It is, by now, a well-established fact that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has on repeated occasion and for over a decade in public life, referred to the Jewish people as “descendants of apes and pigs.” Despite asserting that his current bad press is merely the byproduct of a smear campaign led by the “Jewish-controlled media” (thereby doubling down on the hackneyed anti-Semitic slurs), the Muslim Brotherhood leader actually has an excuse for his consistently inflammatory rhetoric. After all, he is simply citing the Quran.
Amidst the sea of oft-repeated blood libels and anti-Semitic canards, the “descendants of apes and pigs” mantra may be among the most prominent, and indeed, most important, in terms of what it actually incites among those who speak it (or hear it), and know from whence it came.
Despite common perceptions, the derision was not coined by Adolf Hitler and then adopted by Islamists, rather, it was the other way around. Found within the Quran itself are numerous verses citing Allah’s hex on the Jewish people and their subsequent damnation to live as the aforementioned swine, and primates. Quran verse 5:60 is the key to the kingdom in this regard and serves as the basis for all modern-day iterations. The Hilali-Khan Quranic translation of this verse reads as follows:
Say (O Muhammad SAW to the people of the Scripture): “Shall I inform you of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah: those (Jews) who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Wrath, those of whom (some) He transformed into monkeys and swines, those who worshipped Taghut (false deities); such are worse in rank (on the Day of Resurrection in the Hellfire), and far more astray from the Right Path (in the life of this world).”
Preoccupation with the “right path” and with delivering retribution to those (“some”) who turn away from it, is a recurring theme within the Quran. The right path, of course, is submission to Allah as he is perceived within Islam.
Islam’s sacred doctrine is divided into 114 suras, or chapters, in which a myriad references — both direct and indirect — are made to Jews, the Children of Israel. At best, these verses merely lay the groundwork, establishing the Jewish people as a depraved race whose adherents, en masse, veered off that righteous path. At worst, Quranic verse damns the Jewish infidels as a subhuman species worthy of the fires of hell.
As with any Arabic-to-English translation, particularly one that must also decipher 7th-century religious parlance – certain words may not render exact, but highly esteemed translators have been able to capture the overriding Quranic messages with clarity.
According to Islamic scholar Dr. Andrew Bostom, dehumanizing Quranic verses are “used explicitly for polemical incitement” and a brief review of Islamic history reinforces this fact. In the broader scale, they have catalyzed genocidal pogroms against Jewish communities in the Middle East, Spain and North Africa spanning centuries. Today, they serve as the bedrocks of Islamic-supremacy and an entire society bent on Israel’s outright annihilation.
A central tenet of Islam is that the Jewish people (and to a lesser extent, their Christian counterparts) transgressed against Allah, slaying the prophets and subverting God’s will. As a curse, these infidels were condemned to live out their days as a devolved species: apes and pigs. Quranic verse 2:16 along with verse 3:112 – which, not coincidentally, also serves as the preamble for the Hamas charter — explains:
Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and from men; they have drawn on themselves the Wrath of Allah, and destruction is put over them. This is because they disbelieved in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets without right. This is because they disobeyed (Allah) and used to transgress beyond bounds (in Allah’s disobedience, crimes and sins).
The Jewish people are abjured again in verse 5:78:
Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dawud (David) and ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allah and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds.
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.”
Anti-Semitic themes are well-worn and indeed an integral part of traditional Islamic canon utilized by religious leaders, scholars and observant Muslims alike. Dr. Bostom, who has chronicled many such Quranic passages in his scholarly volume, “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism,” juxtaposes how ancient texts are used to inform present-day narratives. Citing from the book, Egyptian government-appointed cleric Sheik Eid Abdel Hamid Youssef cast his Quranic aspersions (much like Morsi has done) during a 2009 sermon:
Muslim brothers, God has inflicted the Muslim nation with a people whom God has become angry at [Quran 1:7] and whom he cursed [Quran 5:78] so he made monkeys and pigs [5:60] out of them. They killed the prophets and messengers [Quran 2:61 and 3:112].
Considering the fact that the concept of Jews incarnated as apes and pigs is actually rooted in sacred Quranic text, it is no wonder Morsi would repeat the phrase like a psalm. And on several occasions he was even captured mouthing an “amen” after its repetition.
Indeed, the consistency with which present-day Islamic leaders summon their theological, anti-Semitic roots is sobering. And of course, Islam’s ultimate prophet is yet another source of divine inspiration. According to the earliest accounts of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s sacred messenger invoked the Quranic curse denigrating Jews as “ye brothers of apes” before subverting two Jewish tribes of Medina – Banus Qaynuqa and al-Nadir – and committing a savage genocide against the third, the Banu Qurayza.
The hadith (a collection of the prophet’s words and deeds) speaks of Muhammad’s decision to slaughter the Jewish tribe in Bukhari, volume 4, book 52, verse 68:
When Allah’s Apostle returned on the day (of the battle) of Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench), he put down his arms and took a bath. Then Gabriel whose head was covered with dust, came to him saying, “You have put down your arms! By Allah, I have not put down my arms yet.” Allah’s Apostle said, “Where (to go now)?” Gabriel said, “This way,” pointing towards the tribe of Bani Quraiza. So Allah’s Apostle went out towards them.
And set out, with sword in hand, he did. In the end, an estimated 800 Jewish males from the Qurayza tribe were beheaded. Of course, modern-day Islamists believe Muhammad’s blood-lust to have been entirely justified, in much the same way they justify and celebrate their own current genocidal aspirations for the Jewish people, under the banner of Quran verse 4:47 and a myriad others:
O you who have been given the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Believe in what We have revealed (to Muhammad SAW)… and turn them hindwards, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbathbreakers. And the Commandment of Allah is always executed.
Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.
And of them were (some) who believed therein and of them were (some) who turned away from it. Hell is sufficient for (their) burning.
Allah has prepared for them a severe torment. Evil indeed is that which they used to do.
The history of Islamic anti-Semitism dates back to the religion’s founding and has spilled centuries-worth of Jewish blood across the Middle East and Maghreb. In reviewing expressly the Quran, not including the hadiths or any other early Islamic missives, derogatory references inciting hatred or violent action against the Jewish people, abound. Those cited here are but a few examples.
We question why the Palestinian Authority models its elementary school textbooks after Mein Kampf and lament the seemingly constant stream of rabid anti-Semitism and intolerance emanating from even the most seemingly moderate side of the Islamic community, but in the final analysis, it makes perfect sense when understanding how faith informs, in essence, all aspects of Islamic daily life.
Let us not forget that Morsi himself has sought stricter application of sharia law in Egypt — not to mention the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is, itself, no “secular” organization (as National Intelligence Director James Clapper once so foolishly asserted). Islamic theology and more pointedly, eschatology, is the cornerstone with which Morsi seeks to rebuild Egypt as he believes it was intended to be: a land that comports directly with the central tenets of the Quran.
Those familiar with Islam know that regardless of an adherent’s ethnicity — be they Egyptian, Persian, Saudi, Pakistani or Iraqi — they are first and foremost Muslims. The factious battles between Sunnis and Shia’as are but a blip on the micro-scale of Islamic tribal life. In the end, the two sparring sects are united in their goal of defeating the larger “satans” who roam the earth.
Thus, when Mohammed Morsi, who is leader of the theocratic Muslim Brotherhood, declares that Jews are “descendants of apes and pigs,” believe that he means what he says. And when he says the comments were taken out of context, remember that the context, is the Quran.
[This post has been updated]