Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States, Israel, and Europe are tenuous. Jews and Muslims struggle to understand one another and know little about each other’s traditions and beliefs.
Firestone explains the remarkable similarities and profound differences between Judaism and Islam, the complex history of Jihad, the legal and religious positions of Jews in the world of Islam, how various expressions of Islam (Sunni, Shi`a, Sufi, Salafi, etc.) regard Jews, the range of Muslim views about Israel, and much more. He addresses these issues and others with candor and integrity, and he writes with language, symbols, and ideas that make sense to Jews.
Exploring these subjects in today’s vexed political climate is a delicate undertaking. Firestone draws on the research and writings of generations of Muslim, Jewish, and other scholars, as well as his own considerable expertise in this field. The book’s tone is neither disparaging, apologetic, nor triumphal. Firestone provides many original sources in translation, as well as an appendix of additional key sources in context. Most importantly, this book is readable and reasoned, presenting to readers for the first time the complexity of Islam and its relationship toward Jews and Judaism.
5 thoughts on “An Introduction to Islam for Jews”
Why has the author chosen this title? Are the Jews so ignorant of Islam. History of Andalusia teaches us of Jews flourishing under the Moors in Muslim Spain. Both members understood and respected each other’s belief. However today the issue is more to do with ‘Neoconservetism vs Talibanism’ both vying for geo-political power
in order to control resources. I wonder how many ‘jews’ will notice this book, leave aside spend money to read it.
Has the ”Occupation and the subjugation” not taught the jews anything of the period from 1936 to 1946. That
today they themselves occupy the same position with the Muslims under their yoke. I hope the author can help
bring peace between the two.
Rating: 3 / 5
All people known How had Jews and Islam relationship.To know who are them will be building good relations. This book can make Jews know about Islam.
Rating: 4 / 5
I was shocked by the way the author, who is a Conservative Jewish Rabbi, feels a sense of “sympathy” for Islam. He then proceeds to write an apologetic book about the Islamic religion. The author was constantly trying to show how similar Jewish and Islamic ways are. The author did a very poor job of convincing anyone that Jews have anything “real” in common with Islamics. It can be easily seen that a good deal of all their initial Islamic customs & laws developed from Mohammad’s supposed visions from the angel Gabriel. By my estimation, from reading the Qur’an, those visions were more likely what he observed and listened to when he came in contact with Jews & Christians who lived in Medina & other places he traveled to. The book does give a respectable basic history of Islam and its customs and laws. However, as a piece of literature for the Jewish reader to obtain a sympathetic understanding of Islamic thinking, it is a total failure. This book will do nothing for Jews to understand Islam, except for maybe to increase their dislike of it. Sorry, but the book should not be addressed as written for Jews, it is not !
Rating: 2 / 5
The relationship of Islam and Judaism has long been a turbulent one. “An Introduction to Islam for Jews” is a scholarly examination of the Islamic faith and how it relates to the Jewish people. Examining Islam and Muslims as a whole, “An Introduction to Islam for Jews” spans the history of Islam from its origins to recent calls for Jihad from extremists. Despite its title, “An Introduction to Islam for Jews” is not exclusively for Jews, but rather a recommended pick for readers of all faiths who seek to better understand Islam.
Rating: 5 / 5
This book covers a wide variety of issues relating to Islam. Of course, Islam gets the most press when extremists are massacring people – and to his credit, Firestone does not flinch from examining the relationship between the Koran and modern extremism. He points out that like Judeo-Christian sacred texts, the Koran and other Muslim texts do not speak with one voice: they contain verses favoring tolerance, and verses that are not so tolerant. Thus, it makes no sense to generalize about the “Islamic position” on other religions: both warmongers and peacemakers can find ammunition for their positions (pun intended).
As you might guess from the title, Firestone focuses heavily on the relationship between Judaism and Islam, noting some of the similarities between the two religions as well as their differences. To name a few:
1. Both Muslims and traditional Jews believe that Moses was a prophet who received laws from God. But they differ as to the content of revelation. While Jews of course believe in the Torah, Muslims believe that the Torah does not accurately reflect Mosaic revelation, because much of it was lost or altered over time.
2. Arabic and Hebrew have quite a few similiarities. For example, the most common Arabic word for “God” (Allah) is similar to one of the Jewish names (El), and the Islamic term for charity (Sadaqa) is quite similar to the Jewish term Tzedakah. Even seemingly dissimilar terms often have similar roots: the Jewish term Halakha and the Islamic Sharia both mean something like “the way”.
3. Family law is somewhat similar; for example, both traditional Jews and Muslims’ tolerance for abortion depends on timing (more so within the first forty days, less so afterwards. Similarly, both traditional Judaism and Islam formally allow only men to initiate divorce, and have had some difficulty creating alternatives that respect women’s interests.
Firestone also explains some of the issues dividing Sh’ites and Sunnis; some Shi’tes allow “temporary marriage” (as Firestone explains it, normally a kind of cohabitation) and Shi’is encourage visits to the tombs of holy men, a practice that the most radical Sunnis consider idolatrous.
Rating: 5 / 5