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Does the Qur'an call Jews Pigs and Apes? And is it Allowed for Muslims to Do So?

Asalamu alaykum,

I was recently asked this question and hope this answer helps?

The Question: “Does the Qur’an call Jews pigs and apes? And it is allowed for Muslims to do so?”

Answer:

Thanks for your question.:

In the second chapter of the Qur’an there is the story of the people of the Sabbath who failed to abide by Allah’s commands. Thus, according to the Qur’an they were turned into pigs and apes. However, there are a few important points to this story:

1. It does not refer to all the people of the Jewish faith, but only a certain group of people from the followers of Musa.

2. It is not appropriate for one to call people of the Jewish tradition “pigs and apes” or “sons of pigs and apes” since, besides being extremely rude, it is not correct. All major commentators of Quran mention that these pigs and apes did not reproduce but died off. Sh. Yusuf al-Qaradwi noted this mentioning that one should not do so. Finally, Muslims are ordered by Allah to “Speak that which is best” and to “Call unto the way of your Lord with wisdom.” Thus, it is not befitting for a Muslim to be lowly in his discourse, rude in his manners and bigoted towards others. Allah says, “[you must] be just. It is closer to piety.”

We ask Allah to raise our stations and grant us noble characters.

Suhaib

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship.

Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010 and his website, www.SuhaibWebb.com, was voted the best “Blog of the Year” by the 2009 Brass Crescent awards.

Suhaib Webb has lectured extensively around the world including in the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America. Upon returning from his studies in Egypt, Webb lived in the Bay Area, California, where he worked with the Muslim American Society from Fall 2010 to Winter 2011. He currently serves as the Imam of the Islamic Society of Boston’s Cultural Center (ISBCC).

19 Comments

  • Jazakumallahu khairan Shaikh Imam Suhaib, may Allah bless you for propogating the knowledge, may Allah keep you and this website going for a long long time :)

  • As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Jazak Allahu khayran, dear brother.

    Would it be okay for me to translate some of your blog posts, like this one, and post them on my blog ( http://sunnidk.wordpress.com )? I would off course credit you and link back to your original post. The translation will be to danish.

    BarakAllahu feek, dear Imam.

    May Allah reward you and let us learn from you.

    Was-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

  • There is a principle in Judaism that a person does not obey Allah that person is considered beneath an animal. An animal does not have intellect as we do and it does as Allah wishes. When a Jew who like all humans has the intelect and capacity to discern the truth and obey Allah’s commands fails to do so he is beneath the animal.

    I find it interesting that one would postulate from this account in the Quran that all Jews are Pigs and Apes.
    Even if those Jews who were transformed in this manner did reproduce would not the offspring be Pigs and Apes? I never met a Jew with four legs and rolling around in mud. Nor have I met a Jew with hair all over and eating bananas. I am poking a little fun, but you see my point I am sure.

    It is advantageous for those who want to divide the Muslim and Jewish community with hate and fear to propogate this falsehood that all Jews are pigs and apes.

    Remember how Muhammad pbuh treated the Jews of his time. We should emulate the Prophet pbuh in this manner as we do so dillegently in all others.

  • Assalaaamu Alaikum
    subhanallah!!! I just watched a video on YouTube with my friend who wants to convert and it was a mother asking a 3 yr old what Allah thinks of the Jews and the girl said that they are pigs and monkeys and then She asked her how she knew and the girl said from the Quran. Both me and my friend were suprised and I was embarrassed because I didn’t know wat to say and I knew I remeber reading that somewhere. Now I know to show her this, Alhamdulillah.
    As Muslims we need to also stop saying “yighribit il yahood” astagfirullah
    may Allah forgive us
    barak alahu feek suheib webb!! I love ur website!

  • I happened to stumble across this site while trying to explain to someone that “Yes, there’s something in the Qu’ran about Jews, apes & pigs, but it’s NOT what everyone thinks it is” – and this site, as well as the commentary, perfectly illustrate the point I was trying to make. Thank you for getting the truth out.

  • ASalamu Alaikum,
    I was looking for more info about the “Apes and Pigs” and
    Can you linked me to some sources that denied the use of those Suras against nowadays Jews and Christians? Because as we know, nowadays, there are many Islamic groups (like Hamas, Islamic jihad etc’) who are using those terms against Jews (mostly) and Christians…
    Anyway, I’m glad I could find here other point of view.
    Thank you for that.

  • Hey cousins,
    Nice to see there are some decent Muslims out there who don’t think we Jews are descendants of pigs and monkeys!
    Wish you guys had a stronger voice in the world.
    Blessings!
    Shaul

    • Hey! Yes we respect Jews and we would never call them as such. Allah was describing a punishment to those persons as warning to Muslims so that we too should not do what is forbidden. In many instances in the Quran Allah says that he favoured the children of Israel by helping them against pharaoh and his army, and showered on them food, the manna and quail from the sky which is a miracle just for them. In fact we Muslims have more in common with practising Jews than the Christians in many things. The Muslims that say such things are not educated properly and are angered more at the political situation between Jews and Muslims, and their leaders are wrongly fuelling such hatred by brainwashing them and twisting the words of our Almighty creator.

  • Can you explain how millions of Muslims around the world believe that the Koran does actually define all Jews as pigs and or dogs? Can you explain in terms of textual references to the Koran, how Muslims carry out 99% of the world’s religiously motivated murders, rapes and genocide? Muslim Terrorists obviously believe the Koran does instruct them to kill non Muslims and that it does define Jews as pigs and dogs. Can you explain how they interpret the Koran in that way? Because, if you can, then we have the basis of a viable counterjihad ideology and a useful tool for public information to challenge the ideology of Terror which is derived, rightly or wrongly, from the Koran, do we not?

    • Dear Jack

      Read the Quran with an open heart, and not with a closed mind. Certain people will interpret the Quran for their own gains – be they Islamophobes or Extremists. Also you are unfair to say that 99% of religiously motivated crimes are committed by Muslims – where is your proof? Don’t think that Islam was created after 9/11! Do you honestly think that Muslims – of all ages, and colours and nationalities are bent on raping, committing massacres, etc??? I can ask why were the Christians bent on invading the world in barbaric ways, when it is often stated in the Bible to “turn the other cheek”? Isn’t that defying the Bible? If you want to know why there is so much chaos around the Middle East, you must understand the Western Imperialists who wreaked havoc there in the 19th century treating the natives as second-class people. Much of what we see now is due to the dirty politics, and the people who are suffering the most are the Muslims.

      • Also translating the Quran causes a loss in translation, which is why it is important to read the Quran in original text i.e. Arabic. Furthermore, certain words, have different meanings like one famous example is awliyaa which is often translated as allies, in terms of political sense. But certain people translate it as friends. This can have therefore have a profound effect if the Quran is translated to another language and read by a layman.

  • As-salaam-u-alaykum everyone

    It seems like the concept of Jews being ‘apes and pigs’ has been taken a bit too far. Yes in the Quran it mentions a certain portion of the Israelites who angered Allah, by breaking the Holy Day of Sabbath for their own measly material gains, and as a consequence they were humiliated and disgraced by Allah.

    Now first of all one must understand that it is very wrong to state that the Israelites are all apes and pigs, and such people should fear Allah, because many of our beloved prophets and righteous people who followed them, during their times, came from such a nation.

    Secondly, the Quran mentions a particular Israeli community by the sea – a fishing community. It also mentions that a PORTION of that community (who were Israelites) were angered by those members of the community who broke the Holy Sabbath – a Sacred Covenant made between God and the Israelites. This is important to realise, as Allah SWT saved them from His Wrath but punished the mischief-makers.

    Now there is some debate amongst certain scholars of whether or not the culprits were literally turned to apes and monkeys, or was it metaphorically-speaking. To be honest I have no qualms with either, as it is easy for Allah SWT to do any of them.

    Some may think it is anti-semitic, but if we first get a historial perspective on this, we will notice that in the Bible, is states that from time-time, certain members of the Israelite community, were warned concerning the Sabbath, as evident from the times of Prophet Jeremiah – peace be on him – (Jeremiah 17: 21-27); Prophet Ezekiel – peace be on him – (Ezekiel 20: 12-24); and Christ (peace be on him) as mentioned by orations in the New Testament. Therefore it was no surprise that Allah would test this community too. In the Aggadah – the Jewish Book that deals with the non-legal rulings of the Talmud, it states that certain people were turned to apes and demons e.g. the attempted construction of Tower of Babel, there was a portion of the people who wanted to wage war against God, but Allah changed them to apes and demons – humiliated and disgraced (Aggadah – Sanhedrin 109a). Another example was the People of Enoch (AS) – they were turning to apes due to their rebellious nature (Bereishit Rabbah 23:6). Even the 20th century Jewish Talmudist Rabbi Louis Ginzberg stated in his book, Legend of the Jews, that what the Quran mentioned regarding the Sabbath Breakers, is similar to Jewish Legends that described wicked Israelites meeting a similar fate. He even stated that the nickname of Joseph the Caiaphas – the Jewish High Priest, who was reported amongst Christians to have plotted the killing of Christ (peace be on him) – meant ape! lol. So if this is stated by Rabbis and in the Aggadah, then the Jews should not think that whatever the Quran mentions regarding the Sabbath breakers is anti-semitic, AND if they read it carefully, they will realise that only a portion of that community was punished! Furthermore, when the Verses of the Sabbath Breakers were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), did the Medina Jews or the Jews elsewhere, at the time, find those verses offensive? The Medina Jews tried to attack Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for many things, but never are we told that this was one of the reasons. This must mean that those Jews were aware of such incidents to have taken place in their history.

    I hope that makes sense!

  • […] So if anyone is still confused, let’s get to the meat of the issue. No. The Qur’an does not promote hatred of Jews. While verses that Geller and her horde of well educated Qur’an experts point to do seem to have some strong language against the God’s Chosen People, they seem to miss the point with these verses. There’s a larger CONTEXT to what these verses are saying, mainly a historical context. Additionally, any renowned Muslim Scholar worth their salt will tell you that Muslims don’t (or at the very least shouldn’t) think of Jews or their ancestors as animals of any sort. […]

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