Examining 3 often miss-interpreted Ayats
Does the Quran call ALL Jews and Christians monkeys and swine?
By Sami Zaatari
One common Christian argument that has been mentioned a lot is that the Quran calls Christians and Jews apes and pigs.
This argument is yet another miss-interpreted verse from the Quran which is taken from the Christians/Jews and also taken out of its proper context.
For one, the Quran NEVER calls the Christians swine's or apes. So that is the first lie of the Christians.
However so, yes, the Quran did call the Jews swine's and apes, however so, was the Quran referring to them all? Was the Quran referring to ALL Jews throughout history? From past till present? Let us see.
To begin with, let us quote the passages which they often use, I will quote all the verses in context:
YUSUFALI: And remember We took your covenant and We raised above you (The towering height) of Mount (Sinai) : (Saying): "Hold firmly to what We have given you and bring (ever) to remembrance what is therein: Perchance ye may fear Allah."
YUSUFALI: But ye turned back thereafter: Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allah to you, ye had surely been among the lost.
YUSUFALI: And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."
YUSUFALI: So We made it an example to their own time and to their posterity, and a lesson to those who fear Allah.
So first things to note, that these verses are referring to the JEWS. It has nothing to do with Christians.
Secondly, as we also read, these verses were referring to a specific group of Jews who had sinned during the time of Moses.
Note that also verse 66 says that they WERE MADE AN EXAMPLE. So this just happened to a specific group of Jews, who had dis-obeyed God, so God gave them this harsh punishment, and made this punishment as an example.
So as we see, the verse was referring to a specific group of Jews at the time of Moses. NOT ALL Jews throughout history and up to the present. Such lies and distortions by Christians and Jews just expose their blatant ignorance. In fact what makes this funny is that Christians/Jews insult themselves, since they are the ones making the claim that the Quran calls them ALL swine and apes when it doesn't, so it is the Christians/Jews who are calling themselves with such names! The irony!
Let us post the tafsir for this verse:
The Jews breach the Sanctity of the Sabbath
(And indeed you knew). This Ayah means, O Jews! Remember that Allah sent His torment on the village that disobeyed Him and broke their pledge and their covenant to observe the sanctity of the Sabbath. They began using deceitful means to avoid honoring the Sabbath by placing nets, ropes and artificial pools of water for the purpose of fishing before the Sabbath. When the fish came in abundance on Saturday as usual, they were caught in the ropes and nets for the rest of Saturday. During the night, the Jews collected the fish after the Sabbath ended. When they did that, Allah changed them from humans into monkeys, the animals having the form closest to humans. Their evil deeds and deceit appeared lawful on the surface, but they were in reality wicked. This is why their punishment was compatible with their crime. This story is explained in detail in Surat Al-A`raf, where Allah said (7:163),
(And ask them (O Muhammad ) about the town that was by the sea; when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday): when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day, and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial of them, for they used to rebel (disobey Allah).)(7:163)
In his Tafsir, Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said,
(We said to them: "Be you monkeys, despised and rejected'') means, "Allah changed their bodies into those of monkeys and swines. The young people turned into monkeys while the old people turned into swine.'' Shayban An-Nahwi reported that Qatadah commented on,
(We said to them: "Be you monkeys, despised and rejected''), "These people were turned into howling monkeys with tails, after being men and women
So again as we see, this happened only to a specific group of Jews who had broken the Sabbath. Secondly, those Jews who were turned into swine's and apes did not have any off-spring once they became turned into such animals:
The Monkeys and Swine that exist now are not the Descendants of Those that were transformed
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Those who violated the sanctity of the Sabbath were turned into monkeys, then they perished without offspring.'' Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said, "Allah turned them into monkeys because of their sins. They only lived on the earth for three days, for no transformed person ever lives more than three days. They did not eat, drink or have offspring. Allah transformed their shapes into monkeys, and He does what He wills, with whom He wills and He changes the shape of whomever He wills. On the other hand, Allah created the monkeys, swines and the rest of the creation in the six days (of creation) that He mentioned in His Book.''
(So We made this punishment an example) means, Allah made the people of this village, who violated the sanctity of the Sabbath,
(an example) via the way they were punished. Similarly, Allah said about Pharaoh,
(So Allah, seized him with punishing example for his last and first transgression) (79:25). nAllah's statement,
(for those in front of it and those behind it) meaning, for the other villages. Ibn `Abbas commented, "Meaning, `We made this village an example for the villages around it by the manner in which We punished its people.''' Similarly, Allah said,
(And indeed We have destroyed towns (populations) round about you, and We have (repeatedly) shown (them) the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) in various ways that they might return (to the truth and believe in the Oneness of Allah ? Islamic Monotheism)).(46:27)
Therefore, Allah made them an example for those who lived during their time as well as a reminder for those to come, by preserving their story. This is why Allah said,
(and a lesson for Al-Muttaqin (the pious)), meaning, a reminder. This Ayah means, "The torment and punishment that this village suffered was a result of indulging in Allah's prohibitions and their deceit. Hence, those who have Taqwa should be aware of their evil behavior, so that what occurred to this village does not befall them as well.'' Also, Imam Abu `Abdullah bin Battah reported that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Do not commit what the Jews committed, breaching what Allah has forbidden, by resorting to the lowest types of deceit.)
This Hadith has a good (Jayid) chain of narration. Allah knows best.
The other passages:
YUSUFALI: Say: "O people of the Book! Do ye disapprove of us for no other reason than that we believe in Allah, and the revelation that hath come to us and that which came before (us), and (perhaps) that most of you are rebellious and disobedient?"
YUSUFALI: Say: "Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!"
So note, this verse is talking to the people of The Book, which are the Jews/Christians. The Quran then REMINDS them of what Allah did to those Jews who broke the Sabbath. Hence in this verse the Quran is simply reminding them of the humiliating punishment given to those specific Jews in the time of Moses! No where in this verse is it calling ALL Christians and Jews swine's and apes.
Here is the tafsir:
The People of the Scriptures Deserve the Worst Torment on the Day of Resurrection
Allah said next,
(Say: "Shall I inform you of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah") The Ayah commands the Prophet to say: Shall I inform you about a worse people with Allah on the Day of Resurrection than what you think of us They are you, with these characteristics,
(those who incurred the curse of Allah) were expelled from His mercy,
(and who incurred His wrath) and anger, after which He will never be pleased with them,
(those of whom He transformed into monkeys and swine,) as we mentioned in Surat Al-Baqarah (2) and as we will mention in Surat Al-A`raf (7). Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated that Ibn Mas`ud said, "Allah's Messenger was asked if the current monkeys and swine were those whom Allah transformed. He said,
(Allah never destroyed a people by transforming them and making offspring or descendants for them. The monkeys and swine existed before that.)'' This was also recorded by Muslim. Allah said,
(Those who worshipped Taghut...) and served them, becoming their servants. The meaning of this Ayah is: you, O People of the Scriptures, who mock our religion, which consists of Allah's Tawhid, and singling Him out in worship without others, how can you mock us while these are your characteristics This is why Allah said,
(such are worse in rank...) than what you -- People of the Scriptures -- think of us Muslims,
(and far more astray from the straight path.) `More' in the Ayah does not mean that the other party is `less' astray, but it means that the People of the Scriptures are far astray. In another Ayah, Allah said,
(The dwellers of Paradise will, on that Day, have the best abode, and have the fairest of places for repose.)
So note, this is just a reminder of what Allah did to those specific Jews.
YUSUFALI: Ask them concerning the town standing close by the sea. Behold! they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath. For on the day of their Sabbath their fish did come to them, openly holding up their heads, but on the day they had no Sabbath, they came not: thus did We make a trial of them, for they were given to transgression.
YUSUFALI: When some of them said: "Why do ye preach to a people whom Allah will destroy or visit with a terrible punishment?"- said the preachers:" To discharge our duty to your Lord, and perchance they may fear Him."
YUSUFALI: When they disregarded the warnings that had been given them, We rescued those who forbade Evil; but We visited the wrong-doers with a grievous punishment because they were given to transgression.
YUSUFALI: When in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions, We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."
This is once again a reminder of what Allah did to those specific Jews who broke the Sabbath during the time of Moses.
Here is the tafsir:
The Jews transgress the Sanctity of the Sabbath
This Ayah explains Allah's statement,
(And indeed you knew those among you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath..) [2:65] Allah says to His Prophet here,
(And ask them) ask the Jews who are with you, about the story of their fellow Jews who defied Allah's command, so that His punishment overtook them all of a sudden for their evil actions, transgression and defiance by way of deceit. Also, warn the Jews (O Muhammad) against hiding your description that they find in their books, so that they do not suffer what their forefathers suffered. The village mentioned here is Aylah, on the shore of the Qulzum (Red) Sea. Muhammad bin Ishaq recorded from Dawud bin Al-Husayn from `Ikrimah that Ibn `Abbas commented on Allah's statement,
(And ask them about the town that was by the sea...) "A village called Aylah between Madyan and At-Tur (which is in Sinai). `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Qatadah and As-Suddi said similarly. Allah's statement,
(when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath;) means, they transgressed in the Sabbath and defied Allah's command to them to keep it sanctified,
(when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day,) visible on top of the water, according to Ad-Dahhak who reported it from Ibn `Abbas. Ibn Jarir said, "Allah's statement,
(and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial of them,) means, this is how We tested them by making the fish swim close to the surface of the water , on the day which they were prohibited to fish. The fish would be hidden from them on the day when they were allowed to fish,
(Thus We made a trial for them,) so that We test them,
(for they used to rebel against Allah's command) by defying His obedience and rebelling against it.'' Therefore, these were a people who used a trick to violate Allah's prohibitions, taking an action that seemed legal on the surface. However, in reality, this action was meant to transgress the prohibition. Imam and scholar Abu `Abdullah Ibn Battah reported that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Do not repeat what the Jews committed, and violate Allah's prohibitions using deceitful tricks.) This Hadith has a reasonable chain.
(164. And when a community among them said: "Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy or to punish with a severe torment'' (The preachers) said: "In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (Allah), and perhaps they may fear Allah.'') (165. So when they forgot the reminder that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but with a severe torment We seized those who did wrong, because they used to rebel against Allah's command.) (166. So when they exceeded the limits of what they were prohibited, We said to them: "Be you monkeys, despised.'')
Those Who breached the Sabbath were turned into Monkeys, but Those Who prohibited Their Actions were saved
Allah said that the people of this village were divided into three groups, a group that committed the prohibition, catching fish on the Sabbath, as we described in the Tafsir of Surat Al-Baqarah. Another group prohibited them from transgression and avoided them. A third group neither prohibited them, nor participated in their action. The third group said to the preachers,
("Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy or to punish with a severe torment''). They said, `why do you forbid these people from evil, when you know that they are destroyed and have earned Allah's punishment' Therefore, they said, there is no benefit in forbidding them. The preachers replied,
("In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (Allah),'') `for we were commanded to enjoin righteousness and forbid evil,' r
("and perhaps they may fear Allah'') for on account of our advice, they might stop this evil and repent to Allah. Certainly, if they repent to Allah, Allah will accept their repentance and grant them His mercy.' Allah said,
(So when they forgot the reminder that had been given to them, ) when the evil doers refused the advice,
(We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized who did wrong,) who committed the transgression,
(with a severe torment). Allah stated that those who enjoined good were saved, while those who committed the transgression were destroyed, but He did not mention the end of those who were passive (the third group), for the compensation is comparable to the deed. This type did not do what would warrant praise, nor commit wrong so that they are admonished. `Ikrimah said, "Ibn `Abbas said about the Ayah: `I do not know whether or not the people were saved who said;
("Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy...'') So I continued discussing it with him until I convinced him that they were. Then he gave me [the gift of] a garment.'' Allah said,
(and We seized those who did wrong with a Ba'is torment) indicating that those who remained were saved. As for `Ba'is', it means `severe', according to Mujahid, or `painful', according to Qatadah. These meanings are synonymous, and Allah knows best. Allah said next,
(despised), humiliated, disgraced and rejected.
So as we see again, this verse was simply re-telling the story of what Allah did to those specific Jews who broke the Sabbath. Also note that those who did not break the Sabbath WERE SAVED, it was only the bad Jews who were punished and turned into such animals.
So as we see, the Quran simply turned the sinful Jews at the time of Moses into swine's and apes. Allah did not punish ALL Jews, just that very evil sinful ones, the ones who had not broken the covenant were saved. And as we also see, none of the verses were even referring to Christians.
So Christians and Jews should stop distorting what the Quran actually says. If they have a problem with the harsh punishment, then that is their own problem, not the Muslims, nor does it dis-prove Islam since I can get you a ton of harsh punishments from the Bible.
And Allah Knows Best