The Secularization of Judaism

After the French Revolution, one country after the other declared its government to be founded upon a secular system. Concurrently, Jews in Western Europe slowly but surely cast their religious culture aside and wholeheartedly embraced and participated in modern Western life.

Moses Mendelssohn (1729 – 1786) was one of the initiators and voices of Haskala, i.e., Jewish Enlightenment.[1] By means of printed works and liberal religious schools, the focus of his movement was to break and destroy the backwardness, ignorance, cultural stagnation and hopelessness that had been depressing the Jewish community. Mendelssohn translated the Pentateuch into German and published it alongside the Hebrew in order to make it possible for German Jews who only knew Hebrew and Yiddish to now learn German.

The Haskala led to the secularization of many Jews and led them to modern values. Ultimately, it was a failure and it did not bind Jews to their religious heritage. In fact, most of those devoted to the Haskala were hungry for social acceptance among Christians and ended up expediently becoming Christians too!

The ironic point of note about the secularization and modernization of Moses Mendelssohn and his Haskala was that in his striving for a modernized Judaism, his own two daughters and his grandson – Felix Mendelssohn – converted to Christianity.

This is the lesson and warning for the modernist Muslim. The desire to assimilate and the craving for social acceptance comes with sinkholes and one ultimately pays a heavy price. Maybe not immediately, but history will narrate the downfall.

In their confounded and damned course, the liberal Jews introduced musical instruments into their houses of worship. They paid professional choirs (comprising of Christians too) and replaced Hebrew chants with Christian melodies that would not offend a Jewish audience.

The liberal Jews made structural changes to their places of worship, like stained glass windows bearing the paintings of the Messengers in order to blend in and make the building resemble a Christian church. Segregation between men and women was dealt away with and prayers that conflicted with liberalism were removed from prayer books, including references to the Day of Judgement, Heaven and Hell.

Liberal Jews made the following declarations:

  1. There is no authority to decide what is orthodox and what is not
  2. Our codes of law have never been recognized as official and authentic interpretation of Judaism
  3. Our Torah and Talmud contain superstitious views which are untenable
  4. Our scriptures presuppose that the fundamental views of modern science are false
  5. Our ritual practices are impracticable in contemporary society
  6. In many instances, ritual provokes feelings by deceit and trickery
  7. Dogmas, like all human knowledge, must be revised and enlightened by enlarged experience.[2]

Judaism fell into secularization and modernization from within, with the help of Jewish intellectuals that converted to Christianity in order to ‘blend in’ or gain social acceptance. Despite the fact that the Jews now have a state, its leaders are nearly all atheists that are imbued with socialism and secularism and are determined to rule accordingly.

There is nothing on the table to offer by Rabbis in terms of enhancing spirituality. In fact, the religion itself has been rendered obsolete, with practically no implementation of the Jewish religious code. In essence, ‘interfaith’ is a misnomer because Judaism and Christianity – in its present states – are not faiths, but stand as deformed, modernized and secularized.

Notes

Islam Versus Ahl al-Kitab: Past and Present, Maryam Jameelah, Lucknow, 1983

  1. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Moses-Mendelssohn
  2. Modern Orthodoxy, Gotthard Deutsch, Chicago, 1898 p.26

 

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Lizard hole

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Allah’s Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians (by your words)” those before you”? He said: Who else (than those two religious groups)?

Reference: Sahih Muslim 2669a
In-book reference: Book 47, Hadith 7
USC-MSA web (English) reference: Book 34, Hadith 6448
(deprecated numbering scheme)

SL

This hadeeth is perfectly relevant to our time because not only is there a secularization liberalization effort going on within Muslim community, but also the Muslim ummah being fragmented into three main socio-cultural categories like what happened with the Jewish ummah.

SL

This article’s author forgot to mention that there was one section of the Jewish ummah (Jewish versions of Daniel Haqiqatjou and his fans) who fiercely resisted all these modernist ideologies like secularism, liberalism, feminism and LGBT within Judaism, because they instead managed to preserve their original traditional Conservative ways. Nowadays those people are known as “Haredi”, “Hasidic” or “Ultra-orthodox” Jews, and they are culturally similar to us Conservative Muslims.

SL

The Jewish ummah evolved to become 3 types of Jews nowadays;

1- those who embrace the secular liberal feminist LGBT reforms and nonreligious lifestyle are called “Hiloni”, “secular” or “reform” Jews.

2- those who resisted these modernist socio-cultural changes and instead preserve their pre-modern traditional Conservative culture and lifestyle and patriarchal society are called “Haredi”, “Hasidic” or “Ultra-orthodox” Jews.

3- those who are floating somewhere in between the above 2 opposite categories are called “Modern Orthodox” Jews.

SL

Regarding the Lizard hole hadeeth that someone quoted above here, it is perfectly relevant today because our Muslim ummah is also slowly evolving into THREE main categories which neatly correspond almost exactly to the categories of Jews I listed above.

Muslim skeptic/Daniel Haqiqatjou, the Таlіbаn and their fans are now the new “Haredi ultra-orthodox Muslims”. The likes of Yaqeen, Ingrid Mattson, Ilhan Omar and those who halalize LGBT are now the Muslim version of Hiloni secular/liberal Reform Jews. And the majority of ordinary common Muslims are “Modern Orthodox” floating somewhere in between the two opposite extreme ends of the Conservativeness spectrum.

SL

“There is nothing on the table to offer by Rabbis in terms of enhancing spirituality. In fact, the religion itself has been rendered obsolete, with practically no implementation of the Jewish religious code. In essence, ‘interfaith’ is a misnomer because Judaism and Christianity – in its present states – are not faiths, but stand as deformed, modernized and secularized.”

This is partly not true, because as I said the ultra-orthodox/Haredi Jews have kept their traditional Conservative pious culture largely intact without letting the modern secular ultra-liberal ideology and lifestyle infiltrate their own lives. This article’s author seems to think that the Hiloni/secular-liberal/reform Jews are the only Jews left remaining in the world. And similarly with Christians, there are still some of them like rural old order Mennonites and Amish and “plain people” who preserved their traditional pious culture and lifestyle without adopting the secular ultra-liberalism of the modern world.

Mohammad Talha Ansari

“Mendelssohn translated the Pentateuch into German and published it alongside the Hebrew in order to make it possible for German Jews who only knew Hebrew and Yiddish to now learn German.”
Allah above the seven heavens! That is how much connected they were to their religious language and their holy book, that reading the translation of the book enabled them to learn a language. We subcontinental Muslims are so profoundly, profoundly lost without Arabic and most have lost touch with the Qur’an.