Little seems to raise Muslim ire more than the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Jews say that all of Palestine belongs to them, as it was theirs when God established them in that land thousands of years ago. The Muslims say that the Jews have incurred God’s wrath and that they no longer deserve this land. Jerusalem is a holy city for both religions, as well as Christianity.
Could the possession of Jerusalem solely in Muslim hands be supported by any material in the sources of Islam? Further, in your opinion, would “jihaad” against Israel launched by Muslim states be justified given the conditions of most Palestinians in Israel?
Please bear in mind that my answer that follows is given only from a religious (Islamic) perspective. I am neither a politician nor a socio-political analyst and, therefore, would refrain from entering into spheres, which do not relate to my field of study.
Before answering your specific question, I would first like to reiterate that the general socio-political and religious domination enjoyed by the Jews and the Muslims during their respective times, according to the Qur’an as well as the Bible, was because of God’s promise of special favors with Abraham (pbuh) for his progeny. This promise came to pass first through the religious and political domination of the Israelites over a significant portion of the civilized world. The Israelites were allowed to maintain this domination and rule the corners of the earth till the time that they remained loyal to their covenant with the Almighty. However, when the Israelites ultimately proved themselves unworthy of the great blessings of the Almighty and fulfilling the responsibilities that these blessings entailed, God took His favors away from that nation and transferred them to the other chain of the Abrahamic seed – The Ishmaelites. At this point the religious and political leadership of the world was shifted to the Ishmaelites. Exactly like their predecessors, the Ishmaelites were subject to the same Divine laws, which had governed the Israelites.
Keeping this brief introduction of the background in perspective, it should be understood that Palestine was conquered both by the Jews and the Muslims, during their respective times, as a part of God’s promise to Abraham (pbuh)1 and his descendents. First, this land was granted to the progeny of Isaac (pbuh) and it remained with them till they deserved, in God’s absolute judgment, to maintain this possession. However, when the Israelites persisted in their transgressions, their right of sovereignty over the land ended before the time of Jesus Christ (pbuh). Subsequently, after their further rejection of the Prophet (pbuh), the domination over the land was transferred to the progeny of Ishmael – the elder son of Abraham (pbuh). However, after over a thousand years of absolute sovereignty over the land, the Muslims, like their Jewish counterparts, due to their own transgressions and due to their turning their back upon the directives of God, were also subject to the same Law of God, which had taken away the possession of Palestine from the Jews.
The Qur’an unequivocally tells us that the downfall of a nation – whether Jews or the Muslims – is subject strictly to the same Divine rules. The Qur’an says:
Indeed God never alters the position of [favors that he bestows upon] a nation, unless they alter it themselves. (Al-Ra`d 13: 11)
The foregoing explanation should adequately clarify that:
The possession of any part of the world is not the birth-right of any one or the other group;
The domination which the Jews and the Muslims enjoyed over a significant part of the world, in general, and Palestine, in particular, was the result of God’s promise to Abraham (pbuh) of granting rule to the pious among his descendents;
The removal of the Jews as well as the Muslims from the position of dominating the world, in general, and Palestine, in particular, was in accordance with the same Divine rules.
Keeping these points in mind, let us now turn to your specific comments and questions. You write:
Little seems to raise Muslim ire more than the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Though it is quite true that Muslims are greatly irritated and angered by the way that the Arab-Israel conflict is shaping up, yet in my honest opinion, it would have benefited the Muslims more had they considered the situation in the perspective of the Divine law according to which they were initially granted a great rule and, later on, deprived from it. This analysis would not only have given them an insight into one of the unalterable laws of the Almighty, but would also have highlighted clues for correcting the situation.
The Jews say that all of Palestine belongs to them, as it was theirs when God established them in that land thousands of years ago.
None of God’s blessings in the life of this world are unconditional. It is only as long as a nation fulfills its part of the covenant that God allows the nation to prosper and enjoy His extra-ordinary blessings in this world. Thus, the Jews, because of their transgressions, were deprived of the possession of Palestine even before the advent of the Christ (pbuh).
The Muslims say that the Jews have incurred God’s wrath and that they no longer deserve this land.
This is quite correct. However, the Muslims should also have the courage of seeing their own faces in the same mirror, which they present the Jews. The Muslims are also subject to the same Divine law, which had taken the possession of Palestine from the Jews.
Jerusalem is a holy city for both religions, as well as Christianity.
I fully agree with this point. I would strongly advocate that in view of this fact, Jerusalem should be recognized as the city of all the Abrahamic creeds.
Could the possession of Jerusalem solely in Muslim hands be supported by any material in the sources of Islam?
No. The sole possession of the Muslims over Jerusalem, like that of their predecessors is a historical reality, not an unconditional right for all times to come. It should, however, be remembered that even during the times of Muslim domination, the Jews and the Christians were never forced to evacuate the holy city, but, on the contrary, their religious rights were protected and secured by the Law.
Further, in your opinion, would “jihaad” against Israel launched by Muslim states be justified given the conditions of most Palestinians in Israel?
Muslims should try to realize the importance that Jerusalem has for the Jews. Whether we acknowledge it or not, Jerusalem has the same spiritual significance for the Jews which Mekkah enjoys in the eyes of the the Muslims. This realization should prompt the Muslims to reconsider their stance about demanding the complete evacuation of Palestine. Furthermore, even if the Muslims feel deprived of their right of possession of Palestine, they should realize that under the present state of affairs, subject to the Divine rules, the Muslims are no longer in a position to resort to aggression for the reclamation of their rights. This is precisely the situation, which has prompted the Muslims to resort to such actions in the name of Jihad, which are not even remotely acceptable to Islam. Thus, even if the Muslims are bent upon reclaiming their right, then they are left with no other option, but to concentrate on rebuilding their nation and, thereby, bring themselves back on the road to material prosperity as well as rendering themselves deserving of God’s favors, as a nation.
I hope this helps.
October 17, 2001
- Genesis 12: 7. [↩]