“World’s Most Influential Muslim” a genocidal Jew-hater

Yemeni theologian Habib Umar bin Hafiz. Source: YouTube/Wikimedia.

by Andrew Bostom

(JNS) — Toward the end of each year, Jordan’s Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center — a pre-eminent avatar of mainstream “moderate” Islam — issues its annual rankings of “The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims.”

This year’s top ranking was bestowed upon Yemeni theologian Habib Umar bin Hafiz, who the RISSC called “one of the foremost scholars, spiritual guides and preachers within the Islamic tradition today” whose direct influence extends to “hundreds of millions of Muslims around the globe.” Upon release of the rankings in early October 2023, a fawning report gushed that bin Hafiz “played an instrumental role in shaping the ethical and moral compass” of Muslims worldwide. He represents “the true essence of the religion — one that promotes peace, tolerance and understanding.”

Those unfamiliar with the rankings’ ostensible promotion of ecumenism might be skeptical of it, given that the third-ranked individual was Iran’s annihilationist Jew-hater and authoritarian theocrat Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Not coincidentally, an examination of bin Hafiz’s public pronouncements since the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre indicates that the “World’s Most Influential Muslim” is an annihilationist Jew-hater as well.

On Oct. 10, 2023, anticipating Israel’s defensive response to the massacre, bin Hafiz launched into a diatribe that employed standard Quranic motifs of sacralized Jew-hatred.

He referred to Jews supposedly “spreading corruption” (Quran 5:33, 5:64) and “propagating falsehood” (3:75, 5:41). He invoked Quran 41:15, which condemns the Jews’ alleged “arrogance” and threatens Allah’s retribution.

Illustrating Islam’s religious supersessionism and negation of Judaism, bin Hafiz babbled, “They do not belong to our Master Moses, nor our master Jesus, nor our master Muhammad. They have falsely claimed a connection to Moses.”

Bin Hafiz concluded his rant with a genocidal declaration, repeating the canonical tradition attributed to Muhammad himself and featured in Hamas’s Covenant, Article 7: “When one of [the Jews] seeks refuge under a tree and stone, the trees and the stones will cry out, ‘Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah! Behind me is a Jew, come and kill him’.”

In follow-up pronouncements issued on Oct. 21 and Nov. 1, bin Hafiz denied there was any evidence Palestinian Muslims killed Israeli children on Oct. 7, ignoring gruesome video and forensic findings, as well as testimony by captured Hamas jihadists.

Bin Hafiz further contended that Jews are “even more debased than insects and animals (7:179; 98:6),” that Jews/“Zionist oppressors” seek only “corruption on earth” (5:33; 5:64) and the Jews who were killed, like Pharoah and his minions, are burning in hell (40:46).

In a Dec. 15 rant, bin Hafiz repeated the charge that Jews/Zionists fuel discord and corruption, and claimed they lie and deceive in a manner that “is more disgusting and foul than people realize.” Indulging in Islam’s persecution complex, he insisted that all Muslims have always been the target of the Jews’ conspiratorial treachery:

The war they wage is the same type of war from the very beginning [of Islam]. It is a war born of hatred (5:82)… You are their target. Your religion [Islam] is their target. Their aim is to destroy the Islamic laws! Their aim is to claim the earth is theirs! It is hostility towards Muhammad… It is hatred towards his divine message and revelation… It is hatred towards companions, pure family and his Ummah [entire Muslim community]. It is hatred towards the laws of the religion [Islam]… [The Jews are] the leadership of disbelief on the earth! “If they attack your faith, fight the leaders of disbelief. They never honor their oaths, so fight them” (9:12)… They killed prophets (2:61, 2:91, 3:112, 3:181). They have been doing this from the very beginning… So what do you expect from them? “Hatred has become evident from their mouths” (3:118)… “If good befalls you, it grieves them; and if harm afflicts you, they rejoice” (3:120).

Sadly, the number of Muslims worldwide sharing bin Hafiz’s hateful attitude towards Jews is likely directly connected to his claim to fame: “piety.” RISSC’s educated estimates found that “traditional Islam,” based on Islamic law — bin Hafiz’s specialty — commands the support of 90 percent of the Islamic world. “Islamic fundamentalism,” a more politicized form of “traditional Islam,” is embraced by 9 percent. “Islamic modernism,” a movement over a century old that has called for a “complete overhaul of Islamic Law,” the RISSC states, but “remains popularly an object of derision and ridicule, scorned by traditional Muslims and fundamentalists alike,” is adhered to by only 1 percent.

Tragically, hard Anti-Defamation League survey data indicates that the grossly disproportionate prevalence of extreme antisemitism in the Muslim world appears to be correlated with the RISSC estimates of Muslim piety: The 16 most Jew-hating countries in the world, with extreme antisemitism embraced by 74 percent to 93 percent of the population, are all in the Middle Eastern cradle of Islam. Some 62 percent of French Muslims, the largest Muslim diaspora population in Western Europe, exhibit the same degree of Jew-hatred.

Independent polling data revealed further ominous trends following the Oct. 7 massacre. A poll conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies sampled 8,000 Middle East and North African Muslims between Dec. 12, 2023 and Jan. 5, 2024. The results revealed that approximately 90 percent both approved of the Oct. 7 massacre and rejected Israel’s right to exist.

It is long past time for all non-Muslims — especially Jewish religious and lay leaders — to acknowledge the extent of this uniquely Muslim scourge and publicly condemn revered Muslim religious leaders like Habib Umar bin Hafiz who promulgate sacralized Jew-hatred.

Dr. Andrew Bostom is the author of “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism