Land of Canaan

There are some verses that I have come across in the Quran that I believe give credence to the return of the ‘Children of Israel’ to the ‘Land of Canaan’:

‘And We bequeathed to the people deemed weak the eastern parts of the land and its western parts wherein We gave blessings; and fulfilled was the fair word of your Lord on the Children of Israel for what they bore with patience.’ (7:137)
‘And We said thereafter to the Children of Israel: “Dwell in the land; then when there will come the promise of the Hereafter, We shall bring you altogether as a multitude.’ (17:104)
‘And of the People of the Book none will there be but will believe in him [Jesus] before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection he will be against them a witness’ (4:159)

It is evident from these verses that the return of the ‘Children of Israel’ to the ‘Land of Canaan’ is a precondition to the onset of a chain of preordained events that will eventually culminate in the Day of Resurrection. Shouldn’t we Muslims be discussing the implication of these and other verses in the Quran, germane to a better understanding of what is transpiring in the Middle East.

Some Muslim scholars have said to me that because the ‘Children of Israel’ broke their many covenants with God; they were eventually expelled from the Holy Land:

‘And We decreed to the Children of Israel in the Book [Torah]: You shall make mischief in the land twice and shall become tyrants and extremely arrogant’ ‘When the first of the two promises came to pass, We send against you servants of Ours possessing severe prowess; penetrating into your habitations’ ‘Then in turn, We made you prevail over them and reinforced you with wealth and children’ ‘When the second promise came to pass, it was for them to humiliate you and enter the mosque; destroy all that you held in esteem’ ‘Maybe your Lord will have mercy on you but if you regress, We will revert’ (17:4-8)

It is my understanding that these invasions refer to the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 740 BCE and to the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians in 600 BCE. It is assumed that the ten tribes of the Kingdom of Israel were taken captive and transported to distant provinces of the Assyrian empire where they disappeared completely. The Babylonians, however, forcibly exiled their captives to Babylon; although Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, other parts of Judah continued to be inhabited by Israelites during the period of the exile. The invasion and occupation by pagan armies of the Holy Land was a transitory sanction by God on the Israelites for their disobedience and transgressions. In 540 BCE the conquest of Mesopotamia and the Middle East by the Persians paved the way for the return of the exiles to the province of Judah.

Let us remind ourselves that it was Moses who led the Israelites out of the clutches of Pharaoh and to the Promised Land:

‘O my people! Enter the Holy Land which Allah bequeathed to you and turn not back’ (5:21)

God drowned Pharaoh and destroyed all that he and his people had built in order to alleviate any lingering anxieties that the Israelites may have harboured of a reversal of fortune. He even authorised the Israelites to destroy the heathen occupants of the Land of Canaan and claim what was rightfully theirs to inhabit and for posterity.

What gives further impetus to the notion that the Israelites have a legitimate claim to the Land of Canaan is that God instructed Abraham to move and resettle his second wife Hagar and their son Ishmael to the vale of bakkah:

‘Our Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in a vale without cultivation near Your Sacred House’ (14:37)

Abraham wasn’t asked to relocate Hagar and Ishmael to another part of the Land of Canaan but to resettle them in a distant land; a land of the Bedouin tribes. With the passage of time Ishmael became a nation; his descendants now claim the Arabian peninsular to be their ancestral home. Abraham’s first wife Sarah and their son Isaac continued to reside in the Land of Canaan; it is to this ancestral home that the descendants of Isaac have always returned from repeated exiles in order to reaffirm their covenants and to seek refuge as a nation.

It is time we Muslims studied the Noble Quran and reflected upon its teachings so as not to rely entirely on what our ‘Mullahs’ preach to us.