Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Arifi made the following “observations” which aired on Palestinian Arab Al-Aqsa TV, September 12, 2008:
Studies conducted in Tel Aviv and in the Palestinian lands occupied by the Jews showed that they plant trees around their homes, because the Prophet Muhammad said that when the Muslims fight the Jews, each and every stone and tree will say: “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” The only exception is the gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews, and if they hide behind it, it will not reveal their presence. According to reports of people who went there and saw it with their own eyes, man Jews plant gharqad trees around their homes, so that when the fighting begins, they can hide behind them. They are not man enough to stand and fight you.
These Jew-hating motifs were reiterated by Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments Talat Afifi, during an interview shown on Sada Al-Balad TV, March 14, 2013. In response to an interviewer’s query about visiting Israel with “only with a Palestinian visa,” Afifi replied,
This is premature. Let’s wait until it happens. However, we hope that the words of the Prophet Muhammad will be fulfilled: “Judgment Day will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews will hide behind the rocks and the trees, but the rocks and the trees will say: Oh Muslim , oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews.” We fully believe that the future of this land lies with Islam and the Muslims.
While such hatemongering statements appear utterly bizarre to Jews devoid of any understanding of Islam’s foundational texts, and notwithstanding Sinem Tezyapar’s attempt to negate this reality in The Jewish Press, Egyptian cleric Ali Afifi, and earlier, Saudi cleric Al-Arifi’s inflammatory references to Jews, have sacralized origins immediately apparent to Muslim audiences. The crux of their remarks, in fact, merely reiterate verbatim, a canonical hadith, specifically Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985, which is also featured prominently in the Hamas Covenant, article 7.
Briefly (see 1, 2, 3, 4 for an in depth 4-part discussion), what are the hadith, and which specific antisemitic motifs do they contain? Hadith, which means “story” (“narrative”), refers to any report of what the Muslim prophet Muhammad said or did, or his tacit assent to something said or done in his presence. (Hadith is also used as the technical term for the “science” of such “traditions”). As a result of a lengthy process which continued for centuries after Muhammad’s death (in 632), the hadith emerged for Muslims as second in authority to the Koran itself. Sunna, which means “path” refers to a normative custom of Muhammad or of the early Islamic community. The hadith “justify and confirm” the Sunna. Henri Lammens, a seminal early 20th century scholar of Islam, highlighted the importance of the Sunna (and, by extension, the hadith):
As early as the first century A.H. [the 7th century] the following aphorism was pronounced: “The Sunna can dispense with the Koran but not the Koran with the Sunna.” Proceeding to still further lengths, some Muslims assert that “in controversial matters, the Sunna overrules the authority of the Koran, but not vice versa”…all admit the Sunna completes and explains it [the Koran].
The hadith compiled by al-Bukhari (d. 870) and Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875) are considered, respectively, to be the most important authoritative collections. The titles Sahih (“sound”) or Jami, indicating their comprehensiveness, signify the high esteem in which they are held. Their comprehensive content includes information regarding religious duties, law and everyday practice (down to the most mundane, or intimate details), in addition to a considerable amount of biographical and other material. Four other compilations, called Sunan works, which indicates that they are limited to matters of religious and social practice, and law, also became authoritative. Abu Dawud (d. 888), al-Tirmidhi (d. 892), Ibn Maja (d. 896), and al-Nasi (d. 915) compiled these works. By the beginning of the 12th century, Ibn Maja’s collection became the last of these compilations of hadith to be recognized as “canonical.”