One of the verses that is misinterpreted by some Muslims to falsely claim that Jews are Muslims’ eternal foes and selectively used to fuel Jew-hatred is:
O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends (awliyāa); they are friends (awliyāu) of each other; and whoever amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) (yatawallahum), then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. (Qur’an, 5:51)
In this particular verse, there are two words that are translated as referring to “friend.” One is the word awliyāa, which means “guardians, protectors, authorities in the eyes of law, saints, masters, owners, possessors.”10
The other word is yatawallahum, which means “turns to them (for friendship).” The word “friendship” refers to the awliyāa mentioned previously. In other words, the word that is translated as “friendship” is not a reference to friendship as in wordly human relations but rather it means “turn to them as protectors,” as in “governance.”
God relates that Muslims – of course in places where they are in the majority – should not be under the sovereignty of other religious rule; just like in Judaism, it is forbidden to appoint a king who is not a naturally-born Jew.11 It certainly does not mean that Muslims should not make friends with Jews and Christians, be foes of each other or that they should not show compassion and respect, or sever their social connections with them. This is one of the crucial misunderstandings regarding the relations of Jews and Muslims.
As a matter of fact, in the continuation of the text, another verse explains this issue further and refers to a special context:
O you who have believed, take not those who have taken your religion in ridicule and amusement among the ones who were given the Scripture before you nor the disbelievers as allies (awliyāa). (Qur’an, 5:57)
In the above verse, the same word awliyāa is used, and translated as “allies” – and in other translations as “friends and protectors.” Here the verse refers to a specified condition: If Jews and Christians mock a Muslim’s religion or curse it, then of course a Muslim would distance him or herself to avoid dispute as advised in the Qur’an for such cases (Qur’an, 6:68).
In another verse, only those who fight Muslims for their belief are forbidden to be allies (Qur’an, 60:9),12 and God does not refer to all Christians and Jews. This forbiddance even includes believers who do not bear their share of burden (Qur’an, 8:72).13
Another verse that is misused14 as if the Jews are Muslims’ enduring enemies is as follows:
Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans. (Qur’an, 5:82)
When we look at the references of Jews in the Qur’an, one can see that different expressions and words are used with distinction.15 In this verse, the Arabic word that is translated as “Jew” is Al Yahud, and it does not point to all Israelites. It is a reference to a sect that regarded Uzayr (Ezra) as the son of God as mentioned in the Qur’an verse 9:30; apparently there are no Jews that believe this way anymore.16 Thus the verses’ addressees are only those Jews of Arabia who differed from all other Jews.
Furthermore, not considering the Qur’an as a whole and leaving aside the verses that suggest humane relations with Jews are a deflection from the truth. Nowhere in the Qur’an is waging war or being enemies with Jews encouraged or suggested, and these are the only verses that are referring to a specific context and condition that has to be read with a sincere approach to the whole of the Qur’an.
According to the Qur’an, Jews have a special status as “People of the Book” and there is no obstacle for Muslims to live side by side with Jews and engage in social life. On the contrary, Muslims can establish warm human relationships with them through marriage and the sharing of food (Quran, 5:5). God says that the food of Jews is lawful (halal) for Muslims; that means that God creates some sort of closeness with Jews, and that He wants Muslims to consider them as worldly friends and to have a humane affection for them. He wants Muslims to approach their food with a sense of security and eat their food. Thus it is obvious that Muslims can invite Jews to their homes and dine with them together. It is patently illogical to claim that you go to the home of a person you consider to be a foe.
Furthermore, if God says one can marry and eat with the People of the Book – Christians and Jews – then this is the clearest proof that Muslims and Jews can live together in a climate of peace and love. Since these interactions indicate trust, love, and affinity, the entire idea that Muslims are authorized to kill Christians and Jews collapses into its own logical absurdity. From an Islamic perspective, this shows that there can be no obstacle to living together and in harmony, and this is clear evidence that enables the formation of warm human relationships and tranquil togetherness between Jews and Muslims.
Via Sinem Tezyapar