This is Part III of a three-part story on Muslims converting to Christianity. If you have not done so already, we suggest first reading From Islam to Christianity – Apostasy that Enlightens - Part I and From Islam to Christianity – Apostasy that Enlightens - Part II
“After hearing my father slamming the Jews so often, it seemed natural. I always thought it was normal to have a negative view of the Jewish people,” said Jivanjee. “I almost felt that he had a kind of inferiority complex because the world’s problems were pinned solely on them. At that time, I didn’t question my father’s words even though I didn’t have any hostility towards Jews myself,” he recalled.
Darwish voiced a more critical opinion of Muslims that, as she sees it, are obsessed with their hostility towards the Jews. “When I was a Muslim, I never dared to question why our religious leaders lie and preach hatred and violence from the pulpit of mosques. To the average Muslim, cursing Jews feels normal and even holy!” said the woman, who – after years of absorbing the anti-Israel propaganda – blamed the Jewish state for the targeted killing of her father, not realizing that he had brought it on himself by launching raids that murdered many Israeli civilians. “After a lot of thinking, analysis, research, and writing, I discovered that Jew hatred is a basic part of the Islamic belief that Muslims cannot rid themselves of”.
Habib disagreed stressing that Islam has no problem with the Jewish people. “We have no issues with Jews. Just like Muslims, they worship one God. But we do have a serious dispute with Israel, the regime that occupied our land. Their aggression forces us to defend ourselves. It’s only natural,” he argued.
The cleric’s arguments didn’t convince Jivanjee and Darwish, who said that the conflict between the two nations was (and still is) solely religious, not political.
Darwish, who has studied the subject extensively and has authored several books, said the Quran was literally brimming with images of violence and hatred, promising fighters multiple rewards in this life and hereafter. After being rejected by his own tribe, she explained, Mohammed decided to flee Mecca and seek refuge in Medina, a city predominantly inhabited by Jews. Because they allowed him to move in, the Quran praised them, describing as “guidance and light” (5:44) and a “righteous” people (6:153–154), who “excelled the nations” (45:16). But as the Jews refused to convert to Islam, Mohammed’s attitude changed, growing more hostile – something that found expression in the Quran.
Paz explains the change of tone by the prophet’s desire to establish a state in Medina. “Mohammed’s verses served the constantly changing environment and had to fit the conditions on the ground. He wanted to spread his religion, so he had to be tough to make people abide by the law,” said the expert. “Initially, the prophet wanted to please the Jews, so he sought their recognition by directing his disciples to pray in the direction of Jerusalem. Following the eruption of the dispute with the Jews that caused an estimated 700 of them to die, he changed his mind, telling followers to face Mecca instead”.
Nevertheless, according to Paz, despite Mohammed's reported brutality, he wasn’t an evil man. Being an orphan, he was extremely sensitive to injustice and wanted to change things, like banning slavery and introducing equality. But once his power grew, things started to change, with Mohammed becoming more obsessed with control – something that was subsequently expressed in the Holy Book of Muslims.
However, Habib tries to justify the violent verses by claiming that they were meant to protect the religion. “Jihad, unlike what most westerners think, is a concept of self-defense. If religion is threatened, Muslims are allowed to defend it. And that’s exactly what the prophet did,” he explains.
According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, "jihad" is the "spread of Islam by arms… a religious duty upon
Muslims in general … Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam."
Judging by this definition, Muslims are clearly losing the battle. Nevertheless, the surge in the number of Islamists leaves many wondering what to expect from those determined to spread Mohammed’s religion by the sword.