Thursday, November 01, 2007

Because Allah is Fair: A Reason to Revisit the Issue of Jerusalem


"The former mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, has made the claim that there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall was really part of a mosque.

"There was never a Jewish temple on Al-Aksa [the mosque compound] and there is no proof that there was ever a temple," he told The Jerusalem Post via a translator. "Because Allah is fair, he would not agree to make Al-Aksa if there were a temple there for others beforehand."

Asked if Jews would ever be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount under Muslim control, he replied: "It is not the Temple Mount, you must say Al-Aksa. And no Jews have the right to pray at the mosque. It was always only a mosque - all 144 dunams, the entire area. No Jewish prayer. If the Jews want real peace, they must not do anything to try to pray on Al-Aksa. Everyone knows that."

"Zionism tries to trick the Jews claiming that this was part of a Jewish temple, but they dug there and they found nothing," Sabri added.” By Mike Seid, The Jerusalem Post, October 25, 2007.

* * *

If properly appreciated, what Mr. Sabri says is good news for Israel, Muslims and peace.

The whole idea of a Jewish temple existing on what many of us call the Temple Mount is seen as one big Zionist lie in the Muslim world. The last time I was in Egypt, Egyptian “scholars” that I met insisted that there was no Jewish temple on this land. I was flabbergasted.

At the end of the road, any road, true durable peace will come between Israel and the Arab/Muslim world only when these 144 dumans (35.5 acres) are shared, or either Jews or Muslims give up any claim to it.

Now undoubtedly, Mr. Sabri well knows verse 4:135 of the Quran that calls on Muslims to be absolutely equitable.

To him, there could never have been a Jewish temple where Al-Aksa is because it would simply be beyond Allah to do such a thing.

I understand this. From Mr. Sabri’s perspective, this makes perfect sense. It is ethical thinking.

As he said, "Because Allah is fair, he would not agree to make Al-Aksa if there were a temple there for others beforehand."

But in his analysis, Mr. Sabri fails to consider the possibility that Al-Aksa is not what Muslims now claim it to be—the farthest place of prostration adjacent to which Mohammed ascended to heaven one night.

Following Mr. Sabri’s logic, the very establishment of the Jewish temple on this site would negate the possibility that Al-Aksa is what it is claimed. If a Jewish temple existed here, it is reason enough for the Muslims to cede the area without further debate regarding the current meaning of Al-Aksa to anyone.

Here’s what I know from history.

Al-Aksa is a converted Christian church. The original building was the Byzantine Church of Saint Mary of Justinian. At the time of Mohammed’s death, Muslims had not yet invaded Jerusalem.

The idea that this spot was the farthest place of prostration was an invention of the Umayyad Dynasty about 80 years after Mohammed’s death as a challenge to other Muslim powers in Mecca. Ibn Taymiya, one of the most influential religious thinkers in Islam dismissed as folly the idea that this site was the place of Mohammed’s ascent to heaven. (I detail this topic in greater detail in my book, The Case for a Larger Israel).

Now, presuming Mr. Sabri is an equitable Muslim, and truly believes in the fairness of Allah as he has stated, revisiting the historical truth would be worthwhile.

Let us as an international community decide once and for all what is true and what is false regarding this potential powder keg. If sharing is out of the question, there will be no peace without deciding between the two narratives.

Here’s the deal.

If there was no Jewish temple on what I call the Temple Mount, then Israel and Jews everywhere should walk away from these 144 dunams. End of story. I’m not saying Israel doesn’t need to be larger to be viable and successful well into the future. I’m just saying that if a Jewish temple wasn’t here, there is no reason to pretend otherwise. Israel doesn’t need to retain these particular 35+ acres.

But if there is demonstrable evidence of a Jewish temple on this site, (and it would be just for the U.N. to call for proper and internationally supervised archaeological work), then the Muslims should at the very least share the area.

Further, if it can be established by the historical record (and it can) that the holiness of Al-Aksa was an after-the-fact hoax on Muslims by the Umayyad Dynasty, it would be equitable for the Muslims to cede, once and for all, all 144 dunams to the state of Israel, as keepers of the holiest site in all of Judaism.

In the name of fairness and peace, it does not desecrate either Judaism or Islam to seek and spread the truth. Let us all start doing so.

--David Naggar