By Omar Tarhuni, 21 July 2000
What is going on nowadays in Camp David is not only a Palestinian issue. The future of Jerusalem and Bait Al Muqdes is an Islamic cause, which concerns all Muslims who care for the Muslim Ummah and its dignity. Today’s Kutbah’s is intended as a reminder for those who know the truth about Palestine, its history and its significance in Islam. It is also intended to provide the young generation that may not know, with the truth about Palestine, Jerusalem and its significance to all Muslims. The truth about Palestine and Jerusalem has been ignored for many years. And now, it is being distorted and mutilated by the western media. They are concerned with intensity of the negotiations, with the mode of President Clinton and his legacy.
Palestine has been the center of the struggle between the Muslim World and Western Christendom, for many centuries. In the past century, it has also become the center of the struggle between the Muslim World and the Zionist movement.
The significance of Palestine in the Islamic faith and throughout Islamic History is second only to the significance of Mecca and Madina. The loss of Palestine in 1948 is second only to the downfall of the Islamic Caliphate as the greatest loss to the Muslim Ummah in this century, and the two events are strongly linked. What is the land of Palestine? What is its significance in Islam? What is the real nature of the conflict over Palestine? And what is the solution to its current occupation?
THE LAND OF PALESTINE
Until the end of First World War, Palestine was part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. After First World War, the British colonizers separated Palestine from the general area that included what is known today as Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. For the first time in its history, Palestine became a country with defined borders and a defined area.
PALESTINE IN ISLAMIC FAITH
The significance of Palestine in the Islamic faith is evident by the frequent references to it in both the Quran and the Ahadith of the Prophet.
The greatest significance of Palestine for the Muslims is that it contains Baitul-Maqdis, the holiest place in Islam outside of the Hijaz. Both Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock are built in the area of the Baitul-Maqdis. Baitul-Maqdis was the center of Isra' and Mi'raj of Prophet Muhammad. In the Quran Allah says:
"Glory be to the One who took his servant on a journey by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram (in Mecca) to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem) whose precincts we have blessed....." 17/1)
Al Aqsa was the second Mosque established on earth after Al- Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca. In the hadith Abu Dhar said:
"Once I asked the Prophet what was the first mosque established on the earth; he said Al- Masjid Al-Haram. Then I asked him: then, which mosque? He replied "Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa".
Al Aqsa was the first Qibla. The Muslims faced towards Baitul-Maqdis when praying during the entire Meccan period and for the first 16 months of the Medinian period, after which Allah ordered the Qibla to be changed towards the Kaaba in Mecca.
Praying in Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is equivalent to 500 times the prayers in any other mosque except for Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid An-Nabawi in Madina. In the Hadith the Prophet said: "Prayers in Al-Masjid Al-Haram are equivalent to 100,000 prayers, and prayers in my Masjid (in Madina) are equivalent to 1000 prayers, and prayers in Baitul-Maqdis are equivalent to 500 prayers." Tabarani
In addition, there are several verses in the Holy Quran and several Ahadith of the Prophet that describe both the significance of Baitul-Maqdis in Islam and the fact that Allah has blessed the land around it. The various Quranic revelations and Prophetic statements concerning the blessed land of Palestine made the land so dear to the companions of the Prophet to such an extent that when Omar ibn Al-Khattab entered the area for the first time he announced that all the lands of Palestine would be part of the Islamic Waqf for the Muslim generations to come. Palestine (as a blessed and holy land) is therefore extremely important to all Muslims.
PALESTINE IN ISLAMIC HISTORY
The history of Palestine represents the history of Islam from Adam to Prophet Muhammad. Palestine is the land of the prophets who were sent with the message of Islam.
Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is a holy site where many of the prophets were born or died, including Prophets Ibrahim, Lut, Dawood, Suleiman, Musa and Isa. Baitul-Maqdis was the site of Isra' and Mi'raj of Prophet Muhammad.
Palestine was brought under Muslim control at the time of Omar ibn al-Khattab, the second Khalifa of the Muslims. Palestine was then made part of the Islamic State.
The new Islamic rule was welcomed not only by the Muslims but also by the Jews and Christians of Palestine who had formerly been living under the tyranny of Byzantium. The Byzantine Empire were persecuting the Christians of the area because they belonged to a different Christian sect. The Muslims however, guaranteed all Christians freedom of religion regardless of their sect.
This was confirmed by the famous document, which is known as the "Covenant of Omar" as the Caliph Omar signed it.
In the year 1099 AD, Palestine was invaded by the European Crusaders and subsequently occupied for nearly a century. During the occupation, massacres and great injustices were committed against the Muslim, Jewish and native Christian residents of the area. The only law applied in the Holy Land was the law of force and persecution.
For 91 years the crusaders tried to root themselves in Palestine and Jerusalem. For 91 years the Muslims were denied worship in the Holy Land. On Friday 2 October, 1187 AD Baitul Magdes was liberated by the Muslims under the leadership of Salah al-Din Al-Ayyubi who brought back to Palestine its Islamic heart and face. As he said:
"I turned to the native land a part that had been missing from it"
And on Friday the 9th of October 1187 the Muslim were able to pray their first Friday in Al Aqsa after an absence of 91 years.
In 1917 the British government issued the infamous Balfour Declaration which declared Palestine to be a homeland for Jews. At that time Jews made up approximately 8% of the population of Palestine and owned approximately 2.5% of the land. In 1948 The Zionists claimed the establishment of a state for themselves over the land of Palestine and called it Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were forced out of Palestine under the military pressure of Zionist terrorists, which were financed and armed by the British army.
In 1967 Israel attacked Egypt, Jordan and Syria and occupied more land including for the first time Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. Since that time Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa has been the target of several attempts by the Israelis to destroy or burn it, including several attempts to bring about its collapse through underground excavations. The Zionists know that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is a symbol of the Islamic nature of the land and they want to remove any trace of Islamic civilization from Palestine.
When looking at the significance of Palestine within the Islamic faith and the central role it has played throughout Islamic history, one can see that the real nature of the conflict is conflict between right and wrong, between good and evil between justice and oppression.
The existence of a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim World and the occupation of Al Masjid Al-Aqsa is symbolic of the weakness of the Muslim Ummah and Muslims’ own straying from the path of Islam, disobeying Allah and embracing imported ideologies.
Al Masjid Al-Aqsa, Baitul-Maqdis, and the Blessed Lands of Palestine do not belong to the Palestinians or Arabs but to all Muslims, and only when the Muslim's return to their faith and see the conflict in its real terms can they liberate Palestine as was done in the 12th Century by Salah al-Din Al-Ayyubi, who was not an Arab but a believer who, knew his Islamic responsibility towards the liberation of an occupied Muslim land.
ISLAM IS THE SOLUTION
Islam is a religion of peace secured by divine justice. Islam offers respect to all divinely revealed religions, as it is the only religion, which recognizes all the Prophets from Adam to Muhammad. It is the only religion, which recognizes and believes that all the prophets brought the same essential message and thus all people deserve the freedom to worship as they please without persecution or harassment. When Jews were persecuted in Europe, they found refuge in Muslim lands. Even to this day, Jewish Quarters can be found in most Muslim cities like Cairo, Istanbul, Tunis and Tangier.
For this reason, Islam has historically proven itself to be the only tolerant religion with regard to the peace and sanctity of the Holy Land. Only Islam can bring back peace to the Holy Land, with security for all those who believe in God and seek to worship Him without restrictions and harrassment.
All Muslims, regardless of their ethnic background, nationality or language, are asked to remember their responsibilities and their obligations towards Palestine, towards Baitul Maqudes and the Al Aqsa Mosque. It is your responsibility to know the truth, the whole truth, and the only truth about Palestine, about Jerusalem, about Al Aqsa. It is your duty to defend the truth, to speak the truth and keep it alive in your hearts and your minds. You must teach it to your families, to your children, and to tell them to do the same with their children. This must continue generation after generation, until the Muslim Ummah produces another Salah Eddin who will be able to return Palestine, Jerusalem and Baitul Muqdes to the native land and return to Palestine its Islamic heart and Islamic face.
The long years of occupation have brought neither peace nor stability to the Holy Land and history has proven that there can never be peace without justice, without Jerusalem, without Bait Ul Muqdes.
"Allah will certainly aid and give victory to those who aid His cause. For Allah is Full of strength. Exalted in Might. Able to enforce His will." Sura 22/v40
"And it was due from us to give victory and aid those who believe." Sura 30/v47