The Arab and non-Arab Muslim umma, or global community, vehemently denies pre-Islamic Jewish and ignores pre-Islamic Christian connections to all the territories that comprised historical Syro-Palestine—including Judea, Samaria, modern Israel within the 1949 armistice borders, and Gaza. This historical negationism is melded to Islam’s own theological supresessionism which abrogates Judaism and Christianity as deliberately corrupted, crude manifestations of the one true primordial monotheism, Islam. (See Koran 3:67—“No; Abraham in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian; but he was a Muslim and one pure of faith [i.e., Islam]; certainly he was never of the idolaters.”) Such an eternal religio-political worldview should raise grave doubts about the prospects of negotiating a permanent peace settlement between the Israelis and the local Arab Muslim representatives of the global Islamic umma, the Palestinian Arabs.
Consider a fatwa written January 5, 1956—at the height of so-called secular Arab nationalism
—by then Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun, and signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee’s major representatives of all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence at Al Azhar University in Cairo, the most authoritative religious educational institution within Sunni Islam. This ruling elaborated the following key initial point: that all of historical Palestine having been conquered by jihad, was a permanent possession of the global Muslim umma (community), “fay territory” (booty/spoils), to be governed by Islamic Law. The January, 1956 Al Azhar fatwa’s language and arguments are indistinguishable from those employed by Hamas (in its Covenant
), revealing the same conjoined motivations of jihad, and conspiratorial Islamic Jew hatred:
Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the territory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory.
[as] Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants… Jihad… to restore the country to its people.. is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is imperative for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim.
Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates.
Moreover, the “Peace Process” blithely ignores the permanent goal of the Islamic jihad—manifested by both Hamas and Fatah: to bring humanity, en bloc, under the jurisdiction of Islamic Law—a totalitarian system of religious governance, particularly oppressive to all non-Muslims, and women. How this legacy of jihad conquest affected historical Palestine, in particular—past as prologue to the present—is critical to understanding the endless conflict in the region today.
Seminal analyses by Moshe Gil, Bat Ye’or, and S.D. Goitein dispel persistent myths about the pre-Islamic demography of the region, detail the lasting destruction wrought by this initial wave of jihad conquests, and elaborate on the human toll of these Muslim campaigns. Gil emphasizes the singular centrality that Palestine occupied in the mind of its pre-Islamic Jewish inhabitants, who referred to the land as “al-Sham.” Indeed, as Gil observes, the sizable Jewish population in Palestine (who formed a majority of its inhabitants, when grouped with the Samaritans) at the dawn of the Arab Muslim conquest were “…the direct descendants of the generations of Jews who had lived there since the days of Joshua bin Nun, in other words for some 2000 years…” He also explodes the ahistorical thesis of scholars who,
…perceive an ethnic motivation behind the [jihad] conquests. They see Arabs everywhere: even the Canaanites and the Philistines were Arabs, according to their theories. This applies to an even greater degree to the population of Palestine and Syria in the seventh century, who were certainly Semites. Thus, according to their claims, the conquering Arab forces in the course of their battles, actually encountered their own people or at least members of their own race who spoke the same language…
This is of course a very distorted view: Semitism is not a race and only relates to a sphere of language. The populations met along the route of battle, living in cities or the country side, were not Arabs and did not speak Arabic. We do know of Bedouin tribes at that time who inhabited the borderlands and the southern desert of Palestine, west of the Euphrates (Hira) in the Syrian desert, Palmyra, and elsewhere. But the cultivated inner regions and the cities were inhabited by Jews and Christians who spoke Aramaic. They did not sense any special ties to the Bedouin; if anything it was the contrary. Their proximity and the danger of an invasion from that quarter disturbed their peace of mind and this is amply reflected both in the writings of the Church Fathers and in Talmudic sources.
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