Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Muslim IDF Recruits Hold Koran for Allegiance Oath

June 21, 2013 10:28 am 23 comments

Pvt. Muhammad Atrash. Photo: IDF.

Religion can often take a backseat in Israel when it comes to security, as brothers Muhammad and Milad Atrash, two Muslim member’s of the Israel Defense Force’s Golani Brigade, can attest to.

“While still in high school I asked my family, ‘Why don’t we, the Muslims, enlist?'” Milad, 19, told the IDF blog. “‘Why do the Jews, the Druze and the Bedouins enlist, while we don’t?’ They explained to me that Jews serve because it’s their country, that the Druze [community] had signed agreements with the IDF and that we have a lot of Islamic movements that oppose military service in the IDF.”

Milad’s response? “I told them I don’t care about that. I want to join the army to protect my village, my country.”

Five months later, Milad started his military service and arrived at basic training. “Because I didn’t know anything about the army, I packed a bag for 4 months!” he says with a smile. “After four days my commander told me I was going back home for the weekend.”

When Muhammad graduated high school a year later, he considered immediately pursuing his academic studies – until his older brother convinced him that the army was the best solution for him.

“After a few conversations with Milad, I understood that this was what I wanted: to enlist, to contribute to my country,” he explained to the IDF blog.

Recently Muhammad took his oath to the state as part of his enlistment while holding the Quran rather than the Hebrew Bible, as Jewish soldiers do.

The brothers say that they’ve enjoyed their experience thus far and have faced no racism from their fellow soldiers. This isn’t the case, however, with how they have been received back home.

“People in the village talk behind our backs,” explains Milad. “And when our mother washes our uniforms we make sure she does it inside the house so that our uniform won’t be stolen.”

“Despite it all, I go back to the village with my uniform on,” says Muhammad without hesitation. “So far, I haven’t gotten any comments, and even if people stare I don’t notice. I’m fine with it.”

Some of the Atrash brothers’ friends also objected to their military service. “I no longer have friends from my village,” Milad says. “All of my friends decided to end our friendship, but that’s all right. I’m making some new friends here, in the army. They also stayed away from Muhammad because he’s in the army.” Muhammad agrees.

“At first my mom was afraid of [my] enlisting in the IDF,” Milad continues, “but she saw it makes me happy, so she is happy, too. Now she tells my brothers to enlist. I’m trying to convince my cousins to enlist,” he smiles.

But despite the sacrifices, Muhammad has no regrets, and even encourages others like him to do the same . “It doesn’t matter where they serve – contribution is the most important thing. For me, for example, it doesn’t matter if I serve in Judea and Samaria or on the Gaza border and will have to confront Muslims from the other side of the fence. We are guarding our country, we have to protect it and it doesn’t matter who’s the other side is – Arabs or not, Muslims or not. In the end, everyone protects his or her family.”


  • To sware with the quraan is problematic. The quraan is contradict Jews and describe them as pigs and apps
    The Idf, Sould do it not with the quraan but with the Bible or at least with a document contain the 7 laws of Noach

  • Had you attended the same school(s) as the Atrashes, would you have been able to absorb the Medina Koran? Education and Indoctrination may have similar goals, but they are not synonymous. Time bombs or not, the IDF understands its special responsibilities to Muslim recruits. If the Golani Brigade is even a shadow of its legend, what unit is more up to the task?

  • And because Ishmail and Isaac are brothers, even as Jacob and Esau are, the world in blessed, enmity ends and new worlds come into beginning. Blessed be Yisrael, ahmain, ahmain and ahmain!

  • Yaakov Young

    No one learns.
    The Fort Hood shooting was a mass murder that took place on November 5, 2009 at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas.[1] In the course of the shooting, a single gunman killed 13 people and over 30 people were injured. It is the worst shooting ever to take place on an American military base.[2] Several individuals, including Senator Lieberman,[3] General McCaffrey,[4] and others have called the event a terrorist attack.[5][6] The Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies have classified the shootings as an act of workplace violence. They have declined requests from survivors and family members of the slain to categorize it as act of terrorism, or motivated by militant Islamic religious convictions.[7] In November 2011 a group of survivors and family members filed a lawsuit against the government for negligence in preventing the attack, and to force the government to classify the shootings as terrorism.
    The sole suspect is Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old U.S. Army major serving as a psychiatrist. He was shot and taken into custody by Department of the Army Civilian Police officers.[8] Due to injuries from being wounded, he is paralyzed from the waist down.[9] Hasan was arraigned by a military court on July 20, 2011 and was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice; he may face additional charges at court-martial. If he is convicted, he could be given the death penalty.[10][11]
    Days after the shooting, reports in the media revealed that a Joint Terrorism Task Force had been aware of e-mail communications between Hasan and the Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been monitored by the NSA as a security threat, and that Hasan’s colleagues had been aware of his increasing radicalization for several years. The failure to prevent the shootings led the Defense Department and the FBI to commission investigations, and Congress also held hearings.

  • Respect to the Atrash brothers and their family. This must take enormous bravery and I am confident they will benefit and grow stronger this way. It should not matter if they take their oath on the Koran or not if the IDF is OK with it, the oath they take should be solemn and serious for them so if the Koran is the book they pray to then the IDF has obviously made the correct choice in doing this. Maybe no other country would allow this but Israel IS different. The IDF is not there to make war it is there to protect the peace for all Jews and citizens of Israel. Respect.

  • Vivienne Leijonhufvud

    Rofedoc, I believe the Atrash brother’s love their country more than Islam. There are various versions of the Koran including Satanic verses. The two guys care about their Mom and family, at least that is how I read the article. Israel needs more open minded young men like the Atrash Brothers. They are courageous and openly show their respect and commitment to their country. Who knows where their actions might lead, not necessarily negative paths.

  • Another example of Israeli apartheid. Just like South African blacks joined the army with the zulu holy books or whatever. And went to officer school so they could command whites…

  • There are many muslims living in Israel who have friends in both communities, but the level of hate & mistrust is still so high and so ingrained that it’ll take a majority of muslims joining the IDF (and remaining loyal!) to sway others in this delicate dance of peace…

  • there are also some positive sentences in the Kor’an. But I do not think that this is the most important, that action of these two brothers is only the top of the iceberg. I know of quite many other arab joung people who feel the same way. they also have the choice to serve in the “sherout leumi” (public service?) which is not military and they usually serve within their town, and this is a really important help to the country and to the population

  • Very commendable – only can hope that other Israeli Muslims will follow their example.

  • Y’ gotta admit…for these guys – it’s a pretty gutsy thing to do! It might arouse a lot of suspicion on the face of it, but if these boys are sincere, they deserve nothing less than our sincere admiration!


    • Elliot J. Stamler

      I fully agree. We Jews may have objections to the Koran but it IS the Moslems’ holy book and we have to respect that and their wish to take their oath on it. American Moslems are entitled to swear a required oath on a Koran if they so choose.

  • But…but…but…Israel is an apartheid state that discriminates against Muslims.

  • Sue Leffler

    This is a heart-warming story of two brave and clear-thinking young men. Perhaps they will eventually serve as role models for some others in their family and among their friends.

  • I admire their strengh of character. So sad that the Israeli Muslims have been so indoctrinated against the country

  • BlueShadowII

    Hats off to the Atrash brothers.

  • Having read the Medina Koran, written after 632 AD, the violence against Jews are clearly defined and detailed…Swearing on the Koran to join the IDF is a red-line…Beware of the enemy in our midst.

    • catwomanisrael

      If they are Muslim, why would you expect them to swear on the Jewish Scriptures? The Koran is their holy book. I don’t agree with Islam, but I admire these brothers for being brave enough to ignore those who don’t like us and helping to defend Israel.

    • Margareth Rose

      It brings to my mind Fort Hood. And the four words- taqqiya,tawriyya, kittman and murouna.
      We do seem to have trouble learning from history. Last thing I expect from the IDF leaders.

    • Unfortunately, I was thinking the same thing.

    • H D U Smith

      The Qur’an identifies only one country as al’ard-almuqaddasa (“the holy land”). In Sura 5 [Al-Ma’ida], aya 23 [or 21], Moses tells the Children of Israel, “O my people, enter the holy land which God has assigned to you, and turn not back ignominiously.” The Children of Israel did hold back, and as a result (aya 29 [or 26]) “the land was out of their reach for forty years, ” after which they conquered their land. The Qur’an [7, Al-A’raf:137 {or 133}] specifically recognizes that the land “whereon We sent down Our blessings” is an inheritance for the Children of Israel, and thus continues to be assigned to them. Furthermore, the Qur’an recognizes that the Israelites may govern the land again, and may rebuild the Temple there in Jerusalem again, even long after the lifetime of the prophet, Muhammad. Sura 17 [Al-Isra’], ayat 7-8, states that the Temple was destroyed twice, and that “it may be that your Lord may show mercy unto you,” so that you can rebuild it a third time, “but if you revert [to your sins] We shall revert [to Our punishment].”
      All these points agree with the Jewish tradition, though given in a slant that is more favorable to Islam.
      Still, since the Qur’an affirms the special relation that the Children of Israel have with the Holy Land, these two Muslim members of the IDF are upholding the Qur’an.

    • Had you attended the same school(s) as the Atrashes it would you have been able to absorb the Medina Koran? Education and Indoctrination may have similar goals, but they are not synonymous. Time bombs or not, the IDF understands its special responsibilities to Muslim recruits. If the Golani Brigade is even a shadow of its legend, what unit is up to the task?

    • Just as Jews choose to interpret the laws of the texts so too can Muslims.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Features Opinion Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Late Friday night, on November 13, I was headed for bed when an ominous news bulletin flashed across my computer screen – something about a shooting in Paris. It wasn’t long before the “small number” of shootings and casualties began to double and triple and quadruple. The locations of attacks seemed crazily disorganized, and the tweets and videos became more and more horrifying. It was a long night for many stunned observers. We tried to understand what was happening, and […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Theater BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    In an interview with the Israeli site nrg on Wednesday, Belgian-Jewish stage actress Noemi Schlosser recounted immigrating to Israel after her career in Europe was destroyed by BDS. Schlosser said she had enjoyed success in Belgium and international acclaim until she was targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for her pro-Israel stance during Operation Protective Edge — last summer’s war against Hamas in Gaza. She described watching the theaters where she performed go from packed to nearly empty over a short period of […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    The manager of the Chelsea Football Club said on Monday that he is looking forward to playing in Israel this week against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in spite of the security situation, Israeli news site nrg reported. Jose Murinho, who is already in Israel with his team to compete against Maccabi in the Champions League soccer match, was  asked whether he was worried about the current wave of Palestinian violence sweeping the country. “I have no worries at all regarding the security situation, and neither do […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    Blaming the West has become the most pervasive method of teaching for many Middle East studies departments, which are becoming the heart of pop-culture academia. Efraim Karsh, a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern studies at Bar-Ilan University and professor emeritus at King’s College London, in his latest book The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, dispels this myth. “Britain’s ‘original sin,’ if such was indeed committed, lay not in the breaking up of Middle Eastern unity but […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About

    With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About – The Mensch on a Bench is so much happier now than he was a year ago. Look carefully and you will notice that, whereas the previous Mensch had a decidedly worried look, this latest version of the popular Hanukkah toy is flashing an exuberant grin. Is the erstwhile Mensch smiling because he expects to be in some 100,000 homes by year’s end? In truth, the change in visage was suggested last year by the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Actor Adam Sandler unveiled a new version of his famous “Chanukah Song” on Saturday, adding a slew of Jewish celebrities to the ditty’s updated lyrics. The comedian — who released the original song about being Jewish during Christmas in 1996 — performed the latest version of the comedic track during the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and “the two guys who founded Google” are among the famous Jewish celebrities now in the line up. Sandler also included lyrics about Star Wars‘ Princess […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

    Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom – Famed Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman will be among the 17 recipients of America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom next week. He is the fourth Israeli to receive the highest civilian honor in the US. “A native of Israel, he came to the United States at a young age and was introduced to Americans broadly when he appeared on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1958. Mr. Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 when he was 18,” a White House […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots

    Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots – While Israel is a common destination for cultural and religious pilgrimages, travelers seeking the best hotels, fine dining, and upscale relaxation less often find themselves in the Holy Land. Yet in recent years, the country’s burgeoning tech scene has attracted a business crowd accustomed to ritzy accommodation. Besides, the permanent summer of Tel Aviv and Eilat makes them prime destinations for European vacationers. Israel’s populace managed to tame the swamps and irrigate the desert — so going luxury should […]

    Read more →