In Islam, the term “People of the Book” refers to Christians and Jews. Because Islam has a dualistic nature there are verses that speak positively about Christians and Jews, but there are also verses written later that call for Muslims to make war on Christians and Jews. In Islam the verses that Muhammad received later in his revelations abrogate the previous verses, which means the later passages take precedent over the early passages, but they are not negated because the Qur’an is considered the verbatim words of Allah.
The early Qur’an (the portion Muhammad received in Mecca) accepts Christians and Jews, “Those who believe and those who are Christians and Jews and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and Judgment Day shall have their reward with the Lord” (Quran 2:62). But the later Qur’an (the portion received in Medina) states, “Make war on those who have received the Scriptures [Jews and Christians] but do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day. They do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden. The Christians and Jews do not follow the religion of truth until they submit and pay the poll tax [jizya] and they are humiliated” (Qur’an 9:29).
When Muhammad began to supposedly receive his “revelations” in Mecca, the revelations came through the angel, Gabriel – an angel from Jewish scriptures. Therefore Muhammad considered himself in the lineage of Jewish prophets.
When Muhammad moved to Medina, the city was half Jewish. Muhammad saw himself as a reformer of Judaism, however Muhammad had most likely picked up bits and pieces of Jewish scriptures on the trade routes in ancient Arabia so the Jews were able to easily point out some of the contradictions in Muhammad’s revelations and their scriptures. The rabbis in Medina, quite correctly, did not accept him as a Jewish prophet. Because the Jews refused to accept Muhammad, he developed a hatred for the Jews and eliminated most of them either by death, enslavement or expulsion.
The Qur’an retells many of the stories of Moses, Noah, Adam and other characters in Jewish scriptures, but they are twisted to show that all people who deny any of the prophets of Islam are ultimately destroyed. Therefore anyone that denied Muhammad, as a prophet of Allah should be destroyed.
Certainly not all Muslims wish to see the Jews and Christians destroyed, but the “People of the Book” can trace the root of the hatred against them to the rejection of Muhammad’s teachings, which were contrary to Jewish and Christian scriptures.
Pray that Muslims and non-Muslims will both begin to question a religion whose scriptures encourage hatred and the destruction of people of other religions.