Why are there so many problems between Jews and Muslims?

It is not good to stereotype all Jews or all Muslims as being hateful or even distrustful.  It is also important to note that not all Arabs are Muslim and not all Muslims are Arabs.  There are Arab Christian minorities that still live in the middle eastern countries.  There is, however, a long history of conflict, terrorism, war and bloodshed between the Muslims and the Jews.  Why is that? Does the Bible give us any insights?

The Beginning of the Family

The roots of the Arabs and the Jews can be traced back to their father Abraham.  Abraham had a son, Ishmael, through his slave-wife Hagar.  Later, he had his second son, Isaac, through his wife Sarah.  Isaac, the son promised by God became the father of Jacob, later renamed Israel, and then Isaac became the grandfather of 12 sons of Israel who are the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Ishmael left home and became the father of the Ishmaelites, who are the Arab peoples.  

Genesis 16:1-16 and Genesis 21:1-21 tell the story of how these two groups began.  Since Sarah was not successful in getting pregnant, she offered Hagar to Abraham to become his concubine.  The seeds of conflict were sown in the fact that Abraham had two women.  The desire of God was never that a man would have more than one spouse.  Genesis 2 and Jesus words in Matthew 19:4-5 tell us that the pattern of marriage is found in Adam and Eve – one man and one woman.

Before the birth of Ishmael, the Angel of the Lord said

“He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen."  (Genesis 16:11).


Islam was founded in 610 A.D. by conquest and subjugation of infidel religions.  Many Arabs are of the Muslim faith.  Jews, as well as other faiths, who refuse to submit to Allah, can be and should be destroyed, according to Islam.

The Qur’an teaches that Ishmael, not Isaac, was born as the son of promise.  It also teaches that God tested Abraham by asking him to offer Ishmael, not Isaace, as the Bible says, as a sacrifice. Teaching that Ishmael was the chosen son of promise, the Arabs become God’s chosen people.  The rise of Islam has increased this conflict between the two groups who both claim to be God’s people.

Modern Conflict

The Jews occupied the land of Israel since the time of Moses to the time of Christ.  In AD 70, the Roman army put down a rebellion and obliterated most of the Jews living in Israel, scattering the survivors to all parts of the Empire.  In 1948, the Jewish homeland was established as a new country on this piece of ground.  However in the middle of the 20th Century, Palestine was occupied by Arabs. The formation of the Nation of Israel has united Arabs of many countries in a common hatred of the Zionists who established Israel as a country on land they believe was stolen from them.  Conflict has simmered, and sometimes erupted into open war over the question of who owns the land. 

The original story in full...

Here is the Bible’s story about the origins of Abraham’s two nations…

Genesis 16:1-16  Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.  (2)  And Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.  (3)  So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.  (4)  And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.  (5)  And Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!"  (6)  But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.  (7)  The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.  (8)  And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai."  (9)  The angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress and submit to her."  (10)  The angel of the LORD also said to her, "I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude."  (11)  And the angel of the LORD said to her, "Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.  (12)  He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen."  (13)  So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me."  (14)  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.  (15)  And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.  (16)  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

Shad Sluiter