‘Verses of Violence’

The Noble Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The positioning of each revelation was by divine ‘dictatum’ but lacked chronology. Therefore, the context to each of the revelations cannot always be relevant to an interpretation. The Noble Quran is a mosaic of verses; it is imperative that we understand the linkages of these verses.
Post an analysis of the Quran the following are some of my observations:

1. Whenever a Prophet is appointed from amongst a people the criteria for adjudicating belief is established through revelations.
2. The pecuniary interest of those in authority is inextricably linked to an enterprise instituted in sacrilege and is the principal subject of the revelations.
3. The Prophet implores the people to repent and to atone but there is a concerted effort by vested interests to persecute him and to subvert the revelations.
4. Failure to comply with the revelations ultimately results in punitive action that is severe and resolute.

We are informed in the Quran:

‘And never will your Lord destroy the town until He sends to its Mother Town a Messenger reciting to them Our Verses. And never will We destroy the town unless its people are transgressors.’ 28:59

And:

‘That was the way of Allah with those from before who passed away. And you will not find any alteration in the way of Allah.’ 48:23

We are also informed in the Quran that Pharaoh was deified by his people:

‘O Chief’s! I know not that you have any god other than me’ 28:38
‘I am your lord, the most high’ 79:24

And this is what happened to the people of Pharaoh:

‘Like the habitude of the people of Pharaoh and those before them – they cried lies to the revelations of their Lord. Thus, We destroyed them for their sins and drowned the people of Pharaoh; they were all transgressors.’ 8:54

Henceforth, if the ‘Children of Israel’ transgress their covenant with ‘Allah’, ‘Yod Heh Vav Heh’ or ‘One God’ because of their veneration of idols and immoral self-indulgence they shall likewise be subject to retribution:

And when Moses said to his people: “O my people! Verily, you have wronged yourselves by worshiping the calf. So turn in repentance to your Creator and kill yourselves; that is better for you with your Creator.” 2:54
When he (Elijah) said to his people: “Will you not fear Allah?” “Will you invoke Ba’al and forsake the Best of Creators,” “Allah, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers?” 37:124/126
‘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

The Quran delineates unambiguously the remit of Prophet Muhammad to ‘The Sacred House’:

‘And this is a blessed Book We have sent down confirming what came before it so that you may warn the Mother of Towns and those around it’ 6:92
‘I have been commanded to worship the Lord of this town (Makkah), Who has sanctified it and to Whom belongs everything’ 28:91
‘Allah has made the Kabah, the Sacred House, a fulcrum for mankind’ 5:97

Makkah and the neighbouring towns comprised mainly of the following groups of people:

1. Muslims
2. Hypocrites
3. People of the Scripture – Jews, Christians, Sabians etc.
4. Pagan Arabs

The hypocrites were those who called themselves Muslims but had already moved from a state of belief to disbelief:

When the hypocrites come to you, they say: “We testify that you indeed are the Messenger of Allah.” And Allah knows that you indeed are His Messenger; and Allah testifies that the hypocrites are liars indeed. 63:1
‘The hypocrites, men and women, are of one another; they enjoin the detestable and forbid the virtuous’ 9:67
Do you not see those who turn hypocrites say to their brethren from amongst the People of the Scripture who disbelieve: “If you are expelled, we too will go out with you and we will never obey any one against you; and if you are attacked, we will certainly help you.” But Allah testifies that they are liars indeed. 59:11

I believe that the instance of the appointment of a Prophet is mostly coincidental to a period where the target audience that is the subject of and subject to what is being revealed is unique in its characteristics and a literal application of the same to any contemporary and/or other audience is not the purpose of the revelations.
The following represent some further observations:

1. The presence of a Prophet in the midst of a people is essential to adjudicating by the edicts that are being revealed.
2. It is the generation that is witness to the revelations which is subjected to the penalties for non-compliance and which is inimitably characterised by its desire to indulge in the sacrilege and the immoral.
3. There are revelations that are applicable in a specific location and/or to a specific Prophet and revelations that can be interpreted in a contemporary context for general application.

We are informed in the Quran that there were those amongst the People of the Scripture who intentionally disregarded the revelations and made every effort to undermine Prophet Muhammad.
The obstinately rebellious would eventually be dealt with for their transgressions:

‘Many from amongst the People of the Scripture wish if they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves and after the truth has become manifest to them. So forgive and forebear till Allah reveals His command.’ 2:109

Prophet Muhammad is asked to reaffirm the focal tenet of the monotheistic religion as had been practiced by Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus:

Say: “O People of the Scripture! Come to an utterance equitable between us and you that we worship none but Allah, nor associate with Him anything nor some of us take others as lords.” Then if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims.” 3:64

However, there are those who refuse to listen to his repeated appeals:

‘They take their rabbis and their monks as lords besides Allah, and the Messiah – son of Maryam; and not commanded were they but to worship the One God. No god is there but He; Sacrosanct is He from what they associate as partners.’ 9:31

Prophet Muhammad is asked to enquire about their wilful misconduct:

Say: “O people of the Scripture! Why do you hinder from the path of Allah those who believe, seeking to pervert it while you are witnesses?” 3:99

We are made aware of the wilful misconduct of the priestly classes:

‘Many of the rabbis and the monks devour people’s wealth with deception and hinder them from the path of Allah’ 9:34

The People of the Scripture resident in Makkah and the neighbouring towns are witness to what is being revealed to the Prophet:

‘O People of the Scripture! Why do you disbelieve in the revelations of Allah while you bear witness?’ 3:70

As a consequence of their dogged refusal to alter their behaviour the obstinately rebellious amongst the People of the Scripture are manifestly in breach of their Mosaic covenant with the ‘One God’ and inevitably find themselves the recipients of punitive action:

‘Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day, and do not forbid that which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden; and do not adhere to the religion of truth from amongst the People of the Scripture, until they pay the tax – ready and willing, and they are humbled.’ 9:29

This verse most certainly does not sanction the indiscriminate killing of Jews and Christians within Makkah and its environs or anywhere else at any time. It is a qualified and a measured diktat against those from amongst the People of the Scripture who refused to:

1. Accept the sovereignty of the ‘One God’ as revealed in the Torah and the Gospel:

‘And our God and your God is One’ 29:46

2. Acknowledge as an article of faith the Day of Resurrection.
3. Prohibit that which has been prohibited by the ‘One God’ and the Prophet:

And say: “We believe in that which has been sent down to us and has been sent down to you.” 29:46
‘The food of those given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them; the chaste women from the believers and the chaste women from those given the Scripture before you’ 5:5

These verses make it patently clear that Prophet Muhammad would not have proscribed anything other than that already proscribed by Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus.
4. ‘Adhere to the religion of truth’ – the religion of Prophet Muhammad and all of the Prophets from afore:

‘He has prescribed for you the religion what He enjoined on Noah, and that which We communicate to you is what We enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus – that be upright with the religion and be not divided in it’ 42:13
Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it (Quran), they believe in it. And when it is recited to them, they say: “We believe in it. Verily, it is the truth from our Lord. Surely, we had been since before it – Muslims.” 28:52/53

Although the verse is an instruction to fight there are stringent qualifications that must be observed and there is even an opportunity to forfeit the punitive action by virtue of the payment of an appropriate tribute.
It is imperative that the text of the Quran especially those verses that are likely to provoke an emotional response are judiciously interpreted and not through the imposition of prejudice. Again, verse 9:29 is directed at a very specific section of the People of the Scripture:

Say: “O people of the Scripture! You have nothing valid till you are upright with the Torah and the Gospel, and what has been sent down to you from you Lord.” And it increases in many of them what has been sent down to you from your Lord – excesses and disbelief. 5:68
But when the truth has come to them from Us, they say: “Why is he not given the like of Moses?” “Did they not disbelieve in what was given before to Moses?” They say: “Two kinds of magic, each supporting the other!” And they say: “In each we indeed disbelieve.” 28:48

It is my understanding that the ‘One God’ had taken the decision to establish in Makkah and its environs the same monotheistic religion that had earlier been established in the Land of Canaan when Prophet Moses communicated what had been revealed to him to the ‘Children of Israel’:

‘O my people! Enter the Sacred Land which Allah ordained for you and do not retreat’ ‘O Musa! Surely therein are a people of overwhelming power’ 5:21/22

The following verses are unequivocal in their intent:

‘And why should not Allah punish them while they hinder from the Sacred Mosque, and not are they its guardians? Verily, its guardians are none but the righteous’ 8:34
‘O you who believe! Verily, the polytheists are immoral. So let them not come near the Sacred Mosque after this year of theirs’ 9:28

The pagan Arabs have repeatedly reneged and are persistent:

‘They are those with whom you made a covenant; then they violate their covenant each time’ 8:56
‘And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion, if they are able to’ 2:217

Again, the appointment of a Prophet is indicative of a society that is not only intransigent but also in an acute state of constant immoral self-indulgence. The revelations that address such a society cannot be literally juxtaposed in order to adjudicate a contemporaneous and/or other society:
‘Whoever goes aright, goes aright for his own self; and whoever goes astray, goes astray against it. And not will bear a burdened one the burden of another; nor do We inflict punishment until We send a Messenger.’ 17:15
‘And no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another; and if the one heavily burdened calls to his load, not lifted of it will be anything even if he be near of kin’ 35:38

The undermining of the authority of Prophet Muhammad and the reneging of treaties is reiterated:

‘Will you not fight a people that have violated their oaths and colluded to expel the Messenger, and it was them that attacked you in the first instance?’ 9:13

The following proclamation is not just in response to the shenanigans of the pagan Arabs but is also part of the decision to establish the same monotheistic religion that came into being with Prophet Adam:

‘Absolved of obligations are Allah and His Messenger from those of the polytheists with whom a treaty was made’ ‘So roam freely in the land for four months but be aware that you cannot frustrate Allah’ ‘And a pronouncement from Allah and His Messenger to mankind on the day of the Great Pilgrimage that Allah is absolved from the polytheists as is His Messenger’ ‘Except those of the polytheists with whom you did make a treaty and they did not in any way hinder you nor did they assist anyone against you. So fulfil towards them their treaty to the end of its term’ ‘So when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists where you find them; and seize them and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. But if they repent and establish prayers, and purify their wealth then leave clear their way’ 9:1/5

Fighting is sanctioned expressly against the pagan Arabs in Makkah who are in breach of their treaty with Prophet Muhammad but only up to the point where they either accept the tenets of the monotheistic religion or quit this theatre of war:

‘And if anyone of the polytheists seeks your protection then give him shelter until he hears the word of Allah, then escort him to his place of safety’ 9:6

The Scriptures as revealed to Moses in the Torah, David in the Psalms, Jesus in the Gospels and Muhammad in the Quran reflect and conform to the natural laws manifest in all of creation. Only an ‘Omniscient’ ‘One God’ could ensure that His revelations to the Prophets were relevant to the human condition in this given construct; not in some improbable utopia.

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‘No compulsion in the religion’

‘O Children of Adam! When there come to you Messengers from among you delineating unto you My revelations then whoever refrains and reforms, no apprehension on them nor shall they grieve. But those who cry lies to Our revelations and disparage them, they are dwellers of the Fire; they shall abide therein forever.’ 7:35/36

Does this verse imply that the obligation to adhere to the edicts of the ‘One God’ as revealed to Prophet Moses in the Torah, Prophet Jesus in the Gospels and Prophet Muhammad in the Quran is the imperative duty of the people in whose midst a Prophet has been appointed only? What I have observed after having meticulously studied the Quran is that there exists a predilection for the people in whose midst a Prophet has been appointed to pull apart into at least two distinct groups – disbelievers and believers. What can also be gleaned from the verses in the Quran is that as the ‘One God’ reveals more of himself through his revelations to the people in whose midst a Prophet has been appointed the severity of the retribution that will be exacted in the event of disbelief in the revelations increases proportionately.

O People of the Scripture! There has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you, post an interval in the Messengers, lest you say: “There came not to us a giver of glad tidings nor a warner.” 5:19
Lest you (pagan Arabs) say: “The Book was but sent to two sects (Jews and Christians) before us, and indeed we had been unaware of what they studied.” 6:156

Are these verses implying that even though the pagan Arabs had living amongst them the ‘People of the Scripture’ had no Prophet come to them and no Scripture been given to them they could have pleaded ignorance in the Court of the Most High? Is it also implicit in 5:19 and 6:156 that in the absence of a Prophet and as the revelation of Scripture gets more distant with respect to time a certain clemency is proffered to people in the obligation to adhere to the edicts of the ‘One God’ as inscribed in the Testament?

There are verses in the Quran that are predicated on a specific location and/or to a specific Prophet and verses that can be interpreted in a contemporary context for general application:

‘So when you encounter those who disbelieve smite the necks till when you have weakened them, then fasten the shackles’ 47:4
‘Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabians and the Christians and the Majus and those who ascribe partners, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection’ 22:17

I am of the opinion that the edict to ‘Fight in the Cause of Allah’ is specific to the ‘Sacred land/House’ and can only be sanctioned in the presence of a Prophet:

But Lot believed him (Abraham), and said: “I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord” 29:26
They reply: “We were oppressed on the earth.” They (angels) say: “Was not Allah’s earth vast enough for you to migrate therein?” 4:97

Despite the explicit threats to the life of Prophet Abraham that were emerging from his people the ‘One God’ did not permit him to ‘Fight in the Cause of Allah’ against them but instead to migrate to the Land of Canaan. In the Land of Canaan the people of Prophet Lot were destroyed for their perverse indulgence by divine retribution and not because the ‘One God’ sanctioned ‘Fight in the Cause of Allah’. It isn’t until the time of Prophet Moses where after having drowned Pharaoh and his people that the ‘One God’ ordains at the gates of the ‘Sacred Land’ Prophet Moses and the Israelites to ‘Fight in the Cause of Allah’ against the pagan occupants.

Let us not forget that Prophet Joseph used his unique gift to interpret dreams endowed on him by the ‘One God’ in the service of a pagan Pharaoh. Prophet Muhammad sought refuge for the weakest of the new Muslim converts with a Christian King in Abyssinia.

‘No compulsion in the religion. It is manifest, the right conduct from the wrong.’ 2:256
‘And had your Lord so willed, those on earth would have believed; all of them together. So will you compel mankind until they become believers?’ 10:99
‘And say: “The truth is from your Lord.” So who wills, let him believe; and who wills, let him disbelieve.’ 18:29
‘O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another’ 49:13

I urge my fellow Muslims to understand and appreciate the diversity in all of God’s creation. This diversity is reflected in our thought processes and also evidenced in what we do. We must endeavour to lead by example and not by compulsion in all aspects of our lives. Who are we to reserve judgement on our fellow human beings; arrogate to ourselves that which the Noble Quran does not sanction?

ISRAEL ‘IS REAL’, ISRAEL ‘IS A REALITY’

The paradigm of autocratic governments providing stability in the Middle East has led to radicalisation. These governments have viciously suppressed any form of dissent; there’s been an acute lack of aspirational achievement. The resultant frustration has been craftily channelled by the radicals into a focused hatred of Israel. The Arab Spring has provided the much needed platform for debate and brought into its political fold the extremists. It’s imperative that this process be nurtured and directed toward the election of governments that are representative.

The Palestinian/Israeli peace process/conflict in its present context is a slow moving train wreck to nowhere. Having sidelined Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu/Lieberman and Hamas want to maintain the status quo. The rocket fire that Hamas directs at Israel is the gift that keeps giving for the Likud/Beytenu coalition. Likewise, the siege of Gaza by Israel gives Hamas legitimacy and creates a groundswell of support for it.

In a regional context Wahabi Saudi Arabia and Shia’ Iran are using their immense oil wealth to wage a proxy war. Saudi Arabia and Iran are two sides of the same coin; police states masquerading as theocracies. Their surreptitious activities in neighbouring countries are an attempt to distort ground realities and incite violence. They create an environment of instability through subterfuge and the promotion of ethnic and sectarian strife. The monarchs and the mullahs are not accountable, so hasten to blame Israel for their own policy failings and mismanagement.

The State of Israel was created by UN Resolution 181 on 29 November 1947 but came into existence on 15 May 1948. Neighbouring Arab States invaded the fledgling democracy the very next day in support of the Palestinian Arabs. In the 1948 War of Independence and in each of the subsequent Wars – 1967 Six Day War and 1973 Yom Kippur, Israel seized land from the Arabs. The bellicose and belligerent Arab States were repulsed notwithstanding their superior numbers and military hardware. These victories lend credence to the claims of the Israelis on the land that they captured and for legitimacy of the de facto borders for the State of Israel.

The resolution of the Arab/Israeli conflict must be part of a grand regional bargain overseen by the Middle East Quartet. Countries in the Middle East except Israel must destroy all chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. Israel should be allowed to retain some limited measure of its nuclear deterrent albeit monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Those members of The Organisation of Islamic Countries that have boycotted Israel must normalise all diplomatic and trade relations. Israelis/Palestinians must hold a referendum to decide whether they want a two-state solution or a one-state solution. The grand regional bargain must be predicated on the recognition by all Palestinian factions of the incontrovertible right of the State of Israel to exist.

A two-state solution could be achieved on an approximation of the 1967 borders with Jerusalem either as a divided capital or a UN administered ‘International City of Faith’. Provision will have to be made to link the West Bank to Gaza without compromising the security of Israel. A one-state solution will need to incorporate the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza into Israel proper. A system of voting will have to be devised such that no one ethnic group can dominate the government indefinitely. Irrespective of the voting dynamics, certain portfolios and ministries will have to be retained by ethnically Jewish people. The education system, its curriculum, will have to reflect the sensitivities of all ethnic groups. Those educational institutions whose curriculum is in Hebrew may teach Arabic as a second language. However, those whose curriculum is in Arabic will have to teach Hebrew as a second language. Policing can be a local matter but admission into the IDF and intelligence agencies will require scrutiny.

The Israeli state invests in its citizens and by virtue of a tacit social contract the citizens work diligently to build a prosperous Israel. This is evidenced by their commitment to excellence; in the face of great adversity the Israelis have made the desert bloom. In contrast, the despotic regimes in neighbouring Arab countries through their gratuitous corruption have impoverished their citizens. Here there is a concerted effort to dumb down the population through the proliferation of religious schools. Clerics laud the regimes achievements from the pulpit; thugs spread fear amongst their own people.

A chapter in Middle East politics

There is now a ceasefire of sorts in place between Hamas and Israel but what has actually been achieved by either antagonist. Israel has destroyed approx 1500 sites in Gaza but the residents of Sderot or Ashkelon contend Hamas will resume its rocket fire in a few months. The residents are sceptical because Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 was supposed to have destroyed the ‘terror infrastructure’. Hamas has fired as many rockets into Israel, only this time they’ve managed to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield intercepted 90% of the projectiles that could’ve landed on built-up areas; it may just be that Iran was probing the defence system for weakness. Hamas has claimed victory having survived the ‘precision bombing’ onslaught and has emerged politically stronger in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The Arab Spring has brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt; President Morsi attended the NAM meeting in Tehran where he called for reforms in Syria. In the Arab League conference held in Cairo, Morsi upped the ante when he called for a change of government – he then tempered this by stating that Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt would meet to find a solution to the crisis in Syria. During the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel, President Morsi put Hamas under pressure to accept a truce in order to prevent the calamity that would result from an escalation of the violence. His statesmanship has elevated the Muslim Brotherhood to a position of a credible alternative to unelected regimes in neighbouring Arab states i.e. Syria and Jordan.

Khaled Meshaal may have abandoned his long time base in Damascus but was all praise for Iran during a press conference in Cairo held after the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Other pro-Syrian factions like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP-GC) remain in Syria and who only recently met with Iran’s influential parliament speaker Ali Larijani. Khaled Meshaal’s move to Egypt – now under a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, perhaps presages a reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah which may lead to elections in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In the interim, President Morsi may even succeed in getting Hamas to recognise the State of Israel along some approximation of the 1967 borders.

Israel enjoys good relations with King Abdullah II of Jordan but recent fuel price hikes have resulted in nationwide protests calling for change in the Kingdom. Budgetary constraints and the changing political landscape may force the King to reform on the lines of King Mohamed VI of Morocco. Islamist parties including the Muslim Brotherhood could dominate the newly elected parliament; the momentum for change could very easily undermine the monarchy. A resolution of the Syrian civil war is going to be far more problematic given the sectarian and ethnic divide of the country. A stalemate in the civil war will prolong Iran’s stranglehold on the Syrian political scene; a resolution of it could bring to the fore another Islamist and/or Muslim Brotherhood government.

Israel is an extremely stable country and has the military prowess that is the envy of its many bungling neighbours. However, the demographics of the Arab population and the changing political reality create facts on the ground that speak of another truth. When Israel recognizes as a matter of conscience that its security interests lie in affording dignity to the Palestinians in the occupied territories, will true peace in the Middle East come to fruition. Israel could then partner with the Palestinians who are predominantly secular, to protect their joint interests in the region. Palestinians in Jordan constitute more than half the population and are supportive of the current monarch King Abdullah II; his wife Queen Rania was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents. A garnering of the secular forces in Jordan would drive a wedge in the Islamist/Muslim Brotherhood ambition to dominate the political arena in the region.

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.