Jews turned into apes and pigs

I hope some other Muslims will make a few comments on this
issue as well. Are there any orthodox ones out there who
agree with this rationalistic interpretation?

An Ahmadiyya Muslim wrote

   The Qur'an does not say that the Jews did actually turn into monkeys. 
   A monkey is a symbol for mindless imitation of behaviour. So when the 
   spirit behind worship departs, and mere ritual is left behind, one 
   becomes like a monkey. Hence a monkey represents hypocrisy and insincerity. 
   And if I say that someone is a *swine* or an *ass*, does this make 
   literally turn him into a *swine* or an *ass*? Do I always have to 
   state that he is *like* a swine or an ass? No, everyone (should, 
   at least) understand/s that this is a metaphor likening a persons 
   behaviour to the typical behaviour of the animal concerned. 

You are "monkeying" around here, I would say. Well, I asked this
question about the apes a few weeks ago to a very well educated
Arab Muslim and he says there is absolutely no indication either
in the text or in any hadith that the monkeys are figurative.
The obvious sense is the literal sense. Allah can do that. 
No problem. He is the Allmighty.

But Ahm. does seems not to have as high a view of God's power.
Why is it that Ahmadiyya rationalize away nearly all supernatural?

I find that a strange feature. 

Anyway, let's look at the monkey thing. This is what I gleaned
from the web:

Translation: Yusufali

[al-Baqarah 2:65] And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed 
in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised 
and rejected."

[al-A`raf 7:166-167] When in their insolence they transgressed (all) 
prohibitions, We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."

Behold! thy Lord did declare that He would send against them, 
to the Day of Judgment, those who would afflict them with 
grievous penalty. Thy Lord is quick in retribution, but He is 
also Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. 

[al-Ma'idah 5:60] Say: "Shall I point out to you something much worse 
than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from God? those 
who incurred the curse of God and His wrath, those of whom some He 
transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these 
are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!"

This is not a description of what they already are (by their own 
nature) but a COMMAND [2:65, 7:166] to become what they not yet 
are. What is the point to command something they are?

God did't say: You ARE monkeys/pigs (that could be figurative) 
But he said "BE you apes", that is an imperative, a command.

We always say: You are (like) a pig.
We never say "be a pig" if we mean he already is. 
In fact, when we say "you are a pig" then the request is
implicit to STOP be such a pig, not to become one.

Furthermore, the passages are speaking of a horrible judgment
of God upon them. A punishment. What punishment is it to
say: "you are acting like apes"? Does that do anything to 
them? Turning into apes, that would be punishment. Is God
so impotent that his judgment is only an insult to them,
but nothing else actually happened? You are making a mockery
of Allah's power, which is one of the main attributes of God
according to the Qur'an.

Anyway, I sent your comment to another Arab just to make sure.
Here is his response:

What he is saying is .... !  
(I had to censor this part. It was not friendly.)

In Arabic it says (5:63): 
He made (from make) of them the monkeys and the pigs.
Tafsir Al-Jalalein explains how He made them that way, 
by stating:  bil-miskh.  
bil: means "by the".  and "miskh" is derived from the verb
masakha, which means:  to metamorphose, transform, change 
into a different form, - to disfigure, to deform.. 

I hope that helps clarify a bit. But no doubt, Ahm. 
will think of al-Jalalein even less than he might have 
thought of it before. I can't help it. :-)

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