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HomeExpertsCultural and Historical Significance of the Jewish Mention in Meccan Quranic Verses

Cultural and Historical Significance of the Jewish Mention in Meccan Quranic Verses

The article you are about to read has no direct connection to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, which has led even the Western world to withdraw its support from Israel due to its disproportionate use of force and the killing of over 10,000 civilians. It also has nothing to do with the emergence of genocide discourse.

However, these events, which have paralyzed world politics, raise some questions in people’s minds, and some of these questions also concern me. One of those questions is as follows:

“In the Meccan period, there were not many Jews in Mecca, nor were the relations between Muslims and Jews intense. Despite this, why does the Quran mention Jews so much in the Meccan verses?”

In order to better understand and interpret the Quran, I would like to emphasize two points in response to this important question.

One: The point mentioned in the question is correct. There were not many Jews in Mecca, and the relationship of Muslims with them was minimal. However, the frequent mention of the Children of Israel, Prophet Moses, and his people in the Meccan verses indicates that the difficulties faced by Muslims in Mecca were not unique to them, and other religious groups had also experienced similar difficulties in the past.

Indeed, when examined carefully, the Meccan verses generally speak positively of Jews and narrate how they supported their prophets and their religion, especially Prophet Moses. Thus, the message conveyed is for Muslims to also uphold their faith and Prophet similar to the Jews.

Two: It is preparation for Medina. Muslims will live together with more than 4,000 Jews, including the Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nadir, and Banu Qurayza, in Medina. The generally positive qualities attributed to them in Mecca, as well as the negative behaviors, mostly related to bilateral relationships, that were revealed in Medina, allowed Muslims to make comparisons. Just as they said in history and say today, “It was like this in the past, it’s like this today.”

Naturally, these comparisons played a guiding role in determining the realpolitik relations between Muslims and Jews.

As I have repeatedly emphasized on this page, not a single verse of the Quran is in vain. The messages that we convey with the universal and timeless attribute of the Quran are given by Allah based on the events that took place in that historical context. In this respect, there is a dialectical relationship between the Quranic verses and the historical context. Efforts to break this relationship can lead us away from the divine purpose. Therefore, we must be very careful and, as Bediüzzaman Said Nursi has stated, first imagine and think back to 14 centuries ago, envision Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in action, and then make an effort to understand the message given to us.

However, this does not mean that we should confine the Quran to 14 centuries ago. We should not view it as having nothing to say to us today.

God forbid!

No one with sound reasoning would say such a thing. With these last lines, I want to emphasize once again that the primary task is to understand the original and essential meaning of the Quran, and for this, we need to go back 14 centuries. When we do this, our interpretations, explanations, and judgments will bring us one step closer to Allah’s will.

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Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is a an author and scholar focusing on Islamic Studies and Law.

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