A person who reads this site with an open mind will realise that there are specific people, namely those who call themselves “Christian,” who often distort verses of the Qur’an using divisive tactics to fan the flames of discord, especially between Muslims and Jews.
They lecture and publish books in order to malign the religion and depict it as a religion of hate. The question of the Qur’ans attitude towards the Jews is an important one to study. This article aims to discuss those verses and shed some light on the common misunderstandings that non-Muslims have.
The following is from the book titled The Deception of Allah Volume 1. You can read my rebuttal to this book in part one and part two. You can also view his video on YouTube about Jews and monkeys (I never directly link to propaganda).
When I was a child at school, I was told by my Muslim teachers during classroom that anyone who is not a Muslim, is dirty. The teacher had given me his own proof, taken straight from the Qur’an, that all Jews are either pigs or monkeys: “Say should I tell you about an evil as judgment from Allah, the one which Allah curses him, and being angry of them, and made from them monkeys and pigs those who worshipped evil;- these are worse in position, and far more astray from the right path!” Al-Maeda, (Chapter # 5, Verse # 60).
That story made me question the legitimacy of the Qur’an. It doesn’t make sense that Allah, which Muslims claim is the most just god, is going to turn someone into a pig and monkey for trying to feed his children. Especially after reading the interpretation of the story which states that Allah purposely caused the fish to disappear during an entire week except for Saturday as it then reappeared. This means Allah made the Jews starve, on top of punishing them for trying to survive which is a contradiction to Qur’an 5:3 “But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (Yusuf Ali translation).
Many questions came to my mind since hearing that story. Why doesn’t Allah turn the killers, rapists and thieves into pigs and monkeys instead of the ones fishing on a Saturday?
It never surprises me that they often quote a verse of the Qur’an in isolation, especially a verse that can easily be interpreted to imply all Jews. Someone who is ignorant in the religion will not question what they are being taught because of their naivity.
Allah (SWT) gives provisions to all living beings. He did not make the Israelites starve, nor is their any hadith indicating they were barely surviving and trying to feed their children. Allah gives us food for as long as we live; the provisions are under the guarantee of Allah (SWT): “And how many a creature carries not its [own] provision. Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the Hearing, the Knowing (29:60). And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a clear register (11:6)”.
Accusing Allah (SWT) of making the Israelites starve when other food was evidently available to them, is to keep on pushing the narrative that Islam is Antisemitic.
The main verse in question is:
“And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, “Be apes, despised.” [2:65]
Did Allah transform Jews into apes and pigs and does it refer to all Jews?
The Qur’an describes a city by the sea, most scholars agree that it was the Red Sea, which was inhabited by the Israelites. The Torah prohibited work on the Sabbath, hence they were prohibited from fishing on that day. Allah (SWT) tested them by causing the fish to visibly appear in the water only on the Sabbath, and not the rest of the week:
And ask them about the town that was by the sea – when they transgressed in [the matter of] the sabbath – when their fish came to them openly on their sabbath day, and the day they had no sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were defiantly disobedient. [7:163]
They were tested by Allah to see whether they would remain faithful or if they would fish and violate the law of the Sabbath. Some of them continued to obey, while others had failed the test and went fishing.
Do you think all of the people in the town transgressed? Of course not. The people of this village were divided into groups. The first group were pious and respected the law, while the second group went fishing. The subsequent verses described the first group warning the second group about their conduct. When it was pointed out from a third group that the Sabbath breakers would not change and would eventually face Divine punishment, the response of the first group was to accept the inevitability of Divine punishment of the second group but also warned them in order to be free from guilt when Allah punishes them:
And when a community among them said, “Why do you advise [or warn] a people whom Allah is [about] to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?” they [the advisors] said, “To be absolved before your Lord and perhaps they may fear Him.” [7:164]
The second group refused the advice:
And when they [i.e., those advised] forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying. [7:165] “Be apes, despised.” [7:166]
Allah saved those who were faithful to Him, while punishing those who had betrayed Him. They were cursed to live like apes and become godless people: Say, “Shall I inform you of [what is] worse than that as penalty from Allah? [It is that of] those whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry and made of them apes and pigs and slaves of ṭaghut (i.e., worshippers of false gods). Those are worse in position (i.e., on the day of Judgement) and further astray from the sound way.” [5:60]
The Qur’an does not refer to a literal transformation into apes and swine since human beings remain humans from the time of creation until the Day of Judgment [30:30]. Although a literal transfmation is supported by a hadith – this belief clearly contradicts the Qur’an. They were cursed to live like apes and swine due to their continuous transgression, in which their conduct would be despicable.
The stories of the children of Israel should teach us a lesson and to learn from them in order to not make the same mistakes. The Qur’an also criticises the hypocrites among the bedouin tribes [9:101] and threatened to punish them twice in this world and a great punishment in the next.
“The bedouins are stronger in disbelief and hypocrisy and more likely not to know the limits of what [laws] Allah has revealed to His Messenger. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. And among the bedouins are some who consider what they spend as a loss and await for you turns of misfortune. Upon them will be a misfortune of evil. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. But among the bedouins are some who believe in Allah and the Last Day and consider what they spend as means of nearness to Allah and of [obtaining] invocations of the Messenger. Unquestionably, it is a means of nearness for them. Allah will admit them to His mercy. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful (9:97-99).
If I were to quote verse 9:97 in isolation, Just like Christian prince did with verse 5:60, you would come to the wrong conclusion that it implies all Bedouins are hypocrites and all of the Israelites were cursed. In fact, Allah even promises the Israelites (before the advent of prophet Muhammad), who believed in Him and the Last Day and did righteousness, the gift of paradise 2:62, which proves that it has nothing to do with being personally against Jews or that all Jews should be treated the same.