How to Deal with Islamic Hate Sermons

Hate sermons inciting genocide against the Jews are not indicative of the values of Islam or what it means to be a Muslim.

islamic-hate-sermonsRecently another controversy erupted over a one-hour sermon delivered at the Islamic Center of Davis in California by Imam Ammar Shahin. His words sounded hateful and anti-Jewish in tone bidding to “liberate Al- Aqsa mosque from the filth of the Jews. Annihilate them down to the very last one.”

Other examples of such Muslim sermons abound. In Jerusalem at Al-Aqsa Mosque preacher Omar Abu-Sarah stated in one of his sermons, “I say to the Jews loud and clear: The time for your slaughter has come.” In Montreal, Canada, Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr delivered a sermon in Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in which he asked for Jews to be killed. The imam recited in Arabic the saying: “O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Often in such sermons, preachers cite this Hadith (oral tradition of sayings attributed to Prophet Muhammad of Islam) predicting an apocalyptic battle on the eve of Judgment Day in which Muslims would annihilate Jews and describing rocks and trees calling out to Muslims, “O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.”

This presumed Hadith is one of more than 10,000 collected 150 years after the death of the Prophet, some of which are considered authentic, while others are dismissed as fake. It has become the litmus test par excellence for promoting anti-Jewish sentiments among Muslims letting the genie of racism and bigotry out of the bottle.

In inciting genocide against the Jews, these few preachers are amongst many who are doing so out of zeal for the faith which the Quran warned against. These hate sermons are not indicative of the values of Islam or what it means to be a Muslim. Such sermons openly promote values that militate against liberal society and progress and turn up the volume of discontent leading to more terror attacks against innocent civilians. They threaten friendly communal relationships stirring suspicions of Muslims in a fragile world.

Preventing hate crimes

Hate crimes taking place against the other is in reaction to hate sermons by preachers and religious leaders compounded by social media accounts glorifying violence and encouraging attacks against the other. It is totally unacceptable that this is allowed to go on. It is not only against the faith but is also against the law.

Unless stopped, the likelihood of a bloody conflagration within multi-cultural communities is very high and stopping this phenomenon should be the priority not only of Jews but of Muslims and Christians.

In its battle to curb radicalization, France has defensibly adopted a bi-fold policy of clamping down on mosques and preachers “inciting hatred” and deporting foreign imams “preaching enmity” in their sermons. Such sermons led hundreds of citizens to travel to Iraq and Syria to wage jihad against their own countries.

Blaming Islam, denouncing the sermons, seeking apologies, filing police complaints, and launching petitions against the imams calling for their dismissal will not help alone, but supporting moderate Islamists to spread their message of peaceful coexistence will. The rhetoric of radical evil ideology offered in a religious wrapping will only be challenged and undermined by promoting a moderate liberal Muslim ideology referred to as Wasatia or middle ground.


The author on a trip with his students to the Nazi concentration death camps in Auschwitz in March 2014.

Wasatia is a term extracted from the Quran: {“Thus have We made of you an Ummatan Wasatan (justly balanced- Mid-ground nation).”} [Cow Surah: verse 143 of 286 verses in that Surah)]. Islam, as advocated by Wasatia, embraces justice, temperance, balance, tolerance and religious liberty for all, putting freedom of religion above that of religious identity.

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Aristotle’s “Golden Mean”, Buddha’s “Middle Path”, Maimonides’ concept of the mida beinonit, referred to as “Doctrine of the Mean”, Ibn Taymiyya’s “Middle Way”, Hegel’s “Synthesis of Opposites”, are different approaches calling upon humanity to avoid extremism and adopt moderation.

As its reference, Wasatia refers to the Holy Qur’an which explicitly condemns murder stating: {“Whoever kills a soul it is as if he has slain all humanity,”} (5:32) and, “So if they withdraw and do not fight you, and offer you peace, then God gives you no way against them,” (4:90).

Moderation in Islam

Islam has a well-established tradition of moderation, reconciliation, and peace resisting the forces of evil. Islam’s teachings are peaceful and consistently emphasize tolerance and respect for others and steering clear of antagonism towards the other. In the words of the Qur’an, “God instructs you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just,” (60:8). The verse aims to encourage good relations with all faiths, sects, creeds, and prohibits harming others and calls for maintaining friendly relationships with non-Muslims.

In another verse, the Quran says: {Truly those believers in this message, as well as the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabeans, whoever believes in God and in the Last Day and does righteous deeds will have their reward from their Lord, and will not have fear, nor will they grieve.} (02:62) The Prophet teaches: “You’ll never be a believer if you don’t love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.”

Wasatia amplifies the voices of moderate and liberal Muslims practicing interfaith reconciliation through dialogue and cooperation. Moderate Muslims need to call on other Muslims to come out and embrace diversity and pluralism and to speak out against the inexcusable misinterpretation of the faith and the manipulation of innocent worshipers.

In voicing our concern we hope to bring out the Muslim community to publicly denounce calls for genocide against another faith. In voicing a deeply passionate call to end using mosque pulpits, or any pulpit, for advocating violence that could ultimately lead to genocide, Wasatia aims to create a more humanistic future.

A worshiper need not leave the mosque after praying and listening to the sermon feeling hatred, enmity, and an urge to kill and destroy but full of love, hope, compassion, and an urge to help his fellow man any way he can.

Watch this excerpt about Professor Mohammed Dajani and his vision of moderation

Professor Mohammed Dajani Daoudi is the founder of the Wasatia Movement in Palestine. In mid 2014, he was pressured to resign from his academic and administrative posts at Al-Quds University after taking 27 of his Palestinian students to the Nazi death concentration camps in Auschwitz to teach them about the Holocaust. Read other articles by Mohammed.