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A History of Zionism and Its Ideological Roots

Introduction

This article was written to provide a scholarly analysis on the ideology of Zionism, its origins and purpose, as well as its past “achievements” in having successfully displaced thousands of Palestinians who suddenly lost their homeland to this group of terrorists. We seek to confront and expose the true nature of the ideology of Zionism, often touted as “Jewish nationalism”. Can Zionism be equated with the Jews and Judaism? Is Zionism wholly grounded on religious grounds as the Zionist themselves try to claim, or just another name for the secular and/or racist ideologies that we have seen in the last century in the likes of Nazism, Fascism and Apartheid? These are the fruits of our research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we leave it to the reader to form their own conclusions and decide whether Zionism should be rightfully confronted and opposed, or otherwise.

The Origins of Zionism

“Tyranny is always weakness”, said James R. Lowell, and tyranny constitutes the fundamental implementations of Zionism. Contrary to common belief, Zionism first emerged as a secular ideology in the 19th century. Under “Zionism”, the Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 12, 1990, p. 922) states that:

…Zionism originated in Eastern and Central Europe in the latter part of the 19th century.

This is further collaborated by Sierra Reference Encyclopedia (Collier’s, 1995), when it states under “Zionism” that:

ZIONISM, a Jewish national movement, which had as its objective the reconstitution of an independent Jewish life in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews. Zionism was rooted in the traditional attachment of Jews to their homeland. This feeling was strengthened when the political emancipation of Jewish communities in Western Europe in the 19th century and their assimilation of European culture failed to gain them acceptance. The movement was given urgency by new waves of anti-Semitism in Europe in the late 19th century, particularly the pogroms in Russia, and by the genocidal policies of Hitler’s Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Zionist movement achieved its aim with the founding of Israel in 1948.

Theodor Herzl was an Jewish-Austrian journalist largely credited with being the “Father of Zionism”, just as Karl Marx and Hitler were credited with being the fathers of Communism and Nazism respectively. Theodor Herzl’s book Der Judenstat (The Jewish State), clearly stated that a future Jewish state should not build upon democracy, and in fact suggests that it should be built upon dictatorship. This is contrary to the Zionist cries of Israel being “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

We read that:

People are not fit for democracy, and will no be so in future either. Sane and mature policies are not the product of parliamentary institutions. Personalities, which are the product of forces of history, best represent the wishes of the people and safeguard the interests and security of the state. It is these personalities and not people who are born to rule and it is their will which should ultimately prevail. 1

A publication issued by the Zionist Organization in London wrote that:

Democracy in American too commonly means majority rule without regard to diversities of types or stages of civilization or differences of quality. Democracy in that sense has been called the melting pot in which that quantitatively lesser is assimilated into quantitatively greater. This doubtless is natural in America, and works on the whole very well. But if American idea were applied as an American administration might apply it to Palestine, what would happen? The numerical majority in Palestine today is [Palestinian] Arab, not Jewish. Qualitatively, it is a simple fact that the Jews are now predominant in Palestine, and given proper conditions they will be predominant quantitatively also in a generation or two. But if the crude arithmetical conception of democracy were to be applied now, or at some early stage in the future to Palestinian conditions, the majority that would rule would be the Arab majority, and the task of establishing and developing a great Jewish Palestine would be infinitely more difficult. The problem at the heart of the Zionist claim was rarely articulated so clearly: the Zionist dream ran counter to the principle of democracy. 2

The Zionist desire for the alienation and eventual expulsion of the original inhabitants residing in the land designed for a “Jewish state” is no secret. Earlier in 1895, Theodor Herzl wrote in his Diary that:

We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly. Let the owners of the immoveable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back.3

In October 1882, Validimir Dubnow, one of the earliest Zionist pioneers in Palestine, wrote to his brother articulating the ultimate goals of the Zionists movement:

The ultimate goal…is, in time, to take over the Land of Israel and to restore to the Jews the political independence they have been deprived of for these two thousand years…The Jews will yet arise and, arms in hand (if need be), declare that they are the masters of their ancient homeland.4

In October 1882 Ben-Yehuda and Yehiel Michal Pines, few of the earliest Zionist pioneers in Palestine, wrote describing the indigenous Palestinians, that

…There are now only five hundred [thousand] Arabs, who are not very strong, and from whom we shall easily take away the country if only we do it through stratagems [and] without drawing upon us their hostility before we become the strong and populous ones. 5

In 1916 Lord Balfour declared that he is a “Zionist” during a British Cabinet meeting. In an encounter between Weizmann and Balfour:

“[Weizmann] laid out his much repeated argument – that Zionists and British interests are identical. The Zionist movement spoke, Weizmann said, with the vocabulary of modern statesmanship, but was fueled by a deep religious consciousness. Balfour, himself a modern statesman, also considered Zionism as an inherent part of his Christian faith. . . . Soon after, Balfour declared in a cabinet meeting, I am a Zionist.”6

In 1936 the Mapai leader David Hacohen explained how Zionist socialism should be for Jews not Arabs, he stated that:

I remember being one of the first of our comrades [of the Ahdut Ha’avodah] to got to London after the first World War. … There I became a socialist. … [In Palestine] I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my trade union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to the housewives that they not buy at [Palestinian] Arab stores, to prevent [Palestinian] Arab workers from getting jobs there. …. To pour kerosene on the [Palestinian] Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the markets and smash the Arab eggs they had bought; to praise to the skies the Keneen Kayemet [Jewish National Fund] that sent Hankin to Beirut to buy land from absentee effendi [landlords] and to throw the fellahin [peasants] off the land– to buy dozens of dunums– from an Arab is permitted, but to sell, God forbid, one Jewish dunam to an Arab is prohibited.7

In 1937, David Ben-Gurion eloquently articulated the Zionist goals regarding population transfer as the following:

With compulsory transfer we [would] have a vast area [for settlement] ….I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it.8

Such racist sentiment was the norm among the early Zionist leaders, similar statements were constantly repeated by Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky. Zionism has always been recognized as a form of racism and this is evident when in 1975 the U.N. General Assembly first adopted a resolution equating Zionism with racism. The U.N. adopted that resolution annually until 1991 when the Madrid Accord began.

The Zionist Expansionism and The Palestinian Dilemma

“…after a lapse of 1800 years, it could not be said that Palestine was the land of the Jews. Otherwise the United States of America should now belong to the Red Indians and the situation in England, and in many countries of the world should be different. In my opinion, the Jews have no right in Palestine except their right to personal property. They do not have the right to establish a State. It is most unfortunate that a state is based on religious basis.

The above citation is from A. Toynbee, a well-known historian. His criticism of the Zionist theory of returning to Palestine clearly underlined the sentiments of those who clearly see no justification for a Jewish State to be established in Palestine. Palestine has always been recognized as belonging to Palestinians, not to a group of secular terrorists who uses religion as a justification for a State. As a researcher points out:

History tells us that the first people to settle in Palestine were the Canaanites, six thousand years BCE. They were an Arab tribe who came to Palestine from the Arabian Peninsula, and after their arrival, Palestine was named after them [i.e., Canaan]. 9

And further, he added that:

As for the Jews, the first time they entered Palestine was approximately six hundred years after Abraham had entered the land, i.e., they entered it approximately 1400 years BCE. So the Canaanites entered Palestine and lived there approximately 4500 years before the Jews.10

Hence it is clear that the Jews have no right to the land, whether according to religious law or in terms of who lived there first and possessed the land. Despite this, the state of Israel was recognized by the U.N. in 1948 on condition that it accepted the right of the Palestinians to an independent state, and implementation of Security Council Resolution 194 guaranteeing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. Over half a century later, these inalienable rights remain unfulfilled. The implantation of the Zionist entity in Palestine has been rightly described as An-Nakba (The Catastrophe) by the Palestinians. The hoopla surrounding Israel conveniently ignores the fact that Palestine was stolen by European Jewish terrorists in connivance with the European powers, primarily Britain but also France (and later the U.S.) to create a western beach-head in the heartland of Islam. This was only made possible by driving out the indigenous population – the Palestinians – from their ancestral lands, through terror and mass murder.

The Zionists have also constantly peddled the mythology of turning ‘deserts into orchards’, a claim already responded to, with the active collaboration of the Western media. Their claim to Palestine is based on a complete perversion of historical facts sprinkled with Biblical references to geography. The Zionists – most of them secular fanatics who have nothing to do with Judaism — have reduced the Bible to a real estate manual.

The Zionist colonial settler enterprise was launched by shedding the blood of the Palestinians. It has been sustained through terror, the most common characteristic of the Zionists, for 50 years. More than 475 Palestinian towns and villages were completely wiped out. There is no trace left of them anymore. Soon after the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Moshe Dayan, the one-eyed Israeli general, had boasted to a group of visiting Jews from the U.S. that the present generation had expanded the boundaries of the State of Israel this far. Now it was up to the next generation to take them further. He also candidly admitted that hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns had been wiped out. And it was this same general who proclaimed that:

“…a new State of Israel with broad frontiers, strong and solid, with the authority of the Israel Government extending from the Jordan [river] to the Suez Canal.11

The above quote should clarify the reality of Zionist expansionism. This certainly refutes the Zionist propaganda that Palestinian inhabitants of towns fled on orders from the Arab governments, it is clear that they fled in the face of the Zionist terror machine. Deir Yassin (April 9, 1948) was but one example of numerous Zionist atrocities perpetrated against innocent civilians. Palestinian women were paraded naked in the streets. Many of them were bayoneted to death before their bodies were dumped in wells. At least 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in this campaign to settle the European Jews in Palestine. This obscenity is being celebrated today as a great achievement. Former Israel Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, boasted of the importance of the massacre of Deir Yassin in his book “The Revolt: The Story of the Irgun”. He wrote that there would not have been a State of Israel without the “victory” of Deir Yassin: “The Hagganah carried out victorious attacks on other fronts… In a state of terror, the Arabs fled, crying, ‘Deir Yassin’.”

Nor did the massacres cease after the establishment of the Jewish State; they continued in times of both peace and war. Following are the names of some of them: Sharafat Massacre, Kibya Massacre, Kafr Qasem Massacre, Al-Sammou’ Massacre, the Sabra And Shatila Massacre, Oyon Qara Massacre, Al-Aqsa Mosque Massacre, the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre, the Jabalia Massacre.

Many leaders of the Zionist terrorist gangs — Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, et al — later became prime ministers of ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. The ‘most powerful democracy’ in the world – the U.S. – has such a close relationship with the so-called ‘only democracy’ that massive annual handouts are bestowed upon it even while American citizens are denied many of their basic needs. Further, these very same Zionists are wasting U.S. taxpayers’ money by advocating and supporting the building of a shrine to a militant Jew, Baruch Goldstein who massacred a group of praying Muslims at a mosque in Hebron, in 1994. And we see that until today, thousands of militant Jews visit his grave annually to ‘celebrate’ the murders committed by this Jewish terrorist. This is just one out of the various examples on why it is the Zionist regime of Israel that is the ‘only American-funded country in the Middle East’ to fund and to support State terrorism. But as we have seen, State terrorism is nothing new to the Zionist regime.

And if taking away their land is not enough to humiliate the Palestinians, the Zionists tried to wipe out the identity of the Palestinians, by pretending that they do not exist as a people and as a nation. A Zionist scholar, Israel Eldad, also promulgates this claim of ‘no Palestine or Palestinians’ , in his book The Jewish Revolution as follows:

Can this [Jewish] rich existence be compared with the Palestinian nation? Who is that nation? What is it? Where and when was it born? What is its identity? What are its distinctive features- physical and mental? And except for the feats of its marauding gangs, what has it ever been known for?” (p. 119)

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Golda Meir, Israel’s Prime Minister between 1969-1974, stated in June 1969

It is not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them, they did not exist.12

Of course Ms. Meir conveniently fails to mention that prior to 1948, the Jews do not exist with a single national identity, but that did not stop them from being identified as such, did it? We don’t expect her and her ilk to mention it anyway, since it is clear that it was the Zionists who drove Palestinians into the sea, not vice-versa. And as recent as 1968, the Jewish historian Maxime Rodinson wrote that

the Arab population of Palestine was native in all the usual senses of the word. 13

Claiming that there was no such thing as Palestinians is merely but one of the many ways the Zionists perform their version of ‘ethnic cleansing’, effectively wiping out the existence of the Palestinians as a distinct social, political, and cultural entity and rewriting the history books with their perverted ‘version’ of the events.

The Palestinian Resistance and Zionist War Machine

The attacks by the Zionists, whether militarily or by propaganda, prompted several Palestinian resistance groups to be formed against the Zionist regime, which the regime conveniently labels them as “terrorists”. But a distinction must be made between terrorism and the resistance to occupation which international conventions authorize. The Declaration on Principles of International Law (1970) emphasized that all states are under a duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives people of their right to self-determination. The Declaration also notes that “in their actions against, and resistance to, such forcible action” such peoples could receive support in accordance with the purpose and principles of the UN Charter. Various UN resolutions have reaffirmed the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for liberation from colonial domination and alien subjection, “by all available means including armed struggle” (see UNGA 3070, 3103, 3246, 3328, 3481, 31/91, 32/42 and 32/154). Article 1(4) of Protocol I (additional to the Geneva Conventions) considers self-determination struggles as international armed conflicts situations. The principle of self-determination itself provides that where forcible action has been taken to suppress the right, force may be used in order to counter this and achieve self-determination.

It is obvious that with the systematic ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Zionist regime, these Palestinian resistance groups are certainly not “terrorists”. On the contrary, these resistance groups are fighting a legitimate war, against a enemy that has oppressed their people for so long that it would be a crime to themselves and to the Palestinians if they do not oppose the enemy and stand by and watch the Zionist pillaging what is left of Palestine.

Israel is the only country in the world where torture of political prisoners is not only legal but its supreme court actively endorses it. Palestinians are held without trial under what is euphemistically called ‘administrative detention.’ The maximum period is six months but it is routinely extended. There are Palestinians who have been held without charge or trial for four or five years. While the Western media routinely present Israel as a beleaguered State in a sea of hostile neighbors, it is the only nuclear power in the region with more than 200 nuclear weapons. Its army has grown to 600,000 and it can deploy more than 2,800 tanks and 700 combat planes, according to the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. This gives it a formidable military muscle against the Arab armies which it has defeated in almost all the wars. But since 1982, Israel’s military has found itself mired in less glorious adventures, including the costly 1982-1985 invasion of Lebanon and its attempts to crush the Intifada from 1987 to 1994. In Lebanon it got a bloody nose at the hands of the Hizbullah, whose spirit of sacrifice put the fear of God into the pleasure-loving Zionist thugs. Instead of confronting the Islamic fighters, the Zionists bombard Lebanese villages using long-range artillery and planes.

Hostage-taking is also a favorite ploy of the Zionists. Literally hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese are incarcerated in the Khiam concentration camp where torture is rampant. Similarly, Palestinians held without trial are also tortured in prisons inside what is called Israel. If young Palestinians are incarcerated, their leaders are expelled from their own land. It is ironic that alien occupiers from eastern Europe and America should expel people from their own homes and land where their forefathers have lived for millennia. The Zionists are also extremely sadistic. Young children are targeted for special wrath. Thousands of Palestinian children have been brutally beaten up by the gun-toting Zionists. Young stone-throwing Palestinians have been buried alive; others have had their bones broken with rocks, on direct orders from Yitzhak Rabin, the Nobel peace prize winner! During the Intifada, the Zionist occupiers frequently used tear gas in confined spaces, resulting in hundreds of pregnant Palestinian women suffering miscarriages. Another of their favorite ploys is to mix flour and kerosene in Palestinian homes, making it unfit for consumption. Despite such cruelties, the Zionists have failed to break the spirit of the Palestinians. Every Israeli cruelty brings out an even greater determination to stand up to the occupiers. As the Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem admitted, “An army which fights against the weak, becomes weak itself.” He went on: “In these instances, the army is the sure loser because its victories are without honor and its defeats are always humiliating”.

The Jerusalem Issue and Al-Aqsa Mosque

Jerusalem is better known to the Muslims by the means of Bayt al-Maqdis (the holy house) or simply al-Quds (the holy); the latter is the most common name at the present. Since 638 A.D. when the second Caliph ‘Umar Al-Khattab liberated the city, Jerusalem had always been ruled by a succession of Muslim rulers. But of course, the Zionist mind is uncomfortable with the fact that Jerusalem has always been Muslim in history and therefore tries to manipulate Jerusalem’s history. The UN Resolution 181, which divided Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state, specifically declared Jerusalem “corpus separatum” and placed the city under international jurisdiction. However, in 1948 the military forces of Israel occupied the western part of the city. In 1967 the conquest was completed when Israel forcibly occupied the city’s eastern half. In 1980, Israel passed a Basic Law declaring Jerusalem its capital. The international community responded decisively to this provocative act. UN Security Council Resolution 476 (June 30, 1980) says that Israeli actions to change the status of Jerusalem “constitute a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention” and declares such measures ‘null and void'”. UN Security Council Resolution 478 (August 20, 1980) states that “the enactment of the ‘basic law’ by Israel constitutes a violation of international law”. All nations have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv.

In the past, the Zionists tried to and partially succeeded in burning-down Islam’s third holiest sanctuary, the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. The nefarious sacrilege was by no means, as the Israeli government then suggested, an isolated act committed by a deranged man who acted on his own. Quite the contrary, the morbid Israeli designs against the sacred Muslim shrine show that diabolical feat was a deliberate collective act of aggression carried out with the unmistakable acquiescence of the Israeli political establishment and the active encouragement of much of the world’s Jewry and their fundamentalist Christian allies.

The following is a list of the acts of aggression and desecration against Al-Aqsa Mosque since June 7, 1967:

    June 7, 1967: The occupation authorities confiscated the keys of the Western Gate known as Bab El-Magharba immediately after Israeli troops seized the town from the fleeing Jordanians.

    June 9, 1967: The congregational Friday prayer was not held on orders from the occupation authorities. That was the first time the Juma’a prayer didn’t take place since the liberation of Jerusalem from the hands of the Crusades in 1167 AD on October 19,1990, The Juma’a prayer was delayed for two hours because the the occupation authorities denied Muslim worshiper entry to the Haram compound.

    June 21, 1969: An Australian-born terrorist, Denis Michael Rohan, entered the mosque and set the magnificent Nurruddin Zinki Mihrab on fire. The fire gutted the unique Mihrab, which has restored. The sacrilegious act against the mosque was condemned world-wide, but was praised by wide segments of world Jewry and Christian fundamentalists who view the creation of Israeli in Palestine as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and a precedence to the second advent of Jesus.

    November 16, 1969: The Israeli occupation authorities seized the Fakhriyya Corner on the south-western side of the Haram Al-Sharif.

    August 14, 1970: The Gershon Solomon group, and ultra-fanatic groups dedicated to the so-called rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon of the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque after it is demolished, forcibly entered the premises of the Haram, but were repulsed by Muslims. The confrontation resulted in tens of worshippers being injured by Israeli troop gunfire.

    April 19, 1980: A group of Jewish rabbis and sages held a semi-secret conference devoted to exploring ways and means “to liberate the Temple Mount from Muslim hands”.

    August 28,1980: The Israeli occupation authorities dug a tunnel right underneath the Mosque.

    March 30, 1982: Numerous letters were sent by Muslim Waqf authorities urging them to abandon the Temple Mount and warning them of the dire consequence of their “usurpation of our Temple”. The letters were written in Hebrew, English, French ,Spanish and Polish.

    May 20, 1982: Several Zionist organizations sent death threats to Waqf officials.

    April 11, 1982: An Israeli soldier named Allen Goodman stormed the interior of the Mosque, spraying worshipers with bullets from his M-16 assault rifle, killing and wounding over 60 Palestinians.

    March 26, 1983: The main entrance to the Jerusalem’s Waqf department collapsed due to Israeli excavations underneath.

    August 21, 1985: The Israeli police permitted Jewish extremists to hold prayers within the confines of the Haram premises.

    August 4, 1986: A group of Rabbis issued final ruling allowing Jews to pray at the Haram Al-Sharif and demanded the establishment of a Synagogue in the area.

    May 12, 1988: Israeli soldiers opened fire on a peaceful Muslim march at the Haram, killing and wounding about a hundred Palestinians.

    August 8, 1990: The Israeli authorities committed a grisly massacre at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, killing 22 worshipers and injuring over 200.

    July 25, 1995: The Israeli High Court of Justice issued a ruling, allowing Jews to pray at the “Temple Mount”. The decision sparked off widespread protests among Muslims.

Conclusions

We have seen the origins and the basic goals of Zionism, at the expense of its original inhabitants. The Zionists, in the mould of the colonialism of the British, French, Portuguese and Dutch in the 17th and 18th century, seek to rewrite history and thus effectively try to blot out the historical existence of Palestine and the right of Palestinians to their own State. In the process, the Zionist regime have built Israel upon the blood of thousands of Palestinians killed during An-Nakba, as well as the millions of Palestinians that were dispossessed of their land, citizenship, culture and history. Not to mention that these power-hungry Zionist thugs also try to deny Muslim control of Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state and Haram As-Shareef, the third-most holiest site in Islam.

No one, after weighing the evidence above, would consider Zionism to be a legitimate ideology of peace. On the contrary, Zionism must be condemned and rejected in the same way Fascism, Apartheid, Nazism and other racist ideologies had been rejected in the past. The day Israel shakes free of its Zionist ideals and its anti-Arab schizophrenia is the day Palestine will finally exist with Jerusalem as its capital, and only then will the Israel-Palestine conflict will come to an end.

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "A History of Zionism and Its Ideological Roots," in Bismika Allahuma, December 14, 2006, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/history/history-of-zionism/

References:

Online resources:

  1. Theodor Hertzl, The Jewish State, p. 69 []
  2. One Palestine Complete, p. 119 []
  3. America and The Founding Of Israel, p. 49 []
  4. Righteous Victims, p. 49 []
  5. Righteous Victims, p. 49 []
  6. One Palestine Complete, p. 41 []
  7. Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 25 []
  8. Righteous Victims, p. 144 []
  9. Ahmad al-‘Awadi, al-Suhyooniyyah, Nash’atuhaa, Tanzeemaatuhaa, Inshitatuhaa, p. 7 []
  10. Ibid., p. 8 []
  11. Iron Wall, p. 316 []
  12. Iron Wall, p. 311 []
  13. Rodinson, M., Israel and the Arabs, Penguin, 1968, p. 216 []
Categories
History Islam Jerusalem

The Case of Jerusalem — The Holy City

Editor’s Note: The missionaries have published an article claiming that there is no significance between the holy city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) with Islam, while at the same time displaying their Zionist tendencies. We republish an article from Israeli Watch which rebuts their fatuous claims and cements the relationship between Islam and Al-Quds.

Last June, Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day to commemorate its capture of East Jerusalem 38 years ago. As one may recall in 1980, in violation of the U.N. resolutions, the Government of Israel officially annexed the city and adjoining areas in the West Bank of the Jordan River. The city remains the thorniest and knottiest issue facing negotiators that will decide its final status in a future Palestinian state.

Since coming to power in 2001, Prime Minister Sharon has issued orders for constructing new settlements around the occupied East Jerusalem. His defense force has also confiscated Palestinian?owned land for the construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall.1 Many Middle-East experts suspect, and probably rightly so, that his recent unilateral ?disengagement? or withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, after some 38 years of illegal occupation, is ill-motivated and is only a smokescreen to deny the Palestinian Authority — in future negotiations — any claim to East Jerusalem as its capital.

According to Yossin Beilin, head of Israel’s left-wing Yachad Party, since the Intifadah of September 2000, nearly 1200 Israeli Jews have moved into the predominantly Palestinian parts of eastern Jerusalem.

All these activities are in violations of UN Resolutions and President Bush’s “Roadmap”. However, the Bush Administration will not take Sharon to task for such non-compliance, and the latter knows it very well. That is why he is so bold with all his war crimes – from his genocidal activities in Jenin to extra-judicial killings of leaders and members of Palestinian resistance.

Sharon creates the impression that he is not ready to go back to the pre-1967 border and wants to hold on to East Jerusalem by hook or by crook. He wants to make sure that Palestinians are removed out of Jerusalem and its environs so that the demography of the Holy Land is altered before any serious negotiation resume on the final status of Jerusalem. This is also the position suggested by the organizers of the Jerusalem Summit and other Zionist leaders. For instance, Martin Sherman, the Academic Director to the Jerusalem Summit and a Political Science lecturer at the Tel Aviv University recently ?redefined? the Palestinian problem by suggesting that ?generous? sums of money be paid to the Palestinians so as to relocate and resettle them elsewhere in Arab/Muslim world. What a “brilliant” and “benevolent” way of cleansing Palestinians from their ancestral land! To these hawks: Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital and “Jews should rule an undivided Jerusalem.”

So, how does Israel prove its heritage to a city? Archeology is a means. Years of excavation in Arab East Jerusalem in the post-1967 era by Dame Kathleen Kenyon, Benjamin Mazar and Meir Ben-Dove, however, did not unearth any traces of Jewish existence from the so-called “Temple Mount Era”. Much to their embarrassment what surfaced were more Muslim palaces, courts and mosques, and ruins belonging to the Romans, Greeks and Canaanites. The excavations, clandestine and overt, underneath the Haram al-Sharif (the so-called Temple Mount) are weakening the very foundation of two of the holiest Muslim shrines. Should those shrines cave in and collapse, I am not sure if many Israelis and their friends realize the ensuing repercussion, enough to pale all the wars humanity has seen before. I only pray and hope that we never see such a human catastrophe.

Another technique employed is: manipulation of history. A classic example is the Israeli-sponsored ?Jerusalem 3000? celebration in 1998. This was aimed at advocating the myth that Jerusalem?s history began 3000 years ago with David, rather than some 5000 years ago, as the archeologists concur. Following the footsteps of early Zionists who willfully “transformed” Palestine into a historical and geographical desert with propagandas like “Give a country without a people to a people without a country,” today’s Zionists are also spreading the myth that “politics, not religious sensibility, has fueled the Muslim attachment to Jerusalem for nearly fourteen centuries” or that Jerusalem was “never important” to Muslims, and that during the Muslim rule it “declined to the point of becoming a shambles”. Another technique in proving heritage is finding justification through theology.

In what follows, we shall study these hypotheses.

Introduction

Jerusalem has been the subject of immense interest throughout history. It embodies sacred memories of the Prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is here that all the three Semitic religions of the world played vital roles at different junctures in the history of mankind. For twelve centuries, under Muslim rule (636-1917 CE, except a century of Christian rule), Jerusalem has been an oasis of peace and tranquility. Yet, beginning in 1948, we witness a change of a major dimension, a conspiracy that culminated in the establishment of a Zionist state in Palestine ignoring the rights of its overwhelming Muslim majority. This event has been responsible for much bloodshed to subsequently follow among the children and heirs to the Abrahamic heritage.

Jerusalem is very dear and sacred to Muslims for a number of reasons.

The Holy Qur’an refers to Jerusalem in connection with Prophet Muhammad’s (sallal-lahu alayh wa-as-salam: blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) Isra’ and Mi’raj in the following verses: “Glory be to Him who did take His servant for a journey by night from the Masjid Al-Haram (Sacred Mosque) to the Masjid Al-Aqsa (Farthest Mosque) whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of Our signs. He (Allah) is the One who hears and sees all things.”2 (The masjid in Jerusalem was called the farthest mosque because it was the farthest mosque known to the Arabs during the Prophet’s time.) According to most commentators of the Qur’an, this event of Isra’ and Mi’raj took place in the year before the Hijra (Prophet’s migration to Madina). The hadith literature gives details of this journey. To Muslims, the event is viewed as passing of the spiritual baton.

As has been pointed out by Professor Walid Khalidi in his 1996 address at the Jerusalem Conference of the American Committee on Jerusalem, “The Prophet’s isra to and mi’raj from Jerusalem became the source of inspiration of a vast body of devotional Muslim literature, as successive generations of Traditionists, Koranic commentators, theologians, and mystics added their glosses and embellishments. In this literature, in which the Prophet is made to describe his visits to Hell and Paradise, Jerusalem lies at the center of Muslims beliefs, literal and allegorical, concerning life beyond the grave. This literature is in circulation to this day in all the languages spoken by nearly one billion Muslims. To this day, too, the Night of the Mi’raj is annually celebrated throughout the Muslim world.”

A particular link also exists between Jerusalem and one of the five “pillars” of Islam — the five daily prayers (salat). According to Muslim tradition, it was during the Prophet’s mi’raj that, after conversations between the Prophet and Moses, the five daily prayers observed throughout the Muslim world became canonical. Parallel to this body of literature concerning the isra and miraj is another vast corpus of devotional writings concerning the “Excellencies” or “Virtues” (fada’il) of Jerusalem.”

In the early stage of Islam, Jerusalem was the Qiblah towards which Muslims faced in their prayers. Later, however, they were instructed by Allah to change their Qiblah to Makkah: “So turn thy face toward the Masjid al-Haram, and ye (O Muslims), wheresoever ye may be, turn your faces (when ye pray) toward it. Lo! those who have received the Scripture know that (this Revelation) is the Truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.”3

With this change of Qiblah, Jerusalem did not lose its sacredness to Muslims though. It came to be known as Al-Quds (the sanctuary), al-Bayt al-Muqaddis (i.e., the holy house), and al-Quds ash-Sharif (the holy and noble city).

Pre-Islamic Period

The memorandum of the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference in 1919 declared, “This land is the ‘historic’ home of the Jews”. By “historic” they meant the right of the ?first occupier,? i.e., nobody inhabited the region prior to the Jews. Such an assertion, as we will see, is only a myth. For debunking this myth of ?first occupier,? we shall examine the Bible. The Book of Genesis says, “And Terah took Abram [referring to prophet Abraham or Ibrahim (alayhi-salaam)] his son, and Lot [referring to Lut (AS)] the son of Ha?ran his son?s son, and Sa?rai his daughter in law, his son Abram?s wife; and they went out from Ur of Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan.? [Gen. 11:31]; “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.” [Gen. 12:6] The verses 13:3-7 state that the Canaanite and the Perizzite were already dwelling in the land when Abraham returned from Egypt to Bethel and set his tent between Bethel and Ha?i. Not only did the tribes with Abraham find the Canaanites but they also found the Hittites (around Hebron), the Ammonites (around Amman), the Moabites (to the east of the Dead Sea) and the Edomites (in the south-east). At the same time, there were arriving from the Aegean Sea another people, the Philistines, who installed themselves between Mount Carmel and the desert.

The Bible says that Jacob [Prophet Ya’aqub (P)], who is also known as Israel, settled in Sha’lem , a city of She’chem, which was in the land of Canaan (Gen. 33:18). There he erected an altar and called it El-e-lohe-Israel. [Gen. 33:20]

The modern-day Palestinians are, in deed, descended from indigenous Canaanite Jebusites who lived in Palestine at least 5000 years ago, from the Philistines (who gave the country its name – Palestine, Arabic for Falastin), and from the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and the Turks who successively occupied the territory, following the Babylonians, the Hittites, and the Egyptians. The ?first occupiers? are these inhabitants who have inhabited the territory since the dawn of history. And any reference that the Palestinians are descendants of Muslim Arabs (from the time of Muslim conquest of Jerusalem) is disingenuous and is aimed at denying their ancestral tie to the land for five millennia.

The current mythology to connect Prophet Dawud or David (P) with Jerusalem is a typical example of distorting history. The name Jerusalem does not come from the Hebrew word “shalom” meaning peace, but from Uru-shalim, meaning the city or foundation of the (Canaanite Jebusite) god Shalim, cited in ancient Egyptian texts. It is these Jebusites who gave the name of the city some 2000 years before the time of David and Solomon.

Both the Qur’an and the so-called Old Testament mention that the children of Jacob [Ya’aqub (P)] settled in Egypt when Joseph [Yusuf (P)] was appointed a Minister to the Pharaoh. Moses [Musa (P)], born in Egypt, was later commanded by Allah to rescue the Children of Israel from the Egyptian bondage and to settle them in the Sinai desert. During the time of Moses, the holy land was denied to them due to their disobedience of the commandments of Allah (see the Book of Deuteronomy).

From the accounts in the Bible, it is clear that the Children of Israel did not establish themselves in the Holy Land until around 1004 BCE when David [Dawud (AS)] of the tribe of Judah defeated the Jebusites to found a kingdom there. He created a multi-national state, embracing peoples of different religions. His own ancestress Ruth was a Moabite. His son Solomon [Sulayman (AS)], who succeeded the throne, was born of a Hittite mother. Solomon, like his father, maintained the multi-national characteristics of his regime. He built a stone temple, commonly known as the Temple of Solomon, as a gesture of his thanks to Allah (YHWH).

After Solomon?s death, the kingdom got divided into two ? the Kingdom of Israel in the north (comprising the ten tribes) with the capital in Samaria, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south (comprising the two tribes) with capital in Jerusalem. In 722-721 BCE, the Kingdom of Israel was invaded by the Assyrians and its people scattered, who came to be known as the ?Ten lost tribes of Israel.? In 586 BCE, the Babylonians under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar annexed the southern kingdom of Judah. The country?s notables were exiled to Babylon. Jerusalem was ravaged to the ground, along with its temple and fortifications. When Emperor Cyrus (Dhul Qarnain of the Qur’an) of Persia defeated the Babylonians in 538-537 BCE, he let the exiles to return to Jerusalem. Many Jews, however, preferred to remain in more prosperous Babylon.

History is scant and dubious before Alexander?s peaceful entry into Jerusalem in 332 BCE, but it suffered heavily under the Persians and the temple — rebuilt under Ezra (Uzayr) and Nehemiah about 515 BCE — might have been destroyed during Artaxerxes’s regime. In 320 BCE, Ptolemy I of Egypt partially demolished the fortifications that remained in ruins until their restoration by Simon II in 219 BCE After a series of struggles between the Ptolemies and Seleucids, the latter obtained the city by a treaty in 197 BCE. The temple was totally Hellenized, i.e., turned into a heathen idol-temple, by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BCE.

Next we come to the period of the Maccabean revolt. After a twenty years? struggle, the Maccabees were able to form the Hasmonean dynasty in 164 BCE. This broke up owing to internal conflicts and in 63 BCE Roman General Pompey was able to conquer Palestine, which first became a vassal monarchy under Herod, and then a Roman province.

Under Herod, Jerusalem was rebuilt and the second temple (known as the Temple of Zerubabel) elaborated (from 17 BCE to 29 CE). However, during the failed revolt (66-70 CE) by the Hebrews, the city was blockaded by Roman General Titus who completely razed it to the ground and burned the temple in 70 CE on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Ab, the very month and day on which 657 years earlier Nebuchadnezzar had razed the first Temple. (The Qur’an briefly mentions these two destructions of the Temple in Surah 17:4-7.) The Jewish inhabitants were exiled or sold into slavery. After the failed second revolt (132 CE), led by Bar Kochba, the city was renamed Aelia Capitolina in 135 CE and Jews were banned from entering the city. And since then Jews gradually moved away from Palestine.

In 326 CE, Emperor Constantine the great ordered the building of the Church of Holy Sepulcher in Aelia. In 614-615 CE Khoshru II of Persia captured the city by defeating the Roman (Byzantine) Christians, mention of which is available in the Qur’an 30:2-3: ?The Romans have been defeated in a land close by: but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious within a few years, with Allah is the command in the past and in the future: on that day shall the believers rejoice.? His forces destroyed many buildings. Just as the Qur’an had prophesied, the Romans defeated the Persians in 628 C.E, under Heraclius, and reentered Aelia.

Muslim Period

In 636 CE, at the battle of Yarmuk, the Byzantines were defeated by the Muslim Army, led by Amr ibn al-?As (R). Patriarch Sophoronius offered to surrender the city if Khalifa Umar ibn al-Khattab (R) himself would come in person to ratify the terms of surrender. The encounter between these two men was very dramatic. In the words of a Christian historian, Anthony Nutting, ?Umar taught the caparisoned throng of Christian commanders and bishops a lesson in humility by accepting their surrender in a patched and ragged robe and seated on a donkey.? [The Arabs, New American Library, N.Y. (1964)]

The terms of the surrender were: ?Bismillahir Rahmaneer Raheem (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful). This is a covenant which Umar, the servant of Allah, the Amir (Leader) of the faithful believers, granted the people of Aelia. He granted them safety for their lives, their possessions, their churches and their crosses. They shall not be constrained in the matter of their religion, nor shall any of them be molested. ? Whoever leaves the city shall be safe in his person and his property until he reaches his destination.?

Umar (R) thus pledged security of the lives, properties, churches and freedom of worship of the city?s Christian inhabitants. These pledges came to be knows as the Covenant of Umar, which established the standard of conduct vis-a-vis the non-Muslim population of Jerusalem for subsequent generations and specifically for the two subsequent Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem: Saladin (1187) and the Ottoman Sultan Selim (1516).

When Umar (R) entered Jerusalem what is now known in the West as the Temple Mount lay vacant. The Christian Byzantines had used it as a garbage dump. But to the Muslims it contained the Rock hallowed by the Prophet Muhammad?s (S) Isra? and Mi?raj (the Prophet?s nightly journey to Jerusalem and ascension to heaven). According to the Muslim chroniclers, Umar?s (R) next concern was to identify that Rock. Sophoronius guided him to a spot, which by then had no traces of its Jewish past. Because of high reverence for the place, Umar (R), the Amirul Mu?meneen, himself started cleaning it in person, carrying dirt in his own robe. His entourage and army followed suit until the whole area was cleaned. He directed that no prayers be held on or near it until the place has been washed by rain three times. His entourage then sprinkled the place with scent. Umar (R) then led the Muslims in prayer on a clean spot to the south. Foundation of a mosque was erected on the spot and this is the Al-Aqsa mosque, revered by Muslims as one of the three most sacred mosques on earth.

In the Jewish apocalyptic literature of the time, Umar?s (R) capture of Jerusalem was seen as an act of redemption from the Byzantines. It is worthwhile mentioning here (as has also been recognized by Jewish historian Moshe Gil) that it was not until 638 CE that a Jewish quarter would be assigned in the city – since the days of the second Jewish Revolt some five hundred years ago – when Muslims invited Jewish families to reside there.

The most obvious reflection of Islam?s reverence for Jerusalem is in its architecture. During the Umayyad rule (660-750 CE) Jerusalem flourished to become a major city, and from this period, important buildings survive. The Umayyad Khalifa Al Walid later completed the construction of the al-Aqsa mosque in 715 CE. His father Caliph Abdul Malik bin-Marwan constructed the ?Dome of the Rock? ? Masjid al Quba as-Sakhra (visible with gold dome) on the Haram al-.Sharif earlier in 688-691 CE (68-71 AH). These two mosques became essentially the most visited mosques in the entire Muslim world outside the Ka?ba and Masjid an-Nabi in Arabia, and grace the city of Jerusalem to this very day.

In 728 CE the cupola over the Al-Aqsa Mosque was erected, the same being restored in 758-75 by the Abbasid Khalifa Al-Mahdi. In 831 Khalifa Al-Ma?mun restored the Dome of the Rock and built the octagonal wall. In 1016 the Dome was partly destroyed by earthquakes; but it was repaired in 1022.

As part of historical revisionism, some Orientalists, such as John Wansbrough, and Likudnik/Zionist historians have opined that Muhammad?s (S) night journey to Jerusalem – the Isra’ and Mi’raj, one of the principal foundations of Jerusalem?s sanctity in Islam – was a later invention aimed at accounting for the Qur’anic verse 17:1. Others, such as Patricia Crone, have proposed that Jerusalem was in fact the original Islamic holy city, and that the sanctity of Makkah and Madinah was a later innovation. Neither of these ludicrous theories enjoys much acceptance (outside die-hard Zionists), least of all among Muslims.

During the Abbasid rule (750-969 CE) Jerusalem became a religious focal point for Christian and Jewish pilgrims and Sufi Muslims. The vast majority of its inhabitants were Muslims. It remained under Muslim control until the first Crusade (1099). Excepting a brief period during Fatimid caliph (insane) al-Hakim?s rule (996-1021), there was no religious persecution of minorities.

In November 1095, Pope Urban II delivered a speech at Claremont, France, which can only be described as the vilest and most spiteful speech of the Middle Ages, responsible for initiating the never-ending Crusade. He said: “O race of Franks! race beloved and chosen by God! From the confines of Jerusalem and from Constantinople a grievous report has gone forth that an accursed race, wholly alienated from God, has violently invaded the lands of these Christians, and depopulated them by pillage and fire. The kingdom of Greeks is now dismembered by them, and has been deprived of territory so vast in extent that it could not be traversed in two months’ time.

On whom, then, rests the labor of avenging these wrongs, and of recovering this territory, if not upon you – you upon whom, above all others, God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great bravery, and strength to humble the heads of those whom resist you? Let none of your possessions keep you back, nor anxiety for your family affairs. For this land which you now inhabit, shut in all sides by the sea and the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; it scarcely furnishes food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder and devour one another, that you wage wars, and that many among you perish in civil strife.

Let hatred, therefore, depart from among you; let your quarrels end. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from a wicked race, and subject it to yourselves.

Jerusalem is a land fruitful above all others, a paradise of delights. That royal city, situated at the center of the earth, implores you to come to her aid. Undertake this journey eagerly for the remission of your sins, and be assured of the reward of imperishable glory in the kingdom of Heaven.”

With that deleterious speech, the Pope aroused Christians to recapture Jerusalem from Muslims. On 1099 CE the Crusaders entered the city and began one of the bloodiest and crudest massacres in history. According to Ibn al-Athir some 70,000 Muslims were slaughtered in Masjid al-Aqsa alone, all of them non-combatants, some of them Imams and professors of theology.

Raymond d’Aguiliers, chaplain to Raymond de Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse, wrote: ?Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one?s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious ceremonies were ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much, at least, that in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle-reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood.?

Jerusalem became the capital of the Latin Kingdom under Godfrey, Count of Bouillon, who changed the Al-Aqsa mosque into a church and erected a big cross on top of the Dome of Rock. Muslims and Jews were banned from living in the city.

In 1187 Sultan Salahuddin (Saladin) Ayyubi (RA) liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders and restored the al-Aqsa mosque to its previous condition. Before liberating Jerusalem, Saladin wrote a letter to King Richard which sums up Muslim position vis-?-vis the status of the city. He wrote: ?Jerusalem is our heritage as much as it is yours. It was from Jerusalem that our Prophet ascended to heaven and it is in Jerusalem that the angels assemble. Do not imagine that we can ever abandon it. Nor can we possibly renounce our rights to it as a Muslim community. As for the land, your occupation of it was accidental and came about because the Muslims who lived in the land at that time were weak. God will not enable you to build a single stone in the land so long as the war lasts.?

Comparing Saladin?s behavior with those Christian Crusaders, the historian Anthony Nutting writes: ?Apart from restoring the holy places of Islam, Saladin allowed not a single building to be touched. As Christian historians have attested, strict orders were issued to all Muslim troops to protect Christian life and property and not a single Christian was molested on account of his religion – a remarkable contrast to the atrocities perpetrated by the Franks eighty eight years before.? It is worth mentioning here that while the Crusaders, when they entered Jerusalem, burned Jews in their synagogue Salahuddin, after recovering the city, had allowed Jews to return.

Excepting brief periods between 1229-1239 and 1243-1244 when Jerusalem again fell in the hands of the Crusaders (because of Muslim in-fighting), it remained a Muslim City through all its life. Religious freedom and rights of worship by Christians and Jews were respected. In 1267 Rabbi Moshe Ben Nahman (Nahmanides) arrived from Spain, revived the Jewish congregation and established a synagogue and center of learning bearing his name. In 1448, Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro settled in Jerusalem and led the community. After the Spanish Inquisition (1492), Jews found shelter among the Muslims of North Africa and (what is now called) the Middle East.

The Mamluks (1248-1517), who came after the Ayyubids, left their mark in architecture with beautiful buildings, schools and hospices throughout the Old City. They added markets, repaired water supplies and constructed city?s fountain system.

In 1517 the Ottomans took over Jerusalem peacefully. Sultan Suleiman ?the magnificent? (1537-41) rebuilt the city walls (un-walled since 1219) including the present day 7 gates (what is now known as the Old City) and the ?Tower of David.? He further improved the city?s water system, installed drinking fountains still visible in many parts of the Old City. He also patronized religious centers and educational institutions. A Jewish colony ?Safaradieh? was formed in 1522 in Palestine. The Ottomans granted religious freedom to all and it was possible to find (something that was unthinkable in Europe) a synagogue, a church and a mosque in the same street.

The Damascus gate was erected in 1542. It was Sultan Selim, the Ottoman ruler, who dug out the Wailing Wall from under the rubble in the 16th century and permitted Jews to visit it. All the Ottoman Sultans ? from Suleiman ?the magnificent? to Sultan Abdul-Hamid (RA) ? were great patrons of Jerusalem, making surrounding territories of the mosques as their Waqf properties.

Throughout the Ottoman era, the city remained open to all religions, although the empire?s faulty management after Sultan Suleiman meant slow economical stagnation. When Jewish people faced extermination across Europe, the Ottoman Sultans allowed them to take refuge in the Empire. Some of them settled in Palestine. In 1562 there were 1,200 (mostly religious) Jews and 11,450 Arabs living in Jerusalem.

By mid-19th century, with the weakening of the Ottoman Empire (to the extent of being ridiculed as the ?Sick Man of Europe?) the European colonial powers vied with each other to gain a foothold in Palestine. New areas with names like the German Colony and the Russian Compound sprouted the city. According to Zionist historiography, residential building outside the walls of the Old City began around 1860 with the Jewish settlement – Mishkenot Shaananim. However, such scholarship overlooks the much earlier construction and continued use of numerous indigenous residential buildings outside the walls such as khans, residences for religious persons, and summer homes with orchards and olive presses, belonging mostly to non-Jews, especially the Arab Muslims. In time, as the communities grew and connected geographically, this became known as the New City.

This was also an age of Christian religious revival, and many churches sent missionaries to proselytize among the Muslim and especially the Jewish populations, believing passionately that this would expedite the Second Coming of Christ. These outside missionaries settled in and around places like Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

In 1846 there were only 12,000 Jews in Palestine out of a population of 350,000. In 1880, shortly before the Russian Pogroms, there were only 25,000 Jews in Palestine out of a population of half a million.

The last half of the 19th century witnessed the pontification of Pope Pius IX (1846-78), the publication of Wilhelm Marr?s ?Jewry?s Victory over Teutonism? (1873), the assassination of Czar Alexander II (1881) and the Alfred Dreyfus case (1894). These events led to pogroms and anti-Semitism (actually Jew-hatred) across Europe, especially in Eastern Europe and Russia. Jews again found refuge in the Ottoman Empire. [Ironically, the demise of the Ottoman regime can partly be blamed on the Jewish enclave in Salonika (now Thessalonica or Thessaloniki in Greece) – home of the D?nme and the birthplace of the (Jacobin) Young Turk movement.]

The last decade of the 19th century saw the emergence of political Zionism calling for the establishment of a Jewish state. Sultan Abdul-Hamid, the last of the Ottoman Sultans, was approached by Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism, who offered to buy up and then turn over the Ottoman Debt to the Sultan?s government in return for an Imperial Charter for the Colonization of Palestine by the Jewish people. In his Diary, Herzl writes, ?Let the Sultan give us that parcel of land [Palestine] and in return we would set his house in order, regulate his finances, and influence world opinion in his favour?? The Sultan rejected the offer.

In his letter to a Sufi Shaykh (dated Sept. 22, 1911), Sultan Abdul-Hamid mentions this episode: ?I left the post of the ruler of Caliphate only because of the obstacles and threats on the side of people who call them ? Young Turks. The Committee of Unity and Progress obsessively insist on my agreement to form a national Jewish state in the sacred land of Palestine. But in spite of their obstinacy I strongly refused them. In the end they offered me 150 million English pounds in gold, but again I refused and said the following to them: ?If you offer me gold of the world adding it to your 150 man, I won?t agree to give you the land. I have served Islam and the people of Muhammad (S) for more than 30 years, and I won?t cloud the Islamic history, the history of my fathers and grand fathers ? Ottoman Sultans and caliphs.? After my definite refusal they decided to remove me from power, and after that they told me that they would transport me to Salonika and I had to resign. I praise my benefactor who didn?t let me bring shame on the Ottoman state and the Islamic world. I want to stop at this. I praise the Almighty once again and finish my letter. ?

The Sultan, to the last of his days, resisted bartering Jerusalem for his reign.

So what we notice from historical accounts is a remarkable Muslim reverence for the city of Jerusalem, much in contrast to the disingenuous claims made by Zionist apologists like Daniel Pipes. Down the centuries, from the time of Umar (R) to the subsequent Muslim dynasties ruling from Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and Istanbul, Jerusalem was always important to Muslims. They constructed a wide variety of buildings and institutions in Jerusalem: mosques, theological college convents for Sufi mystics, abodes for holy men, schools of the Hadith and the Qur’an, orphanages, hospitals, hospices for pilgrims, fountains, baths, pools, inns, soup kitchens, places for ritual ablution, mausoleums, and shrines to commemorate the Prophet?s (S) Mi?raj. These buildings were maintained through a system of endowment in perpetuity (awkaf), sometimes involving the dedication of the revenues of entire villages in Palestine, Syria, or Egypt. The patrons were caliphs and sultans, military commanders and scholars, merchants and officials, including a number of women. Their philanthropy bears witness to the importance of Jerusalem as a Muslim center of residence, pilgrimages, retreat, prayer, study and burial.

British Mandate Period:

With the defeat of the Turkish Army during the World War I (1914-18), British General Edmund Allenby took control over Jerusalem. Upon entering the city on 11 December, 1917, he declared, ?Now the Crusades come to an end.? As a matter of fact, it was the beginning of the end, i.e., marshalling of a neo-crusade against Muslims by using Israel as a ?rampart? in the Muslim heartland.

In 1917, Britain issued the infamous Balfour Declaration promising the Zionists establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine. The Declaration was criminal to the core as historian Arthur Koestler so aptly described: ?One nation solemnly promised to give to a second nation the country of a third nation.? With that goal in mind, during the devious British Mandate (1917-47), Jews were pumped into Palestine from all over Europe. In spite of such Jewish influx, according to a census taken by the British on 31 December 1922, there were altogether 83,000 Jews in Palestine out of a total population of 757,000 of which 663,000 were Muslims. That is, the Jewish population was only 11%.

In 1935, when the Palestinian Arabs rose in revolt against further Jewish immigration, there were 370,000 Jews out of a total population of 1,366,670, i.e., 3 out of 4 were Arabs. During partition, the Jewish population owned less than 6% of the total land in Palestine. Yet when on November 29, 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem in an international zone, 56% of the total area was allotted to the Jewish state. As was expected, Arabs (with the exception of King Abdullah of Transjordan) rejected the plan and a fight for territories broke out in which armed Jewish terrorist gangs massacred unarmed Palestinians in several villages. At that time, in Old (East) Jerusalem Jews owned less than 1% of land. Their ownership of properties in the New (West) city was 26%.

In recent years, the issue surrounding pre-1948 demographics of Jerusalem has become a hot item. Zionist historiographers (e.g., Ben Arieh, Gilbert and others) have been trying to prove a Jewish majority in Jerusalem before the partition. This myth has no substance whatsoever quite simply by looking carefully at the available late Ottoman-era statistics and (for the later period) by examining the boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality as drawn by the British Mandatory authorities.

In this regard it is worth quoting what pre-eminent demographer Justin McCarthy had clearly pointed out, ?Ottoman statistics are the best source on Ottoman population.? The Ottoman data on Jerusalem show that in 1871-2, the Jewish population of Jerusalem was a quarter of the total population living in Jerusalem. In 1895, when the city?s population was about 43,000, the entire Jewish population could not have been more than a third (i.e., 14,500). In 1912 – the last Ottoman statistics – show that Jerusalem had a total population of 60,000 of which nearly 25,000 were Jews.

According to Professor Walid Khalidi the international zone comprising ?Mandatory municipal Jerusalem? in addition to some 20 surrounding Arab villages had a slight majority of Arab population who numbered 105,000 while the Jewish population was just under 100,000. Academic research works by Salim Tamari (director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies and a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Birzeit University) and others present a similar picture. They point out how Zionist historiographers deliberately avoided accounting for Arab neighborhoods in their demographic studies of Jerusalem while concentrating mostly on Jewish suburbs.

Upon reviewing the literature on the selective demographics of Mandate Jerusalem, British historian Michael Dumper attributes two major reasons for these population discrepancies. First, estimates counted Jewish migrants who arrived in Jerusalem before 1946 and later moved to Tel Aviv and other localities. Second, while excluding Palestinians who were working in the city but living in its rural periphery (the daytime population such as the commuting workers from Lifta and Deir Yasin), they included Jewish residents living in suburban areas such as Beit Vegan, Ramat Rahel, and Meqor Hayim. The latter were incorporated within the municipal population through a process he refers to as ?demographic gerrymandering.?

Professor Tamari?s studies on Jerusalem?s western villages, for instance, show that once the rural neighborhoods are introduced, the picture in regard to demographics and land composition change dramatically. ?Extrapolations from 1945 Mandatory statistics,? Professor Tamari says, ?show that the Jerusalem sub-district contained slightly over a quarter of a million inhabitants of whom 59.6% were Arabs and 40.4% were Jewish. In the western Jerusalem areas that came under Israeli control after the war (251,945 dunums) 91.8% (231,446) dunums were Arab owned, 2.7% were Jewish owned, and the rest were public lands.?

Israeli Period:

The conspiracy of the Western powers in collusion with the Zionists, the terrorism inflicted upon the Arab inhabitants, the foolishness of the local leaders, and the incompetence or indifference of others – all these led to the establishment of the state of Israel on May 15, 1948 when on that day the Jewish settlers declared independence. The massacre of Arab residents of Deir Yasin, Qibya and Kafr al-Qasim that followed were only the preludes to Israel?s genocide of Palestinians at Sabra and Chatilla, Tyre and Sidon, Nablus, Jenin and of ongoing atrocities in Gaza, West Bank and Southern Lebanon.

Soon after the unilateral declaration, in a subsequent war with neighboring Arab states, Israel captured 78% of the original Palestine by annexing territories set for the Arab Palestinian state, leaving only East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in Arab hands. This cataclysmic event forced 750,000 Palestinians to seek refuge elsewhere.

As to its impact on Jerusalem, Professor Tamari writes, ?During the war of 1948, particularly during the months of April-May, about 25-30,000 Palestinians were displaced from the urban suburbs of Jerusalem. In addition, the bulk of the village population (23,649 rural inhabitants) were also expelled. These included the population of the two largest villages in the Jerusalem sub-district, Ain Karim and Lifta, and virtually all of the rural habitations west of the city (with the exception of Abu Ghosh and Beit Safafa). Altogether 36 villages and hamlets were destroyed, or – as was the case with Lifta and Ain Karim – were physically left intact but their Palestinian inhabitants removed. Most of the displaced persons eventually found refuge in the Old City and its northern Arab suburbs (Shu?fat, Beit Hanina, Ram), and in the refugee camps of Ramallah and Bethlehem. Today the refugee population originating from the Jerusalem district is estimated to be 380,000.?

In July 1949, the Israeli government declared West Jerusalem ?territory occupied by the State of Israel?, and all Arab lands and businesses were confiscated under the Absentee Property Regulations of 1948. Most of the urban refugee property in Jerusalem was sold to Israelis and squatters. Refugee-lands outside the urban center were mostly sold to a specially established Government Development Authority which in turn sold them to the Jewish National Fund or to cooperative agricultural settlements. Soon, Israel began to transfer its government offices to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Government employees were housed in abandoned refugee property.

On 13 December 1949, the Israeli government declared Jerusalem as its capital, which was later passed as a resolution in the Knesset on January 23, 1950.

On June 5-10, 1967 Israel launched an offensive against neighboring Arab states and captured East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, plus the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Most Jews celebrated the event as a liberation of the city; a new Israeli holiday was created, Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim), and the popular Hebrew song, ?Jerusalem of Gold? (Yerushalayim shel zahav), became popular in celebration.

Between 1949 and 1967 scores of Palestinian towns and more than 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed by Israel. In the first flush of victory in the 1967 war, Ben Gurion wanted the magnificent walls built by the Ottomans that surround the ?Old City? destroyed because they were such a powerful reminder of the Islamic character of the city. Most of the Israeli government buildings in Jerusalem including the Knesset are built on Palestinian-owned land.

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), since annexation of East Jerusalem, have embarked on a ?Judaization? policy that entails constricting building permits to local Arabs to build houses on their ancestral land, withdrawing residency permits, demolishing Palestinian homes and mosques, and building illegal settlements. One of the first moves was to demolish the Maghariba quarter in order to enlarge the prayer area next to the Wailing Wall. One hundred and twenty-five Arab houses were destroyed in the process. Jerusalem Palestinians are considered as foreign residents. The policy of the Interior Ministry towards them – endorsed on 30 December 1996 by the Israeli Supreme Court – is too severe and arbitrary (especially since 1994). In 30 years (1967-97), an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Arab residents in Jerusalem have lost their right of residency in the city. These include, for example, Jerusalem Palestinians who lived for over seven years outside the city limits. During the first two weeks of January 1997 alone, 233 Palestinian residents in Jerusalem were issued with expulsion orders. Palestinian refugees from camps located within the limits of Greater Jerusalem (the Shufat and Kalandia camps) have absolutely no political rights.

This ?policy of Judaization,? which has been conducted openly by the Israeli government to reduce the Arab presence in Jerusalem, is starting to bear fruit. While in 1990, there was still a majority of 150,000 Palestinians against 120,000 Jews in the eastern part of the city, the ratio has been reversed to the benefit of the latter. In 1993, East Jerusalem counted 155,000 Palestinian Arabs against 160,000 Israeli Jews. Some 250,000 Israelis lived in West Jerusalem. In 1996, out of a total population of 602,100 in Jerusalem, the Jewish population alone was 421,200.

On 19 April 1999, an inter-ministerial committee on Jerusalem recommended that Israel needs to build 116,000 new housing units in the city for Jews by 2020 in order to maintain a 70/30 percent Jewish majority in Jerusalem. This would signify an annual rate of 5,500. Figures published on 28 May, 2003 by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics show that Jerusalem?s population has reached 683,000, of which sixty-six percent is Jewish. Of the 32 percent of the population who are Arabs, 94% are Muslim and 6% are Christians. In 2004, the Jewish population in Jerusalem was estimated at 464,000 out of a total population of 692,000.

The illegal Israeli settlements in and around occupied East Jerusalem have expanded rapidly, in violation of all international laws. The Jewish settler population in East Jerusalem has also multiplied accordingly. In 2000 it was estimated to be close to 180,000. In 2003, 217,000 Palestinians share East Jerusalem with 200,000 Jewish settlers. Of these, 66,500 were in the Greater Jerusalem area of Ma?aleh Adumim, Givat Ze?ev, Betar Elite, Har Adar, Efrat and part of the Etzion Bloc.

The Israeli government has succeeded in applying Jerusalem?s religious symbolism to vast areas that have nothing to do with historic Jerusalem. So, e.g., over half of what we call Jerusalem today was not part of the city pre-1967, but were parts of Bethlehem and 28 other West Bank towns.

Between 1967 and 2003, 35% of the land in East Jerusalem has been expropriated for the construction of Jewish neighborhoods and attendant facilities. Of the more than 38,500 houses built on expropriated land, as of 2003, none has been constructed for Arabs. In East Jerusalem there are now over 43,000 homes in Jewish neighborhoods and only 28,000 in Palestinian neighborhoods.

In today?s Israel even the dead are not safe from desecration. For example, during Olmert?s tenure as the mayor of Jerusalem, Islamic burial places in West Jerusalem ?Ma?man Allah? (or colloquially Mamilla), measuring some 250,000 square meters, were turned into building plots. The Sheraton Plaza Hotel, Supersol supermarket, Beit Argon building and the adjacent car parking lot are all built on this Islamic Waqf owned land which was used by Muslims as their burial place in Jerusalem until 1948. What remains of this Muslim cemetery is being used as an open park, courtesy of Jerusalem mayors.

The 1993 Oslo Accord left the future of Jerusalem to be determined later through serious negotiation. At Camp David in July 2000 and later at Taba, Israeli negotiators considered allowing some sovereignty to the Palestinian state over Arab areas of East Jerusalem but no agreement was reached. The Palestinian side was ready to concede Israel?s claim to West Jerusalem of which Palestinians had privately owned 40 per cent in 1948. The final negotiation fell flat on the status of Haram al-Sharif.

In the post-Clinton era, nothing significant has been done to settle Jerusalem?s long-standing problem except President Bush?s announcement of the so-called ?Roadmap? for the creation of a Palestinian state, which appears to be aimed more at getting the necessary cooperation from his Arab client states before toppling Saddam than establishing the groundwork for real peace or a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

Religious Myth

Next, we come to the question of religious myth, as Menachem Begin once said, ?The country was promised to us, and we have a right to it.? [Davar, Dec. 12, 1978] Golda Meir similarly said, ?This country (i.e., State of Israel) exists as a result of a promise made by God Himself.? Moshe Dayan said, ?If you have the book of Bible, the people of the Bible, then you also have the land of the Bible – of the Judges, of the Patriarchs in Jerusalem, Hebron, Jericho and thereabouts.? [Jerusalem Post, Aug. 10, 1967]

One should not be surprised by such invocations of Biblical passages to ?justify? or ?sanctify? the permanent extension of the Zionist state. In 1956, it was David Ben-Gurion who showed the way by declaring that Sinai formed part of the ?Kingdom of David and Solomon.?

Over the past year, Jerusalem municipality has issued orders to demolish 64 of the 88 Palestinian homes in the adjoining Arab town of Bustan (Silwan for the Israelis). City Councilman Meir Margalit said that the remaining 24 homes would also be demolished shortly. Why Bustan? The answer is simple: to the Israelis, it is the ?City of David? where King David decided to build the capital of his kingdom in 1004 BCE. To them, Bustan should not belong to a future Palestinian state. To realize this, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski plans to expand the ?City of David Park? that would include nearby Bustan.

Colonialists have always sought a rationalization for their criminal annexations, robberies and authority. And what a better way than to claim being ?God?s Chosen People? or belonging to a ?Superior? race? Are we, therefore, surprised at the remarkable similarity between Zionist claims and Vorster?s (late Prime Minister of the Apartheid regime in South Africa in 1972) assertion about justification of apartheid when the latter said, ?Let us not forget that we are the people of God, entrusted with a mission??

The concept of “race” is a 19th century invention by European colonialists to justify colonial hegemony. To justify colonialism, English writer, Rudyard Kipling spoke of “the White Man’s burden” to civilize the non-whites. This very idea of “chosen people” should be recognized as historically infantile, politically criminal, theologically intolerable, and morally insane. It has no scientific basis. It is a bizarre puzzle to say the least. Because, God’s mercy is never restricted to a group, but transcends entire humanity. It is narrated in the Qur’an, ?Remember when Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain words, which he fulfilled. He said, “I shall make you an Imam to humankind.” Said he, “And what of my progeny?” He said, “My covenant shall not include the wrongdoers.” [Qur’an 2:124]

Zionists often invoke the Book of Genesis (15:16) which states: ?In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.? So, which ?seed? or son is meant here? Is it Ishmael ? the first born, or Isaac (the son of Sarah) ? the father of Jacob? What we know from history is that this ?promise? was only fulfilled through the Arab descendants of Ishmael, the forefather of Muhammad (P), and not ever by any descendant of Isaac. Period!

So, if theology were to determine the status of Jerusalem, the Muslim position strongly contradicts Jewish aspiration for the city and shows that they have stronger claim to the city than their Jewish cousins.

Sadly, political Zionism has betrayed Judaism and perverted Christianity. The same church that once labeled Jews as ?Christ-killers?, as the ?rejected? or ?forsaken people?, now calls them the ?Chosen people.? They are now its best friends, more zealous than many Israelis in their support for the rogue state. It is really strange! I wish the Christian motivation was genuine and not simply to gather them as the sacrificial lambs for the ?coming Armageddon?!

The entire policy of the state of Israel, internal or external, is a colonial enterprise, but it wears the ?chador? (cloak) of pseudo-theological myth. From its beginning to the present, Israel has always been a racist, colonial state. The father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl remarked, ?Universal brotherhood is not even a beautiful dream, antagonism is essential to man?s greatest efforts.? [Jewish State, (1897)] Contrary to this view, the greatest minds ever in the history of mankind, from Moses to Jesus to Muhammad (S), spoke of universal brotherhood to be the solution. This remark rightly shows the sick mentality of this founder of Zionism. As a matter of fact the Zionists – Jewish or Christian alike – are morally wrong.

In his Diary, Theodor Herzl writes about the establishment of a Jewish state: ?We should form there a portion of rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.? Here, it clearly shows his colonial, racist mentality. He first disregards the rights of the indigenous inhabitants of the Arab Palestinians, and then calls them barbarians. With the records of Israeli leaders since the establishment of the modern Zionist state, it is quite obvious that it has served the purpose of being a ?rampart? rather too well!

Concluding Remarks

From the above discussion we see that the so-called Children of Israel far from being the first settlers in Palestine were only one group among many others. The total period of Jewish rule or sovereignty over Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular was only about 400 years, and this period is much shorter a period compared to the period of Muslim rule. As a matter of fact, in its entire history, no other community had ruled Palestine or Jerusalem for a longer period. The myth of political rights of the Jews over Palestine is thus not substantiated by history.

In the pre-1948 period, Jews returned to Palestine primarily as a result of persecution in Europe, and least from any yearning for the “homeland of their ancestors”. Had it not been for the generosity of Muslim rulers, they could not have found refuge among Muslims, and surely not in Palestine.

If theology were to be the basis for occupying land, then Muslim claims for Jerusalem is at least, if not more, as strong as those of Jewish (and Christian) claims.

Contrary to the myths now spread by Zionists, Jerusalem was always important to Muslims and that during the Muslim rule it never declined to the point of becoming a shambles.

More importantly, East Jerusalem, including its Muslim holy places, is not the patrimony of any Arab incumbent in whatever Arab capital he or she may be, but that of nearly 1.5 billion Muslims and of the Arab people of Palestine. Israel through its actions in post-1967 era has shown that it cannot be trusted for guardianship of Muslim shrines.

In common with the wishes of millions of Palestinians living inside and outside the Occupied Territories of Palestine, Old (East) Jerusalem, comprising all the pre-1967 territories, is deserving of being their capital.

Adopted and updated from the author’s speech at the California State University, Los Angeles, May 16, 1987. The author may be contacted at saeva[at]aol[dot]com
  1. http://www.countercurrents.org/pa-pmc150604.htm []
  2. Qur’an 17:1 []
  3. Qur’an 2:144 []
Categories
History Jerusalem

The Position of Jerusalem and Haram As-Shareef in Islam

The purpose of this article is to explain the significance of Jerusalem, or also known to Muslims as Bayt al-Maqdis (The Holy House) or simply al-Quds (The Holy); and the Haram As-Shareef (The Noble Sanctuary) area from the viewpoint of Islam and Muslims. At the same time, we also seek to look at the common objections of the Zionists and Christian missionaries against the claim of Islam over Jerusalem as its third most holiest site and see whether it stands up to the scrutiny.

Jerusalem In the Qur’an

“Glory to [God] Who did take His Servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless – in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).” (Qur’an 17:1)

In Islam, the only place whereby the Farthest Mosque (Masjid Al-Aqsa) is located is in the city of Jerusalem. Furthermore, the surrounding land around the Mosque has also been described by the Qur’an as being holy:

“[Moses said] O my people! Enter the holy land [Palestine] which God has assigned to you…” (Qur’an 5:21)

The above verse in Qur’an 17:1 has also described the mosque to be located in surroundings which “… We [i.e. God] did bless”. It is interesting to note that that the location which “… We [i.e. God] did bless” is generally used in the Qur’an for Palestine1. The Bible too has referred to Palestine as a land blessed by God. Addressing the Israelites, Moses(P) is reported to have said about it:

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:7?10)

During the Mi’raj, the Prophet(P) is reported to have received from God the command of five daily prayers (salah) that all Muslims must perform. Upon his return to Mecca, the Prophet instituted these prayers. It is significant to note that he made Jerusalem the direction (al-Qiblah) which Muslims must face while doing their prayers (narrated by al-Bukhari, 41 and by Muslim, 525). Jerusalem is thus called Ula al-Qiblatain (the first qiblah). The Prophet(P) and the early community of Islam worshipped towards the direction of Jerusalem during their stay in Mecca. After the Hijra’ (migration), Muslims in Medina also continued to pray facing Jerusalem for almost seventeen months until God commanded the Muslims to change their direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca (Qur’an 2:142-150).

These established facts above clearly signifies the importance of Jerusalem in Islam. Furthermore, the Prophet(P)is reported to have said that:

You should not travel toward any other place for the purpose of worship and veneration except the three mosques: The Masjid al-Haraam [i.e. the Ka`abah]; the Masjid al-Aqsaa and this mosque [at Madinah] (Ibn Maajah)

Objections of Zionists and Christian Missionaries

We wish to examine two of the most often-repeated objections of the Zionists and the Christian missionaries to the claim of Jerusalem as the third-most holiest site in Islam. The first is as follows:

    …the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem.

However, this claim is baseless. The reason they find difficulty in acknowledging the position of Jerusalem and the Haram As-Shareef in Islam is because of the general tendency of studying Islam in seclusion of the traditions of the Prophets of God preceding Muhammad(P). Islam is not a new religion. It has never claimed to be so. The Qur’an has clearly stated that Islam was the religion taught by all the prophets of God. The Islamic tradition is thus a continuation of the correct traditions of Judaism. If those in opposition to the Muslim claim over Jerusalem were to actually look at Islam, in the light of the foregoing principle, he/she would not find any problem in acknowledging that the position of Jerusalem in Islam is the same as it is in Judaism, merely on the grounds that Islam is actually in continuation of the true traditions of the prophets of God – including Moses(P), David(P), Solomon(P), John the Baptist(P) and Jesus(P) – even though the name of Jerusalem is not even mentioned once in the Qur’an.

The second objection commonly perpetuated by the Zionists is as follows:

    … Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. In fact, it was a backwater for most of Arab history. Jerusalem never served as a provincial capital under Muslim rule nor was it ever a Muslim cultural center.

To claim that Jerusalem is “unimportant” because it never served as a political capital for Muslims is hilarious in its absurdity and shows how desperate the Zionists are to deny the importance of Jerusalem to Muslims. The two holiest cities in Islam apart from Jerusalem – Mecca and Medina – had never become a political capital for an Islamic state. Medina was merely a city-state which the Prophet Muhammad had ruled, not a capital of a State. After the death of the Prophet(P), the Islamic capitals were subsequently located in (not in particular order) Baghdad, Damascus, Kufah, Cairo and Constantinople (Istanbul). The holy cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem has never diminished in their status as the three most holiest sites in Islam, even though the Islamic capital were located and relocated somewhere else. If the Zionists want to deny Muslims the city of Jerusalem on the basis that it was never a “political capital”, then what about the cities of Mecca and Medina which was never a “political capital” during Islamic rule?

Jerusalem in Muslim History

We have seen in history of Jerusalem how Muslims had not only dedicated the site of Haram As-Shareef for worship to The One True God countless times, they had also sacrificed their lives for it.

Jerusalem was liberated by the Muslims in the first half of the seventh century C.E., when Muslims entered the holy city in 14 A.H./A.D. 638 during the reign of the second Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab(R). According to historical sources, the Caliph ‘Umar(R) came personally and specially to take over the city from its patriarch at that time, Sophronius, who refused to capitulate the city to anyone except `Umar(R). The sources also indicate that the Caliph declared a special Sulh (‘Ahd) to the Christians living in the city; its text developed in time to be known as the Covenant of ‘Umar. In this covenant, the Caliph guaranteed further religious freedom, safety of churches and secured the lives, fortunes and properties of the people living in the city (Mujir al-Din Vol. 1, 1973: 254)2.

The Muslims were horrified when they first discovered that that the area of Haram As-Shareef was abandoned and used as the city’s garbage dump. It was the Muslims who then cleaned and purified the place to its pristine form. We read that:

When the Arabs conquered Jerusalem they found the Temple Mount abandoned and filled with refuse. The abandonment of the Temple site was in accordance with with Jesus’ prophecy that not a stone would be left standing on another. ‘Umar ordered it cleaned and performed a prayer there.3

So we see that the Temple area had been abandoned some 600 years before the Muslims entered it. But who was using the holy site as a garbage dump?

Ever since the Persian occupation, when the Jews had resumed worship on the platform, the Christians had used the place as the city rubbish dump. When ‘Umar reached the old ruined gates of the Temple, says the Muslim historian Muj?r al-D?n, he was horrified to see the filth, “which was then all about the holy sanctuary, had settled on the steps of the gates so that it even came out into the streets in which the gate opened, and it had accumulated so greatly as almost to reach up the ceiling of the gateway.” The only way to get up to the platform was to crawl on hands and knees. Sophronius went first and the Muslims struggled up behind. When they arrived at the top, the Muslims must have gazed appalled at the vast and desolate expanse of Herod’s platform, still covered with piles of fallen masonry and garbage.4

So it was the Christians! The Christian attitude towards Jerusalem can be understood by reading the New Testament. Paul’s Epistles and the Book of Revelation may have defined a theological framework for the attitude towards Jerusalem, but the two synoptic gospels of Luke (19:42-44) and Matthew did more than that. They also provided guidelines for political or quaispolitical actions after Christianity became the officially established religion of the Roman Empire. The gospels relate how Jesus(P) rebuked his disciples when they admired the Temple’s beauty from the Mount of Olives:

His disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the Temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left any stone upon another.’ (Matthew 24:1-2).

Art historians such as Nuseibah and Grabar have reached a similar conclusion concerning the Christian attitude towards the Temple Mount:

More importantly, not only was the Haram left barren, but that very barrenness was given the Christian significance of fulfilling Christ’s prophecy, “There will not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:2). The ruins of the Jewish Temple and whatever else had been there were to remains as signs of the triumph of Christianity.5

And as expected, the Temple Mount was left in the state of pile of fallen masonry and rubbish, until the Muslims arrive and cleaned the place.

On July 15, 1099 Jerusalem was taken from the Muslims by the Crusaders from Europe. The Crusaders slaughtered the inhabitants of Jerusalem in an unjustified carnage. Philip K. Hitti records that:

A month’s siege proved more effective. On July 15 the besiegers stormed the city and perpetrated an indiscriminate massacre involving all ages and both sexes. “Heaps of heads and hands and feet were to be seen throughout the streets and squares of the city”.6

The Dome of the Rock was converted into a Christian church called the templum domini – “Temple of our Lord.” The Dome of the Rock was used as a headquarters for the Knights of the Templar who officiated the Temple compound, while Masjid al-Aqsa was used as a stable for their horses. It was a Muslim leader, Sultan Salahuddin Al-Ayubbi (Saladin) who fought for the liberation of Jerusalem from the Crusaders and finally succeeded in liberating the city. After ninety years of Crusader control (1099-1187), Jerusalem surrendered to Saladin’s army on October 2, 1187. In contrast to the brutality of the Crusaders, Saladin treated the defeated Crusaders with kindness and mercy.

To those who object to the significance of Jerusalem in Islam, we can ask them a simple rhetorical question: if Jerusalem has no importance in Islam, why did the city had consistently played a significant role in rallying Muslims? Why did the Caliph ‘Umar(R) and Saladin respectively wasted their time and resources to take the trouble to liberate Jerusalem from those who defile Haram As-Shareef? The answer is obvious, Muslims do hold Jerusalem as a holy city and the city does hold an important position in Islam.

Conclusions

We have seen the evidence of the claim of Islam over Jerusalem, where Masjid al-Aqsa is located. The city of Jerusalem is very important to Muslims and they have a right to this city religiously, historically and legally. Muslims have always viewed Jerusalem as a holy place which must be defended because it is similar to Makkah in its holiness and has been so for more than 14 centuries. These places must be protected given that Abraham(P), the Father of all Prophets(P), had built the Ka`abah in Mecca and thereafter moved to Palestine where he passed away and was buried in Hebron near Jerusalem.

Muslims will never forget that they used to pray toward Jerusalem in the early stages of Islam before God ordered it to be changed to the Holy Shrine in Makkah. There is a mosque in Madinah that still has the two directions (one pointing toward Jerusalem and one towards Makkah), namely Masjid al-Qiblatain, as real evidence for this intimate connection between Jerusalem and Makkah. Muslims had also several times sacrificed their lives for the holy city, and sanctified Haram As-Shareef when it was defiled twice — after liberating the city from Byzantium rule and the Crusaders respectively. It was Islam that had continuously and consistently restored the sanctity of the Temple Mount, and made it a place of prostration and prayer.

And only God knows best.

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "The Position of Jerusalem and Haram As-Shareef in Islam," in Bismika Allahuma, October 15, 2005, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/history/the-position-of-jerusalem-and-haram-as-shareef-in-islam/
  1. For examples see: Al-Aa`raaf 7: 137, Al-Anbiyaa 21: 71 and Al-Anbiyaa 21: 81. The Qur’an has several times referred to Palestine as al-ard al-muqaddasah (the sacred land; Qur’an 5:21) and called its surroundings barakna hawlaha (God’s blessed precincts; Qur’an 17:1) []
  2. Dr. Marwan Abu Khalaf, The Religious Factors in Settlement Patterns in Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period [Online Document, archived], Ministry of Information, Palestine National Authority []
  3. C. Glasse, Dome Of The Rock, The Concise Encyclopaedia Of Islam (1989), Stacey International: London, p. 102 []
  4. Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, 1997, Ballantine Books: New York, p. 229 []
  5. Sa’id Nuseibah & Oleg Grabar, The Dome Of The Rock, 1996, Thames and Hudson: London (UK), p. 35 []
  6. Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs (10th Ed.), The Macmillan Press Ltd (1970), p. 639 []
Categories
History Jerusalem

Did Abd al-Malik Build the Dome of the Rock to Shift the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem?

Introduction1

The Jewish Orientalist Ignaz Goldziher claimed that the Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan had built the Dome of the Rock to prevent the people of Syria and Iraq from the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Makkah and in order to religiously justify this act, his friend Al-Zuhri fabricated the hadith of “Do not set out on a journey…” Goldziher’s charge was that:

When the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik wished the stop the pilgrimages to Makkah because he was worried lest his rival Abdullah b. Zubayr should force the Syrians journeying to the holy places in Hijaz to pay him homage, he had to recourse to the expedient of the doctrine of the vicarious hajj to the Qubbat al-Sakhra in Jerusalem. He decreed that the obligatory circumambulation (tawaf) could take place at the sacred place in Jerusalem with the same validity as that around the Kacba ordained in Islamic Law. The pious theologian al-Zuhri has given the task of justifying this politically motivated reform of religious life by making up and spreading a saying traced back to the Prophet, according to which there are three mosques to which people may make pilgrimages: those in Makkah, Medina and Jerusalem.2

It does not need to be mentioned that this is indeed one of the wonders of lying, distortion and manipulation of historical facts. Naturally, the Christian missionaries get very excited when they see polemical material like Goldziher’s, and hence dutifully parrot it without checking for clarification. Hence, it is left to the Muslims to fill in the void of scholastic integrity left by the missionaries. We would like to examine the weaknesses of the hypothesis that the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik, by erecting the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, intended to divert the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem.

The Weakness of the Hypothesis

The following are the list of our observations regarding the weakness of this hypothesis that the Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock to divert the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem:

First: Trustworthy historians did not disagree concerning the fact that the one who built the Dome of the Rock was al-Walid ibn cAbd al-M?k and this was stated by Ibn ?Asaker, At-Tabari, Ibn-ul-Athir, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Kathir and others. They never mentioned a single report relating its building to cAbd al-M?k. Undoubtedly, its building ? as Goldziher claimed – to be the new Ka`abah would be one of the greatest and most significant events in the history of Islam and Muslims, and it is impossible for such event to pass without documentation, especially since those historians used to document far less significant events like the dates of scholars’ demise, names of official judges, etc. If cAbd al-M?k built it, they would mention it, but they mentioned its building in the biography of Al-Walid, and they were trustworthy historians and well-versed in documenting history. Yes, it was indeed mentioned in the book of “Al-Hayawan” by Al-Dumairy on authority of Ibn Khalakan that Abd al-M?k built the Dome, the text reads as

Abdul-Malik built it and people used to stand at it on the Day of `Arafat

but this is a weak report and contradicts what is agreed upon by masters of history. Moreover, the text does not imply that he built it to divert pilgrimage from Makkah; but people used to stand at it by themselves. This was a common practice in many Islamic cities which scholars repetitively discouraged. There is a big difference between pilgrimage to it and standing in it by simulating the standing of pilgrims at Arafat, so that those who could not perform pilgrimage may share the pilgrims in heavenly rewards. This practice was not confined to the Dome of the Rock; people of every Islamic city used to gather in the middle of the city and stand as the pilgrims do atArafat. Furthermore, it is doubtful that the ambulatories of the Dome of the Rock would have allowed the complex rituals of tawaf and it would be far more simpler to merely to reproduce the Ka`abah instead of designing the elaborate Dome.3

Second: The exact text of the hadith does not include the word “pilgrimage” (Ar. al-Hajj) at all. It actually reads as:

Do not set out on a journey except to three Mosques: Al-Masjid Al-Haram, the Mosque of God?s Apostle and the Mosque of Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem).

It does not invite people to perform “the pilgrimage” to Jerusalem, but Goldziher transmitted the hadith as “three Mosques to which people may make pilgrimage”. This is indeed scientific “honesty” and research exhibited by the Orientalist!

Even if we supposed that Al-Zuhri fabricated this hadith to please Abd al-M?k, then why did he not explicitly invite people to perform the pilgrimage in Jerusalem? This hadith does none but indicate the virtues of Jerusalem, praying and visiting it not limited with a certain time which is already stated by the Qur’an.4 So, how the purpose of Abd al-M?k (of diverting pilgrimage from Makkah to Jerusalem) could be achieved by the aid of this hadith?

Third: The incident as claimed by Goldziher is totally irrational, because establishing a building to make people perform pilgrimage to is an overt act of disbelief and a political suicide for the Caliph. So, how could ‘Abd al-Malik, who used to be called the “Pigeon of the Mosque” for his excessive praying, make such an act?

In addition, his enemies accused him of many awful things, but they neither accused him of disbelief nor slandered him for building the Dome. If this matter were established, they would put it first in the list of accusations.

Fourth: Al-Zuhri was born in either 51 or 58 A.H., while Abdullah Ibn al-Zubayr was killed in 73 A.H. So, Al-Zuhri then would be 22 or 15 years old. Is it possible for him at that age to be so reputable among Muslim nation that they accept from him a fabricated hadith inviting them to pilgrimage in Jerusalem instead of Makkah?

Fifth: Historical reports are clear concerning the fact that Al-Zuhri neither knew nor met ‘Abd al-Malik during Ibn al-Zubayr’s lifetime. Al-Zahabi mentioned that Al-Zuhri visited cAbd al-M?k for the first time in about 80 A.H.5 and he was so young that ‘Abd al-Malik tested him and advised him to seek knowledge in Madinah. So how could anyone claim that Al-Zuhri fulfilled the desire of his friend ‘Abd al-Malik and fabricated a hadith to divert the pilgrimage from Makkah to Jerusalem during the era of Ibn al-Zubayr?

Sixth: The hadith of ?Do not set out on a journey…??? was narrated by all references of Sunnah, and it is reported through isnad (chains of transmitters) other than Al-Zuhri?s. Imam al-Bukhari reported it on authority of Abu Sa’eed Al-Khidri without Al-Zuhri?s chain. Imam Muslim reported it from three different chains of transmitters, only one of them was through Al-Zuhri. So, Al-Zuhri was not the only one who transmitted this hadith as Goldziher claimed, but there were others who transmitted the hadith as well, as shown above.

When Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taimiyyah was asked about the ruling of visiting and praying in Jerusalem, he answered that

It is established in both Sahihs that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Do not set out on a journey except to three Mosques: Al-Masjid Al-Haram, the Mosque of God?s Apostle and the Mosque of Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem)’. It is stated in both Sahihs on authority of Abu Sa?eed, Abu Hurairah and others. It is an acceptable hadith whom scholars agreed upon its authenticity, acceptance and belief.

Seventh: Al-Zuhri narrated this hadith on authority of his Sheikh Sa?eed Ibn-ul-Musaiyyb, and it is well-known that Ibn-ul-Musaiyyb would never stay silent if Al-Zuhri fabricated this hadith on his authority to please the Umayyads who hurt and persecuted him. Sa?eed Ibn-ul-Musayyib died in 93 A.H., i.e., 20 years after death of Ibn al-Zubayr, so how would he keep silent all this period especially we knew he never feared power or pressure?

Conclusion: The weak assumption of Goldziher collapses before sound historical facts; that the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-M?k did not build Dome of the Rock, the pilgrimage was never shifted to Jerusalem, the hadith related by Al-Zuhri (and others) is authentic and there was no chance for Al-Zuhri to meet Abdul-Malik during Ibn al-Zubayr’s lifetime, let alone fabricating hadith for him.

Position of Al-Zuhri as a Scholar

Ibn Sa’ad, the author of Al-Tabaqat, said, “Al-Zuhri is trustworthy, well-versed in science, Hadith and narration and a collective theologian.”

Imam Ahmad said, “Al-Zuhri is the best man in Hadith and of the best chain of reporters.”

Ibn Abi Hatim said, “Abu Zar?ah was asked, ‘Which chains of reporters are most authentic?’ he answered, ‘Four! The first is that of Al-Zuhri on authority of Salem on authority of his father'”.

Ibn Habban said in his book Ath-Theqat (i.e., The Trustworthy), “Muhammad Ibn Muslim Ibn Shehab Al-Zuhri Al-Qurashi: his nickname is Abu Bakr, he witnessed ten of the Companions and was the best memorizer (of Hadith) in his time and the best narrator of traditions. He was a pious theologian. People used to report on his authority.”

Saleh Ibn Ahmad said, “My father told me,’Al-Zuhri is Madani (i.e., from Madinah), Tab?i (i.e., a disciple of Prophet?s Companions) and trustworthy.”

Az-Zahabi in Tathkerat-ul-Huffaz (i.e., The Reminder of Memorizers) said, “He is the master of memorizers (of Hadith), the Imam, the Rock.”

Ibn Hajar in Tahzib-ul-Tahzib (i.e., Refining of the Refined) said, “He is Abu Bakr, the jurist, the memorizer (of Hadith), the Madani (i.e., from Madinah), one of Imams and masters and the scholar of Hijaz and Sham.”

Ibn Hajar also said in “At-Taqrib” (i.e., The Approximation), “He is the theologian and the memorizer (of Hadith). It is agreed upon his magnificence and excellence.”

Reporters of hadith scholars and critics agreed upon his authenticity and honesty. Many people narrated on his authority e.g., Malek, Abu Hanifah, Ataa Ibn Abi Rabah,Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz, IbnAiyynah, Al-Laith Ibn Sa’ad, Al-Awza?i, Ibn Guraig, etc. Both Sahihs of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, the four Sunans, Muwatta of Malik, Musnads of Ash-Shaf?i and Ahmad and others included hadiths on his authority.

This is the position of Al-Zuhri as a scholar and this is the attitude of Muslim scholars toward him; none accused him of something that did not happen or doubted his honesty and truthfulness. But the Jewish Orientalist Goldziher was ready to accuse him of fabricating hadith and telling lies just to please the Umayyad Caliph!

The Relationship between Al-Zuhri and The Umayyads

Goldziher has claimed that the relationship between Al-Zuhri and the Umayyad Caliphs gave them the change to use him in fabricating hadiths that serve their desires. We do not see how this relationship could be a sign of using him. We used to see scientists and scholars close to Kings and Caliphs without this affecting their honesty and truthfulness especially a magnificent theologian like Al-Zuhri, there is none that might affect his honesty and piety. On the contrary, we find this relationship was a means to guide the Caliphs whenever they went wrong. For example, it is mentioned in “Al-‘Uqd-ul-Farid”:

Al-Zuhri once visited Al-Walid Ibn Abdul-Malik, so the latter said, “What about this hadith whom people of Syria narrate?”. “Which hadith, O’ Commander of Believers?” Al-Zuhri said. “They narrate that if God gives a servant kingship over his people, He documents for him the good deeds and not the bad deeds!” Al-Walid said “False, O Commander of Believers! A Prophet Caliph or a Caliph not Prophet is more honourable in the sight of God?” Al-Zuhri said “A Prophet Caliph”. Al-Walid said “Well, God (glory be to Him) said to His Prophet David, ‘O David! We did indeed make thee a Caliph on earth: so judge thou between men in truth (and justice): nor follow thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mislead thee from the Path of God: for those who wander astray from the Path of God, is a Penalty Grievous, for that they forget the Day of Account.’ (Holy Qur’an 38:26). This is a threat ? O Commander of Believers – to a Prophet Caliph, what about a Caliph not Prophet?” Al-Zuhri said. “People do misguide us away from Faith.” Al-Walid said.6

Look how the relationship between a man like Al-Zuhri and a Caliph like Al-Walid is beneficial to the nation! Is this the position of a man who submits to desires of rulers and Caliphs? On the contrary, he defends the Faith, protects the Sunnah from falsehood of forgers and prevents the Caliph from being misguided by false narratives.

Then look what Ibn `Asaker narrated in his book Tarikh Demashq (i.e., The History of Damascus) on authority of Imam Ash-Shafi’i:

The Caliph Hesham Ibn Abdul-Malik asked Ibn Shehab Al-Zuhri about the exegesis of “…and to him who took on himself the lead among them, will be a Penalty grievous.” (Holy Qur’an 24:11). “Who took on himself the lead among them?” Hesham asked. “He is Abdullah Ibn Saloul.” Al-Zuhri answered. “Liar! Nay, he is Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.” Hesham said, “I’m a liar? No father is yours! I swear by God if a caller from the sky told me that God made lying lawful, I would never lie. Such-and-such persons reported that the one who took on himself the lead among them is Abdullah Ibn Saloul.” Al-Zuhri said while filled with fury.

This is what Ash-Shafi’i documented more than eight centuries ago before Goldziher came to existence and accused Al-Zuhri of forgery due to his relationship with Caliphs. Is not this story enough proof that his relationship with Caliphs was far from affecting his honesty and piety? A man saying to the Caliph “No father is yours!”, which is a very derogatory expression, is certainly not from a man that may fear the power of the Caliphs or submit to their whims and desires to utter falsehood against the Holy Prophet (P).

If Al-Zuhri were really a forger of Hadith, then why did not his contemporaries denounce or criticize him? Why did not Sheikh Sa’eed Ibn-ul-Musayyib — who had never feared the power of the Umayyads — denounce him? On the contrary, all his contemporaries authenticated him. Was that out of fear? If so, then why did not scholars during the era of ‘Abbasids criticize him especially since it was known that he was close to the Umayyads?

Aren’t the silence of his teachers, especially Sa’eed Ibn-ul-Musayyib, towards him, reporting on his authority by all scholars of the time, then his authentication by scholars of the Abbasid era — despite his relationship with the Umayyads — evident proofs that his reputation is above suspicion?

And only God knows best.

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "Did Abd al-Malik Build the Dome of the Rock to Shift the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem?," in Bismika Allahuma, October 15, 2005, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/history/did-abd-al-malik-build-the-dome-of-the-rock-to-shift-the-hajj-from-makkah-to-jerusalem/
  1. Adapted from Prof. Mustafa As-Seba’i, As-Sunnah wa Makanatuha fe At-Tashri’ Al-Islami (The Sunnah and its Position in Islamic Jurisprudence), Dar Al-Salam Printing Publication & Distribution, Cairo. []
  2. Ignaz Goldziher, Muslim Studies Vol. 2, pp. 44-45 []
  3. This argument regarding tawaf was put forward in Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths (Ballantine Books, 1997), pp. 240-241 []
  4. Refer to Qur’an, 17:1 []
  5. Ibn ‘Asaker reported that it was in 82 A.H. []
  6. Ibn Abd-Rabbuh, Al-‘Uqd-ul-Farid Vol. 1, p. 60 []
Categories
History Jerusalem

The Confusion Between Masjid al-Aqsa And Qubbat as-Sakhra

We note with regret that many Muslims do not have the proper knowledge about the al-Aqsa mosque and its exact area and buildings. Some believe that the Dome of the Rock is the al-Aqsa Mosque while others are mixed up over the term “al-Aqsa” mosque. Hence, we find it necessary to write on this issue to clear any doubts regarding the matter, insha’allah.

The following are the images of the Masjid al-Aqsa building:


The Masjid al-Aqsa building


The courtyard of Masjid al-Aqsa

And below are the images of the Dome of the Rock, or otherwise known as Qubbat as-Sakhra. Many Muslims have sadly confused this building with Masjid al-Aqsa:


The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as-Sakhra)


The courtyard of Qubbat as-Sakhra

Conclusion

It is clear that the Masjid al-Aqsa building and the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as-Sakhra) are two separate buildings, and not synonymous with each other as believed by some Muslims. However, both these buildings are within the enclosure of Haraam as-Shareef (The Noble Sanctuary) referred to as “the Furthest Mosque” in Sura’ al-Israa’, verse 1. Mujir ad-Din al-Hanbali, in his book Al-Uns Al-Jaleel writes that:

It is common among people that the Aqsa is the one located towards the Qibla, the mosque constructed in the foremost area including the pulpit and the big mihrab (prayer niche), while the truth is that the Aqsa is the name of all what is within its compound inside the walls the building in the foremost area and others, Dome of the Rock, corridors and others, the Aqsa means all that is within the walls.

And only God knows best.

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "The Confusion Between Masjid al-Aqsa And Qubbat as-Sakhra," in Bismika Allahuma, October 16, 2005, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/history/confusion-masjid-al-aqsa-qubbat-as-sakhra/
Categories
History Jerusalem Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

The Miracle of Isra’ and Mi’raj

Excerpt from his book, Al-Qawl Al-Fasl, Dar-us-Salam for Printing, Publishing and Distribution, Cairo, Egypt. pp. 161-162

The verse of Isra’ in the Qur’an is clear not liable to hesitation or reluctance in saying that Allah had caused His servant to travel by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa like you say; I traveled by night from such and such place to such and such place. So, there is no room for hesitation and asking whether this was with body or spirit, or awake or during sleep. Also, it is inappropriate to disagree regarding the meaning of this night journey or regarding the word ‘Abd, i.e., servant, and whether it refers to the spirit, to the body or to both, as it has happened between those claiming bodily Isra and others claiming spiritual Isra.

Yes, it comes to one’s mind how come a night journey, i.e., in a part of the night, could take place back and forth from a mosque to another mosque while it usually takes two months traveling? However, if one ponders upon the Qur’anic expressions and notices that it (i.e., the Qur’an does not say that Muhammad performed a night journey, but it says Allah caused him to perform the night journey with glorification of the One Who caused him to do and exalting Him above lying and inability, then any suspicion and hesitation will radically disappear. Consequently, the event of Isra which Allah declares to be of His, glorifies Himself for performing it, refers to the one caused to travel as His servant and mentions the purpose of this act that “…….”, must be an extremely serious and important event and must be kept away from any interpretation that belittle its importance and seriousness.

Beside this glorious declaration, whatever was – or is – said to interpret it is dissolved. For example, the reports of Mu’awiyah and ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with them both) related by Ibn Hisham in his Sirah and Ibn Jarir in his Tafsir that Muhammad Ibn Ishaq said: Ya’qoub Ibn ‘Utbah ibn Al-Mughira told me that Mu’awiyah used to say about the Mi’raj that it was a truthful vision, and that Ibn Hamid said: Salmah related on authority of Muhammad (Ibn Ishaq that he said: some members of Abu Bakr’s family told me that ‘Aishah used to say: “The body of Allah’s Messenger was never missed” although the report on authority of Mu’awiyah is interrupted because the transmitter of the report to Ibn Ishaq did not hear it directly from Mu’awiyah due to the fact that they did not co-exist in the same time, and in the report of ‘Aisha the name of the reporter among her relatives is not mentioned but referred to as “some members of Abu Bakr’s family”. Moreover, ‘Aisha at the time of Isra was not in a situation that enables her to say so because the event of Isra took place one year or more before Hijra and the Prophet married her in Madinah while she were – according to the famous report – nine years old, so she was at time of Isra is a seven years’ old child. In addition, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) did not spend his night under observation of ‘Aishah who has not yet become his wife or any other member of Abu Bakr’s family to the extent that he or she could say “The body of Allah’s Messenger was never missed.”

Al-Qadi ‘Iyyad said:

The truth regarding this (i.e., the nature of Isra and the correct view, insha’Allah, is that Isra was with body and spirit during the whole event; this is indicated by the verse and authentic reports and consideration. The explicit meaning is not shifted to interpretation except in case of impossibility and there is no impossibility in the Isra with body during awakening.1

  1. Al-Qadi ‘Iyyad, Ash-Shifa, Vol. 1, p. 172 []