The Rabbis Who Saw Sanctity in Islam

March 24 2023

In a daring passage in his code of Jewish law, Moses Maimonides (1138–1204) asserted that both Islam and Christianity are part of a divine plan to bring faith in the One God to the Gentile world. Despite his personal experience with Muslim persecution of Jews, Maimonides appreciated Islam especially for its “unblemished” commitment to monotheism. Yaakov Nagen examines these and other rabbinic observations on the close theological connection between the children of Jacob and the children of Ishmael:

[T]he Muslim story itself is built on the biblical story. The character who is mentioned most frequently in the Quran is Moses (more than 100 times, in contrast to Mohammad who is mentioned only four times), and the Jewish people are mentioned dozens of times. Islam, like Christianity, became a vessel for spreading the biblical story throughout the world.

In contrast to Christianity, our relationship with Islam also has an ethnic aspect, because Jews and Arabs see each other as descendants of Abraham. Indeed, our similarity, both theologically and ethnically, has led to Islam often being treated differently from other non-Jewish faiths in rabbinic sources.

Rabbi Jacob Emden (1698-1776) took another step. Following Maimonides, he saw the hand of God in the spread of Christianity and Islam: “The two families that God chose to subdue many nations, to bring them under the yoke of the beliefs and positions that are necessary for settling the world and improving the national collective.” . . . In his eyes, Islam, like Christianity, contains truth, and these religions are fitting for the nations of the world.

A more far-reaching approach is that of the sages who saw Islam—and particularly the Quran—not only as a product of divine providence but also of divine revelation.

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Islam, Moses Maimonides, Muslim-Jewish relations, Quran

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan