Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Chicken Or Egg?

Contrary to the assertions of “learned analysts”, the internecine conflict that has raged in the Middle East since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 is not the cause of Islamic antisemitism; rather, it is the consequence of centuries of pre-existing Islamic antisemitic tradition.

The primary Arab objection to the existence of Israel stems from classical Islamic law. All of the historical region known as “Palestine” was conquered by Islamic armies in the seventh century. According to Islamic law, whenever a Muslim land is usurped by unbelievers, all Muslims must fight to reclaim it. Israel, as a Jewish state on such “Muslim land”, must be eradicated by jihad and reclaimed for Islam.  

Reliance of the Traveller, a classic manual of Islamic law which has been endorsed by the highest spiritual authority in Sunni Islam, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, says that jihad becomes obligatory for every Muslim “when the enemy has surrounded the Muslims...having entered our territory, even if the land consists of ruins, wilderness, or mountains, for non-Muslim forces entering Muslim lands is a weighty matter that cannot be ignored, but must be met with effort and struggle to repel them by every possible means.”

The Hamas charter makes clear that this is the primary reason for waging jihad against Israel:

The Islamic Resistance Movement maintains that the land of Palestine is Waqf land given as endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection...This is the legal status of the land of Palestine according to Islamic law. In this respect, it is like any other land that the Muslims have conquered by force, because the Muslims consecrated it at the time of the conquest as religious endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection...There is nothing that speaks more eloquently and more profoundly of nationalism than the following: when the enemy tramples Muslim territory, waging jihad and confronting the enemy become a personal duty of every Muslim man and Muslim woman. (Articles 11 and 12)

Aside from this, Palestinian clerics have also made it clear for decades that the Jewish character of Israel is a major and specific reason for despising it. Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem prior to the Second World War, who vehemently opposed the creation of Israel, described the Jews as “notorious for perfidy and falsification and distortion and cruelty of which the noble Qur'an provides the strongest testimony against them.”  He also encouraged Muslims to “[k]ill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion.”

Similar statements continued to be made decades later, and are currently echoed by Hamas and other groups. The Hamas Charter asserts: “The Nazism of the Jews targeted both women and children. The terror they spread is directed at everyone. They fight people by destroying their livelihood, stealing their money and trampling their dignity.” (Article 20) Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese jihad group Hizballah, has said: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli.”

An autonomous Jewish state in the middle of the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam) is deemed even more insulting because it is so far away from the status of wretchedness and humiliation designated for the Jews in the Qur'an. At the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research at Al-Azhar University in 1968, Sheikh Hassan Ma'moun, who was at the time the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, acknowledged that the “bitterness” of the 1967 Arab defeat by Israel “was further intensified by the fact that the unexpected event occurred before a roguish Zionism whose adherents had been destined to dispersion by the Deity.” He then quoted from the Qur'an: “And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah's revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression.” (2:61)

Throughout history, this verse has been understood by mainstream Muslim scholars as pronouncing an eternal curse upon all Jews of all times, condemning them to an existence of subservience to Muslims, with no political power anywhere on earth. For example, the prominent medieval Muslims scholar Ibn Kathir (d.1373) wrote:

This Ayah [verse] indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly...

Allah’s statement, 'That was because they used to disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidence, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully', means ‘This is what We rewarded the Children of Israel with: humiliation and misery’.

A more recent commentator, Muhammad Shafi (d.1979), who served as the Mufti of Pakistan and whose Qur'an commentary Maa'riful Qur'an is the most widely read in the Urdu language, agrees:

[The Jews] drew upon themselves the wrath of Allah. Disgrace and degradation settled upon them for ever...One form of this disgrace is that temporal power has been taken away from them for ever. For only forty days, however – and that too when the day of judgment will have come close – the Dajjal (Antichrist) belonging to the Jewish race will have an irregular dominion like that of a robber. This cannot be described as having temporal power, in the proper sense of the term...

As to how the Companions, their successors and the great commentators have interpreted the disgrace and degradation which has settled on the Jews...[they] will always remain under the domination of others, will be paying taxes and tributes to them – that is to say, they will themselves never have any power and authority in the real sense of the term.

Consequently, clerics from both the “extremist” and “moderate” factions of the Palestinian jihad have made no secret of the fact that they ultimately plan to see the Jews of the region returned to their subservient status, paying the jizya as subjugated dhimmis, as per Qur'an 9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [non-Muslim poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

For example, Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim al-Madhi stated during a Friday sermon broadcast live on Palestinian Authority Television in 2001: “We welcome, as we did in the past, any Jew who wants to live in this land as a Dhimmi, just as the Jews have lived in our countries, as Dhimmis...but the rule in this land and in all the Muslim countries must be the rule of Allah.”  More recently, in March 2014, Hamas MP Yusuf al-Astal delivered a televised address, peppered with Qur’anic citations, in which he declared of the Jews: “We must restore them to the state of humiliation imposed upon them. They should be dhimmi citizens. This status must be imposed upon them by war. They must pay the jizya security tax while they live in our midst.”

This hatred and contempt for Jews, and the desire to see them forced to submit to Muslim rule, is the true ideological driving force - the chicken as progenitor to the egg - behind the Arab Muslim jihad against Israel.

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