A New York-based imam made a rare attempt at reinterpreting a selection of Islamic texts that make harsh statements against Jews.
“This hadith is very strange, and we should reexamine it, because it leads Islam to disaster. It says: ‘Judgment Day will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and then the rocks and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’” said Imam Tareq Yousef al-Masri, from the Oulel-Albab mosque in Brooklyn.
A video of the speech was first put online earlier this year, but only discovered and published by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) on Sunday.
The hadith – an Islamic tradition attributed to Muhammad – is well known and also appears in the Hamas covenant published in 1988.
Masri questions the validity of the hadith and its chain of transmission from the prophet.
He argued, “We have no religious dispute with anyone” as the Koran says: “And among the people of Moses is a community which guides by truth and by it establishes justice.”
“If a hadith is narrated by 40 or 50 of the prophet’s companions, we may deem it a reliable hadith. But if only one or two of the prophet’s companions narrate it, we should not take it at face value and base our entire relationship with the Jews upon it,” he explained.
“We cannot say that all Jews are bad. The Jews here, in America, are a million times more honorable than the Muslims,” said the imam according to the report.
“They are a million times more honorable than 50 percent of the Muslims. Our dispute is with [Israeli] bully politicians – not because they are Jews, but because they are bullies.”
The Koran should be the ultimate decider, continued Masri, adding that it also has negative references to Jews such as, “You shall find the strongest people in enmity towards the believers to be the Jews and the polytheists.”
“Does the word ‘Jews’ here refer to specific Jews or to all of them? It could mean the Jews who lived in Medina when these verses were conveyed, or it could refer to all the Jews,” rationalized the imam. “The Koran did not refer to all the Jews.”
In a previous sermon reported by MEMRI at the Brooklyn mosque, the reformist minded cleric in January referred to the Paris terrorist attacks that month saying, “Let us admit, without lying to ourselves, that we, the Muslims, are time bombs.”
He then commented, “When I say ‘we, the Muslims,’ I do not mean every single Muslim, but Muslims of the religious sector are time bombs.”