Photo Credit: Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0
An aerial view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and much of Jerusalem's Old City.

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s December 6 official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Muslims around the world held angry demonstrations, during which they chanted slogans about Jerusalem “belonging to Muslims.” This ought to seem odd to anyone versed in Islamic scripture, since the Quran specifically states that God promised the land of Israel, including Jerusalem, to the Jews.


Although ordinary Muslims who might not actually have read their holy book could be excused for their ignorance about the Jewish roots of and rights to Israel and Jerusalem, the same cannot be said for the leaders of Muslim countries, imams and the heads of illustrious Islamic institutions. Dignitaries and scholars of that caliber should know better. Yet many of them repeat false assertions that contradict the Quran and scholarly interpretations of its verses.

The fact is that the Quran does not mention Jerusalem or Palestine. It does refer to the sanctity of other holy places, such as Mecca — which is called the “Mother of Cities” — where the Prophet Muhammad was born and where the house of God was built by Abraham, the “father of the prophets.”

The Quran also mentions the city of Yathrib [Medina], where the Prophet Mohammed emigrated after he was persecuted in Mecca, and the location of his grave and the Prophet’s Mosque.

Other cities cited in the Quran are Babel and Aram; and a country named is Egypt. Yet, not only are Palestine and Jerusalem absent from the text; there is a consensus of interpretation among the most respected Sunni and Shiite Muslim scholars of past centuries — such as Al-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Abi Zayd, Mahmud al-Alusi, Al-Baghawi — that, according to the Quran, God gave to the Jews the land from the Nile to the Euphrates, territory that includes not only Jerusalem and Palestine, but a large part of Egypt and Iraq, and all of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

The following Quranic passages clearly illustrate the Jews’ imperative to enter the land of Israel:

  • And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, “O my people, remember the favor of Allah [God] upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the worlds. O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back and [thus] become losers.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:20-21]
  • They said, “O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:22]
  • Two men among those who feared [disobeying the people upon whom] Allah had bestowed favor said, “Enter upon them through the gate, for when you have entered it, you will be predominant. And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:23]
  • [The Israelites] said, “O Moses, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:23]
  • [The Israelites] said, “O Moses, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:24]
  • [Moses] said, “My Lord, indeed I do not possess except myself and my brother, so part us from the defiantly disobedient people.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:25]
  • [God] said, “Then indeed, it is forbidden to them for forty years [in which] they will wander throughout the land. So do not grieve over the defiantly disobedient people.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:26]

According to the verses above, God punishes the Jews for their sin of refusing to fight the indigenous people in the land. And God is angry that the Jews refused to convert to Islam. The Quran is even harsher towards the Jews when recounting the stories of Muhammad’s battles against them. Yet the verses are consistent in their assertion that God gave the Holy Land to the Jews.

The reason this is relevant today is that it exposes the hypocrisy of those radical Muslims who claim to believe in and adhere to the letter of the Quran, yet use the claim that Palestine and Jerusalem are Islamic for political purposes and propaganda.

This is not to say that because the land of Israel was a divine gift to the Jews, they therefore have all rights to it. On the contrary, no future peace between Israelis and Palestinians, both of whom reside there, will or should be determined by scripture. This proclamation, however, is as good a reason as any to stop misquoting it.

{Saied Shoaaib is a Muslim writer and researcher, specializing in Islamic movements. He is co-author of the recently published book, SUBMISSION: The Danger of Political Islam to Canada – With a Warning to America}


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