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For Whom the Holy Land? A Qur'anic Answer
by Khaleel Mohammed

San Diego State University
Presented at the Jerusalem Summit, Jerusalem
November 27-30, 2004

Generous hosts, respected guests: The presentation that I will now make to you has been changed somewhat from the material I had originally prepared. The interview that Haaretz published today has greatly helped me in abbreviating my speech since I now have the actual words of one of the leaders of the Islamic movement in Israel to work with. I must also take into consideration the allotted time for my presentation and have therefore expunged several items.
For the safety of my brave coreligionists who have honored this summit with their presence, I must point out that the views I express about interpretation of the Qur'an are solely my own, in my capacity as a scholar of Islam, trained in traditional Islamic and Western academic approaches to my religion. In no way have the Muslims present at this august assembly collaborated with me, nor do they, I assume, even know of my views.
Finally, based on certain views I have heard expressed-and at which I have expressed my vociferous disagreement, I would like to let it be known that my argument in no way seeks to divest the Palestinian people of any rights, human or otherwise. The ownership of the land is a different issue to its governance, and as all the holy books of the Abrahamic religions concur, the "other" should always be treated with dignity and respect.

Contemporary Islam, as far as the overwhelming majority of Muslims and non-Muslims understand, is opposed to Zionism in every way, shape and form. Yet, when the Arab Nations fought against Israel in the early wars, they did so in the name of Arab Nationalism while within their own borders, they were struggling to curb Islamic-based movements. When Arafat founded al-Fatah, he did not speak of Islam; when the Black September terrorists massacred eleven Israeli athletes at Munich in 1972, they chanted no Islamic slogans. And when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) conducted its terrorist activities against the "Zionist enemy," it did so under the leadership of a Christian, George Habash, who had espoused Marxist-Leninist principles. Now, three decades later, the Christian minority voice of Palestinians seems to have been absolutely stifled by the calls of Muslim clerics for Jihad. Largely due to the propaganda movements of Hamas, Hizbollah and al-Qaeda, the fight against Israel and Zionism is no longer couched in terms of Arab-nationalism: it is a now perceived as the duty of the believer in Islam.
Yet, I argue that a thorough investigation of Islam's two main sources, the Qur'an and the Hadith, presents conflicting views on the issue. If the Qur'an is read on its own, without the refraction of the Hadith, it could, based on certain verses, be mistaken for a very right-wing Zionist document. The Hadith, on the other hand, can never be mistaken for anything remotely Zionist: the land of Israel is Muslim territory to be wrested from the accursed Jews in a brutal and bloody eschatological battle. In this presentation, I will restrict myself to examining the Qur'anic perspectives and the possibility of change in the Muslim outlook. Unless otherwise indicated, whenever I use the term "Zionism," I am not referring political or secular definitions, but to the Biblical concept of Eretz Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people. (Nathan Birnbaum may have formed the word in the 1890's, but the concept is as old as the Bible itself, if we take it to refer to a scriptural writ of enlandisement.)
There is a question that must be asked and that is: why do I seek to use the Qur'an in my argument? My answer was hinted at in my opening words: the matter was not initially seen as a religious one, but the words of utilitarian strategists quickly made the issue into a Jewish-Muslim confrontation. When they did so, they involved the entire Muslim world. I feel that they did so with duplicity aforethought-and I therefore use the Qur'an to show that the very source they sought to misappropriate is, in fact, against them.
If the idea of Israel (Zion) as a homeland for the Jewish people were to be found only in the Torah, it would have been irrelevant to discuss the Muslim view on that issue. But this biblical concept is found in the Qur'an to the point where Islam's main document mentions that God favored the Children of Israel above all nations and decreed Israel as an abode for them, granting holy status to that land:
And Remember when Moses said to his people: O my people! Remember the favors of your Lord that he has bestowed upon you, as He has made prophets and kings from among you, and has given to you that which has never been given to anyone amongst the nations. Enter then, my People, the Holy Land, that God has written for you, and turn not back, or you will suffer."
Qur'an 5: 20-21.

Several other verses support the above two, among them: Q7: 137, 10: 93, 17: 104, and 21: 71,81. The verses that are particularly important are Q5: 20-1 because, long before the formation of the State of modern Israel in 1948, the Muslim exegetes explained these verses in a manner that would have shocked their coreligionists of today who clamor for the destruction of Israel. To elucidate my point, I have rendered verse 5: 21 above in as literal a manner as possible: translating the Arabic KaTaBa as "written." This word has definite theological connotations: in Islam, as in Jewish belief, it conveys the idea of decisiveness and finality, e.g. in "written Torah" as opposed to "oral Torah." In the approximately 22 instances in the Qur'an where this action is attributed to God (directly Kataba or indirectly, Kutiba), it likewise conveys the idea of decisiveness, finality and immutability. One such example is the verse (Q2:183) used by Muslims to indicate that the Ramadan fast is compulsory Kutiba alaykum al-siyaam . . . literally, "written upon you is the fast"-but understood to mean, "Obligatory upon you is the fast."
For most Muslims, the views of famous exegetes are extremely cogent: a Muslim scholar cannot attempt to gain any respect unless s/he is thoroughly familiar with the views of the famous mufassirs (exegetes). I will therefore attempt to present a summary of what the most well known mufassirs have provided as the explanations of Q5: 21. Abu Ja'far al-Tabari (d. 310/922), Islam's most famous exegete explained Kataba as: "That which God has firmly inscribed on the Guarded Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz) that this (land) as an abode and residence for you instead of the tyrants that inhabited it." It is significant the al-Tabari refers to al-Lawh al-Mahfuz in his explanation, for the term is used in Chapter 85: 21, to refer to a heavenly tablet that is divinely guarded, and something that is inscribed on it therefore must be seen as absolutely inviolable and immutable.
Abu Ali al-Tabarsi (d. 548/1153), the Shi'ite commentator, repeats al-Tabari's statement without any change. Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) explained Kataba in terms that would have pleased the most ardent zionists: "That which God has written for you" i.e., That which God has promised to you by the words of your father Israel as the inheritance of those among you who believe." Muhammad al-Shawkani (d. 1250/1834) interpreted Kataba to mean "that which God has allotted and predestined for you in His primordial knowledge, deeming it as a place of residence for you" (emphases mine).
The Shi'ite commentator, Muhammad Husayn al-Tabataba'i (d. 1981), explained that the divine decree of Q5: 21is elucidated by Q28: 5:
We wanted to favor those who were weak in the land, and make them the inheritors and establish them in the land. (And Moses had hoped for this, on the condition that they persevered, relied on God and sought His help). Moses said to his people: Seek help in God and be patient. The land is God's and he will cause those of His servants whom He wishes to inherit it. . . (7:129)
Al-Tabataba'i (italics: Qur'anic verse, bracketed material: Tabataba'i's commentary).

Perhaps as, if not more intriguing, is the interpretation that the exegetes give to
"al-Ard al-Muqadassah" (the Holy Land) in Q5:21. Al-Tabari gave several reports, citing respected authorities, showing that the Holy Land in fact was (1) Sinai and the surrounding area (2) Greater Syria (3) Jericho (4) Damascus, Palestine, and some of Jordan. Al-Shawkani also repeated this in his commentary.
Since the words of Moses in Q5: 21 seem to indicate permanency of God's giving of Israel to the Jews, how does one deal with the Babylonian and Roman exiles? The Qur'an does refer to these two exiles (17: 4), but strangely, follows up those verses with one that indicates that at the time of the Day of Judgment, the followers of Moses will be living in Israel, made up of many peoples (17: 104). This prophecy is extremely significant since it is one of the extremely rare cases in which the Qur'an makes a prediction. If the fundamental understanding of Zionism is that Israel is the specific land for the Jewish people, then the foregoing discourse on the Qur'anic perspective evidences a view that is totally in concord with that belief.
The reference to Israel and Jews on the day of Judgment is extremely important in understanding the Qur'anic outlook: while Islam's main document continually refers to eschatological events, and describes certain cosmic upheavals that will occur on the Final Day, it contains no Armageddon imagery of apocalyptic prophecies, no end-of-time battles for Jerusalem, nor of signs presaging the final days. Muhammad's role as an apostle of God was not one that allowed him to predict the future, and he is thus made to say in the Qur'an, on several occasions, that he knows nothing about when the Final Day will occur:
If I knew the unseen, I would have enjoyed good, and no evil would have touched me. I am only a bearer of warnings and bringer of happy news for those who believe.
Qur'an 7: 188.

I am not different from other messengers. I have no idea what will happen to me or to you. I only follow what is revealed to me. I am no more than a clear warner.
Qur'an 46: 9.

They ask you about the Hour, when will it occur? How can you tell anything about it? Your Lord has that knowledge. You are only a warner for those who fear it. That day it will seem to them as if they had tarried in the world only for an evening or its morn!
Qur'an 79: 42-6.

As you can see then, the argument that I make is short, yet its cogency is undeniable and powerful. Of course, having heard of the Popperian paradigm in yesterday's discourse-and knowing Popper's coinages of testability and falsifiability, the question may be asked: If the argument is as simple and clear as I have outlined, why do the rest of the Muslims not accept it? Let me refer to the Haaretz interview yesterday (November 29th) wherein Shaykh Abdallah Nimr Darwish had the opportunity to respond to my views. The Haaretz excerpt-and I have no reason to dispute its reliability-reads thus:
He (The Shaykh)…disagrees entirely with Prof. Mohammed's opinion. He is very familiar with the relevant verse, and in his opinion it does not prove any ownership of the land. "The verse says that Moussa's people must enter the Holy Land. Does ownership derive from this? When I invite someone to enter my office, does the office become his? Definitely not! . . . The use of the word kataba does not justify anything. . .

And here we see the problem: I took time to structure my argument on the entire verse, not the initial part of it. Not only does the Shaykh ignore the basis of my argument by making a horribly skewed analogy; he in fact goes against EVERY classical exegete by denying the significance of "kataba." And if any one were to say to me that I have brought about a new interpretation, or that I am following some Orientalist heresy, I would refer them to my earlier citations, and go further, indeed to the earliest extant and complete exegesis known to us: that of Muqatil b. Sulayman (d. 150/767). According to him, "Kataba" means "ordered", i.e., Moses was saying to the Israelites: Enter the Holy Land as God has ordered you to do. Muqatil even defines the Holy land as Jericho, in the land of Jordan as well as Palestine. But more importantly, Muqatil b. Sulayman states: Do not retreat from that land, or you will be losers. This is because God said to Abraham, when he was in the Holy Land, "Verily, this land in which you now stand will be an inheritance for your son after you."
And so, honored listeners, I have shown you that I have in fact followed the most traditional of interpretations. It is in fact the Shaykh who has sought to do otherwise, citing a Biblical source by pointing out that Abraham in fact bought his burial site. Before getting into the fine details of such an argument, I would ask: if a Muslim chooses to refer to the Hebrew Bible on one aspect of the argument, why does s/he not use the entire Bible material in the matter? Or are we to assume somehow that when Jews claim Biblical sanctity for their views, they are somehow misinformed regarding the interpretation of their own book, and need a Muslim uberkhakham to advise them?
I have omitted from my discourse the hadith that foretell horrible eschatological battles that result in the slaughter of the Jews. Rather, I will raise the question: How can the Qur'an and Hadith be so uncompromisingly conflicting on the issue of Israel for the Jewish people? The answer seems quite obvious: Muhammad saw himself as being the prophet to the Arabs, and therefore, with the conquest of Mecca, his mission was complete (Q5: 3). Muhammad had no dreams of making Jerusalem part of the Islamic polity; such an undertaking, given its importance, would certainly have been mentioned in the Qur'an, and Islam would not have been deemed complete without reference to it. The hadith, on the other hand, becomes in vogue roughly a century after Muhammad's death, and is compiled in a totally different sitz im leben to that of the Qur'an.
When hadith started being circulated, with Jerusalem in the hands of the Muslims, any tradition that could justify its possession was sought after or created. Among such traditions, as explained earlier, was the imported Christian concept of the antichrist, or al-Masih al-Dajjal in Arabic. Jerusalem is, in Christian eschatology, the site of the returning Jesus, and the place where he would triumph over the antichrist. When Muslims accepted the legend, they did not alter the details of the city to which Jesus would return for his victory. And sometime after Jerusalem fell into Muslim hands in 638, it would seem that Muslims saw the room for extension of the spiritual claim to Abraham as one involving the land itself. For all their conquests, Muslims still had to face the fact that, according to the Bible, the covenant existed only with the genealogical (Jewish), or spiritual (Christian) descendants of Isaac. The Muslims, in a daring revisionist creation of history, and now as masters of the Holy Land, sought to negate the Jewish-Christian covenantal claims by showing Ishmael as the favored and sacrificial son. The Qur'an does indeed state that the Jews broke their covenant (See 2: 40, 83, 86, 90; 4:154-5; 5:12-3), but this does not mean that the covenant was passed on to the Muslims, and that the Muslims were now the rightful inheritors of the land of Israel. Certainly there are verses of polemic against Jews in the Qur'an, but these verses clearly have nothing to do with the land of Israel, for Moses, in the Qur'an is clearly identified as coming to the tribe of Israel, and advocating on their behalf (Q7: 105). In Q5: 20-1, he addresses them as "My tribe," exhorting them to enter the Holy Land (Q5: 20-1). There is therefore no substance to the argument that somehow, since Muslims respect all the Biblical prophets, this is any way makes them the new inheritors of the Temple site in Jerusalem or any part of Israel.
The shallowness of this argument is also evidenced by the fact that when this land was wrested from the Byzantines by the Muslim armies in 638, its first capital was Lod (Lydda). While Muslim tradition had recognized Jerusalem as the first Qibla, and probably also identified it with the site of Muhammad's night journey (Q17: 1), it would seem that the early Muslims were keenly aware of the Qur'anic teaching that Israel (including obviously Jerusalem) is a holy land to the Jews-as evidenced by the traditions that show Umar, after initially agreeing to the Christian request to ban Jews from Jerusalem, later relented and decreed that the city should be opened to the Jews. The stories of Umar's journeying to Jerusalem, and consulting Ka'b al-Ahbar about the site of the temple, seem to be, as pointed out by Goitein, to be pious fictions. The purpose of such narratives, as in the case of the hadith dictating that one should journey to the Masjid al-Aqsa , seem to create authority through back-projection of sayings to respected early personalities. In fact, it was during the caliphate of Muawiya (661-680) that building of the Masjid al-Aqsa commenced. By all reports, Abdel Malik (r. 685-705) was the one who finalized the construction and also built the Dome of the Rock. The construction was not in order to fulfill any scriptural or prophetic mandate; it was just to demonstrate to the Muslims that Abdel Malik was the rightful champion of a conquering Islam.
Muslim exegetes, as long as the Jews were a scattered people, could discuss the concept of the size of Israel, as this was to them, something purely theoretical. The victors over the Byzantines, carried away by their conquest, had no need to reflect on the words of the Qur'an. But after the unthinkable happened in 1948 with the establishment of the state of Israel, followed by the crushing defeat of the Arabs in 1967, the political problem that had hitherto been probably perceived as a nagging headache, now metamorphosed into a full-blown Judenfrage, perceived by many as a sign of the last days of the eschatological imagery of both Christian and Islamic traditions. The matter now transformed itself from purely political into one of religious significance.
In 1968, the Academy of Islamic Research met at Azhar university to discuss the situation in light of the new religious focus, transforming what had hitherto been a war based from an Arab nationalist manifesto into a Jihad. Among the resolutions taken, and listed as per conference referencing were:
(1a) That the causes for which combat and Jihad must be taken up as defined in the Holy Qur'an are all manifest in the Israeli aggression, since the Israelis had launched attacks against the Arab and Muslim territories, violated what is regarded as most sacred in Islam, with regard to both its rites and boundaries. . . for all these reasons, striving with one's life and wealth against the aggressors has become a binding duty every Muslim has to fulfill. . . "
(1f) The Conference recommends the mobilization of all the material and moral resources of the Arab and Islamic nation, and to train all militarily fit in wielding arms.
(6b) The Conference declares that Muslims everywhere will not remain mere spectators in the fact of Zionist racist covetousness in the Arab and Islamic worlds, nor will they shrink from giving their lives in defence of their countries and sanctities, and for the restoration of their usurped land.

It is clear that the resolutions of the conference were not immediately upheld by those fighting for the Palestinian cause, for the atrocities of the Munich Olympics, occurring four years after these resolutions, exhibited no trace of "Jihad" slogans. But the Islamic universities in the Middle East, with the petro-dollars that were netted by the oil-embargo and the subsequent inflation of oil-prices, were able to recruit thousands of foreign students and train them in this militant anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, sometimes blatantly anti-Semitic ideology.
The successes of the religiously structured Hizbollah and Hamas have given further impetus to the religious thrust. In addition to this, as noted by Professor Shibley Telhami,
In the Arab world, the conflict is also being reframed, not in relation to Israel or Zionism, but to Jews. This is still the exception, but more common than it was just months ago. It's not a return to the old ways. Pan-Arabism, when it prevailed, opposed the 'Zionist entity," not Jews. The dominant political culture differentiated Zionism, as an ideology, from Jews and Jewishness. . .

In fact, the reframing of the conflict has long occurred in the farthest reaches of the world of Islam, as far as being expressed in terms of Muslim versus Jew. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 crime, there were conspiracy theories being bandied about on several Islamic websites, noting that the true perpetrators were the Jews.
The internet has created a new web of hate literature now, and the claims for Israel and Jerusalem being a Muslim land are abundant on the various websites. For all their claimed recourse to Islamic source material, these websites demonstrate an amazing ignorance, either actual or feigned, of the verses of the Qur'an cited in this presentation. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I had opined that, for there to be any initiative of peace from the Muslim side, one or both of two things have to be done: (1) the Arab-Israeli conflict must be divested of its religious garb, or (2) Muslims must be made aware of the difference between the Quran and Hadith, or at least focus strongly on the Qur'an. I still hold to those opinions, but now must take into consideration another factor that has recently come into play, with Middle Eastern Muslims calling for developments that can bring about my suggested approach to the Arab-Israeli issue.
The spate of terrorism that shocked the entire world since the invasion of Iraq, and the exposed terrorist mentality of several of the so-called religious men of Islam have shocked many Muslims into decrying the very leaders from whom they previously would have sought guidance. It has become clear to some Muslims that the barbarity to which many of their coreligionists, along with the encouragement of religious leaders, have resorted are alien to the ideals of Islam. Recently, therefore, what would have been hitherto unthinkable, has become a reality. The pervasive silence in the Arab Muslim world that followed 9/11 is being replaced by strident voices of dissent and censure. Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiyya News Channel, wrote in al-Sharq al-Awsat:
It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims. . . Bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world were Muslim. What a pathetic record!
. . . Let us listen to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Sheikh. . . and hear him recite his "fatwa" about the religious permissibility of killing civilian Americans in Iraq. . . How could this sheikh face the mother of the youthful Nick Berg who was slaughtered in Iraq because he wanted to build communication towers in that ravished country? How can we believe him when he tells us that Islam is the religion of mercy and peace while he is turning it into the religion of blood and slaughter?
. . . An innocent and benevolent religion, whose verses prohibit the felling of trees in the absence of urgent necessity, that calls murder the most heinous of crimes, that says explicitly that if you kill one person you have killed humanity as a whole, has been turned into a global message of hate and a universal war cry.
We cannot call those who take schoolchildren as hostages our own. We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder civilians, explode buses; we cannot accept them as related to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds. These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image.

The former dean of the law school of Qatar, Dr. Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari, has spoken out against the penchant of the Muslim world to deny acts of Islamist terrorism and instead blame them on Jewish conspiracies. Some of the excerpts from Dr. Ansari's address are worth citing:
I do not know how long this [Muslim] arrogance will continue. Why don't we want to acknowledge that these young people were the sons of a culture that is hostile toward the world, not idiots or mad. No one enticed them, and they did not suffer from oppression, repression, or poverty. They carried out the operation because of their belief that it was Jihad and martyrdom. They were our young people and our sons, and they were our responsibility . . .
'We have Incited [Our Youth] to Die for the Sake of Allah'
It is we who stole their future, and we have sinned against them because of our backwards education, because of our harmful religious views, because of our inciting preachers' pulpits, and because of our violent media. It is we who have not succeeded in giving their existence value and meaning, and have not made life better for them than death. We have incited them to die for the sake of Allah, and have not taught them how to live for the sake of Allah.
How long will we make life hell for our young people? How long will we continue to replay the record about American injustice and world justice towards us as pathetic justification for the violence and terror among us - as if we are the only nation suffering from injustice…
Why, in fact, are we the only nation enchanted by the theory that a Jewish conspiracy stands behind events? Why does the tree of conspiracy bloom on our soil…? And why are we still prisoners of theories whose falsity has been proven…?

Dr. Sa'd al-Din Ibrahim, Chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center in Cairo, at a recent conference in Cairo (October 5,6, 2004), along with other Muslim thinkers, issued a statement that called for, inter alia, the reliance on the Qur'anic text as the sole authentic source to be utilized for reviewing the entire Islamic heritage." These statements all note that many Muslims are not only beginning to reexamine the culture of death and terrorism that have developed out of a hadith-based Judeophobia and all things related to Judaism, among them Zionism, but that they are beginning to speak out loudly. Upon the recent death of Arafat, the rhetoric coming from parts of the Arab world shows that he was not as beloved as many propaganda organs would have us believe. Anis Mansur, an Egyptian journalist, declared in Al-Ahram, "Arafat has left the Palestinian people facing a difficult choice and a test. This opportunity must not be missed. The Palestinian people must prove to the world that it can have one stand and one leadership in order to renew the struggle in a different form."
It is true that Islam is still used as the cohesive force among those opposed to the state of Israel, but in light of the growing voices of dissonance in the Muslim world as outlined in the foregoing discourse shows that the trend towards reexamination and rejection of non-Qur'anic traditional material is getting stronger. Given too that, with Arafat's demise, the United States has sought to reestablish communication with the Palestinian authority, it is possible that the Palestinians and Muslim world at large may begin to rethink their opposition to rapprochement. When Presidents Clinton and Bush refused to have anything to do with Arafat after the Oslo Accords fiasco, they sent out a message to the Arab and Muslim world at large: the steps towards peace have to be taken by the Arabs and Muslims. Now more than ever, the opportunity for a new and revised approach remains open. The tyrants of the Muslim world have been dethroned, isolated, ostracized or coerced into realizing that they cannot have their way. Saddam languishes in prison, Osama is a fugitive, and Saudi Arabia now realizes that it must take up arms against extremist elements within its own border.
The foregoing developments must factor into any prognosis. Even Shaykh Abdallah Nimr Darwish agreed in some form with one of my suggestions. The position attributed to him in Haaretz is that "the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is national and political, not religious." If that is the case then, surely the respected Shaykh must agree that the religious incitements to violence, exemplified by calls to Jihad, and talks of ethereal virgins, are wrong, and must cease. If the conflict is not religious, then there must be no room for Palestinian imams to exhort to violence in their Friday sermons.
Once again then, we have seen that the factors that incite hatred and violence can be avoided. We have the building blocks that can be used to form a foundation for peace. I have shown you that terrorism is NOT the doing of Islam, but rather a minority of misanthropes. I address my words only to the Palestinians, because the majority of them share my faith, and when they suffer, I too suffer. They must, I believe, realize that they must follow the example of Egypt and Jordan, and make peace with Israel by abandoning terrorist activity. I do not address words to Israelis for there is no need to do so: amongst them are several who exhort their countrymen to peace and several who stridently speak out against Israel when it does things that are wrong. Israelis must have noted by now that power and force will not achieve any lasting peace and security. Arabs and Muslims must realize that Israel is here to stay and that terrorist acts against Israel only strengthen the resolve of the Israelis, and malign the name of Islam. God, according to the Qur'an, will not change the condition of a people until they change it themselves. There is no time like the present to embark on a process of change.


1. Islam's scripture.
2. Islam's oral tradition, wherein provenance is putatively attributed to Muhammad.
3. See Neusner, Jacob and Tamara Sonn. Comparing Religions Through Law: Judaism and Islam [London and New York: Routledge, 1999], 191-194. Here the authors clearly distinguish between enlandisement and secular/political Zionism, pointing out that the two terms intersect in terms of the importance accorded by both to a particular territory (ibid, 193). Since the Qur'an 5:20-1, like the Torah, sees a specific geographic area as belonging and governed by the children of Israel, I feel comfortable using the term.
4. In fact, this is the only time in the Qur'an that a land is described as "holy." (Q 5:21) This verse refutes
the claim of Neusner and Sonn that enlandisement is unique to Judaism, and has no counterpart in Islam (1999, 199). To be sure, the Qur'an does not believe the God is to be found in any one land, but this is only one aspect of enlandisement. The Qur'an 5:21 is extremely clear that Israel, by divine decree, is the land of the people of Moses. Qur'an 2:116, quoted by Neusner and Sonn to show that the Qur'an is not concerned with a specific piece of land, in fact applies to only one aspect of enlandisement-that God is whereever one turns. That verse deals with the direction of prayer, and does NOT in any way deny Israel as the land conferred on the Jews by divine decree.
5. See also Madigan, Daniel. The Qur'an's Self-Image: Writing and Authority in Islam's Scripture
(Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001), 190-1.
6. Al-Tabari, Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Jarir. 1961. Jami al Bayan fi Ta'wil Aay al-Qur'an. (Cairo: Dar al Ma'arif, 1961), 10:169
7. Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur'an. (Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus, 1984),p. 943, footnote 11.
8. Al-Tabarsi, Abu Ali al-Fadl b. Husayn. Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al- Lubnani, 1957), 2:64.
9. Ibn Kathir, Abu al-Fida. Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Azim (Beirut: Dar al-Ma'rifa, 1980), 2:37.
10. Al-Shawkani, Muhammad Ali. Fath al-Qadir: al-Jami bayna fannay al-Riwaya wa al-Diraya min Ilm al-Tafsir (Beirut, Dar al-Fikr, 1992), 2:41.
11. Al-Tabataba'i, Muhammad Husayn. Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an (Tehran: Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya,
1959), 5:312.
14. Al-Tabari, 10:167-8.
Al-Shawkani, 2:41.
14. In the hadith on p., the site of Jesus' defeat of the antichrist is at Lod (Lydda) rather than Jerusalem. This,
I think, is because Jerusalem is a sacred site, and fighting, by Qur'anic law, is forbidden in such places (Q2:191). Lod was the first place captured by the Romans on their way to Jerusalem, and this was duplicated by the Arab Muslims on their way to the capture of that city. It is possible that the Muslim reporters saw Lod site for all major battles preceding the taking of Jerusalem.
15. See also my article "Probing the identity of the sacrificial son in the Qur'an" Journal of Religion and Culture (13) 1999. 125-138.
16. Siddiqi, Muzzamil "The Islamic Perspective of Jerusalem" at Conference of American Muslims for Jerusalem, Washington, D.C. April 17, 1999. See speech on
18. Goitein, S.D. "al-Kuds" in Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden: Brill 1958), 5:322-38.
19. Supra, p. 7
20. Elad, Amikam. Medieval Jerusalem and Islamic Worship (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 24. Note too his reliance
on Jewish midrash that states Muawiya built the walls of the Temple Mount.
21. Goitein, S. Studies in Islamic History and Institutions. (Leiden: Brill, 1966), 140, 147.
22. The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research (Cairo, General Organization for
Government Printing Offices, 1970), 921-928.
23. Telhami, Shibley. "Timidity Risks more Bloodshed." Los Angeles Times (May 27, 2001), Op Ed Section. For electronic version, see
24. See, special dispatch # 792, on the words of Dr. Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari, former dean,
Faculty of Shari'a at the University of Qatar.
26. See , special report #792.
27. Ibid.
29. Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 10, 2004.


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