A researcher from Saudi Arabia says he is trying to improve the image of the prophet Muhammad in the eyes of Jews by publishing an article in Tel Aviv University’s “Kesher” (“connection” in Hebrew) Academic Journal.
The paper was published in the back of increasing calls in the Arab League and Saudi Arabia to use the inter-religious understandings for cooperation with Jews and Israel to achieve peace.
In his first article in Hebrew, Prof. Mohammed Ibrahim Alghbban, head of NELC and Hebrew Studies at King Saud University in Riyadh, asserts that the prophet Muhammad had good relations with Jews. The disagreements with them were on political grounds, not on religious ones.
The article is called “Contribution to Prophet Muhammad’s Image Improvement in the Eyes of the Israeli Public: Muhammad’s Alliances and Mail Exchanges with Jews from the Arabian Peninsula.”
The editor of the Israeli academic journal, Prof. Gideon Kouts, met Prof. Alghbban in Riyadh in 2015 at academic Hebrew Studies conferences.
Prof. Raanan Rein, head of Shalom Rosenfeld Institute, emphasizes that this paper is mainly important for the unheard-of choice of a Saudi researcher to publish his article in Israel, in order to bring the two nations closer. “I hope that this academic cooperation is another step towards economic and political cooperation,” he said.
According to Prof. Alghbban in the introduction to his article. “Erroneous assumptions about the origins of Islam, proposed by Oriental Studies researchers in the previous century – some of which were written in Hebrew – led to a distorted understanding of manuscripts, wrong methodology, and negative influences on Hebrew speaking Middle Eastern Studies researchers,” writes Prof. Alghbban.
“Accusing Islam and the Prophet Muhammad of hate speech and racism against Jewish tribes in Hejaz is erroneous. Muhammad treated equally all social groups in Al Madinah and in other places under his control, regardless of race and religion. The misrepresentations in the research are due to the fact that his letters were never translated into Hebrew.”
Prof. Alghbban says that the Jewish public’s misunderstanding of Prophet Muhammad’s thoughts is integrated with broken or partial
translations into Hebrew, or even lack thereof, of letters from Prophet Muhammad to Jewish tribes from the Arabian Peninsula and the written alliances he had with them.
Prof. Alghbban incorporates contemporary Israeli literature in the Hebrew Studies at the university’s curriculum. In its course program, one can find works by Israeli writers such as Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Etgar Keret, and Yosef Haim Brenner. The program is intended for male students only.