Deniz Tezcan

Why the Holy Land is Jewish and How the Quran Proves it

The quest for a Jewish Homeland during the 19th and 20th centuries has fuelled tensions between the global Jewish community and large groups of Muslims. Broadly categorised by religious affiliations, individuals find themselves aligning with either Israel or Palestine. Personally raised within the Muslim faith, I was instilled with the belief that Palestine (interpreted as Israel in this context) rightfully belonged to the Arabs. However, rather than engaging in polemics, this article aims to explore the legal aspects surrounding the ownership of the land. This article focuses on Islamic law, revealing how, in practical terms, it underlines the Holy Land’s association with the Jews (Bani Isra’il, meaning the Children of Israel).

Biblical background

The historical connection of the Jewish people to the Holy Land finds its roots in passages within the Torah. Affirming the divine promise bestowed upon the Children of Israel, granting them rightful ownership of the land. Delving into the Genesis reveals an unwavering commitment from God, who unequivocally pledges the Holy Land to Abraham and his descendants. To the Prophet Abraham, God says: “For I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever.” (Genesis 13:15) and later repeats the promise to the Prophet Isaac, the son of Prophet Abraham: “Reside in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; I will assign all these lands to you and to your heirs, fulfilling the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.” (Genesis 26:3).

What does the Quran say?

It’s crucial to acknowledge that the Quran unequivocally confirms the validity of the Biblical promise. Within the framework of Shariah law, there is no foundation to entertain the notion that the divine commitment to the Children of Israel has been nullified. Furthermore, there is no basis to endorse the perspective that Israel is currently under the ownership of the Muslim community.

In Surah al-Ma’idah, God says: “O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has destined for you to enter. And do not turn back or else you will become losers.

In the large realm of Islamic commentary, there exists a complex relationship with the Jews. While some express a mix of disdain and reverence, a notable segment unambiguously views the Holy Land as an inheritance rooted in Israelite legacy through the lens of Islamic law.

Even though there is anti-Jewish critique in the Quran, it would be imprudent to claim this cancels all Jewish rights under Islamic law. Quite to the opposite, we find that the Prophet Muhammad had two Jewish wives and in the Constitution of Medina, we find that the Prophet Muhammad says that “[…]the Jews, will have help and equality. Neither shall they be oppressed nor will any help be given against them.

Question remains what God means with the Holy Land in Surah al-Ma’idah 21, in the Tafsir (Quranic Exegesis) of Ibn Kathir (a student of Ibn Taymiyyah) on the matter, we learn that the Holy Land certainly includes Jerusalem, with other commentators claiming it includes Jericho, Palestine (Filistin) and a part of Jordan. Safe to say, the borders of the State of Israel can certainly be classified as the Biblical and Quranic Holy Land.

Status of Al-Aqsa

Jerusalem, more specifically al-Aqsa has a special place in Islam. This due to the Isra’ and Mi’raj (Night Journey) when the Prophet Muhammad is said to have traveled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night and then ascended to heaven to come before God. In Surah al Isra God says: “Glory be to the One Who took His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed”, with the Farthest Mosque referring to the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif).

The compound currently being under endowment (Waqf) of the King of Jordan, is certainly a good status quo, and I would say there is a big role for Israel to facilitate the pilgrimage of thousands of muslims each year to al-Aqsa.

About the Author
Sheikh Deniz Tezcan is a Sheikh specializing in Fiqh al-Hanbali wa Fiqh al-Hanafi, Fiqh al-Hadith wa Mustalah al-Hadith and Kalam.
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