‘The Promised Land’ – What Might Muhammad Say?

Moses viewing the promised land from Pisgah, mount Nebo. Deuteronomy, chapter XXXIV.  (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
Moses viewing the promised land from Pisgah, mount Nebo. Deuteronomy, chapter XXXIV. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

Caution to reader: This article might be interesting academically, but mostly irrelevant to those who are atheists or who do not accept the scripture/s of Abrahamic religions as “the word of God.” As for the rest of you, I present it respectfully, and hope it provokes thought.

The Enduring Covenant of the Promised Land

The concept of the Promised Land, a divine covenant bestowed upon the Jewish people, has been a cornerstone of Abrahamic faiths, intricately woven into the religious and historical narratives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This land, described in sacred texts, represents not just a geographical location but a profound promise from God to Abraham and his descendants. For believers in these faiths, the scriptural affirmations of this promise offer compelling reasons to view the land as the legitimate inheritance of the Jewish people. This article explores the theological foundations of this belief and argues that adherents of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, guided by a deep faith in God and His word, should recognize and support this enduring covenant.

The Jewish Foundation: A Covenant with Abraham

The narrative begins with Judaism, where the concept of the Promised Land is most explicitly articulated. According to the Torah, God made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-7, 15:18-21), promising him and his descendants the land of Canaan. This promise is reiterated to Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 28: 13-14), establishing a perpetual bond between the land and the Jewish people. This covenant is not merely about real estate; it is a profound testament to the relationship between God and His chosen people, a tangible sign of divine favor and commitment.

For Jews, this covenant is eternal, transcending time and history. The Torah’s detailed description of the land’s boundaries and the repeated affirmations of this promise through the generations underscore its significance. The Exodus from Egypt and the subsequent conquest of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership are seen as the fulfillment of God’s promise, a historical realization of the divine will.

Christian Affirmation: Fulfillment and Acknowledgment

Christianity, while centered on their New Covenant through Jesus Christ, does not negate the Old Testament’s relevance or its promises. Instead, it affirms and fulfills them. The New Testament contains numerous references to the Hebrew Scriptures, acknowledging the special relationship between the Jewish people and God. Jesus, a Jew, lived and taught within the context of these promises, affirming the importance of the Torah and the prophets.

Christian theology, especially in its dispensationalist form, views the establishment of the state of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral land as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. This perspective reinforces the notion that the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob –  including the land, remain relevant. The apostle Paul, in Romans 11, speaks of the enduring covenant with Israel, suggesting that God’s promises to the Jewish people are irrevocable.

Christians also recite Psalm 105 in church services as part of their liturgy, worship, and prayer. Psalm 105, like many other Psalms, is used in various Christian traditions to give thanks, remember the mighty works of God, and reflect on the faithfulness of God to His promises and covenant with His people. Psalm 105:8-11 states: “He remembers His covenant forever, the promise He made, for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.'”

Islamic Recognition: Historical and Divine Acknowledgment

Islam, too, acknowledges the special relationship between the land and the Children of Israel. The Quran recounts the story of Moses and the Israelites, highlighting the divine command to enter the Holy Land (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:21) and the settlement of the Israelites therein (Surah Al-Isra 17:104). While the Quran introduces a broader narrative that includes the message of Islam, it affirms the historical connection, and the divine promises made to the Jewish people.

Muslim scholars, interpreting these verses, often recognize the historical context of these revelations. The Quran’s acknowledgment of the Children of Israel’s trials, tribulations, and divine favors, including their settlement in the land, suggests a continuation of the Abrahamic traditions’ narrative thread. This recognition affirms a scriptural basis for understanding the Jewish inheritance and eternal connection to the land.

And yet, Hamas leaders have consistently preached the opposite sentiment; here is just one of many examples:

“By God, we will not leave one Jew in Palestine. We will fight them with all the strength we have. This is our land, not the Jews…” (Abdel Aziz Rantisi, co-founder of Hamas, June 10, 2003, interview with Al-Jazeera.)

For Muslims around the world, it seems to me that there is a need to reclaim the authentic teachings of Islam, in this regard, and to repudiate the Hamas assertion. But I wonder where are these voices.

Theological Implications for Believers

For believers in these Abrahamic faiths, the scriptural affirmations of the Jewish people’s divine inheritance of the land carry significant weight. These texts are not merely detailed historical records but are viewed as the living word of God, guiding the faithful across generations. The promise of the land to the Jewish people is thus seen as part of God’s plan, a testament to His faithfulness and sovereignty.

A Call for Recognition and Support

Believers who hold the scriptures as the ultimate authority are called to recognize, honor, and support the covenantal promise of the land to the Jewish people, as the word of God and the continuity of His promises across time.

The Spiritual Integrity of Recognizing the Promised Land

The legitimacy of the Jewish people’s inheritance of the Promised Land, as affirmed in the religious texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, transcends mere historical claims or political arguments. It is rooted in a profound faith in the promises of God, a faith that unites these Abrahamic traditions. For believers deeply committed to the word of God, the recognition of this divine covenant is not only a matter of historical fidelity but of spiritual integrity. By affirming the Jewish people’s connection to the Promised Land, adherents of these faiths bear witness to the enduring truth and relevance of their scriptures in a complex and changing world.

What would Muhammad say?

Finally, I turned to Chat GPT (AI), a software able to draw upon and organize from the world’s repository of information in a relatively unbiased manner, and I posed this question:

If the Prophet Muhammad, were to rise and address the faithful on this matter, what might he say?

ChatGPT’s Answer:

“The Quran, the final revelation bestowed upon me by Allah, speaks of the land promised to the Children of Israel. This is a truth acknowledged in Surah Al-Ma’idah (5:21) where Moses tells his people that Allah has assigned the Holy Land to them, and in Surah Al-Isra (17:104), where Allah commands the Children of Israel to dwell in the land. These passages affirm a covenant between Allah and the Children of Israel, granting them a unique relationship with this land.

As Muslims, the Quran guides us to recognize the truth of Allah’s promises and the histories of those who came before us, including the Children of Israel. The right of the Jewish people to inherit the Promised Land is embedded within these divine promises. It is our duty to acknowledge this historical and spiritual bond, as it is articulated in the word of Allah.

The Quran does not erase or contradict the promises made in earlier scriptures; it affirms them, embedding within us a respect for the covenants of old. Just as we yearn for respect and understanding for our own sacred places and promises, we must extend that understanding to others. Let us, therefore, embody the highest virtues of our faith: justice, compassion, and respect for the divine will, recognizing the historical and spiritual significance of the Promised Land to the Jewish people, as entrusted by God Himself.”

About the Author
Teich, based in Toronto, is an international strategy, market growth, and communications consultant for emerging economies and organizations. With a past role as CEO and extensive experience in over 80 countries and cultures, he's now semi-retired, continuing his consultancy, an author of two best-sellers, and an avid follower of history and current affairs.
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