Bostom: the Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism

June 20, 2008, Jihad Watch:

In his writing, Bostom tries to chase away a different kind of demon: the pervasive belief that the anti-Semitism common to so many Muslims today is a modern, and alien, influence on what more than 1 billion people call "the religion of peace."

One look at the cover art of The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism is all it takes to discern what Bostom thinks of that. Alfred Dehodencq's vividly colorful but starkly ominous painting "Execution of a Moroccan Jewess" is a recreation of the actual public execution, in Tangier in the 1830s, of 17-year-old Sol Hachuel, who was falsely accused of converting to, and then renouncing, Islam. In an introductory note on the painting and on the heartbreaking tale, Bostom asserts that Sol's cruel fate was shared by countless Jews over more than a dozen centuries, wherever Muslims ruled. Then, in the several hundred pages that follow, he proves it ...

... Bostom ... provides an extraordinarily thorough look at the history of Islamic anti-Semitism in practice, from the dawn of the religion until today and in every place where Muslims predominated, using first-hand accounts of renowned Muslim scholars and historians as well as Western observers. The questions facing Muslims today - Will they deny this religiously motivated hatred? Excuse it? Use it for political gain? Reject it and reform Islam? - all require an in-depth examination of the Koran, the hadith (sayings and deeds of Muhammad and his companions), and the sira (the biography of Muhammad) as the textual roots of this hatred. And that is what Bostom provides in The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism.

What makes this work truly unique, though, is that Bostom had virtually no knowledge of Islam prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks. He is an epidemiologist and clinical nutritionist from New England who spends the vast majority of his time researching renal diseases.

"I wanted to know what had motivated the terrorists," says Bostom, who grew up in New York. So, on the afternoon of September 11, "I grabbed a couple of books at a bookstore on the way home and read them that night. But they were so treacle-y and so transparently apologetic." The contradiction between the Islam espoused by the terrorists and the religion described in the books, he says, "just didn't make any sense."

In search of deeper analyses of Islam, Bostom began exhausting the resources of local libraries.

"I was quite interested in learning more about the history and the theology of jihad," he says. (The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism is essentially the continuation of his 2005 book The Legacy of Jihad in Islam.) "The model for me was to go back and look at essays written by great Orientalists and materials that I felt had fallen by the wayside. Of special interest were materials that were not available in English, for which I sought out Arabic and Farsi translators. Almost all my primary sources were Muslim scholars."

WHILE SEARCHING for the roots of jihad, Bostom found the roots of Islam's Jew-hatred. More often than not, they were intertwined.

"As I was putting the first book together, I came across Ahmad Sirhindi," he explains. "He was an Indian Sufi who was enraged by the reforms of Moghul Akbar, who abolished the jizya [poll tax]. This enraged the orthodox ulema [scholars], one of the chief representatives of whom was Sirhindi. Amongst his virulent tracts against the moghul he says, 'Whenever a Jew is killed, it is for the benefit of Islam.' Now, this is a 16th-17th century anti-Hindu ideologue, and there's no evidence that he ever had contact with a Jew. So I was like, 'Where on earth did this come from?'"

Bostom looked first to the Koran for an explanation.

"When I put together the Koranic verses on the Jews," he continues, "they read like an indictment, prosecution and conviction. It was virulently anti-Semitic. Going into the hadith and the histories of Muhammad - where his assassination is attributed to a Khybar Jewess, for example - only strengthened this conviction.

"So when I juxtaposed that with the notion that there was no theological anti-Semitism in Islam, it was stunning. It's just so in-your-face that to claim that the foundational sources don't create anti-Semitism or aren't inherently anti-Semitic... it's absurd."
Ibn Warraq: forward to The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism:
"During the last fifteen years, certain Western scholars have tried to argue that, first, Islamic antisemitism—that is, hatred of Jews—is only a recent phenomenon learned from the Nazis during and after the 1940s, and, second, that Jews lived safely under Muslim rule for centuries, especially during the Golden Age of Muslim Spain. Both assertions are unsupported by the evidence ... Islam of the texts, as found in the Qur'an and hadith (the sayings and deeds of the Prophet and his companions) and in the sira (the biography of Muhammad, which obviously overlaps with the hadith), and ... the Islam developed or elaborated from those texts early on by the Qur'anic commentators and jurisconsults, and then set in stone more than a millennium ago ... and even ... Islamic civilization—that is, what Muslims actually did historically— have all been deeply antisemitic. That is, all have been anti-infidel, so that Christians too are regarded with disdain and contempt and hatred, but the Jews have been served, or been seen to have merited, a special animus."
Diana West
In history, as in science, the truth lies in the evidence:
The obvious question is: How does a medical researcher studying homocysteine’s effect on cardiovascular disease in patients suffering from chronic kidney problems shift his focus to the study of jihad and anti-Semitism in Islam?

Answer: He doesn’t. That is, while embarked on his Islamic studies, Bostom — a lifelong Democrat, by the way — has remained the Principle Investigator in a $40 million, decade-long National Institutes of Health renal study involving more than 4,000 patients in the United States, Canada and Brazil. Not only that (and this is something that has impressed me, both as what you might call a confrere in Islamic inquiry and also as a friend), he has applied essentially the same scientific principles he uses in medical research to the study of Islam.

“We are used to analyzing things very critically and taking almost everything with a grain of salt,” Bostom explained recently, discussing his work as a medical researcher at Rhode Island Hospital, the major teaching hospital affiliated with Brown University. Such analysis includes, for example, monthly gatherings known as morbidity and mortality reviews where errors and oversights in medical treatment are critically examined. “We are trained to think the stakes are never higher because we are dealing with life and death. If you get something wrong, you kill people.”

Bringing such skepticism and urgency to the study of Islam (where, he maintains, “getting something wrong” can kill even more people), Bostom soon found himself butting up against consensus teachings contradicted by the voluminous evidence he was gathering. Take anti-Semitism in Islam, the subject of his new book. The view that Islamic anti-Semitism is a relatively recent import into Islam from Christian Europe and Nazi Germany is declared as settled fact by historians such as Bernard Lewis and popular authors such as Lawrence Wright (“The Looming Tower”). Bostom’s conclusions, based on an array of religious texts and commentaries, historical analyses and eyewitness accounts, which he presents in “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism,” suggest otherwise.

Both the anti-Semitism book and the jihad book before it are constructed similarly. They open with long introductory essays by Bostom, comparable, he says, to scientific grant proposals. In these essays, he presents his hypothesis based on his interpretation of the evidence and data reproduced in the rest of the book. In both books, such “raw material” includes key works from both Muslim and non-Muslim sources that have never before been translated into English. Such materials serve “as a reality check,” Bostom says, “for people to read for themselves” in order to test his hypothesis.

After all, in history, as in science, the truth lies in the evidence.
Alyssa Lappen:
Bostom's ground-breaking "Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims," conclusively proves that profound Islamic hatred for the Jewish people originated with the religion's founder, Muhammad. Moreover, his companions, successor "rightly guided" Caliphs and Islamic jurists over the next 1,400 years maintained that hateful overarching passion.

Bostom's evidence is impossible to ignore, waive off or attribute to anti-Islamic bias. Most of the book's double-columned 766 pages contain primary source material: excerpts from Islamic sacred texts, jurisprudence and historical accounts (by Muslims and non-Muslims alike) across the span of Islamic history.

The opening 171-page review (and 962 citations) breathtakingly maps the roots of Islamic anti-Semitism--within the religion's unique and judicial traditions, and its historical record.

This alone should convince even skeptics that Islamic anti-Semitism began in the 7th century.

The Quran refers to Jews as apes and swine (2:65, 7:166, 5:60), themes that were repeatedly exploited in incitements to murder ...

... one 12-page chapter contains 55 anti-Semitic Quranic verses, each translated three times to avoid confusion or denial of their toxicity ...

A Jewish woman, Bukhari reports, murdered Muhammad when she "brought a poisoned (cooked) sheep for the Prophet who ate from it." (Vol. 3, book 47,. no. 786) He also records Muhammad saying, Muslims "will fight the Jews "til some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, "O "Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him."" (Vol. 4, Book 52, no 176) The Hamas Charter prominently features the latter Bukhari tradition in Article 7--and contains many more unadulterated Quranic passages and Hadiths too.

... Hadith encourages Muslims to curse rather than greet Jews ...

U.S. legislators and policy makers--and journalists, Middle East and Islamic scholars--take note: As Stanford University's Victor Davis Hanson observes, conclusions adduced from Bostom's tome may surprise critics as much as this "vast literature of Middle Eastern Islamic anti-Semitism" confounds all attempts "to refute his carefully compiled corpus of evidence."

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