Historically, during the Golden Age of Jewish Culture in Spain, between the 8th through 11th centuries, and later in the Middle Ages, relations between Jews and Muslims were generally benign, and even mutually beneficial. In Muslim dominated lands, Jews were usually allowed to practice their religion and to administer their internal affairs, and both Muslim and Jewish cultural and economic life flourished.

Nevertheless, while some verses in the Islamic holy book the Qur’an preach tolerance towards the Jews, other passages are clearly antisemitic . Sometimes it includes Christians with Jews in their maledictions, as: “O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust" (Qur'an 5:51); and "Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book [i.e., Jews] had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors" (Qur'an 3:110). In other passages the Qur’an singles out the Jews in particular and absolves Christians, as in: "Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant"(Qur'an 5:82).

The point of all this is not to cast aspersions on religious teachings as a whole but to suggest that embedded in the Scriptures of Christian and Islamic writings are certain passages that have been used to promote bigotry.

This dichotomy is readily exemplified by considering the great historic figure of Martin Luther, who in the 16th century ushered in the Protestant Reformation. On the one hand, he remarked on what he saw as some of the shortcomings of the Catholic Church, particularly with their practice of issuing indulgences (simply put, an indulgence was a payment to the Catholic Church that purchased an exemption from punishment or penance for some types of sins), and began a period of reform that revolutionized Christian theology. On the other hand, Luther’s later writings were unquestionably antisemitic and served as a theological basis for the subsequent hatred, persecution and ultimate massacre of the Jewish people.

For more on Muslim antisemitism, see

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