The other evening I joined probably several million Arabic-speaking Muslims throughout the Middle East and around the world in watching the weekly television show "Daring Question" with host Rashid. He opened the program by expressing condolences to the families of the Christian Copts in Egypt who were killed in a drive-by shooting as they were leaving a Christmas Eve mass on the Orthodox Christmas, celebrated on 7 January. He added that Nigerian would-be bomber Umar Farouq Abdel-Mutalab (whose name includes both Islam's second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and the Prophet Muhammad's grandfather Abdel-Mutalab) also planned his attack on Christmas Day. Why, wondered Rashid, would Muslims deliberately plan attacks to take place on the Christian's most sacred day of the year?
Rashid noted that Muslim governments, scholars, and media always respond to attacks such as these by saying they are isolated incidents, or the results of conflicts between individuals, or caused by programs such as his which criticize Islam. He played a clip in which Shaykh Yusuf Qardawi said that America itself was fully to blame for the attempted Christmas Day bombing.
He then posed his "daring question" of the week, "Muslims always blame these events on TV programs such as mine, or America, but they will never say that Islam is the reason. Where was America, and where was Hayat TV when Muhammed expelled the Jews from Medina and the Christians from Arabia 1400 years ago? Why are Muslims unwilling to look at the Quran and the Hadith for the roots of their hatred for Jews and Christians?"
He next challenged his listeners, "How would you feel if the verses that are in the Quran and the Hadith about the Jews and the Christians were instead in their Scriptures and prayers and sermons about you? Let's look at what Islam says about them, but substitute the word MUSLIM every time you see CHRISTIAN or JEW, and think about how it would make you feel."
"Let's begin with the prayers," Rashid continued, "The Muslim repeats 17 times a day this sentence from the first chapter of the Quran, 'Guide us in the straight way, the way of those who have earned your grace, not in the way of those who earned your anger or who have gone astray.' We all know, because we were brainwashed from childhood, that the straight way refers to the Muslims, whose who have earned your anger are the Jews, and those who have gone astray are the Christians. What if the Christians repeated continually in their prayers, Oh God, guide us in the straight way of the Christians, not in the way of the Sunnis who have earned your anger, or the Shia who have gone astray? How would you feel?"
He followed with more examples, "Sahih Muslim said in the Hadith that the Apostle said, Do not greet the Jews or the Christians before they greet you, and if you meet any of them on the road force them to the most narrow part. How would you feel if Jesus told Christians not to greet Muslims, and to force them to the other side of the road?
"Aisha recounted that in his final illness the Prophet said, Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians because they took the graves of their Prophets as places for worship. First of all, there is no historical evidence that the Christians or Jews ever did this. And secondly, this is what the Muslims themselves have done. The Prophet's Mosque in Medina, one of the most sacred sites in Islam, is built upon Muhammad's grave. What if the Apostle Paul wrote, and Christians repeated ad infinitum, Cursed are the Muslims because they took the grave of their Prophet as a Mosque?"
He continued from another Hadith, contained in both the Bukhari and Sahih Muslim collections, "The Prophet said, May Allah curse the Jews, because Allah made fat illegal for them but they prepared and sold it for a profit. How would you feel if the Christians and Jews said, "May God curse the Muslims, because he made pork illegal for them, but they sold it?"
His next example was, "Umar ibn al-Khattab heard the Apostle say, Expel the Jews and Christians from Arabia, and do not leave anyone but Muslims. What if people in the West expelled all the Muslims who live there? Would that not be an example of racism and hatred? What else can you call it?"
Rashid then turned his attention to the Quran, "Quran 5:17 describes the Christians as infidels because they say that Allah is the Messiah, the Son of Mary. What would your response be if the Bible said, "The Muslims are infidels because they say, May the peace and blessing of Allah be on Muhammad?
"Quran 5:73 says, They are infidels, who believe that Allah exists in Trinity. What if the Bible said, They are infidels, who believe that God has blessed his Apostle (Muhammad)?"
He continued with more verses, "The Quran says in 9:30, God's curse is on the Jews because they say that Ezra is the son of Allah,and on the Christians because they say the Messiah is the son of Allah. What if Christians repeated every day based upon their Scriptures, God's curse is on the Muslims, because they say that Muhammad is an Apostle of Allah? The verse before that says you are to fight (the Christians and the Jews) until they pay the jizya tax and feel themselves subdued. Where do the books of the Jews and the Christians tell them to fight you?
"In 5:51, the Quran tells Muslims not to take Christians and Jews as friends. How would you feel if their books told them not to be friends with you? And it says in 62:5 that the people who were given the Torah have become like donkeys. How would you feel if their books described you who have been given the Quran as donkeys?"
Rashid next challenged the almost omnipresent Islamic "conspiracy theory" that the West is always plotting against Muslims and wants to destroy them, "The Quran says in 2:120 that the Jews and the Christians will never be happy with you unless you accept their religion. No wonder you think they are conspiring against you! Can you imagine Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis always warning their people that you will never be happy with them until they accept your religion? Quran 2:109 promotes this same mentality, saying that out of envy the Christians and Jews were conspiring to turn Muslims away from your faith. How would you feel if their Scriptures warned them that you as Muslims were always conspiring against them?"
Rashid's final example was from another Sahih Muslim Hadith, "The Apostle said that on Judgment Day, Muslims can come with sins as high as a mountain. God will forgive all their sins - no matter how serious and how many - and pile them upon who? You guessed it, the Jews and the Christians. Do we still wonder why so many Muslims hate Jews and Christians? The answer is in the Quran and the Hadith."