and upholding religious freedoms.
‘Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’—And if Allah did not repel some people by means of others, there would surely have been destroyed cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty.’The Holy Qur’an 22:41
‘In this verse, God Almighty has not only drawn attention to the security of Muslims but to the security of other religions as well. How can it be possible that God Almighty should command the Muslims on the one hand to raise arms to defend their places of worship and their faith and also the places of worship of other religions, whilst on the other hand He should command the annihilation of other religions and the spreading of Islam by force? Thus, respect has been inculcated in the heart of a Muslim for the sanctity not only of mosques but also of cloisters, churches, synagogues and the places of worship of other religions.’
Thus, the cowardly extremist who hijacked the synagogue has no backing from the Holy Qur’an, nor the Holy Prophet (sa). He acted out of his own detestable motivations and Islam lends him not even an iota of support.
On January 15, as I drove to my mosque in Texas for the evening prayers, I thought about the safety of my own congregation, but during the prayers, I also thought of my Jewish brothers and sisters in distress, and prayed for their well-being. In these times of polarisation let’s not give in to the hate and divisiveness; we must unite and pray for the alleviation of pain that humankind is enduring.
‘Islamophobia is not solidarity with the Jewish community. We need your love, and we need bridge-building. We can and must do better.’– Rabbi Joshua Stanton
About the Author: Qasim Choudhary is a graduate from the Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology in Canada, and serves as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Texas, USA.