Saturday, December 12, 2009

Do Muslims Have A Legal Right Over Jerusalem?

IN The Year 2000, Israelis and the Palestinians were on the verge of signing at Camp David, under the auspices of the then American President Bill Clinton, a historical agreement that would have settled all the disputes between them and brought peace and prosperity to the Middle East, in general, and to the Muslims of Palestine and the Jews of Israel, in particular.

This agreement would also have made our earth a much better place for all of us to live in relative peace.

But when all the arrangements were ready for the signing of the agreement, the Palestinians backed out, demanding, among others, that the Israelis grant them complete sovereignty over East Jerusalem’s Islamic holy site, in particular, the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

But what right do the Muslims have to claim their complete sovereignty over East Jerusalem and why Israel should not cave in to their demand? To find the answer to this crucial question, we need to go to the Quran and see what it says about Jerusalem and if Muslims have at all any right over it.

The name “Jerusalem” does not appear in the Quran.

However, a verse in it supposedly alludes to Jerusalem, saying:

17:1: Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).”

Muhammad was clearly the speaker of this verse. He claimed that Allah took him for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque (in Mecca) to the farthest Mosque whose precinct Allah blessed in order that he could show Muhammad some of His Signs. Muhammad, however, did not describe where that farthest mosque was located and what Signs of Allah he had seen at or in the vicinity of that mosque.

In the footnote to the above verse, Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, one of the foremost Muslim scholars, confirms that the Mosque referred to in the verse was located in Jerusalem.[1] N. J. Dawood holds the same opinion.[2] Abdullah Yusuf Ali, having been helped by the Hadith literature as well as by his strenuous study of them, which also enabled him to elucidate the mystical meaning of the journey, maintains: “The holy Prophet was first transported to the seat of the earlier revelations in Jerusalem, and then taken through the seven heavens, even to the Sublime Throne, and initiated into the spiritual mysteries of the human soul struggling in Space and Time.”[3]

The location of the so-called ‘Farthest Mosque’ (‘Masjidul Aqsa’ in Arabic) thus established, let us now focus on whether the night journey Muhammad had allegedly made was corporeal, or a dream

But before doing that, let us note one important fact, it being: curiosity to know has always been one of mankind’s strongest instincts. It is not that this instinct is possessed only by the humans, even animals, such as ape and bear et al, are also born with it that allows them to know their surroundings before they can venture out into a difficult and dangerous world of their own.

The fact that man had always been curious to know about him, his supposed creator, his surroundings and the universe is manifest from the religious scriptures, in which, at least eighty-five percent of today’s world population firmly believe, supposedly, in order to live a “righteous life.” From these scriptures, we learn how our distant ancestors had tried to uncover the heavens’ secrets. Two of the secrets they tried to unveil related to our origin and the mysteries that abound in the heavens.

Because all humans have originated from a single couple (i.e. Adam and his wife who had only sons and no daughters), all humans in the beginning naturally spoke a single language. Using the unity brought to them by their common language, they took to building a tower to the heavens, so that they could learn what was going on inside each one of the seven heavens.

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