Billboards belonging to the traditionalist Muslim Justice and Development Party (AKP) municipality are on public display in Konya, central Turkey, featuring the verbatim text of Koran 5:51 (in accurate Turkish translation). Accompanied by the image of a blood-splattered cross, and star of David, the text simply re-states Koran 5:51:
O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Auliya’ to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Auliya’, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust).
Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai was (d. 1981) a towering modern Muslim religious scholar and philosopher, dubbed a “theosopher.” Allameh [Allamah] Tabatabaei [Tabatabai] University, named in honor of this celebrated authority and “theosopher,” is the largest specialized state social sciences university in Iran and the Middle East, with 17000 students and 500 full-time faculty members. Affirming his continued lofty stature, and relevance, an Iranian national conference was held on May 3, 2012, in Qom, dedicated to “recognizing the interpretative methods and principles used by Allameh [Allamah] Tabatabaee [Tabatabai] in [his Koranic] exegesis.” Tabatabai’s al-Mizān fi tafsir al-Qurʾān “The measure of balance/justly held scales in the interpretation of the Quran,” a 21-volume Arabic opus, is regarded as the most important contemporary Shiite Koranic commentary, and one of the seminal Koranic commentaries of the contemporary era, Sunni, or Shiite.
Tabatabai’s modern Sunni counterpart is the late Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (d. 2010). Not only was Tantawi the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, from 1996 to 2010—the Papal equivalent of Sunni Islam’s Vatican of religious teaching and authority—he was also arguably the most important modern Sunni Koranic commentator of the contemporary era. Tantawi produced a contemporary magnum opus 15-volume Koranic commentary, “al-Tafsīr al-wasīṭ lil-Qurʼān al-karīm,” “The Broad Interpretation of The Koran.” He also oversaw the establishment of the largest online resource for Koranic interpretation, ALTAFSIR.COM, which has published ~100 full-text, verse by verse searchable classical & modern commentaries on the Koran, including his own.
What follows are Shiite Tabatabai’s, and Sunni Tanatawi’s authoritative glosses on Koran 5:51, which are entirely consistent with the corpus of classical (here; here) and modern (here) exegeses on this verse:
[Tabatabai] In a nutshell, Allah warns the believers against taking the Jews and Christians for friends, and threatens them most severely; then points in an apocalyptical way where such friendship was to take them and how it would turn into ruins the magnificent structure of (Islamic) religious character…the clause, “do not take the Jews and Christians for awliya” (friends; protectors), clearly forbids loving them or having any affection towards them; because such feelings pull the souls and spirits toward each other and it creates mutual moral effects on both sides; and if Muslims are influenced by un-Islamic behavior, their society will diverge from its religious way –which is based on the felicity of following the truth—to the way of unbelief—which is based on following low desires and of worshipping Satan…
[Tantawi] These verses contain various reasons why it is important for the believers not to associate with the Jews and the Christians—Allah’s enemies….This is a call—at all times and everywhere—to all believers in Allah, His books, His angels and the Last Day, not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They should not be regarded as friends, supporters or allies. They will unite (as one) against you (the believers) wishing you harm and misfortunes, so don’t you ever think they can be your allies. They are allies of one another. Evil, malice and hatred towards you lurk in their hearts… Being an ally to the Jews and the Christians is blasphemous and “Kufr” (unbelief) if it is based on being content with their (Jews/Christians) religion, for it shows that you are just one of them, and no one would do such a thing unless he is content with them and their religion…
These billboards inculcating “sacralized” Islamic hatred of Jews and Christians in Turkey will likely continue to bear ugly fruit, manifest in Turkey’s ongoing brutal Christian persecution, and virulent Antisemitism, which have relegated both communities to their traditional humiliated “dhimmi status.”
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