Anti-Semitism: a Colonial Construct in Pakistan
Updated: May 17
What does Islam say about Jews?
Islamic rulings about Jewish scripture recognize the importance of the Torah and other Jewish holy texts as divinely revealed scripture and hold them in high regard. The Quran acknowledges the authenticity of earlier revelations, including the Torah, as guidance from God to the people of Israel.
Islam sees itself as a continuation of the Abrahamic tradition, which includes Judaism and Christianity, and therefore shares a common spiritual heritage with the Jewish faith. Muslims also believe in many of the same prophets as Jews, including Abraham, Moses, and David.
Overview of the treatment of Jews in historic empires:
Abbasid Empire: During the Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled from the 8th to the 13th century, Jews enjoyed relative freedom and prosperity. The Abbasid Empire was marked by religious and cultural tolerance, and Jews were allowed to practice their religion freely. Some Jewish communities even prospered under Abbasid rule, such as Baghdad, which became a Jewish scholarship and learning center.
Muslim Cordoba: During the Muslim rule of Cordoba in Spain from the 8th to the 13th century, Jews also experienced a period of relative tolerance and prosperity. Jewish scholars played a key role in developing Islamic civilization, and Jewish communities were allowed to thrive.
Mughal Empire: In the Mughal Empire, which ruled India from the 16th to the 19th century, Jews enjoyed a more mixed experience. While the Mughal emperors were generally tolerant of other religions, Jews were subject to discrimination and restrictions in some areas. Besides Jizya, Jews were excluded from certain trades, such as manufacturing and selling arms. Jews were also often excluded from government positions and were not allowed to own land in some areas. This was particularly true in regions under the control of local rulers and vassals who had their own restrictions on land ownership. For example, in some regions of India, Hindu rulers forbade Jews from owning land.
Origins of anti-semitism in Europe
Anti-semitism, or the hatred and discrimination against Jewish people, has a long and complex history in Europe. The origins of anti-semitism can be traced back to ancient times, with instances of discrimination against Jews being recorded in ancient Greece and Rome. However, in the Middle Ages that anti-semitism became more widespread and institutionalized.
During the Middle Ages, Jews were often seen as outsiders and were subjected to persecution and violence. They were accused of various crimes, such as poisoning wells and using the blood of Christian children in religious rituals. These accusations led to pogroms, violent attacks on Jewish communities, and the forced expulsion of Jews from many European countries.
The roots of anti-semitism in Europe can be traced to various factors, including economic competition, religious differences, and political conflicts. In many cases, Jews were blamed for social and economic problems and were used as scapegoats for larger issues facing European societies.
In the modern era, anti-semitism reached its horrific apex with the rise of Nazism in Germany and the Holocaust, which resulted in the genocide of six million Jews. While anti-semitism has declined in Europe in recent years, it remains a persistent problem and a reminder of the dangers of prejudice and discrimination.
Anti-semitism: a colonial concept to Modern-day Pakistan
Antisemitism was brought to India by the British rulers in the 19th and early 20th centuries as part of their colonial project. The British brought their own prejudices and stereotypes about Jews, which they imposed on Indian society through their policies and propaganda.
One way antisemitism was introduced to India was through the British education system, which often taught a biased and distorted view of Jewish history and culture. Many of the textbooks used in British schools in India presented Jews as backward and primitive people and highlighted their alleged moral and physical deficiencies.
Another way in which antisemitism was propagated was through the British media and popular culture. British newspapers and magazines often portrayed Jews negatively as greedy, immoral, and deceitful. These stereotypes were then reinforced through popular cultures, such as plays, novels, and films, often depicting Jews as villains or caricatures.
The British also used antisemitism to divide and conquer Indian society. They often play off one religious or ethnic group against another by promoting negative stereotypes and prejudices about each group. In some cases, they would even create tensions where none existed in order to justify their own continued rule.
Overall, the British rulers in India played a significant role in introducing and promoting antisemitism as part of their larger project of colonial domination and control.