Like so many other people, I thought that the conflict between Muslims and Jews dated back to the very beginning of Islam and even further back in history.
I’ve known and worked with Muslims and former Muslims and they’ve all told me that the reason Muslims and Arabs in general, hate Jews dates back to biblical times when Abraham bestowed rights of the first born to Isaac instead of Ishmael.
According to Genesis 16, Abraham, then Abram, had a child with his wife’s female Egyptian servant, Hagar. This was Abram’s firstborn child, but not with his wife Sarai (later named Sarah). Genesis 17 tells us that God visited Sarai and told her that He would keep His promise to establish His covenant with the offspring of her and Abram and that offspring was Isaac. Consequently, Abram bestowed the right of the first born on Isaac, whose line became the Jewish people. Because of the way Hagar behaved in front of Sarai, she and her son Ishmael, were driven away. God kept His promise to Hagar and made Ishmael the father of a multitude, which became the Arabs and later on Muslims.
According to Islamic history, Muhammad was a prophet who around 570AD receive a message from God. They believe he was the Final Prophet who was tasked to preach and clarify the essential teachings of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets. This led to the writing of the Quran, which was based in part on the Old Testament teaching of the Jews, but was altered early on. Islam believes that Jesus was just another prophet, NOT the incarnate Son of God.
Some historians have contended that at the beginning, Islam arose as some kind of amalgamation of various religions of the time, including Christianity and especially Judaism. Muslims today scoff at the idea, claiming that Muhammad was given a full revelation from God.
According to Jihad Watch:
“…the argument that I presented in my book Did Muhammad Exist?, that Islam was not presented to the world in complete form by a man named Muhammad, but began to appear only decades later than the traditional date for Muhammad’s death, and is an amalgam of material from multiple sources, principally Judaism and Christianity. For decades in the seventh century, it was in an inchoate state in terms of doctrine, even as Arab armies were conquering large swathes of the Middle East and North Africa. During that period, public buildings were inscribed with crosses, and coins featured crosses as well…”
Recent archaeological discoveries appear to be lending some credence to the idea that Islam had a close affinity with Judaism early on. The researchers discovered a trove of Muslim coins and vessels that date back to the seventh-eighth centuries, about 1,300 years ago, in the very early days of Islam. Many of the Islamic relics discovered contained Islamic inscriptions to Allah and they also contained images of the Jewish menorahs.
Archaeologist Assaf Avraham commented on the find, saying:
“The Jewish symbol which the Muslims were using was the menorah [the gold seven-branch candelabra from the Temple], which appeared on several coins and other early Islamic artifacts.”
“The menorah coins bear the Shahada Arabic inscription on one side: ‘There is no god but Allah,’ while the menorah appears in the center of the coin. The other side bears the inscription: ‘Muhammad [is the] messenger of God.’”
In addition to the coins, they unearthed some pottery and lead vessels that were also Islamic and which also bore the image of the menorah. The archaeologists believe this discovery is vitally important and that Muslims need to be aware of that aspect of their early history.
“They are dated to the early days of the Islamic caliphate, and were in use by Muslims.”
“We wish that many Muslims will be exposed to this knowledge, which is part of their own religious and cultural heritage.”
“We have launched an informational project whose goal is to expose this information to the world and to Muslims in particular. We hope that this exposure will promote an educated dialogue between Jews and Muslims.”
Is it possible that these discoveries could resolve some of the differences and centuries of hatred between Muslims and Jews? It would be great if it did, but somehow, I doubt it will have that much of an impact on the cultural feud between the two religions.