JERUSALEM, July 2, 1998, Root & Branch: From an Islamic point of view, is there any fundamental reason which prohibits Moslems from recognizing Israel as a friendly State?
I realize that a negative answer to the above question is taken for granted by popular opinion. My approach, however, is not based on popular opinion or the current political situation, but on a theological analysis of authentic Islamic sources.
Viewing the Jewish return to Israel as a Western invasion and Zionists as recent colonizers is new. It has no basis in authentic Islamic faith. According to the Koran, no person, people or religious community can claim a permanent right of possession over any territory. The Earth belongs exclusively to G-d, and He is free to entrust sovereignty over land to whomever He likes for whatever time period that He chooses.
"Say: 'O God, King of the kingdom (1), Thou givest the kingdom to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off the kingdom from whom Thou pleasest; Thou endowest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: all the best is in Thy hand. Verily, Thou hast power over all things.'"(2) (Koran 3:26)
From the above Koranic verse we deduce a basic principle of the Monotheistic philosophy of history: G-d chooses as He likes in the relationship between peoples and countries. Sometimes He gives a land to a people, and sometimes He takes His possession back and gives it to another people. In general, we can say that He gives as a reward for faithfulness and takes back as a punishment for wickedness, but this rule does not permit us to say that God's ways are always plain and clear to our eyes, since His secrets are inaccessible to the human intellect.
Using Islam as a basis for preventing Arabs from recognizing any sovereign right of Jews over the Land of Israel is new. Such beliefs are not found in classical Islamic sources. Concluding that anti-Zionism is the logical outgrowth of Islamic faith is wrong. This conclusion represents the false transformation of Islam from a religion into a secularized ideology.
Such a false transformation of Islam was in fact made by the late Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini. He is the one person most responsible, both morally and materially, for the repeated Arab defeats in their conflict with the Jews in Israel. Husseni not only incited Arabs against Jews. He also encouraged the torture and murder of all Arabs who correctly understood that Arab cooperation with Jews was a precious opportunity for the development of the Land of Israel. Husseini ended his woeful life by putting his perverted religious teachings at the service of the evil and pagan Nazis.
After Husseini came Jamal al-Din 'Abd al-Nasser. Nasser based his policy on Pan-Arabism, hatred and contempt for Jews, and an alliance with the atheistic Soviet Union. Nasser's terrible choices were critical factors in maintaining Arab backwardness. Fortunately, most of Nasser's mistakes were afterward corrected by the martyr Anwar Sadat. (3)
After the defeat of Nasserianism, Islamic fundamentalist movements made anti-Zionism the primary feature of their propaganda. They presented the negation of any Jewish rights to the Land of Israel as rooted in authentic Islam and derived from authentic Islamic religious principles.
The fundamentalist Moslem program to use Islam as an instrument for political warfare against Jews finds a major obstacle in the Koran itself. Both the Bible and the Koran state quite clearly that the right of the Israelites to the Land of Israel does not depend on conquest and colonization. This right flows from the will of almighty G-d Himself.
Both the Jewish and Islamic Scriptures teach that G-d, through His chosen servant Moses, decided to free the offspring of Jacob from slavery in Egypt and to constitute them as heirs of the Promised Land. Whoever claims that Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel is something new and rooted in human politics denies divine revelation and divine prophecy as explicitly expressed in our Holy Books (the Bible and Koran).
The Koran relates the words by which Moses ordered the Israelites to conquer the Land:
"And [remember] when Moses said to his people: 'O my people, call in remembrance the favour of G-d unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave to you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people, enter the Holy Land which G-d has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.'" (4) (Koran 5:20-21)
Moreover - and those who try to use Islam as a weapon against Israel always conveniently ignore this point - the Holy Koran explicitly refers to the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel before the Last Judgment - where it says:
"And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.'" (5) (Koran 17:104) Therefore, from an Islamic point of view, there is NO fundamental reason which prohibits Moslems from recognizing Israel as a friendly State.
1. The original Arabic word we translated as "kingdom" is mulk, from a Semitic root m-l-k, that is common to both Arabic and Hebrew. According to Islamic theological terminology, the three synonyms for "kingdom" are mulk, malakūt and jabarūt. They refer respectively to the physical, psychical and spiritual levels of existence. Of course, G-d can be called King of all of them; if here only mulk is quoted, it depends on the fact that this verse directly concerns the earthly domain. To denote a kingdom in the secular and political sense, Arabic commonly uses another derived form, that is mamlakah.
2. Koran 3:26. For typographical reasons, it is not possible to reproduce here the original Arabic text of the Koran, which must nevertheless be understood as quoted. As well here as in other Koranic quotations, the English translation of the meaning of Koranic words from Arabic is my own, but based on the most authoritative English commentaries, such as M. Marmaduke Pickthall's "The Meaning of The Glorious Koran" (Beirut 1973), 'A. Yūsuf 'Ali, "The Holy Koran - Text, Translation and Commentary" (Maryland 1983) and A. 'A. Maududi "The Holy Koran - Text, Translation and Brief Notes" (Lahore 1986).
3. In using the term "martyr" I do not simply refer to one who lost his life for a good cause. I give a precise translation of the Arabic word "shahid," which identifies a "martyr" in the strictly religious sense; that is to say, someone who spent his life serving the cause of G-d. Since making peace with former enemies is an explicit Koranic order (see Koran 8:61), and since, according to Islam, Peace is G-d Himself, any believer who is killed because of his search for Peace must be understood as a religious martyr. The same considerations clearly apply to Yitzhak Rabin.
4. Koran 5:20-21 (emphasis added).
5. Koran 17:104 (emphasis added).
Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi of Rome, Italy, is Moslem Co-Chairman of the Root & Branch Association's Islam-Israel Fellowship, which encourages a positive Moslem attitude towards Jews and Israel based on the authentic teachings of Mohammed as revealed by the Koran and Hadith (Islamic oral tradition). Dr. Asher Eder of Jerusalem, Israel, is the Jewish Co-Chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship.
Prof. Palazzi is also Secretary General of the Italian Muslim Association and an Imam (spiritual teacher) of the Italian Islamic Community. He holds a Ph.D in Islamic Sciences by decreee of the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
"I will be as the dew unto Israel; He shall blossom as the lily, and cast forth his ROOTS as Lebanon. His BRANCHES shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his fragrance as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall again make corn to grow, and shall blossom as the vine; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon." (Hosea 14:6-8)
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