Sunday, January 28, 2007

Palestine; Islamic Never-Never Land -

"Palestine" has become idealized and fantasized in Muslim thought. However, this illusion is as thin as the veils that Muslim women wear in front of their eyes. Muhammad never spoke of an entity called "Palestine" and he never referred specifically to it, as something important to Islam.

(The first picture in this profile is an example. Quaint and beautiful, I must admit, but deceiving nonetheless.)

Actually, Jerusalem or the Land of Israel having any practical importance to the religion of Islam was not an opinion shared by Muhammad. After he died, indecision on who should be his heir arose in the Muslim world. His family (and their supporters) sought for it to say within the family, while other Muslims did not believe that rule should be dynastic and relegated to Muhammad's family. The Umayyad Dynasty based in Syria was one of several Muslim dynasties, and its leader, Umar, sought to collect power for his dynasty. The Muslms that supported Muhammad's family later became known as "Shi'a" Muslims, and those who believed that anyone could be the heir later became known as "Sunni."

During Muhammad's lifetime, he specifically stated the belief that the Prophet and Patriarch Abraham travelled to Mecca to sacrifice Ishmael, and also stated that the Torah's record of Abraham wanting to sacrifice Isaac was a Jewish fabrication. Since the sacrifice of Isaac, according to the Torah, was to take place in Jerusalem, Muhammad was entirely against the idea that Jerusalem have any importance in Islam, lest it become 'Judaized." Therefore, Mecca was the 1st important holy site and Medina was the 2nd.

Within Umar's Umayyad Dynasty was the city of Jerusalem, a holy site to Judaism and Christianity, and so he reasoned that he had to have a political project in order to gain power in that area of land. His idea was to "Islamicize" Jerusalem, i.e., to introduce its significance into the narrative of Islam. He took the verse from the Qur'an referring to Muhammad's Night Journey, which most likely up until that point referred to two separate mosques in Mecca and Medina, and applied it to the site of the (destroyed) Temple in Jerusalem. The verse refers to "the farthest mosque," in Arabic "al masjid al aqsa," and so he built a mosque in Jerusalem and named it "Al Masjid Al Aqsa," "the farthest mosque." There most likely was an outcry in the community of those Muslims who supported Muhammad's family's rule, but all was said and done after Muhammad had died and he was not there to resist the changes that Umar introduced into Islam. Eventually, the entirety of the Muslim world accepted the changes, even the Shi'as, who were loyal to Muhammad and his ideas and supported the next in leadership coming from his line. The Shi'a acceptance of Jerusalem's significance in Islam was to accept Umar's interpretation of the Qur'an, which involved a re-reading and alteration of the events of Muhammad's life.

It is important to understand that the relationship between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims was not in the least cordial after the dispute of leadership had arisen, and even today, despite the agreement on the significance of Jerusalem in Islam, there are certain lasting polemics between Sunni's and Shi'as. A book written in 1997 by Wilferd Madelung, named "The Succession to Muhammad," ( Cambridge University Press) states, "In face of the fake Umayyad claim to legitimate sovereignty in Islam as God's Vicegerents on earth, and in view of Umayyad treachery, arbitrary and divisive government, and vindictive retribution, they came to appreciate his (Ali) honesty, his unbending devotion to the reign of Islam, his deep personal loyalties, his equal treatment of all his supporters, and his generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies." A historical overview of the Shi'a-Sunni split can be found here. This is relevant because despite lasting disputes, sometimes, as shown, polemical and occasionally violent, there was agreement between them on the place of Jerusalem in Islam. The Muslim polemics against Judaism and Jews had the capability of overshadowing Muslim polemics against each other. The presence of an external religious enemy allowed Muslims to lay to rest disputes regarding Jerusalem's place in Islam, a gigantic issue, while other issues, arguably less dramatic in nature, remained alive. Further, the very fact that Shi'as believe Umar's change to be reflective of historical truth speaks only to the success of Umar's campaign and to nothing else. The fact is that by following him they neglect and deviate from the callings of the founder of Islam.

Nevertheless, Umar's changes had the psychological importance of attaching the verse to Jerusalem. Years later Umar built the golden-domed shrine to Muhammad on top of the Holy of Holies, the holiest section of the Temple. Its name, "the Dome of the Rock," refers to the rock on which Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac. Therefore, Jerusalem became the "third holiest site of Islam." Since then, Muslim interest in Jerusalem has spread to all of the Land of Israel, and the term "Palestine" is the latest manifestation of that wholly un-Islamic want for Israel. Muslim "love of Israel" is entirely un-Islamic, and "puritanical Muslims," those committed to the leadership of Muhammad and his founding of the religion of Islam, per the Mouth of All-ah, should at least be honest to his callings and not unknowingly loyal to the changes introduced by his opponent, Umar. The Sunni's too are living a lie by glorifying Jerusalem and the mosques there, which are buildings intended to be stumbling blocks to the Jews - there is no reason for those edifices other than politics, which Islam supposedly rejects.

Related Posts:

The Torah is not the Qur'an

G-d Always Chose the Younger Son

Will the Real Akediah Please Stand Up?

A Fire not Pleasing to All-h

G-d of Sameness

Jews and Muslims Clash

Ishmael/Ismail in the Bible and Qur'an

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