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Allah (God) Islam

Classical Islamic Arguments for the Existence of God

After Wensinck’s brilliant study1, a fresh examination of the argument for the existence of God in Islam might appear impertinent. Some justification for the present discussion, however, may be found in the fact that some of the material on which this study is based was not available to Wensinck, when his monograph appeared in 1936, and in the slightly different interpretation of certain relevant data here attempted.

The systematic examination of the proofs of the existence of God should be preceded by a legitimate enquiry: Is the demonstration of God’s existence possible at all? In the Latin scholastic treatises of the Middle Ages, as for example in the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) this enquiry figures as the prelude to the demonstration of God’s existence proper. Although Wensinck has discussed some aspects of the problem of knowledge (erkenntnislehre) in his celebrated Muslim Creed2, he does not touch upon this particular aspect of the problem in his monograph, except incidentally, as, for example, in connection with Al-Ghazali’s attitude to the question of God’s existence.3 But this question, it would seem, requires a fuller treatment than is accorded it in that parenthesis.

In his two little tracts; Fasl al-Maqal and al-Kashf ‘an Manahij al-Adillah, Ibn Rushd (d. 1198) raises this question in a systematic way. In the former tract, he is concerned with a wider problem: viz. Whether the philosophical method tallies with the teaching of revelation or not –- to which he replies in the affirmative. “For if the aim of philosophy,” he writes, “is nothing other than the consideration of existing things and their examination, in so far as they manifest the Creator — viz. in so far as they created objects…revelation (al-shar’) definitely enjoins the consideration of existing things and commends it”4 -– a thesis which he supports by a wealth of Qur’anic quotations. When he returns to this question at the beginning of Al-Khasf, he distinguishes between three schools of thought on the specific problem of God’s existence:

(1) The Literalist who reject rational argument altogether5 and claim that God’s existence can be known by means of authority (al-sam‘) only.6

(2) The Ash‘arites (with whom he includes the Mu‘tazilites) who admit the possibility of a rational demonstration of the existence of God from the concepts of temporality (huduth) or contingency (jawaz), as we will see later and;

(3) finally the Sufis who claim that we apprehend God directly but “whose method,” as Ibn Rushd observes, “is not speculative at all” and which, even if its validity is conceded, is not common to all men.7

The earliest systematic discussion of the problem of knowledge (erkenntnis) as a prelude to theological discussions which has come down to us is found in Al-Baghdadi’s (d. 1037) Usul al-Din.8 It is possible that Al-Baghdadi continues a more ancient tradition, initiated by the Mu‘tazilite doctors of the 9th century, as their preoccupation with such abstract questions as notions (ma‘ani), science (‘ilm), etc. suggests.9 But it is significant that al-Baqilani (d. 1013), who is credited by some ancient authorities with having refined the methods of Kalam, does not dwell on this question at any length in the opening chapter of his Tamhid.

The introductory chapter of Usul, to which Wensinck has drawn attention and discussed in some length in The Muslim Creed, is thus of considerable importance for the understanding of the Islamic approach to the question of knowledge or science.

We cannot dwell at length here on Baghdadi’s analysis of the divisions of knowledge (‘ilm), its presuppositions, the conditions of its validity, etc. which are genuinely reminiscent of Kant and the subsequent schools of modern epistemology. On the particular issue with which we are here concerned, it should be noted that Al-Baghdadi defines demonstrative knowledge “by means of reason” and instances “the knowledge of the temporally of the world, the eternity of its Maker, his unity, his attributes, his justice, his wisdom and the possibility (jawaz) of religious obligations (taklif),”10, etc.

In further expounding the objects of knowledge, as distinct from the objects of revelation (al-shar‘), he states that the Ash‘arites (ashabuna) hold that reason is capable of proving the temporality of the world and the unity of its Maker, etc., as well as the admissibility in reason (jawaz) of what is possible and the inadmissibility of what is impossible, but adds significantly that religious obligations or prohibitions arising therefrom are not known by reason but only by revelation.11

Hence were one to arrive at knowledge of God, the creator of the universe, etc. prior to revelation by means of natural light of reason he would be “a believing monotheist” but he would not thereby deserve any particular reward; so that if God were to reward him in the life-to-come, such reward would be an act of divine grace.12 The Mu‘tazilah, on the other hand, argue that man was capable of discriminating between good and evil, prior to revelation, and was in proportion deserving of punishment and reward in the life to come.13

Now it is patent that despite this distinction between the two aspects of our knowledge of God by means of reason: the one entailing reward and punishment, the other not, both the Mu‘tazilah and the Ash‘arites were in agreement, as Ibn Rushd remarks, on the actual demonstrability of God’s existence. What they differed on was simply the moral or religious implications of such knowledge: the Ash‘arites holding that punishment and reward are conditional upon the “advent of the law,” the Mu‘tazilah making them independent of the explicit dictates of the law.

Prior to the rise of the Mu‘tazilah, who initiated the whole current of scholastic theology (kalam) in Islam, of course, the question of the demonstrability of God’s existence, like the remaining questions of rational theology, could hardly arise. The early jurists and theologians, such as Malik b. Anas (d. 795) and his followers were content with a theological knowledge rooted in Scripture. Like the Sufis, who believed that God could be apprehended directly, these Traditionalist sought the ground of their belief in God in a non-rational sphere: that of revelation or authority.

Thus neither for Traditionalism nor for Sufism was a proof of the existence of God necessary at all, since the existence of God was given directly either in Scripture, according to the former, or in the mystical process of direct apprehension, according to the latter.

If the argument from causality (cosmological or aitiological argument), initiated by Aristotle and developed by his followers throughout the centuries, is rightly regarded as the classical argument for the existence of God in the West, the argument a novitate mundi (dalil al-huduth), of which the argument a contingenti mundi (dalil al-jawaz), is a mere variant, can be safely asserted to represent the classical argument for the existence of God in Islam.

The Aristotelian argument, which rested upon the concept of causality, was never viewed with favor in the Muslim world, not even by the great representatives of Arab Aristotelianism: Avicenna (d. 1037) and Averroes (d. 1198). The former laid special emphasis on the argument from contingency in a manner which definitely influenced the later Mutakallims; the later showed definite predilection for the teleological argument (dalil al-‘inayah) which had a basis in the Qur’an,14 and was of a more compelling nature than the other arguments, according to him.

The main reason why the cosmological argument was thus rejected out of hand by both the philosophers and the theologians was the fact that the concept of causality upon which it rested had been exposed to doubt since the beginning of Kalam. Al-Ghazali (d. 1111) continuing a long tradition of speculation on this theme, repudiates the validity of the causal principle in Question 17 of his famous Tahafut on the ground that the alleged necessity of this principle is a mere illusion; because it is unwarranted inference, based on observation from the correlation of events. Observation, however shows simply that the alleged effect happens alongside the cause rather through it (cum se non per se: ‘indahu la bihi) and accordingly, such a correlation is not logically necessary but is rather the outcome of a correlation is not logically necessary but is rather the outcome of mere psychological disposition or habit.15

It is clear from the foregoing that Wensinck’s statement that the argument a novitate mundi is ‘analogous’ to the Aristotelian-Thomist proof ex parte motus et ex ratione cause efficientis16 is rather surprising, since the very validity of the causal principle is challenged by the Mutakallims. Moreover, the Aristotelian argument presupposes the cardinal metaphysical distinction between potentiality and actuality (which the Mutakallims also rejected, substituting for it the duality of substance and accidents); and is further independent, as Maimonides (d. 1204) and Aquinas (d. 1272) both recognized, from the thesis of the beginning of the world (round which the argument of the Mutakallims centers as we are going to see). Instead, Aristotle’s casual argument for the existence of the Unmoved Mover grew logically and naturally from the Aristotelian thesis of the eternity of motion in an eternal universe.17

The Traditional argument of Kalam presupposes a preliminary thesis upon which the theological treatises place a considerable emphasis: the thesis of the newness or temporality of the universe (al-huduth). This circumstance explains the vehemence with which the opposite thesis of an eternal universe is combated by the advocates of Orthodoxy. Ibn Hazm, the Zahiri jurist and heresiographer, who died in 1064, employs this as the principle on the basis of which he distinguishes between the orthodox or heterodox sects. Muslims or non-Muslim. Al-Ghazali, as is well-known, devoted the first question of his Tahafut to a refutation of the thesis of eternity, which he consider the most pernicious thesis of the philosophers.

The general procedure of the Mutakallims in proving the temporality of the universe considered in showing that the world, which they defined as everything other than God.18 was composed of atoms and accidents. Now the accidents (singular ‘arad) they argued, cannot endure for two instants of time, but are continually created by God who creates or annihilates them at will. Al-Bailani (d. 1013) who appears to follow the lead of Al-Ash‘ari in this respect, actually defines the accident as entities “the duration of which is impossible…and which cease to exist in the second instant of their coming to be.”19

Similarly, the atoms (sing. al-juz’) in which the accidents inhere are continually created by God and endure simply by reason of the accident of duration (baqa’) which God creates in them.20 But insofar as this accident of duration, like the other accidents, is itself perishable, the whole world of atoms and accidents is in a state of continuous generation and corruption. Although the argument for the temporality of the universe form the temporality of its component parts is the favorite argument of the Ash‘arite doctors, it is by no means the only argument of Islamic scholasticism. Unfortunately we are in no position, owing to the scantiness of our sources, to reconstruct the reasoning of the Mu‘tazilite doctors on this question; nevertheless there is good reason to suppose that Al-Ash‘ari and his successors simply inherited the methods of argument, on this and allied subjects, which the Mu‘tazilah had initiated.

As an instance of the interest of the Mutakallims in the thesis of a temporal universe, we might examine here at some length the five arguments for the beginning of the world which Ibn Hazm, the great Zahiri theologian (d. 1064) advances in his Fisal;21 especially since Ibn Hazm appears to be the first Muslim theologian to have attempted a refutation of the eternity of the world, on the one hand, and a proof of its temporality, on the other, with any completeness.22

The biographer of Al-Ash‘ari, Ibn ‘Asakir (d. 571 A.H.), reports that Al-Ash‘ari wrote a treatise called Kitab al-Fusul, in refutation of the Materialists and the ‘philosophers,’ who professed the eternity of the universe,23 which as far as I am aware, is the earliest scholastic treatise dealing with the question of eternity in a systematic way, our sources record. Despite the statement of Al-Shahrastani that Al-Ash‘ari preferred the negative method of refutation (al-ibtal),24 as distinct from the method of positive proof, it is reasonable to assume that like Ibn Hazm, Al-Razi and others, he coupled the former with the latter species of argument. Ibn Hazm’s first proof of the temporality of the universe rests on the premise that the accidents and substances (sing. shakhs) composing the universe are finite and that time, which he conceives as consisting of transient moments, is finite also.

In proving the finitude of these three terms: accident, substance and time, Ibn Hazm does not resort to the traditional method of the Mutakallims already mentioned, but maintains that the finitude of substance is evident from the finitude of its dimensions, that of accidents from the finitude of substances in which they inhere and the finitude of time from the transitoriness of the moments composing it. The second proof involves the Aristotelian dictum that everything in act is finite. The universe exists in act and is numerically determinate, therefore it is finite. In the third argument he resorts to the process of reductio ad absurdum. The thesis of an infinite time, which the eternity of the universe, implies, involves the following absurdities:

(a) Since infinity cannot be increased, all the time that will elapse would add nothing to the time elapsed hitherto.

(b) The revolutions of a planet (e.g. Saturn) which revolves once every thirty years would be equal to the revolutions of the Upper Heaven, which amount to some 11,000 revolutions during the same period since one infinity is not greater than another.25

(c) The time elapsed since the beginning of time till the Hijrah (622 A.D.) and the time elapsed since the beginning till our day would be equal.

In the fourth and fifth arguments, he argues that, were the universe without beginning and without end, it would be impossible to determine it in number or in nature and consequently we could not speak of first, second, or third, in speaking of existing things. But this is contradicted by the fact that we can number things and refer to the first and last things. Hence the universe must have a beginning (awwal).26

We cannot dwell longer on Ibn Hazm’s discussion of this cardinal theme and the manner in which he resolves the many objections to his arguments. But it is worth noting that most of the arguments of the later doctors such as Al-Ghazali and Al-Razi (d. 1209) are found here in an embryonic, though sometimes confused, state. This circumstance would appear to strengthen the view expressed by Maimonides (d. 1204), the great Jewish philosopher, that the Mutakallims were influenced in these arguments by John Philoponus (d. 568), author of De aeternitate mundi, a refutation of Proclus’s argument for the eternity of the universe27 — since it would imply that the Mutakallims from Ibn Hazm downwards were drawing on some common source.

With the temporality of the world as a premise, the Mutakallims proceeded to prove that the world being created (hadith) must necessarily have a Creator (muhdith), by recourse to the so-called “principle of determination”. In its barest form, this principle meant that since prior to the existence of the universe it was equally possible for it to be or not-to-be, a determinant (murajjih) whereby the possibility of a being could prevail over the possibility of not-being was required; and this “determinant” –- they argued -– was God.

Al-Baqilani (d. 1013), who belonged to the second generation of Ash‘arite doctors and who is credited with refining the methods of Kalam, sums up this argument in succinct way. The world being temporal (hadith), he writes, it must of necessity have a Maker and Fashioner (muhdith wa musawwir), “just as writing must have a writer, a picture must have a painter and building a builder.”28

To this argument, however, he adds two others in which the ‘middle term’ differs but which reveal the same dialectical structure. In the first, he maintains that the priority of certain things over others presupposes an “Agent who made them prior” (muqaddiman qaddamahu) since priority does not belong by nature to a pair of equals; and this “determinant of priority” is God. In the second, he introduces a concept of contingency (jawaz) and argues that things in themselves are capable of receiving various ‘forms’ or qualities. The fact that existing things are endowed with certain determined ‘forms’ presupposes a “determinant” who has determined that they should receive these ‘forms’ and no others; and this “determinant” is God.29

The element common to these three arguments, it will be noticed, is the “principle of determination” which they all invoke. Only the first argument, however, resupposes in addition the beginning of the world or its temporality. As to the third, it constitutes the basis of the argument a contingentia mundi (dalil al-jawaz) which was later developed by Al-Juwayni (d. 1086) as Averroes states in Al-Khasf, in a treatise which has not come to us, Al-Risalat al-Nizamiyyah.30 This proof, as Wensinck rightly observes,31 is affiliated to Ibn Sina (d. 1037) who seems to follow the lead of Al-Farabi (d. 950) in his respect, as Madkour has shown in his monograph on al-Farabi.32 In his major treatise, Al-Irshad, Al-Juwayni sets forth the more popular argument from temporality or huduth:

“If the temporality of the world (hadath) is established and if it is established that (the world) has a beginning (muftatah al-wujud), since the temporal can equally exist or not exist …reason requires that (the world) must have a determinant (mukhassis) who determined its actual existence.”33

Al-Baghdadi’s argument, as expounded in Usul ‘al-Din, differs little from that of either Al-Baqilani or Al-Juwayni. All rest, as we have seen, on the thesis that the world consists of atoms and accidents which have no subsistent being in themselves since they cannot endure for two moments of time. What, we might ask, is the extent of their debt to ‘Abul-Hasan al-Ash‘ari?34 The publication recently of Kitab al-Luma‘ enables us to give a provisional answer to this question, pending the discovery of fresh material.

The arguments of Al-Ash‘ari in this treatise has a distinct Qur’anic ring. It has nothing of the dialectical stringency of the later arguments and rests on the observation of the ‘phases’ of man’s growth from “a drop of water, to a leech to an embryo,” which the Qur’an has rendered classical. In so far as it is impossible for man himself to cause this change in his condition (tahawwul), the author argues, it is necessary that an “Agent should have transformed him from one phase to the other and disposed him according to his actual state;” for it impossible that this should happen without an agent of transformation,35 and by analogy the whole universe requires such an “agent of transformation.” This terse argument is of course in keeping with the nature of Al-Luma‘, as an introductory treatise, but confirms nevertheless the view that Ash‘arite Kalam was not fully developed by the beginning of the 10th century so that the authors of this period in general were content with purely rhetorical arguments based on the Qur’an or the Traditions. It is only with Al-Baqilani that a rigorous application of syllogistic methods of proof begins to make its appearance. But even here as we have seen no attempt at an elaborate analysis of the logical concepts involved is made.

The later history of Kalam reflects greater refinement in employing the technique of argument and a greater subtlety in handling logical concepts. Ibn Khaldun distinguishes between modern and the ancient stages in the development of Kalam and assigns the credit for introducing the ‘method of he moderns’ to Al-Ghazali.36 whether the credit for initiating this new ‘philosophical’ stage in the development of Kalam rightly belongs to Al-Ghazali or some earlier theologian, as Al-Juwayni or Al-Baqilani, is a controversial issue. It is certain, however, that this stage, as we have seen, is subsequent to Al-Ash‘ari’s time, and belongs to the latter half of the 10th century.

Al-Ghazali’s major contribution to the discussion of the problem at issue was twofold. In the first place, he brought out in a very forcible way the radical opposition between the teaching of Islam and the Aristotelian conception of a universe developing itself eternally and everlastingly; and in the second place, he gave added point to the arguments already advanced by the Mutakallims, by amplifying and perfecting them. Wensinck’s stress on the bipolarity in the thought of Al-Ghazali, the mystic, and Al-Ghazali, the theologian,37 is perfectly justified. Nevertheless it is only in Al-Ghazali as a Mutakallim and in his version of the argument a novitate mundi the we are interested here. The most succinct statement of this argument is found in Kitab al-Iqtisad fi’l-‘Itiqad, which he invokes, in the traditional manner of the Ash‘arites, the “principle of determination.” The syllogism runs as follows:

    Everything temporal (hadith) must have a cause. The world is temporal. Therefore the world must have a cause.

By hadith, Al-Ghazali tells us, he means “what did not previously exist and then began to exist.” Prior to its existence, this ‘temporal world’ was “possible” (mumkin) i.e. “could equally exist and not exist.” To tilt the balance in favor of existence a “determinant” (murajjih) was necessary — since otherwise this “possible” universe would have always remained in a state of not-being.38

It would seem, considering the devastating attack which Al-Ghazali levels against the concept of causality in Question 17 of Al-Tahafut, flagrant contradiction. Al-Ghazali, however, explains in the same passage that by cause here he simply means a ‘determinant’ (i.e. murajjih) and consequently the apparent contradiction vanishes. Owing to its Aristotelian associations, this term was never in vogue among the Mutakallims.

The earliest systematic refutation of the concept of causality as implicit in the doctrine of Tawallud (or production), of which I am aware, is found in Usul al-Din39 of Al-Baghdadi, who died in 1037, and which bears a striking resemblance to the more elaborate refutation of Al-Tahafut. Nevertheless, theologians of the later period are not entirely averse to the use of the term cause in this special sense of determinant. For instance, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1209) one of the subtlest theologians of Islam, employs this term and its synonym ‘illah repeatedly in his exposition of the scholastic proofs for the existence of God.40

We might examine here Al-Razi’s exposition of the traditional proofs for the existence of God as outlined in Kitab al-Arba‘in, especially since this is one of the fullest expositions which our classical sources record, and one which Wensinck does not seem to have consulted in his important monograph.41 Al- Razi sums up the proofs of the existence of God under four arguments.

  • The argument from the possibility (Imkan) of the universe to the existence of a necessary being (wajib al-wujud), Creator thereof. (p. 70f)
  • The argument from the possibility of the qualities of the universe to the necessity of a Determinant of the form, characteristics, and locus of bodies composing it, who is not Himself a body. (pp. 84-86)
  • The argument form the temporality of substances and bodies to the existence of a Maker thereof (p. 86), and finally;
  • The argument from the temporality of qualities of the universe to the existence of an intelligent Designer who disposes things according to His power and will. (p. 91)

It will appear from this brief analysis that these four arguments resolve themselves — as Al-Razi himself points out in the preface to his discussion (p. 67) – into two: the argument from temporality (huduth) and that from possibility (imkan). The root-concept in the former proof is the concept of time; viz. the fact that the world has had a beginning in time or in Al-Razi’s words, the fact that, before its existence, the world was in a state of not-being (al-‘adam). The root-concept in the latter proof is the concept of contingency (jawaz or imkan); viz. the fact that the world, considered singly as in argument (1), or as a whole as in argument (2), could have been otherwise.

Al- Razi, like the rest of the Mutakallims, however, does not distinguish sharply between these two distinct proofs, as Ibn Sina justly remarks,42 and is on that account liable to some confusion. Al-Razi, for instance, defines the “temporal” (al-muhdath) in his third argument as “that whose being in itself is contingent” which he further describes “as that whose essence is equally susceptible of not-being and of being,” which he adds significantly, “is the precise meaning of the possible.”43

We might overlook this point an dwell on the similarities between these two distinct arguments. In the first place, whether we argue from contingency for from temporality, a necessary Being distinct from the series of sensible things (p. 70) must be posited as a Determinant of the being of the universe, on the one hand, and of the particular mode or being proper to it, on the other. This in fact is the point of distinction between the two concepts round which these two arguments center. For the argument a novitate mundi presupposes as we have seen, that prior to its existence the being and the not-being of the universe were equally possible, no account being take of the mode of being proper to this universe as in the argument a contingentia mundi.

In the second place, the positing of a Necessary Being outside the series of temporal beings flows logically from the impossibility of the regress ad infinitum. That is why Al-Razi, more conscious of the importance of this circumstance than the earlier theologians, devotes a lengthy discussion to the refutation of the two concepts of circularity (al-daur) and the regressus ad infinitum (al-tasalsul).44 Although he summarizes what appears to be the traditional argument against circularity, viz. that if two possible things were said to cause each other, each would precede the other an consequently itself, which is absurd,45 Al-Razi proposes a different argument which he states thus:

“The effect (ma‘lul) requires the cause. Now if each of two (possible) agents was the effect of the other, each of them would require the other and accordingly each would require what requires itself. Therefore, each would require itself, which is absurd.” (p.81).

In refuting the regressus ad infinitum, Al-Razi begins by laying down as a postulate that it is necessary that the cause should exist actually at the time of the existence of the effect, or else the latter would be capable of existing by itself — i.e., independently of the agency of the cause — which contradicts our original postulate.

1. If so, then the regression of the series of causes an effects to infinity would entail that the whole series existed simultaneously. Now the whole series is either necessary in itself or possible in itself. The former alternative is absurd because “a whole requires each of its parts and each of these parts is possible in itself and that which requires the possible in itself is a fortiori possible in itself too.” Consequently, the whole series is possible in itself and requires a necessary determinant (mu’aththir) distinct from itself, and this determinant is the Necessary Being.

2. If the whole series is contingent or possible-in-itself as we have seen, and if every possible-in-itself must have a determinant, this determinant is either (a) the whole series itself, (b) something pertaining to it, or (c) something outside it. (a) is absurd since it entails that the series determines itself. (b) is also absurd because it entails the member of the series, which was assumed to determine it, was also its own cause or of the cause of its cause. The former is absurd for the same reason as above (viz.: that a thing cannot be its own cause); the latter because it involves us in the impasse of circularity. Hence the determinant must be something outside the series as in (c). But what lies outside the series of possibles must be necessary-in-itself, which is the Necessary Being.46

3. Let us imagine a portion of the series of effects extending from the last effect (L) to infinity and consisting of five segments. Let us next imagine another portion extending from the fifth segment to infinity.

Now if we compare the first portion (A) with the second (B) then they would either be equal –which implies that the whole is greater than its parts –or that one is greater than the other; so that the shorter portion (B) would be finite, since it is shorter by four units; and the longer would be finite also, since it exceeds the former by four units. Consequently, the ascending (tasa‘ud) series of causes and effects would have an extremity and a starting-point which is contrary to the statement that it is infinite.47 Not if that extremity is possible-in-itself, then it would require another determinant and thus would not be the extremity; if, on the other hand, it is necessary-in-itself, then we would have proved our case.48

With Al-Razi, we might safely state, the “Golden Period” in the history of Kalam comes to an end. The merit of this subtle theologian is that he reintroduced into scholastic discussions certain formal philosophical aspects which the overthrow of Arab Aristotelianism in the 11th century had tended to put aside the pale of orthodoxy. Even the casual perusal of his major works would show the extent of his debt to Ibn Sina. This partial readmission of philosophy into the counsels of scholastic theology in Islam will continue throughout the two subsequent centuries. But the theological treatises of this period, such as the Commentary on Al-Mawaqif of Al-Iji (d. 1355) by Al-Jurjani and Al-Maqasid of Al-Taftazani (d. 1389) — reflect the general cultural decadence of the times. We can hardly expect to find in these treatises any original contribution to the question at issue. At best they are debased imitations of earlier treatises, which make up in length for what they lack in depth or originality.

First published in The Muslim World, 47:1957, pp. 133-145
  1. Les preuves de l’existence de Dieu dans la Théologie Musulmane, in Mededeelingen der Konink. Akademie van Wetenschappen, Deel 81, Serie A, No. 2, Amsterdam, 1936. []
  2. Cambridge, 1937, pp. 249f. []
  3. Ibid., p. 8 and again p. 9 []
  4. Cf. op. cit., Cairo, 1935, p. 9 []
  5. Fasl, p. 11 []
  6. Kashf, p. 42 []
  7. Ibid., p. 63 []
  8. Stambul Ed., 1928, pp. 4-32 []
  9. Cf. Maqalat, Stambul, 1930, pp. 372-3, 391 f., 471f. []
  10. Cf. op. cit., p. 14 []
  11. p. 24. In Nihayat al-Iqdam, Shahrastani ascribes this view to Al-Ash‘ari himself “who distinguished between the act of knowing God by means of reason and its certainty through it, stating that all knowledge is arrived at by means of reason but becomes a matter of religious obligation (tajib) by means of revelation.” p. 371 []
  12. Ibid. []
  13. Ibid., p. 26 and Al-Shahrastani , Milal, p. 31 []
  14. Cf. Kashf, p. 45 and Wensinck, op. cit., p. 23 []
  15. Cf. Tahafut, Ed. Bouyges, 1927, p. 285 Cp. Hume, Treatise, Oxford 1941, p. 165, 93 []
  16. Op. cit., pp. 26-27 []
  17. Cf. on this question a discussion by the author on the eternity of the world in Maimonides, Averroes and Aquinas, in Les Museon, 1953, LXVI, pp. 139f []
  18. Usul, p. 33 []
  19. Cf. Tamhid, Cairo, 1947, p. 42, Cp. Maqalat, p. 370, where verses 8:67 and 46:24 of the Qur’an are quoted in support of the thesis that accidents are perishable by nature. []
  20. Cf. Usul, p. 56 and Tahafut, p. 88. For a full discussion on this subject see my article in Al-Mashriq, 47, 1953, pp. 151-172, and Pines, Isalmische Atomanlehere, Berlin, 1936. []
  21. Bk. I, Cairo, 1317 A. H., pp. 3 f. []
  22. Some of Ibn Hazm’s arguments figure in a treatise by the philosopher Al-Kindi (d. 870?) entitled: “On the Unity of God and the Finitude of the Body of the Universe”. Cf. Rasa’il al-Kindi al Falsafiyyah, Cairo, 1950, pp. 201 ff. []
  23. Tabyin Kadhib al-Mufatari, Damascus, 1347 A.H., p. 128 []
  24. Niyahat, p. 11 []
  25. Compare Al-Ghazali, Tahafut, p. 32 and Iqtisad, p. 18 []
  26. It is noteworthy that the Arabic (awwal) corresponds to both “first” and “beginning” or “firstness”, hence the plausibility of this argument. []
  27. Cf. Guide of the Perplexed, Eng., trans., London 1947, p. 109 and Al-Fihrist, Leipsig, 1871, Vol. I., p. 254. Cf. also De Boer’s statement on Al-Ghazali’s debt to Philoponus, History of Philosophy in Islam, London, 1903, p. 159. []
  28. Cf. Tamhid Cairo, 1948, p. 45 []
  29. Op. cit., Thus Al-Baqilani seems to antedate Al-Juwayni (1065) in formulating this last argument, which Wensinck ascribes to Al-Juwayni. []
  30. Cf., op. cit., p. 54-56. Compare Wensinck. []
  31. Ibid., p. 55. This statement should be revised in light of the more complete edition of Al-Baqilani’s Tamhid by Fr. R. J. McArthy, Beirut, 1957. []
  32. Al-Farabi et sa Place dans l’école philosphique Arabe []
  33. Op. cit., p. 16 []
  34. I should perhaps note here that the earliest statement of the argument a novitate mundi is found in treatise of the philosopher Al-Kindi (d. 870?) already referred to. This statement is identical, in all essential respects, with the argument of the later Ash‘arite doctors. Al-Kindi, it will be recalled was a Mu‘tazilite in theology. []
  35. Kitab al-Luma‘, Ed. Macarthy, Beyrouth, 1952, p. 6 This tallies with Shahrastani’s account of this argument in Nihayat, p. 12 and Milal, p. 66. []
  36. Cf. al-Muqaddimah, ed. De Slane, p. 61 Cp. Gardet, Introduction, 1948, p. 72 []
  37. Op. cit., p. 8 f. []
  38. Cf. op. cit., Cairo, N.D., p. 14 []
  39. Ibid., p. 137 []
  40. Cf. e.g. Kitab al-Arba‘in, pp. 71, 77, 69, etc. []
  41. Kitab al-Arba‘in was published in 1934, Wensinck’s article in 1936. Of Al-Razi’s works he only mentions Tawali‘ al-Anwar and Mafatih al-Ghayb. []
  42. Kitab al-Najat, Cairo, 1331, pp. 347 and 363 []
  43. Op. cit. p. 86 []
  44. Op. cit. pp. 80-84 []
  45. Compare Baidawi’s argument reported in Wensinck, op. cit., p, 13 []
  46. Compare Ibn Sina, Al-Najat, Cairo, 1331, p. 383 []
  47. This argument is analogous to one of Ibn Hazm’s arguments for the finitude of time –- cf. Fisal, I, p. 16 []
  48. Kitab al-Arba‘in, p. 83 []
Categories
Islam Women In Islam

A Comparison of Women in the Qur’an and the Bible

Christians claim that the current equality of women now enjoyed by Christian women came from the Bible, and that Islam is cruel towards women. Below are the comparisons of issues on women between the Bible and the Qur’an I leave it to you to decide which Book is the one which truly gives freedom to women and elevate their status and which Book is the hypocritical one.

1. The Bible convicts women as the original sinners (i.e. Eve picking from the forbidden tree) (Genesis 2:4-3:24)

The Qur’an clarifies that it was both Adam and Eve at fault, equally. For example, in Sura’ al-Baqarah, Allaah says:

“fa azallaHUMAA ash-shayTaan..” meaning “And Satan caused them (DUAL) to err..”

The same is found in Qur’an 7:19-25 wherein it says:

“fa-waswasa laHUMAA ash-shayTaan..” meaning “So Satan whispered to them (DUAL)”.

Both the man and woman were equally to blame. Thus, in Islam there is equity in rights as well as blame.

2. The Bible says “the birth of a daughter is a loss”. (Ecclesiasticus 22:3)
The Qur’an says both are an equal blessing (Qur’an 42:49)

3. The Bible forbids women from speaking in church (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
The Qur’an says women can argue with the Prophet (Qur’an 58:1)

4. In the Bible, divorced Women are labeled as an adulteress, not men (Matthew 5:31-32)
The Qur’an does not have Biblical double standards (Qur’an 30:21)

5. In the Bible, widows and sisters do not inherit any property or wealth, only men do (Numbers 27:1-11)
The Qur’an abolished this male greediness (Qur’an 4:22) and God protects all.

6. The Bible allows multiple wives. (I Kings 11:3)
In the Qur’an God limits the number to 4 only under certain situations (with the wife’s permission) and prefers that you marry only one wife (Qur’an 4:3). The Qur’an gives the woman the right to choose who to marry.

NOTE: Nowhere in the Bible does it forbid polygamy, or says that the male must marry one woman. Single marriage is a Greco-Roman tradition – one of the many influences on the true teachings of Jesus. Jesus lived for 33 years among a nation that practiced polygamy and he never prohibited, nor even ever talked about it in his teachings.

7. “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives” (Deuteronomy 22:28-30)

One must ask a simple question here, who is really punished, the man who raped the woman or the woman who was raped? According to the Bible, you have to spend the rest of your life with the man who raped you, and therefore had obviously low morals.

However, even before the marriage women in Islam are given right to choose their husband, and they can even reject if they are forced to marry somebody. In a hadith narrated by Aisha’, the Prophet said, “It is essential to have the consent of a virgin (for the marriage)”.

Other similar hadith are as follows:

Narrated Abu Hurairah r.a, that the Prophet said, “A divorcee cannot be forced to marry before she agrees, and a virgin cannot be forced to marry before her permission is obtained. The Sahaba’ asked “How can we obtain her permission?” The Prophet said, “Her permission is when she keeps quiet.” (Muslim)

Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of Allah Muhammad and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of Allah gave her the choice (between accepting the marriage and invalidating it). (Ibn Hanbal)

Would the Christian men reading this prefer the women they know to be Christian or Muslim?

8. The Bible also asks women to wear veils as in Islam (I Corinthians 11:3-10)

9. Women were given rights to vote less than a 100 years ago in the U.S. while the Qur’an gave women voting rights almost 1400 years ago.

In a hadith narrated by Abu Huraira, the Apostle of God said, “Treat women nicely, for a women is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion, so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. So treat women nicely.” (Sahih Bukhari)

And only God knows best!

Categories
Allah (God) Islam

The Word “Elohim” in the Hebrew Quran

Often the missionaries try to argue that the name for God is Yahweh, and that since the word (Allah) is not etymologically related to this name, it therefore follows that Muslims worship a different deity. However, what they fail to recognise is that it is etymologically accepted that the root word of (Elohim) which is eloh, is indeed:

[…]a cognate form of the word allah, the designation of deity used by the Arabs.1

This cannot be better exemplified than to see it in a Hebrew translation of the Qur’an.

a page from the hebrew quran

Some explanation of the history behind the Hebrew translation of the Quran is needed. The first translation of the Qur’an into Hebrew was completed by a German Jew named Hermann Reckendorf in 1857. In 1936, a new translation by Joseph Joel Rivlin (Yosef Yo’el Rivlin) was published. Another translation, this one by Aharon Ben Shemesh, was released in 1971. The most recent was produced by Uri Rubin in 2005 and is published by Tel Aviv University Press.

Examples of Elohim In The Hebrew Quran

The following are some examples from the Hebrew translation of the Qur’an by Joseph Joel Rivlin, whereby the word “elohim” is consistently translated from the Arabic “allah” from the Qur’an in its original Arabic.

Quran 1:1

This appears in Qur’an 1:1 (Sura’ al-Fatiha) of the Hebrew translation2:


    B’shem Elohim, ha-Rachaman, V’ha-Rachum

Compare it with the very same verse in the Arabic Qur’an:


    Bismi-Allah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim

Both translate into English as: “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.”3

Apart from the example given above, we would like to present more examples from the Hebrew translation of the Qur’an, which uses the word Elohim and Eloh. Note that the Hebrew translation always renders Ilah and Allah as Eloh and Elohim, respectively.

Quran 3:2

The following appears in Qur’an 3:2 of the Hebrew translation:


    Elohim, ein eloh mibaladaiv, ha-Chai, ha-Qayam

The original Arabic rendering of Qur’an 3:2 is:


    Allahu la ilaha ila huwal hayyul qayyum

which translates into English as: “God! There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal”.

Quran 3:18

The next image appears in Qur’an 3:18 of the Hebrew translation:


    He’id Elohim ki ein eloh mibaladaiv, V’ha-Malakhim V’Anshei hada’at (ya’idu ken). Po’el tsedeq ein eloh mibaladaiv, ha-gibor, V’ha-chakam

The original Arabic rendering of Qur’an 3:18 would be:


    Shaheeda-Allahu innahu la ilaha ila huwa wal malaikatu wa ulul `ilmi qaima bil qisti la ilaha ila huwal `azeezul hakeem

This translates into English as: “There is no god but He: That is the witness of God, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no god but He, The Exalted in Power, The Wise”.

Quran 6:1

This last example is from Qur’an, 6:1 of the Hebrew translation:


    HatT’hilah L’Elohim, asher bara et ha-shama’im V’et ha-arets, V’ya’as afelah V’orah…

The Arabic from Qur’an, 6:1 is:


    Alhamdu-lillahi lazhee khalaqa’ as-sama waa ti wal-ardha wa-ja ‘alaazhu-lu mati wan-nuur…

The English translation is: “Praise be to God, Who created the heavens and the earth and made the darkness and the light….”

Conclusions

The similarities are so obvious that it can no longer be denied — in the face of this linguistic evidence — that Elohim is indeed related to the word Allah, as both Hebrew and Arabic are sister languages in the Semitic family. Much like how there are examples of Allah in the Arabic Bible, the above examples will demonstrate that there are no differences in meaning when “Allah” in Arabic and “Elohim” in Hebrew are used interchangeably.

Insha’allah, the comparisons above will help quell the doubts of those who have been duped into believing that “Muslims worship a different god” by Christian missionary propaganda, and which some missionaries had even gone so far as to say that “Allah” is the name of a moon god.

And only God knows best.

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "The Word “Elohim” in the Hebrew Quran," in Bismika Allahuma, October 7, 2005, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/islam/elohim-in-the-hebrew-quran/
  1. W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Exposition Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1996. []
  2. See Yosef Yo’el Rivlin, Alkur’an / tirgem me-`Arvit, Devir, Tel Aviv (1936-1945). More information is available here. []
  3. We have referred to A. Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation, and Commentary for the English translation of the Basmalah and the later translations of the Quranic verses involved. []
Categories
Islam Muhammad

What About The Killing of Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf?

The Christian missionaries and the enemies of Islam have alleged that the Prophet Muhammad(P) was an “assassin” who would “kill his opponents in the middle of the night using deceit and lies”. They cite the events of the killing of Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf as evidence for their claims. Our contention is that these bigots are abusing the historical events surrounding these incidents. This is because they are unaware of the circumstances leading to their killing, or why the Prophet(P) had allowed it to happen.

It is, therefore, our wish to discuss this issue in its proper perspective, and stifle their lies once and for all, insha’Allah.

Who Was Kaab al-Ashraf?

Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf was a Jew. He used to insult Muslims and especially Muslim women. He had been later killed by a Muslim, through the permission of the Noble Prophet(P). This account is present in Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq.1

The following is the account in our own words:

    The Prophet asked who would get rid of Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf for him. A Muslim man responded that he would. Sadly, the Muslim who agreed with the Prophet did not eat for three days (except for that which was required). When this was informed to the Prophet, the Prophet asked him the reason. The man told him that he had taken a responsibility (to kill Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf) which he could not handle. So the Muslim asked the Prophet’s permission to tell lies or to deceive Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf. The Prophet gave him permission. The Muslim went to Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf, said something deceptive, and made him come out of his house and then killed him.

The attack raised by anti-Islamics here is that the Prophet(P) gave another man to do the job and gave him permission to lie.

We must, first of all, understand that the situation of the Muslims was very precarious, even in the aftermath of their victory at Badr. Even though the Quraysh Meccans were defeated and had retreated back to the city to lick their wounds and mourn their dead, the Muslims still face the danger of internal dissent within the walls of Madinah.

Indeed, the Muslims had just expelled the Banu Qaynuqa from their homes after their open declaration of war against the Prophet and the early Muslim community.

The Banu Qaynuqa were the first of the Jews to break their agreement with the Muslims and go to war and had to be dealt with swiftly so as to quash any ideas of the other Jewish tribes to instigate a war against the Muslims.2

It was within the context of this situation that Ka’ab bin Al-Ashraf took advantage of, by inveighing against the Prophet and reciting verses bewailing the Quraysh who were slain at Badr.

Among the lines of the aforementioned verses are:

Badr’s mill ground out the blood of its people
At events like Badr you should weep and cry
The best of the people were slain round their cisterns
Don’t think it strange that the princes were left lying.
How many noble handsome men,
The refugee of the homeless was slain,
Liberal when the stars gave no rain,
Who bore others’ burdens, ruling and taking their due fourth,
Some people whose anger pleases me say
“Ka’ab b. al-Ashraf is utterly dejected”.
They are right. O that the earth when they were killed
Had split asunder and engulfed its people,
That he who spread the report had been thrust through
Or lived cowering blind and deaf.
I was told that all the Banu’l-Mughira were humiliated
And brought low by the death of Abu’l-Hakim
And the two sons of Rabi’a with him,
And Munabbih and the others did not attain (such honour) as those who were slain
3

In the last stanza of this poetry by Ka’ab, he had committed a transgression of the earlier covenant signed between the Muslims and his tribe with the following words of incitement:

I was told that al-Harith ibn Hisham
Is doing well and gathering troops
To visit Yathrib with armies,
For only the noble, handsome man protects the loftiest reputation.
4

Furthermore, Ka’b had composed several amatory verses in defamation of the honour of a Muslim woman by the name of Ummu’l-Fadl bint al-Harith:

Are you off without stopping in the valley
And leaving Ummu’l-Fadl in Mecca?
Out would come what she bought from the pedlar of bottles,
Henna and hair dye.
What lies ‘twixt ankle and elbow in motion
When she tries to stand and does not.
5

The significance of “what lies ‘twixt ankle and elbow in motion” is explained in the footnote by the translator of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah as:

Presumably her buttocks are meant; they would be between her ankle and her elbow as she reclined. Large and heavy buttocks were marks of female beauty among the old Arabs.6

A poet of pre-Islamic days expresses the Arab sentiment of chastity and virtuousness in a couplet, which depicts a lovely picture of Arab womanhood: “If my glance meets the looks of a neighbouring maiden, I cast my eyes low until her abode takes her in”.

Hence, it was within the context of the above incitements made by Ka’ab bin Al-Ashraf which was why the Muslims were agitated when their women were being dishonoured and public sentiment called for his punishment.

Punishable Treason

As we have stated before, Ka’ab’s actions were against a clause in the Madinah Covenant signed between the Muslims and the Jews of Madinah.

The relevant stipulation of this covenant is as follows:

Loyalty is a protection against treachery. The freedmen of Thalaba are as themselves. The close friends are as themselves. None of them shall go out to war save with the permission of Muhammad, but he shall not be prevented from taking revenge for a wound. He who slays a man without warning slays himself and his whole household unless it is one who has wronged him, for God will accept that. The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection against treachery. A man is not liable for his ally’s misdeeds. The wronged must be helped. The Jews must pay with the believers so long as the war lasts. Yathrib shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document. A stranger under protection shall be as his host doing no harm and committing no crime. A woman shall only be given protection with the consent of her family. If any dispute or controversy likely to cause trouble should arise it must be referred to God and to Muhammad the apostle of God. God accepts what is nearest to piety and goodness in this document. Quraysh and their helpers shall not be given protection.

His acts were openly directed against the Commonwealth, of which he was a member. It is therefore clear that Ka’ab bin Al-Ashraf’s antagonism towards the Muslim community was his own undoing, and was no longer protected by the covenant that he himself had violated.

Akram Diya’ al-Umari remarks:

The killing of Ibn al Ashraf might be seen as an act of treachery, but on further reflection, one realizes that Ibn al Ashraf was party to the treaty according to the Document by which the Jews of Banu al-Nadir and others were committed. By slandering the Prophet, who was the head of state, and by showing his sympathy for the enemies of the Muslims (lamenting their dead and inciting them against the Muslims), Ibn al Ashraf had broken the treaty and declared war on the Muslims, and his blood could be shed with impunity. As for his being deceived and killed by those he had trusted, such action is legally permissible (ja’iz) in the case of those who have declared war on the Muslims, and it was carried out by order of the Messenger (See al Tahawi, Mushkil al-Athar). The Messenger, however, did not blame Banu al-Nadir for Ibn al Ashraf’s crime; it was sufficient to have him killed for his treachery. The Prophet, in fact, renewed his treaty with them (Banu al-Nadir).7

However, some may object that Ka’ab bin Al-Ashraf was merely composing “poetries” as a form of “freedom of expression”, and therefore was not causing any “harm” to anyone around him. Those who say this certainly do not understand the significance of the blasphemous poetry by Ka’ab bin Al-Ashraf. Arabic poetry is a priori very influential and cannot be thought of in the terms of English poetry or any other forms of poetry in other languages.

As Philip K. Hitti himself notes:

No people in the world, perhaps, manifest such enthusiastic admiration for literary expression and are so moved by the word, spoken or written, as the Arabs. Hardly any language seems capable of exercising over the minds of its users such irresistible influence as Arabic.8

After noting Ka’ab bin Al-Ashraf’s acts of incitement and false accusations towards Muslim women, Haykal says that:

The reader is perhaps aware of Arab customs and ethics in this regard, and can appreciate the Muslims’ anxiety over such false accusations directed against their women’s honour.9

Certainly, the reader would agree with us that “freedom of expression” certainly does not include the right to defame the honour of another or to incite aggression against a legitimate Government.

Hence it is clear that by modern terms today, Ka’ab bin Al-Ashraf will be duly charged with sedition against the State and for outraging the modesty of a Muslim woman.

A Public Trial for War Criminals?

Controversialists have stigmatized this execution as an “assassination”. And because a Muslim was sent secretly to kill each of the criminals, in their prejudice against the Prophet(P) they shut their eyes to the justice of the sentence, and the necessity of a swift and secret execution. There existed then no police court, no judicial tribunal, nor even a court-martial, to take cognisance of individual crimes.

In the absence of a State executioner, any individual might become the executioner of the law. This man had broken their formal pact — it was impossible to arrest him in public, or execute the sentence in the open before their clans, without causing unnecessary bloodshed, and giving rise to the feud of blood and everlasting vendetta. The exigencies of the State required that whatever should be done should be done swiftly and noiselessly upon those whom public opinion had arraigned and condemned.

Conclusions

It is clear that where the killing of Ka’ab bin Al-Ashraf was concerned, it was done as a deterrent against crimes committed against the public and infringements of the promulgated law. In light of this, there was locus standi to take action on this matter. What was done to stop Ka’ab Al-Ashraf from spreading his mischief was totally justified.

In considering the punishments that were dealt with the enemies of Islam, we must not forget, first, that they were political actions made necessary by the conditions of the time; second, that none of them were excessively unacceptable by the usages or mores of that time.

And only God knows best!

  1. We have depended upon the translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah by A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad (Oxford University Press, 1978). []
  2. Ibid., p. 363 []
  3. Ibid. []
  4. Ibid. []
  5. Ibid., p. 366 []
  6. ibid. []
  7. Akram Diya al Umari, Madinan Society At The Time of The Prophet, (International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1991) []
  8. Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, 10th edition (Macmillan Press, 1970), p. 90 []
  9. M. H. Haykal, The Life of Muhammad (North American Trust Publications, 1976), p. 244 []
Categories
Christianity Introducing Islam Islam

Ruling on Celebrating Christmas and Congratulating Them

Since the pagan festival of Christmas, celebrated by the Trinitarian polytheists, is fast approaching on the 25th of December, we would like on this occasion present a fatwa (Islamic ruling) for the Muslims with regard to celebrating their festival or even congratulating them.

It should be noted that the Christians believe that Jesus(P) is literally God, hence to participate or even greet them on the occasion of this festival is to implicitly agree with their doctrine. Therefore Muslims should be aware of the boundaries with regard to Christmas and how one should approach it.

Question:

Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah was asked:

    What is the ruling regarding wishing “Merry Christmas” to them [the Christians]? What about giving them an answer when they wish us with the same? Is it permissible to go to the places of festive occasions or parties which celebrate this occasion? Is someone considered to have sinned when he does something related to the above without intending to do so [his real reason] yet he did it only to show respect to his friends, or out of shame, or other reasons? Is it possible to do so in these circumstances?

Answer:

Praise be to God.

To wish the non-Muslims with Merry Christmas or any of their religious festivals is haraam (forbidden), by consensus of the ulama (ijma’), as Ibn al-Qayyim, may God have mercy on him, said:

Congratulating the kuffaar on the rituals that belong only to them is haraam by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and fasts by saying “A happy festival to you” or “May you enjoy your festival”, and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on.

Many of those who have no respect for their religion fall into this error; they do not realize the offensiveness of their actions. Whoever congratulates a person for his disobedience or bid’ah or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of God.”1

Congratulating the kuffaar on their religious festivals is haraam to the extent described by Ibn al-Qayyim because it implies that one accepts or approves of their rituals of kufr, even if one would not accept those things for oneself. But the Muslim should not accept the rituals of kufr or congratulate anyone else for them, because God does not accept any of that at all, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“If you disbelieve, then verily, God is not in need of you, He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you. . .”2

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…”3

So congratulating them is forbidden, whether they are one’s colleagues at work or otherwise.

If they greet us on the occasion of their festivals, we should not respond, because these are not our festivals, and because they are not festivals which are acceptable to God. These festivals are innovations in their religions, and even those which may have been prescribed formerly have been abrogated by the religion of Islam, with which God sent Muhammad (P) to the whole of mankind.

God says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.”4

It is haraam for a Muslim to accept invitations on such occasions, because this is worse than congratulating them as it implies taking part in their celebrations.

Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the kuffaar by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc., because the Prophet(P) said:

“Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”

Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah said:

“Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to humiliate and mislead the weak.”5

Whoever does anything of this sort is a sinner, whether he does it out of politeness or to be friendly, or because he is too shy to refuse, or for whatever other reason, because this is hypocrisy in Islam, and because it makes the kuffaar feel proud of their religion.

God is the One Whom we ask to make the Muslims feel proud of their religion, to help them adhere steadfastly to it, and to make them victorious over their enemies, for He is the Strong and Omnipotent.

Taken from Majmu Fatwa Fadllah al-Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih al-Uthaymeen, Vol. III, pp. 44-46, no.403
Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "Ruling on Celebrating Christmas and Congratulating Them," in Bismika Allahuma, December 18, 2006, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/christianity/muslims-celebrating-christmas-ruling/
  1. Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah []
  2. Qur’an, 39:7 []
  3. Qur’an, 5:3 []
  4. Qur’an, 3:85 []
  5. Ibn Taymiyyah, Iqtidaa’ al-siraat al-mustaqeem mukhaalifat ashaab al-jaheem []
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 []