Can a Jew convert to Islam?

Many Muslims have asked our Jewish staff “if the Quran serves as a guidance for mankind, why don’t you follow it?” This article explains why even if they believed that were true, Jewish law prohibits them from converting to Islam

The Quran teaches the text of the Torah isn’t corrupted

If you were to show any Orthodox Jew sura 5:44 in the Quran he would surely declare “Sadaqa Allahu ‘l-Azeem”, as the text echoes something they’ve been proclaiming for 2,300 years:

the rabbis and scholars [were] entrusted [with] the Scripture of Allah.

- Quran 5:44

Without an awareness of Jewish history one can only guess at the sura’s meaning, but the clarifying keyword is “rabbis” – as up until the birth of Islam the only group of Jews that referred to their leaders as rabbis were the Pharisees. They called their spiritual leaders in Israel “rabbi” (A similar term “rab” referred to Babylonian leaders, while “rabban” described the leader of these Jews).

This is important because 2,300 years ago a group of heretical Jews (the Sadducees) rejected the Oral Law (which the rabbis codified in the Talmud). The Oral Law was a verbal scripture given to Moses AS at the same time he received the Torah and we feel it is the only scripture the Quran could be referring to. This is confirmed by the Quran’s repetition of ideas found exclusively in the Oral Law1 – if it didn’t have Divine source, why would the Quran repeat these themes?

Could sura 5:44 actually be the Quran’s declaration that the truth is with the rabbis and not heretics. If so this scripture (the Torah and Talmud) has been perfectly preserved and passed down from generation to generation, from rabbi to rabbi.2

A Jewish convert to Islam can’t keep the Quran and Torah

If we accept that the Torah hasn’t changed since the era of the rabbis (which is the academic and religious consensus), then the Quran cannot act as a guidance for the Jews if it contradicts any of the laws of the Torah.

The revealed things apply to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah.

- Deut 29:28

However, upon inspection there are numerous instances where a Jew would have violate the Torah if he were to follow the Quran:

  • If Shavuot or Sukkot fell on Ramadan a Jew is commanded to eat – yet a Muslim is commanded to fast.
  • The Quran permits all the food from the sea, yet the Torah forbids all the food from the sea, unless it has fins and scales.
  • The Quran forbids alcohol, yet the Torah permits its

There are many more examples, but all we need is one contradiction to establish that its impossible to keep both books.

A Jew cannot convert to Islam

The Torah states that even when threatened with death, a Jew cannot convert to an idolatrous religion. So what is the law regarding Jewish apostates to Islam?

  • Jews that voluntarily convert to Islam
    • They have committed a treacherous act of heresy as they have abandoned the Torah.3
  • Jews that are forced to convert to Islam
    • According to the Rambam, if the Jews privately follows the Torah then they should not take their own life, as this is only permitted when threatened with idolatry4 (which Muslims abhor).5
    • According to the Radvaz and Ritva, Jews should give up their life and die as martyrs rather than convert to Islam. They ruled this way because some Muslims believe the Quran replaced the Torah and if any Jew that took shahada they would be conceding to this claim.6

As one cannot keep both the Torah and Quran, every rabbinic authority agrees that by converting to Islam a Jew is committing a sin. The issue which divides the rabbis is forced conversion, of which the mainstream view is that when faced with certain death it is better to convert to Islam. The rabbis justify this by highlighting that Islam is a noble religion who’s adherents submit to the One true God (a leniency that was not extended to other faiths).

The Quran alludes to this by declaring that the righteous Jews have a place in Jannah7, surely it would only state this if Allah SWT wanted the Jews to follow their scripture.

Sources

  1. One who saves a life save an entire world, the concept of an immortal soul and afterlife, that the mountain was lifted over Bani Yisrael.
  2. For a Muslim to say the text of the Torah was corrupted they’d need to prove the corruption took place after the Talmudic era. From this period the Torah was perfectly preserved in its original form, in rabbinic translations and in their commentaries. Those that claim there was a textual corruption (Ibn Hazm, Wellhausen, Graf) date this corruption to the era of the scribes (long before the rabbis) – something the Quran would appear to refute.
  3. Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Teshuvah 3.20
    “One who separates himself from the Community, even if he does not commit a transgression but only holds aloof from the congregation of Israel, does not fulfill religious precepts in common with his people, show himself indifferent when they are in distress, does not observe their fast, but goes in his own way, as if were one of the gentiles and did not belong to the Jewish people-such a person has no portion in the world to come”
  4. Maimonides – Iggeret HaShamad
    “Now if he did not surrender himself to death but transgressed under duress and did not die, he did not act properly and under compulsion he profaned God’s name. However, he is not to be punished by any of the seven means of retribution. Not a single instance is found in the Torah in which a forced individual is sentenced to any of the punishments, whether the transgression was light or grave. Only he who acts voluntarily is subject as Scripture directs: ‘But the person…who acts defiantly…that soul shall be cut off'”
  5. Rav Abraham Maimuni (The Soteriology of R. Abraham Maimuni, Gerson D. Cohen p85)
    “Now regard to this matter [washing of the orifices of the before prayer], let it be clear that whoever has bathed at home or washed his hands and feet for the sake of prayer has fulfilled his duty for having immersed himself voluntarily he is on the verge of fulfilling his obligation. Whoever washes his forearm and imposes upon himself the obligation of washing behind his ear, combining the tangled hair of his head and washing his orifices before prayer after the fashion of the Gentiles, let him refrain and desist, since that is not Jewish practice and is not warranted by either written or oral tradition. However, I cannot say unequivocally that this practice is in the category of Gentile religious practice (Chukat haGoyim), inasmuch as those who practice these rites, namely the Muslims, are monotheists who abhor idolatry. Nevertheless there is certainly no compelling need for copying them in this way, for our law usage are quite sufficient, by God…”
  6. Ritva on Pesachim 25b
    “And you should know that the faith of the [Muslims], although they believe in the unity of God, it is considered complete idolatry in terms of getting killed and not converting, for one who admits to their faith denies the Torah of Moses, saying that it is not true as it is in our hands, and anything like this is complete idolatry, and they (Chazal) did not say by other commandments that one should transgress rather than get killed where their intent is to have one transgress, except in a circumstance where they tell him to violate Shabbat in order to transgress his religion, but not in a circumstance where they tell him to violate Shabbat so as to concede that your Torah is not true and God did not command to keep Shabbat. So I have heard.”
  7. Quran 2:62
    Verily! Those who believe [Muslims] and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

Comments

comments

16 thoughts on “Can a Jew convert to Islam?

  1. Jews should find the prediction in Torah about the final massenger. Only then they will know that Al Quran and Islam shall overule the Torah and the beliefs.

  2. This is a very good website. I like a kind of place where every body can be truthful and respectful of each other. I like the reconciliatory efforts of this website. I don’t like the idea of some missionary believing they are helping God. There are countless verses in the scripture saying God doesn’t need anyone’s help. My point is the first and ultimate religion is submission to the will of God. There Jews, who worship God truthfully, muslims who worship God truthfully and christians who want to worship god truthfully. These people submit to and some who outrightly err. There is no compulsion in religion. Let every one seek the truth!

  3. This is a very good website. I like a kind of place where every body can be truthful and respectful of each other. I like the reconciliatory efforts of this website. I don’t like the idea of some missionary believing they are helping God. There are countless verses in the scripture saying God doesn’t need anyone’s help. My point is the first and ultimate religion is submission to the will of God. There Jews, who worship God truthfully, Muslims who worship God truthfully and Christians who want to worship god truthfully. These people submit to the will of God,and some who outrightly err. There is no compulsion in religion. Let every one seek the truth!

  4. in my opinion Islam is idolworship. although mohammed isn’t actually called divine, muslims relate to him as if he was, he is at the center of their religion, and presented as perfect and infallible- in other words, divine without saying so. The outrage evoked at any real or imaginary slight to his honor proves my point.
    Of course there are jews who deify their own rabbis too.

  5. in my opinion Islam is idolworship. although mohammed isn’t actually called divine, muslims relate to him as if he was, he is at the center of their religion, and presented as perfect and infallible- in other words, divine without saying so. The outrage evoked at any real or imaginary slight to his honor proves my point.
    Of course there are jews who deify their own rabbis too.
    judaism is not about following a person, its about following the law.

  6. Mohammed(Almighty’s peace be upon him) was NOT perfect or infallible.
    He was a man, mentioned many places in quran.
    His human errors also mentioned in quran.
    In quran, sura abasa, his human mistakes have been described.
    We only pray to almighty,Mohammed(Almighty’s peace be upon him) is our messenger from Almighty.

  7. Torah mentioned in quran

    Surah Al-Baqarah
    4. And who believe in (the Qur’an) which has been sent down (revealed) to you (Muhammad Peace be upon him ) and in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel which were sent down before you and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter.

    53. And when We gave Musa (Moses) the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah)] and the criterion (of right and wrong) so that you may be guided aright.

    75. Do you (faithful believers) covet that they will believe in your religion inspite of the fact that a party of them (Jewish rabbis) used to hear the Word of Allah [the Taurat (Torah)], then they used to change it knowingly after they understood it?

    76. And when they (Jews) meet those who believe (Muslims), they say, “We believe”, but when they meet one another in private, they say, “Shall you (Jews) tell them (Muslims) what Allah has revealed to you [Jews, about the description and the qualities of Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him , that which are written in the Taurat (Torah)] , that they (Muslims) may argue with you (Jews) about it before your Lord?” Have you (Jews) then no understanding?

    89. And when there came to them (the Jews), a Book (this Qur’an) from Allah confirming what is with them [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], although aforetime they had invoked Allah (for coming of Muhammad Peace be upon him ) in order to gain victory over those who disbelieved, then when there came to them that which they had recognised, they disbelieved in it. So let the Curse of Allah be on the disbelievers.

    146. Those to whom We gave the Scripture (Jews and Christians) recognise him as they recongise their sons. But verily, a party of them conceal the truth while they know it – [i.e. the qualities of Muhammad which are written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)].

    Surah Al-Ma’idah
    76. And when they (Jews) meet those who believe (Muslims), they say, “We believe”, but when they meet one another in private, they say, “Shall you (Jews) tell them (Muslims) what Allah has revealed to you [Jews, about the description and the qualities of Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him , that which are written in the Taurat (Torah)] , that they (Muslims) may argue with you (Jews) about it before your Lord?” Have you (Jews) then no understanding?

    Surah Al-Ma’idah
    44. Verily, We did send down the Taurat (Torah) [to Musa (Moses)], therein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to Allah’s Will, judged the Jews. And the rabbis and the priests [too judged the Jews by the Taurat (Torah) after those Prophets] for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s Book, and they were witnesses thereto. Therefore fear not men but fear Me (O Jews) and sell not My Verses for a miserable price. And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the Kafirun (i.e. disbelievers – of a lesser degree as they do not act on Allah’s Laws )

    Surah Al-Ma’idah
    110. and how I taught thee(jesus) the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the and the Injeel

    surah Al-fath
    29 Their mark is on their faces from the trace of the prostration.
    That is their similitude in the Taurah and their similitude in the Injeel

  8. Sara, being a Muslim all I want to do is laugh at the ludicrousness of your comment. The best advice that has ever been given in the history of mankind is if you don’t know what you are talking about, then keep your mouth shut.

  9. an orthodox Jew is already a Muslim by definition in the submission of the only god there was and is..however to be a Muslim is also to acknowledge Muhammad and Jesus as true prophets of Yahweh and most importantly is to acknowledge Jesus as the Jewish messiah and by “messiah” i mean the Jewish interpretation and understanding of that term..also in Islam (I’m not sure about Judaism) regular daily prayers are mandatory just like the prophets really taught..and finally to all the haters:Muhammad didn’t introduce a new religion he just restored the one true religion which is/was called Islam which means the submission to the one true god ,the term “Judaism” probably (i’m guessing) means “The Religion Of The Jews” which is Islam while Christianity means faith in the man Christ and is salvation through the shed blood of Jesus

    “O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much. There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book” Quran 5:15

    if you believe Islam is idolatry then you’re just lying to yourself ,when jews pray on the temple mount at the western wall that doesn’t mean god is in the wall or god is the wall

  10. muslims love Muhammad because he’s believed to have been the last messenger and because the sacred book of their religion was revealed to him and for the arabs they love him because they’re proud of him and proud to be Arabs just like he was..just like Jews see Moses Muslims see Muhammad ..in case you never heard the prophet of islam is nicknamed “The illiterate Prophet” by the Quran itself ain’t nothing “divine” about that

  11. islam is areligion of peace and it dont compel anyone to change his/her religion .but islam is true religion and its teachings are not changed over course of 1400 years .in islam it is said that all religious books of christanity and judism were true but their teachings were changed by people .now only one true religion exist i its pure form which is ISLAM
    all the teachings of islam are for betterment of humans

  12. No, Islam is not idol worship, the only reason why a lot of compassion is shown towards prophet Muhammad peace be upon him is because he is our beloved leader. We only worship Allah and Allah alone, in fact it is a MAJOR SIN to partner other deities with Allah. One who associates other partners with Allah is definatley NOT a muslim. Please don’t get love and respect confused with paganism or idolworship.

  13. These are the words of our sage Rabbi Maimonides: “All those words of Jesus of Nazareth and of this Ishmaelite [i.e., Muhammad] who arose after him (i.e. Moses) are only to make straight the path for the messianic king and to prepare the whole world to serve the Lord together. As it is said: ‘For then I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech so that all of them shall call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord’ (Zephaniah 3:9).”
    And this is my comment: Eventually, in the world to come, there will be ONE PURE LANGUAGE IN WHICH TO CALL ON THE ONE PURE G-D, AND ALL WILL SERVE HIM IN PEACE, HARMONY AND UNITY. IT WILL BE G-D’S LANGUAGE, AND HIS WAY.

  14. Your standard ahlus sunnah wal jamaah (Sunni) Muslims, which make up the majority of Muslims, does not worship the Prophet as divine or perfect.. I could see some form of cult-like worship by Shia Muslims, how they revere the Prophet Muhammad and his kin over the rest of mankind. Shias celebrate his birthday, Sunni’s explicitly prohibit celebration of his birthday. Shias believe that religious leadership was divinely entrusted to Muhammad and his lineage ie Ali etc whereas Sunnis believed in a committee election.
    I’m not trying to start a sectarian war here, but I just feel that it may be possible for a non-muslim to perceive (Shia) Islam to be idolworship and think that of all muslims.