Born in the Muslim world, Naveed Anjum was taught from an early age to believe that Jews and the State of Israel were evil. While studying in the Netherlands, he encountered Jewish people for the first time. As a result of these interactions, his anti-Semitic perceptions began to change. After returning to his home country, Anjum continued to research Jewish history, Israel, and Islam's views on these issues. He emerged from his studies a Muslim Zionist.
He discovered that the Koran in fact states that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews. He sought to publish a book on this subject, but did not have the financial resources to do so. Instead, he began to teach in person and on social media about Israel and Jews, but was harassed and physically attacked. He fled his home country, eventually settling in Southeast Asia. He now advocates on social media for Israel and the Koranic justification of the Jews' right to Israel.
The following is an interview with Naveed Anjum.
What was your childhood like? What kind of household did you grow up in? What did you want to be growing up?
I was a very shy guy. I was always reluctant to ask for anything, even from my parents. I was born and brought up in an orthodox religious family. My parents forced me to pray and fast.
Growing up, I wanted my parents to be liberal. By "liberal," I don't mean anti-religion, but I wanted my parents to not force me to pray or fast.
What did you believe about Jews and Israel growing up? Where did you get these beliefs?
I thought very ill of Jews and Israel while I was growing up. This was because of a lack of knowledge we had in my home country. I got those beliefs from our media, religious leaders, and schools. Only after I went to Europe and actually met Jewish people did my mind change.
Why did you choose to go to Amsterdam? What did you study there?
I wanted to learn about international politics, and study international relations. The Amsterdam School of International Relations was offering one of the best courses in international relations, and it was affordable. The same course in the United States or the United Kingdom would have been twice as expensive.
In a January 2016 interview with Daily Wire, you mentioned that your positive interaction with Jews while you were studying in Amsterdam helped change your views on Jews. Do you recall any specific encounter(s) that you would like to share?
Once in university, I met some Jewish guys who were also studying. I don't remember if they were from Israel or not, but they were Jewish. Some Pakistani fellows and I were reluctant to speak to them because we had been brainwashed to think Jews are evil. It was our first encounter seeing any Jews.
With the passage of time, we found that they did not mistreat us after knowing that we were Muslim. They considered us fellow human beings. They helped us in our studies. We overcame our fear of Jews and became friends. I was very surprised by how friendly those Jews were; I used to think that Jews murder every Muslim they meet.
Once you returned to your home country following your studies, how did you begin to support Israel? How did people in your home country react?
Once I returned home, I was still unsure about my thoughts on Israel, so I did some research. I read about the Banu Qurayza tribe of Jews from Medina. From there, I started researching about Jews and Israel. The more I researched, the more I began to support Israel.
I then began trying to educate people around me about my research. I started working in my advocacy efforts renting a small room, teaching young men of the area about what I learned. Many of these young men listened to me.
However, when this news reached the adults in the community, some adults told me to stop teaching, and threatened me with legal action if I continued. Others accused me of blasphemy. But I didn't understand why they would think this, because what I was saying came from the Quran and Hadiths.
You mentioned in previous interviews that you were attacked. Can you describe what happened exactly, and the events leading up to that?
In 2013, I began using social media, namely Facebook groups and pages. I eventually reached thousands of people this way, including many Muslims. But Islamist radicals also found out about my work.
One day I was walking in the street, and a group of three to four people attacked me, recognizing my face from my Facebook pages. They stated that I was insulting Islam by supporting Israel. They dislocated my shoulder, but luckily I managed to escape with my life.
Since then, I started looking for another place to research and educate. My Western friends and followers helped me financially to relocate to a safer country.
Where does the Koran mention that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews, and what does that verse/those verses say?
These verses are very common:
"Enter, My People, the Holy Land which Allah has assigned for you. Do not turn back, or you shall be ruined."
-Qur'an: Sura 5, "The Table," verse 21
"We [Allah] gave the persecuted people [the Jews] dominion over the eastern and western lands which We had blessed [the east and west banks of the Jordan River]. Thus your Lord's gracious word was fulfilled for the Israelites, because they had endured with fortitude, and We destroyed the edifices and towers of Pharaoh and his people."
-Qur'an: Sura 7, "The Heights," verse 137
"We [Allah] settled the Israelites in a blessed land and provided them with good things."
-Qur'an: Sura 10, "Jonah," verse 93
"Pharaoh sought to scare them [the Jews] out of the land [of Israel]: but We [Allah] drowned him, together with all who were with him. Then We said to the Israelites: 'Dwell in this land. When the promise of the hereafter comes to be fulfilled, We shall assemble you all together [in the Land of Israel in the End of Days]."
-Qur'an: Sura 17, "The Night Journey," verse 103-104
"It was Our [Allah's] will to favor those who were oppressed [the Jews] and to make them leaders of mankind, to bestow on them a noble heritage and to give them power in the land [of Israel]: and to inflict on Pharaoh, Haman, and their army, the very scourge dreaded by their victims."
-Qur'an: Sura 28, "The Story," verses 5-6
Do you believe that Israel has a right to build in Judea and Samaria (known in the international community as the West Bank)?
I believe that Israel has the right to build settlements in all the areas of the Biblical Kingdom of Judah and Israel. It is the area given to Jews by God. Today's Israel is much smaller than Biblical Israel. I believe that Israel wants peace and does not want to exceed its current boundaries.
Israeli politicians like Naftali Bennett, Ayeled Shaked, and Yehuda Glick have made statements recently calling for Israel to apply Israeli law/annex parts or all of Judea and Samaria. Do you think Israel should annex part or all of Judea and Samaria, support a Palestinian state, or look towards another solution to achieve Arab-Israeli peace, and why?
Israel should annex Judea and Samaria. Jordan is a very big country. Israel, with the assistance of the West, should offer Arabs from Judea and Samaria financial compensation to move to Jordan, and should assist Jordan with this.
You are one of several public Muslim Zionists. Do you believe that the Muslim world will ever recognize Israel's right to exist as the state for the Jewish people? What would it take for the Muslim world to recognize this?
Yes, the Muslim world will recognize Israel once they are informed with the real facts. Ninety percent of Muslims are not aware of the facts. The world's media, and especially Israel's media should broadcast these facts in all languages.
How many followers do you have social media? Are most Jewish or Muslim? From the West or from the Middle East?
I have around 25,000 friends and followers from many countries. They belong to every religion including Judaism and Christianity. Many Muslims and Arabs are also following me. I am happy they are getting informed of the truth I expose. Many atheists also follow me.
What is your opinion on the six-nation travel ban that President Trump's administration formulated and tried to enforce in the United States? Do you think it is a "Muslim ban?"
Trump has to defend and support America. If I were Trump, I would impose a ban on all 57 countries from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Do you think the United States should let in more or less refugees from Muslim countries? Why?
Wealthy Arab countries have money and huge lands to absorb Muslim refugees, so why don't they offer assistance? It shouldn't be just the United States and Europe that are responsible for Muslim refugees.
Do you believe that Muslim reformers/Muslim Zionists get enough media attention in the West? Why or why not?
I don't think Western media reports on Muslim Zionists as much as they should. The media should pay more attention to unique voices from the Muslim world, especially those who speak up for Israel. Western media must pay attention to Muslim Zionists so that their voices can reach the masses of the Muslim world.
How can Muslim reformers/Muslim Zionists gain support in the West?
They only get support in the West. Your question should have been "How can Muslim Zionists or reformers gain support in Muslim countries?"
OK, so how can Muslim Zionists or reformers gain support in Muslim countries?
Once the masses are educated with the truth, Muslim Zionists will start getting support from the people. All Muslim countries will recognize Israel, and anti-Semitism will be nil. Jews will have appropriate position and status in the Muslim world. I am trying my best to educate the masses through social media. Social media is the most powerful tool available to me for the time being. Unless the masses are properly educated, Muslim Zionists will not be heard and even attacked by the ignorant masses.
Have you ever visited Israel? Why/Why not?
No, but I would love to. Unfortunately my passport doesn't allow me to go to Israel.
I want to visit Israel and see for myself what is going on there, and then compile my research in a book through which I would tell the world my observations. I also want to lecture in Israeli-Arab schools to educate Israeli-Arabs how to build and maintain peace and love with Jews in Israel.
How do you sustain yourself financially?
In my home country, I was a restaurant manager in an American fast food chain. I was well off. I was drawn to my advocacy because hospitality did not match my mind. I could not continue advocating in my home country because of anti-Israel sentiments there. I left my home country and settled in a much safer country.
I believed that I had a calling to do what I do. I am doing this as a full-time professional job, and my friends and followers support me monthly. I have my basic needs taken care of.
What can people do to help you and your cause?
Those that cannot support me financially should support me morally by spreading the facts I expose to their friends and followers. I often expose media bias against Jews and Israel. My supporters should take this information, and write emails to the editors of newspapers to express concerns with this bias. My supporters should continue to keep me informed of instances of media bias that I might not otherwise be aware of.
What are your plans in the near future?
I want to continue to spread my message worldwide through social media. Once I save enough money, I would like to hold seminars in different forums to educate people on Arab-Israeli issues. I dream about it.
The author would like to thank Naveed Anjum for participating in this interview.