This session looks at attitudes toward Jews in the Quran, the foundational Muslim sacred text,
and policies toward Jews in the early part of the Muslim empire.
For general background, please read Scheindlin ch. 4, and find definitions of the terms “Hadith,”
“Sharia,” “Dhimmi,” and “Jizya.”
Below are two primary sources—a collection of passages from the Quran referring to Jews, and
the “Pact of Umar,” [which is referenced in Scheindlin].
Our goal is to evaluate the extent to which the Quranic attitude toward Jews is fundamentally
positive or negative, and the extent to which imperial policy during the early stages of Muslim
rule [reflected in the Umar pact, and other information from your reading] was hostile or
benevolent toward Jews. We will also consider whether there are any connections between
Muslim ideas about Jews, and those found in early Christian texts, and in Greco-Roman
As with our session on early Christianity, the class will be divided into 2 groups, with each group
responsible for arguing one of the sides of the question. Each member of the respective groups
must come up with their own argument, and your points must be completely anchored in the text.
When you make a point, you should be able to refer to specific Suras or other evidence.
argues that the attitudes and policies are substantially positive and benevolent.
Sarah D, Kristy, Aviva, Theresa, Sarah G, Sean, Roni, Jake, Carmen, and Laura.
Group B – argues proposition that the attitudes and policies are substantially negative and
Jamie, Michael, Evan, Kelli-Ann, Allie, Megan, Alizeh, Tara, Arielle, Jaclyn,
*** The Quran, understood traditionally to be Allah’s [God’s] words to Muhammad. The first
person address in the text is always Allah.
The Quran is divided into 114 chapter/sections called
Each Sura has a number and a name/title [don’t worry about the significance of the Sura
[2.40] O children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and be faithful to
(your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you; and of Me, Me alone, should you
[2.47] O children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and that I made you
excel the nations.
[2.62] Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians,
whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from
their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.
[2.83] And when We made a covenant with the children of Israel: You shall not serve any but
Allah and (you shall do) good to (your) parents, and to the near of kin and to the orphans and the
needy, and you shall speak to men good words and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate. Then
you turned back except a few of you and (now too) you turn aside.