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Anti-Semitism in the Muslim world can be traced directly to the Koran’s curse upon the Jews for having allegedly slain the prophets and transgressed against the will of Allah. This motif is coupled to Koranic verses that describe the Jews' transformation into apes and swine – creatures that were "cursed by the tongue of David, and [by] Jesus, Mary's son." The Prophet Muhammad himself repeats this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith (a saying attributed to Islam's founder).

The Koran catalogues a litany of the Jews’ sins, including a lack of faith; disobedience and corruption; violence against the prophets; disrespect for Muhammad; "perverse" behavior; fraud; deceit; disobedience; distortion; envy; usury; sorcery; treachery; hedonism; and idol worship. These alleged justifications for Jew-hatred have continued to exert a profound influence on Muslims throughout history, right up to the modern era. Muslim exegetic literature on the Koran makes it clear that the Jews’ permanent “abasement and humiliation” has caused them to be “laden with God’s anger.”

The Prophet Muhammad not only assassinated individual Jews, but also destroyed entire Jewish communities by means of expulsion, mass murder, and enslavement. Just before subduing the Medinan Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza and orchestrating the mass execution of that tribe's adult males, Muhammad invoked perhaps the most striking justification for the Jews' debasement when he addressed them as "you brothers of apes," thus branding them as subhuman. Subsequently, in his conflict with the Khaybar Jews, Muhammad had the male leadership killed and then plundered their riches. The terrorized Khaybar survivors – industrious Jewish farmers – became prototype subjugated dhimmis whose productivity was extracted by the Muslims as a form of permanent booty.

As documented by an eminent scholar of dhimmitude, Bat Ye'or, numerous Koranic verses and hadith associate the Jews with hell and Satan. Ye'or cites, for example, the Spanish Muslim jurist Ibn Abdun quoting from the Koran to this effect in a legal treatise: "Satan has gained the mastery over them [the Jews], and caused them to forget God's Remembrance. Those are Satan's party."

As dhimmis in Muslim countries, Jews were given the most degrading tasks -- including jobs as executioners, grave-diggers, salters of the decapitated heads of rebels, and cleaners of latrines. Islamic societies exhibited unique forms of severe oppression of Jews, not found in Christian Europe, such as: abduction of Jewish girls for Muslim harems; enslavement of women and children who were unable to pay the jizya, a blood ransom "tax" demanded of non-Muslims; and the obligation in some regions for Jews to walk barefoot outside their quarters. With regard to enslavement, specifically, right up until their mass exodus in 1948, rural Yemenite Jews were literally Muslim chattel.

Of course, Islamic anti-Semitism went beyond mere dhimmitude. Among the little known pogroms and outbreaks of murderous violence against Jews living under Islamic rule were the following:

  • 6,000 Jews were massacred in Fez, Morocco in 1033;
  • hundreds of Jews were slaughtered in Muslim Cordoba between 1010 and 1015;
  • 4,000 Jews were killed in Muslim riots in Grenada in 1066, wiping out the entire community;
  • the Berber Muslim Almohad depredations against Jews (and Christians) in Spain and North Africa killed tens of thousands between 1130 and 1232;
  • the 1291 pogroms in Baghdad and its environs killed hundreds of Jews;
  • the 1465 pogrom against the Jews of Fez killed thousands, as did the late 15th-century pogrom against the Jews of Southern Moroccan;
  • in 1679, some 10,000 Yemeni Jews were expelled to the hot and arid Plain of Tihama, where 90 percent of them died from exposure;
  • recurring anti-Jewish violence – including pogroms and forced conversions – throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries rendered large areas of Iran Judenrein;
  • in the 1834 pogrom in Safed, raging Muslim mobs killed and grievously wounded hundreds of Jews;
  • in 1888, hundreds of Jews were massacred in Isfahan and Shiraz, Iran; 
  • 1907 saw the pillage and destruction of the Jewish ghetto in Casablanca, Morocco;
  • the government-sanctioned pogroms by Muslims in Turkish Eastern Thrace during June-July 1934 killed at least 3,000 Jews;
  • and between 1941 and 1967, some 900,000 Jews were forcibly expelled from Arab Muslim nations, including Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Syria, Aden, Bahrain, and Tunisia.

Anti-Semitism led to the creation, in 1928, of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological forbear to the terrorist groups Hamas and al Qaeda. This was also the era that saw the rise of the Palestinian Arab Movement (PAM), founded by Hajj Amin el-Husseini, who was appointed in 1921 by the British High Commissioner overseeing Palestine as Mufti of Jerusalem, a title he would retain for the rest of his life. Throughout his public career, the Mufti relied upon traditional Koranic anti-Jewish themes to inflame the Arab street. For example, during the incitement which led to the 1929 Arab revolt in Palestine, he called upon Muslims to slaughter "the Jews," not merely Zionists. In fact, most of the Jewish victims of the 1929 Arab revolt were Jews from the centuries-old dhimmi communities, as opposed to more-recent settlers identified with the Zionist movement.

With the ascent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the Mufti and his coterie intensified their anti-Semitic activities to secure support from Hitler's Germany, Bosnian Muslims, and the overall Arab Muslim world, for a jihad to annihilate the Jews of Palestine. In 1941 the Mufti made a failed bid to install a pro-Nazi government in Iraq. He then spent the remainder of the World War II years in Germany and Italy. From these sanctuaries, he provided active support for the Germans by recruiting Bosnian Muslims, in addition to Muslim minorities from the Caucasus, for dedicated Nazi SS units to engage in an international campaign of genocide against the Jews. For example, during his March 1, 1944 radio broadcast he stated: "Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion."

In the aftermath of World War II and the creation of the State of Israel. the Mufti's virulent Jew-hatred continued to exert a profound influence on the Arab-Muslim mind. Yasser Arafat, beginning at the age of 16, first worked for the Mufti performing terrorist operations. To the end of his life, Arafat would regard the Mufti as his primary spiritual and political mentor.

Muslim anti-Semitism has also found expression in the murderous agendas of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas, which are unequivocally dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the mass murder of Jews. The Hamas Founding Charter, for instance, calls on Muslims to fulfill the Koranic scripture that reads: "The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!"

These themes are transmitted and disseminated throughout the Islamic world by means of school textbooks, the mass media, and the fiery sermons of clerics who preach in the mosques.

Adapted from: "Antisemitism in Islam's Foundational Texts," by Andrew Bostom (November 18, 2008); and "Arab Muslim Anti-Semitism," by Andrew Bostom (November 25, 2002).



What Is Arab Anti-Semitism?
By Menahem Milson
April 7, 2011

Arab and Islamic Antisemitism
By Menahem Milson
May 27, 2008

Muslim Anti-Semitism
By Bernard Lewis
June 1998
Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel
Extracts from the proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research
Arab Muslim Anti-Semitism
By Andrew Bostom
November 25, 2002

What Is Arab Anti-Semitism?
February 27, 2004

How Anti-Semitism Prevents Peace
By David Patterson
Summer 2011

Arab/Muslim Attitudes Toward Israel
By Mitchell Bard

The Treatment of Jews in Arab Islamic Countries
By Mitchell Bard
The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism
By Andrew G. Bostom
May 22, 2008

Apocalyptic Muslim Jew Hatred
By Andrew G. Bostom 
July 18, 2006

From Islamic Eschatology to Annihilationist Muslim Jew Hatred
By Andrew G. Bostom
November 19, 2008

Antisemitism in Islam's Foundational Texts
By Andrew G. Bostom
November 18, 2008

An Apology for Koran's Anti-Semitism?
By Andrew G. Bostom
April 23, 2007

Islamic Anti-Semitism: From Sacred Texts to Modern Textbooks
By Andrew Bostom
July 28, 2008

Antisemitism in the Qur’an: Motifs and Historical Manifestations
By Andrew Bostom
April 7, 2008

Understanding the Islam in Islamic Antisemitism
By Andrew G. Bostom
November 17, 2008
The First and Last Enemy
By Andrew G. Bostom
October 19, 2007
In Muhammad’s Spittin’ Image
By Andrew G. Bostom
March 28, 2008
The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism
Jamie Glazov's interview with Andrew Bostom
June 13, 2008

Symposium: Apes, Pigs and Anti-Semitism
By Jamie Glazov
April 6, 2007
Brothers of Invention?
By Andrew G. Bostom
November 30, 2007
Remembering a Mass Jewish Exodus
By Andrew G. Bostom
July 19, 2007
The Jihad Against the Jews
By Martin Kramer

Graffiti On History's Walls
By Mortimer B. Zuckerman
October 29, 2003
How Suicide Bombers Are Made
By Fiamma Nirenstein
September 23, 2001

Anti-Semitism and Islam
By Timothy R. Furnish
February 2, 2007

The Koran and the Jews
By Jamie Glazov
June 3, 2004

Islamic Anti-Semitism
Jamie Glazov's interview with Prof. Khaleel Mohammed
October 31, 2003


* Anti-Semitism in Arab / Muslim Media

* Jihad Against the Jews

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