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Book Review

Jerusalem: the Eternal Capital of a temporary state?

Zafarul Islam Khan

Shaykh As'ad al-Tamimi, Zuwalu Isra'il: Hatmiyyah Qur'aniyyah (Arabic) "End of Israel is a Qur'anic Imperative", 2nd edition; The Open Press Ltd, London, 1984, 150 pages, PB.

Is the new Jewish State in occupied Palestine permanent? Have the Jews ‘come to stay’ in the Holy Land? What does the Qur’an say about the Jews’ second return to Palestine from where they were driven out twice, first by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, in 587 BC (they returned about 500 years later) and again by the Roman Emperor Hadrian after quelling the Bar Cochba rebellion in 135 CE? Since then Jews’ settlement in Palestine has been restricted and at times they were barred from entering even Jerusalem except for performing religious rites.

Caliph Umar, in his famous Umarian Covenant (al-`Uhdah al`Umariyyah) in 15H/636CE awarded to the Bishop of Jerusalem, Sophronius, upon the conquest of the holy city, ordered that Jews will not be allowed to dwell in Jerusalem. This was largely maintained until the Crusades and Jews were allowed to pay only short visits to their shrines. The Crusaders plundered and killed Jews in Palestine as they had done in Europe, and imposed a total ban on their entry into Jerusalem during their reign over the holy city (1099-1187).

After reconquest, Salahuddin allowed the Jews to resettle in Palestine including Jerusalem. This is how a small Jewish community, not exceeding 56,000 in a total population of 644,000, existed in the Holy Land at the start of the British programme for the Judaisation of Palestine in 1918 dspite concerted efforts to boost Jewish immigration since the inception of the modern zionist movement in early 1880s.

The Ottoman State strictly controlled Jews’ entry into Palestine where they were issued ‘Red Passports’ upon entry which were valid for three months only. Sultan Abdul Hamid flatly rejected Zionist offers of aid in return for unhindered Jewish immigration.

The Judaisation programme was undertaken by Britain at the behest of all the European powers under the guise of a League of Nation’s ‘Mandate.’ It opened the doors of Palestine to an unprecedented Jewish immigration despite Arab protests and revolts. Jewish population in Palestine reached 872,700 in November 1948. Many of the Arabs were dispossessed by deliberate British policy and the majority (960,000 Arabs) was driven out of their homes and lands by organised Jewish terror in 1947-48.

All the western powers, including the Soviet Union, were quick to recognise the Jews’ unilateral declaration of ‘independence’ on 14 May 1948. They saw in Israel a sure means to divide the Arab and Muslim World and to divert its attention from serious issues of development to military confrontation with a state totally supported, financed and armed by the west.

Through the aggression of 1967 Israel consolidated its 1948 borders including the vast territories occupied in violation of the Truce of 1949. In this aggresion it occupied new lands including the remaining areas of Palestine (West Bank and Ghazzah). The secular Arab regimes were coaxed by western pressure to accept Israel within its pre-1967 boundaries and started to demand the evacuation from the newly occupied territories. Areas occupied before 1967 were conveniently forgotten.

The Palestinian resistance movement was systematically destroyed and corrupted by the Arab and communist regimes. President Sadat of Egypt concluded a unilateral peace treaty with Israel in 1978 at Camp David in the hope that others will follow suit. As soon as Camp David was concluded Begin reneged on a written agreement to grant autonomy to the West Bank, and Gazzah (which was to be followed by negotiations about these territories’ future after a period of five years). Begin insisted on his own understanding of the texts to Carter’s and Sadat’s protests. The same fate lies ahead for the much trumpeted ‘Gaza-Jericho’ accord. The elusive Jews, having achieved what they wanted, will find one thousand and one excuses not to yield any new ground.

In this powerful and authoritative study of the relevant verses of the Qur’an, Shaykh As`ad al-Tamimi concludes that no effort to make peace with Israel will ever succeed: the Jews themselves will frustrate it. The Qur’an (2: 100) says clearly that the Jews will always violate agreements and covenants. Shaykh al-Tamimi also argues that no secular regime will ever be able to defeat Israel. Basing his arguments on Qur’anic verses, he asserts that Palestine will be liberated by Muslims under the banner of Islam alone.

Shaykh al-Tamimi bases his argument mainly on the following verses:

  1. ‘And We warned Banu [the Children of] Isra’il in the Book that twice you will do mischief on the earth and be elated with arrogance. When the first of the warnings came to pass, We sent against you Our very powerful servants who ravaged your lands. And it was a warning fulfilled. Then We granted you victory against them and increased your resources and numbers and made you numerous in (fighting) man-power. If you do well, you do well for yourselves; if you do evil, you do evil for yourselves. When the second warning comes to pass (We will permit your enemies) to humiliate your faces and to enter the Mosque as they did enter before, utterly destroying all that they lay their hands on (Surah [chapter] al-Isra’, 17:4-7).
  2. ‘O ye who believe, do not take the Jews and Christians for your friends; they are friends to each other. He who amongst you makes friends with them is one of them. Surely God does not guide people unjust’ (Surah al-Maidah, 5:51).

The author argues that these verses concern the future after the advent of Islam. The first warning was fulfilled at the hands of the Prophet and his companions when, upon violaton by the Jews of their covenant with the Prophet, some of them were executed and the rest were exiled from their homes in Madinah, Khaybar and Tayma. Moreover, he argues, the Jews and Christians were bogged down in perpetual enmity and mutual hatred ever since the Jews got Jesus ‘crucified.’ The Christians did not help the Jews of the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed the Qur’an (2:113) says that there is a permanent enmity between the two groups. The friendship between the Jews and Christians (and the friendship of some of the Muslims with them referred to in the verse of Surah al-Maidah) did not materialise until early this century.

The author traces in detail (pp 31-43) the bitter and bloody record of animosity between the Jews and Christians over the centuries to demonstrate that the friendship referred to in the above verse of Surah al-Maidah did not materialise until early this century. It was only now that the Christians whole-heartedly supported the Jewish homeland programme in Palestine, helped Israel to emerge as a state. Christian forces of Britain and France, for the first time in history, fought on the same side with the Jews against Egypt in 1956. The Vatican, in the early 1960s, under Pope John XXIII, exonerated the Jews from the responsibilty for crucifying Jesus. The Maronites of Lebanon have fought along with the Jews in the same trench against the Muslims of Lebanon. Their cooperation includes forming a mercenary army in South Lebanon (first led by Maj. Haddad and later by Gen. Lahad) to protect the borders of Israel with Lebanon.

The description of ‘Our very powerful servants’ in Surah al-Isra’ for those who punished the Jews in the first of these two warnings, does not apply to Nebuchadnezzar or Hadrian, both of them being pagans. The Qur’an uses the words ‘servants of God’ only as a term of honour for Muslims (cf.12:24, 18:65, 19:63, 38:45 etc.). Moreover, the Jews never gained ‘victory’ mentioned in the verse over the Babylonians or the Romans, nor is that possible in future because those nations have disappeared from the face of the earth. The Jews gained ‘victory’ only against the Muslims whose forefathers had ‘ravaged’ Jewish lands in Arabia and had entered ‘The Mosque’ (al-Aqsa). This only is the time in their history that the Jews enjoy ‘increased resources’ and fighting man-power. As the Jews will not ‘do well,’ their state will be eliminated by the Muslims once again.

The verses of Surah al-Ma’idah say that Christians and Jews are friends of each other. This Qur’anic prophecy materialised only during this century. When Sultan Abdul Hamid rejected generous Jewish offers in return for allowing them to settle in Palestine, the Jews made a common cause with European nations to defeat and dismember the Ottoman State with a promise to get Palestine in return. These verses also prophesise that a number of Muslim rulers will also cooperate with the Jews and Christians and justify this cooperation saying that ‘We do fear lest a change of fortune bring us disaster’ (5: 52). The verse goes on to say that this group will become ‘remorseful’ when victory will come. The beginnings of these changes can be seen in the great transformation in the youth of the Muslim World everywhere. It can also be witnessed in the total failure of all the imported political philosophies in the Muslim countries. The verse 36 of Surah al-Anfal applies to the West which spent enormous sums of monies to establish westernised universities, schools, clubs and cultural centres throughout the world of Islam in order to influence the youth; yet they have returned to Islam.

The author strengthens his argument by quoting a Hadith [Saying of the Prophet] from the authoritative collections of Bukhari and Muslim, that the Prophet Muhammad said:

‘The Day of Resurrection will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Muslims will kill the Jews to the extent that stones and trees will call out, “Muslim, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me come and kill him,” All (trees) will say this except the tree of al-Gharqad [a species of thorny tree still preferred by the Jews in Palestine] because it is one of the Jews’ trees!’

In an appendix to the book, Shaykh al-Tamimi refutes the fatwa [religious decree] issued by Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Baysar, the Shaykh of Al-Azhar, in support of Sadat’s peace treaty with the Zionists. The author has convincingly demolished all the four bases used by Shaykh al-Baysar to justify the treaty (an interpretation of the verse 61 of Surah al-Anfal ordering the Prophet to prefer peace if the enemy seeks it, the truce of Hudaibiyyah, the Prophet’s offer to the tribe of Ghatfan during the battle of al-Ahzab to take one third of the fruits of Madinah in return for withdrawal from the battlefield and that Sadat is an Imam (Leader of the community obedience to whom is obligatory upon Muslims). The author, after refuting these arguments, observes that these very Shaykhs would have produced different fatwas (which they already did during the time of Abdel Nasser) if Sadat had declared that peace with the Jews was haram (illegal).

The author covers many other smaller subjects of interest and controversy in the world of Islam as he moves to argue his central point that the state of Israel is not permanent and that Muslims alone will demolish this aberration in history. The Shaykh has been the Imam and director of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the three holy mosques in Islam until 1967 when he was exiled by the Zionist occupation forces. He now lives in Amman, Jordan, where he has been imprisoned twice for his outspoken lectures. He is barred from delivering sermons in Jordan. He has emerged as a prominent leader of the Islamic movement of Palestine.

Muslimedia: March 16-31, 1997

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 2

Dhu al-Qa'dah 07, 14171997-03-16

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