Muslim sect celebrates 25 years since Koran translated into Yiddish

Group’s Israeli leader says aim was to show different face of Islam.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community leader Muhammad Sharif Odeh with the Yiddish text in Haifa
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community leader Muhammad Sharif Odeh with the Yiddish text in Haifa in August 2012. Photo By: Haggai Frid


Yiddish (ייִדיש yidish or אידיש idish, literally “Jewish”) is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken in many parts of the world. It developed as a fusion of Hebrew and Aramaic into German dialects with the infusion of Slavic and traces of Romance languages.  It is written in the Hebrew alphabet.

Members of a Muslim sect that translated parts of the Koran into Yiddish are marking 25 years since that translation was published.

The president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Israel, Muhammad Sharif Odeh, said the group translated select parts of the Koran into Yiddish in order to present a different face of Islam. In addition, said Odeh, “We decided we had to make sure that our neighbors could also read the Koran.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only Islamic community that believes the Messiah has come. Adherents believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, born in 1835, was the “metaphorical second coming of Jesus … whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad,” according to the website. “God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace,” say believers.

There are some 2,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims in Israel; most of them reside in Haifa’s Kababir neighborhood. The sect says it has tens of millions of followers in more than 200 countries.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community translated parts of the Koran into Yiddish in 1987. The sect chose Yiddish, one of 100 languages into which it has translated parts of the sacred book of Islam, so that “Yiddish speakers who wanted to know about us would be able to do so without language being an obstacle,” Odeh explained.

The decision to translate the Koran into Yiddish was made by the community’s religious leader at the time, the fourth Caliph, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, who was living then in Pakistan. The current Caliph, the fifth, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, resides in the United Kingdom.

Odeh said the particular selections that were translated show that Islam is “not the way it is presented in Afghanistan.” He noted, for example, “Before the Koran, women did not have rights. The Koran gives women full protection on the spiritual level and gives her an independent status.” Odeh has been head of the local Ahmadiyya community for 13 years.

Most Israelis know little about the sect, which is considered peaceful and non-proselytizing. Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav has gone so far as to call them “Reform Arabs.” The community’s motto is “Love for all, hatred for none.”

“You don’t hear about us because we don’t throw rocks at buses,” Odeh said. “We believe that nothing can be achieved through hatred and hostility.” He said he is very worried about the talk of a possible war with Iran, and that the Caliph recently appealed to all world leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to avoid a war. “Netanyahu didn’t respond, Queen Elizabeth actually did,” Odeh reported.

Odeh said the concept of secularism is foreign to the Ahmadiyya community. “Everyone prays, some come to the mosque and others pray at home.” Believers express their faith in concrete ways as well. Wealthier members tithe at least 10 percent of their monthly income to the community; everyone else gives six percent. The sect does not accept government funds, on principle. One quarter of the money collected from local members is passed on to fund the sect’s international activities.

Kababir is considered a mixed neighborhood, with a significant minority of Jews in addition to the Ahmadiyya majority, and city officials view it as a model of coexistence.

“Haifa is an example par excellence of living together,” Odeh said, adding, “It’s not coexistence, it’s monoexistence, as it were. What is coexistence? In my view it’s when everyone keeps their distinctiveness and does not seek to assimilate. Residents of the neighborhood don’t feel different, it’s a matter of education, that’s the idea of Ahmadiyya.” According to Odeh, there is a growing trend of West Bank Palestinians joining the Ahmadiyya community.

“Ideology is not fought with weapons,” he said. “Even if you’re under occupation Islam does not allow you to hurt others. Nothing can be solved with hatred.”

  • The above text, news and picture is cross-posted from



5 thoughts on “Muslim sect celebrates 25 years since Koran translated into Yiddish

  1. Susan Anders

    Have you thought about this idea?

    The New Middle East War: 101
    Some religions in the middle east area teach that it is not only ok to kill certain groups of people, but it is “your duty”.
    Western religions teach that “thou shalt not kill”, but the institutions of those regions socialize the concept that “it is your duty to kill certain people for the country”.
    One can read in the paper, daily, about religions which socialize people to play with rattlesnakes, marry underage children, practice polygamy, eat human body parts, hate certain skin colors, and engage in other practices which some find unusual. Studies have found that it only takes one month to socialize a person who would never have previously considered engaging in such things to do those things. It takes much, much longer to stop them from engaging in these activities once they have been socialized. To put this in perspective, middle eastern and western groups have been socially programmed to hate and kill each other for over 60 generations. When you talk about these issues with one side or the other, their eyes often glaze over, they lapse into deeply tense angry rhetoric and it is clear to the outside observer that hate has been “programmed-in” and common-sense is not a key stimulant in the conversation. Common logic, history and scientific studies prove that this is unlikely to change in your lifetime.
    If control-interest Iranian’s, control-interest Palestinians and control-interest Arabs over the whole region are socially conditioned to hate the religious beliefs of Israel generally, hate the business interests that support Israel and hate the location of Israel, then the situation has a natural evolution towards inevitable conflict.
    “Negotiators” and” diplomats” are generally from Ivy-league schools, trained to think on highly evolved levels and usually just missioned with delaying the “bad thing” from happening on the current administration’s watch. They are not part of the “general public”. The general public are not part of the negotiators negotiations so the negotiators always have large involved talks in hotel conference rooms, make deals and then find that none of the public care about the deals or sign on to go along with the deals for any length of time. A current leader, on one side or the other, may get a few months of uptick in the polls but, otherwise, nothing changes.
    Counter to the negotiators and diplomats are the business interests who make billions of dollars off of materials and services contracts from each war. These business interests are always pushing for ways to start the war because they make money off of the war.
    The oil companies bribe the politicians in the US and middle east to put profits before public-interest. The oil companies corrupt and toxify the areas where they drill, abuse workers and bribe to maintain policies which benefit the oil companies and hurt the public interest. A recent oil industry case in Ecuador, of many thousands of examples, has documented this in great detail. Oil companies see Israel as “a place to keep fighter jets to control their oil fields.” This creates additional bad blood.
    Western companies see Israel as their outpost in the region from which to monitor and protect oil interests and western cultural interests. This creates additional bad blood.
    Some of the largest and most powerful lobby groups in Washington DC are war-profit business organizations and Jewish owned business ventures. This steers US policy in directions that upset Palestinian, Iranian and Arab populations. These lobby groups tell politicians what to do on a daily basis.
    Iran has advanced technology and production resources. Iran has supported other political groups in the area with large ongoing efforts that have had productive metrics for their causes. Based on this, a number of groups in the region, and interest area, have given Iran an unofficial status as the provocateur- of- note.
    Iranian control-interests have stated that they have a goal of vaporizing Israel into non-existence. Unofficial Arab special-interest coalitions encourage this goal, “unofficially”.
    Iran, the U.S. and Israel have been at war for some time. Assassinations, bombings of facilities, cyber-bombing of facilities, drone actions and field actions have been underway for some time and are now widely reported in the media. Over $300 million dollars of profit has been gained, in the last 4 years, by western companies, contracting services for the Iran conflict that is already underway.
    Iran has all of the materials to launch a dirty bomb attack on Israel at any time. Iran may, shortly, or today, have the materials to launch a thermonuclear attack on Israel.
    If anybody bombs the Iranian facilities it will release a dirty bomb-like nuclear fallout debris powder cloud across Iran so it will be the same as a nuclear attack on Iran. Iran has publicly stated that an attack on Iran will launch a full reprisal. These facts have put all parties in a very bad situation, essentially: either way you could get a nuclear war!
    Israel and Iran want to engage in the war but the odds of either side surviving are not good. The western companies who make money on war want a war to make more money in contracts. The two parties in Washington have people who want to delay the war to help one candidate or start the war to help the other candidate, but neither is fully certain they can control the outcome.
    The middle east economics are failing. This makes sudden and large scale public unrest more likely and more unexpected. Even the smallest event can set the whole thing off.
    As recent history has shown, politicians will not address a known issue until the week before the issue will cause a total failure in a system. This will not do for the middle east situation.
    Based on all of these extensively documented facts, there only seems to be one unpleasant, nearly unthinkable and inextricable, outcome and the possibility of that outcome is increasing geometrically EVERY month.
    So, everyone can delay the outcome for as long as they can, but one must recognize that sudden turns of events could suddenly hasten it.
    Or, groups could join to do a positive, yet also nearly unthinkable, new thing.
    What is the new thing?
    Could it be to move Israel to avoid devastation? Move Palestine? Create a new religion? Stop using all oil? Create an international new country? Buy Iran?… ? While these types of ideas may , at first blush, seem outrageous: How outrageous do they seem compared to nuclear war and the ensuing doubling of world-wide cancer caused by it?
    What is the positive solution that would be so drastic, shocking and novel that it would save millions of lives?
    What do you think it could be?

    1. I agree with you. You’re absolutely right that world’s going to have a nuclear war type of thing. The solution to prevent this war is just to promote peace and unity.
      And Due to that very same reason of nuclear war, The beloved Khalifa Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad – Khalifatul Masih V(aba), fifth Caliph of the Promised Messiah, Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Just some days back, at the 9th Annual Peace Symposium organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, He warned that the perilous state of the world appears to be leading us to a nuclear conflict in the shape of a Third World War.
      In order to prevent this war his Holiness stated, “One way in which I have tried to promote peace is through a series of letters that I have written to certain world leaders….. upon observing that hostilities between Iran and Israel were boiling over to a very dangerous level, I sent a letter to both Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Iran’s President, Mahmud Ahmedinejad.”
      So for the best of your answers you can read those letters which were published in various magazines afterwards. You can also find them in the links given below:

      Part 1:

      Part 2:

      I hope after reading these letters you’ll find that what is the positive solution that would save millions of lives.
      After reading the letters, Kindly come over here and tell me if you find your answer or not?

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