The Promised Land
Palestine has been the bone of contention between Muslims and Zionists for over a century now. The great land of Palestine has seen prophets, disbelievers, wars, bloodshed over the course of time. There are many people who argue about its history and whom the ‘Promised Land’ belongs to. The sources through which history of Palestine can be learned are mostly altered, like the Bible. The only authentic source is the Holy Qur’an. Here an attempt will be made to analyse the history of Palestine from the origin of Israeli people till the end of holocaust and assembling of Jews.
Although to every nation God sent a prophet (Qur’an;10:47), the majority of the prophets mentioned by name in Bible and Qur’an, lived in or around the holy land of Palestine. According to Archeological excavation and Qur’anic studies, Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), his son Ishmael and a small number of people were the first to migrate to Palestine, which was at that time called Canaan, around 19th century BC. Many commentators of the Holy Qur’an believe that Prophet Abraham, who migrated with Prophet Lot, lived in area (Hebron), nowadays called Al-Khalil:
“We delivered both him (Abraham) and Lut the land which We had blessed for all beings” (Qur’an 21:71).
This verse indicates that the blessed land was not for Jews alone but for all beings, including Muslims and Christians. After this migration, Prophet Jacob, son of Prophet Isaac emigrated to Egypt during the royal appointment of his beloved son Prophet Joseph, who, after his release from prison, was appointed as the head of Egyptian treasury. Prophet Jacob’s sons and their progeny are also known as “Children of Israel”. For a long time Children of Israel lived in peace and security in Egypt. After Pharaoh became the king, he treated them harshly. God then sent Prophet Moses, who was ordered to lead them out of Egypt. Initially, Pharaoh enslaved Israelis, but, with the help of Prophet Moses, the Children of Israel fled Egypt with the help of God in miraculous way miracle in which Pharaoh was drowned in the sea along his army.
After acquiring freedom from the bondage from Egypt known as ‘Exodus’, Hebrews, during the time of Prophets David and Solomon (10th century BC) got settled and prospered in the land of Canaan. After the death of Prophet Solomon, a number of prophets were sent to the Children of Israel but they did not listen to them and rebelled against God hence subjected to the anger of God Almighty.Due to their degeneracy Children of Israel, were once again enslaved and their kingdom was occupied by various idolaters
Much before being plagued by the Romans (70. C.E) their great kingdom was divided and ultimately shattered by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (589 BC) — the cause of the first Diaspora. He destroyed the Temple of Solomon and placed the entire Jewish community in bondage in Babylon; and this time Cyrus the Great (538 BC) came to their rescue and restored them in Palestine.
After Ptolemy's defeat, Palestine came under the influence of the Persians. This lasted till the defeated Carthaginian King, Hannibal, was given sanctuary and the Romans conquered and annexed Palestine with Rome.
During Roman period God sent Prophet Jesus to rescue the Jews, but very few believed in him. God plagued the Jews with the Romans who drove them out of Palestine. “Those of the children of Israel who went astray were cursed by the tongue of David, and of Jesus, son of Mary. That was because they rebelled and used to transgress”.(Qur’an;5:78).
Jews hatched a conspiracy to kill Jesus Christ, which was foiled by Allah, by taking up Jesus, thought it was made to appear to them if they had killed him, the matter remains ambiguous to Christians. Later the Roman army crushed a Jewish uprising and Roman general Titus destroyed the Temple of Solomon for a second time, (coincidently on the same the date the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar) and annihilated Jews. But not up to the 5th century C.E that the history of Jews became the Diaspora history. Later on conversion of Byzantine Emperor Constantine in early 4th Century (325 C.E) Jerusalem came under Christian domination. The Jews remained outcast.
In 637 C.E, Palestine came under the control of the Muslims which brought an end to an era which was full of wars and bloodshed. The conqueror of this great land this time was Omar ibn al-Khattab, the 2nd Caliph. With the advent of Islam and Muslim rule in Palestine, Jerusalem became civilized, justice and tolerance prevailed, the Jews were allowed, they returned in limited numbers after five centuries.
Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims because of two major reasons: 1) It remained the Qibla [prayer direction] of the Muslims for some months at Medina, 2) Due to miraculous journey (Mairaj) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Besides these, the city is special because the site around Al-Aqsa Mosque [the house of worship of God, the 1st Temple) constructed by Prophet Solomon] is referred in Qur’an as “Whose surroundings we have blessed”. Many prophets are also buried in Jerusalem. Muslims, the decedents of Abraham through his eldest son Ishmael, believe in all Hebrew prophets as theirs as well. Being adherents of true legacy of Abraham are custodian of the heritage, Allah says:
“Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters. Lo! those of mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet (Muhammad) and those who believe (with him); and Allah is the Protecting Friend of the believers.”(Qur’an;3:67-68)
The barren area was cleansed and the house of Worship of Allah (Mosque) was built in continuation of legacy, this is known as Omar Mosque near the Dome of Rock (built later in Umeyad period). The peace of Jerusalem was shattered with the advent of the Crusaders. On the call of Pope Urban II on November 27, 1095, more than 100,000 Europeans advanced towards Palestine to free the ‘Holy Land’ from the Muslims. The crusaders reached Jerusalem in 1099, and after four to five weeks, Jerusalem was under the control of the crusaders. It’s said that in two days the crusaders brutally killed nearly 40,000 Muslims.
This rule was short-lived and the great Saladin started the war against the crusaders at the battle of Hattin in 1187. He captured Jerusalem on the holy night of Al-Qadr and freed it from 88 years of crusader’s occupation. Not a single Christian was killed. On the other hand in 1194, Richard the Lion hearted, executed around 3,000 Muslims in the Castle of Acre.
Jerusalem came under Ottoman rule in 1514 and remained till next 400 years. A thirty years war (1618-1648) broke because Spain was not tolerating the existence of Muslims and Jews. Ottoman Sultans brought peace and justice in the holy land, but with the end of Muslim rule in 1917, war and bloodshed started again.
Jews wanted to return to Palestine and Jerusalem because they considered themselves blessed over all the people, under a covenant with God, they wanted to go back to the ‘promised land’, (though after violating the Covenant, transgression and rejecting Prophet Jesus Christ, the Covenant had become in valid for them, the leader ship role was transferred to the other branch of decedents of Abraham, the Children of Ishmael i.e. Muslims) while the Europeans, especially Christians, didn’t like Jews due to historic (alleged killers of Christ) and economic reasons. Throughout the middle ages, being money lenders, the Jews earned through interest, though forbidden in Torah but they consider it legitimate to get it from non Jews (Gentiles). They acquired a lot of wealth and became rich. They were hated by the European peasants as exploiters. During the French Revolution, a social turmoil spread through out Europe and, gaining advantage of this revolution, the Jews acquired civil equality. The Jews had emotional attachment for Canaan (Palestine).
The first British to enter the House of Lords was Rothschild Banker, after the Jews started becoming powerful. For centuries, the Jews thought that they can only return to Palestine with the help of a Saviour (messiah). In the middle of the nineteenth century two rabbis (Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Zevi) thought that the Jews had acquired enough wealth and political power that they no longer needed a messiah. This influenced the minds of young Jews, the most famous of them being Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl, who founded political Zionism derived from Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Later on, World Zionist Organization was founded in Switzerland in 1898. Till 1917, many Jews immigrated to Palestine. Nearly 100,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine between (1920-29).
Till 1947, there were 630,000 Jews in Palestine and 1.3 million Palestinians. Between November 29, 1947, when Palestine was partitioned by the United Nations, and May 15, 1948, Zionist captured three-fourth of Palestine. During this time, the number of Palestinians living in 500 cities, towns and villages dropped from 950,000 to 138,000 as a result of attacks and massacres. Thus, 400 Palestinian villages were wiped off the map during 1948-49. Until 1947, Jewish land ownership in Palestine was about six percent. By the time the state was formally established, it had sequestered 90% of the land.
[Main source, article by By Khalil Zafar, Courtesy; http://www.dawn.com/weekly/dmag/archive/060604/dmag13.htm]
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