By Maurice Picow
Many Palestinian Muslims talk about a ‘law of return’ to the lands they had to flee during the ‘double Naqba’ of 1948 and 1967. They feel that just as Jews have a Law of Return, they, the Palestinians should also have a homeland, much of which includes what is now modern Israel. And in respect to these feelings of ‘Muslim Zionism’ the city of Jerusalem is considered to be no less important to them than it is to the Jewish People.
Muslims have several reasons to be interested in Jerusalem. First of all, since they have control of the Temple Mount, known to them as Kareem al Shariff, they know that their possession of this place, considered sacred to Jews, will prevent the Jewish People from rebuilding the Temple. Their mosques, Al Aqsa and the Mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) are considered by Muslims to be the third holiest shrines in Islam (for Sunni Muslims anyway). The Dome of the Rock contains the large boulder on which the Patriarch Abraham was supposed to have almost sacrificed his son Isaac, until God intervened, and gave Abraham a ram to sacrifice instead.
Whether this is the real location is anybody’s guess. The Mosque, Masjidal Haram, containing the Qaaba, the black, square building that devout Muslims circle during the annual Hajj, is located in the Arabian city of Mecca, a good 800 km to the south of Jerusalem. For Abraham to be in both locations at approximately the same time, is a bit far fetched, to say the least. Other revered sites in Mecca include the miraculous spring, Zamzam, that God revealed to Hagar, Ishmael’s mother, after they were expelled by Abraham into the dessert.
The city is the desired location for the capital of a Palestinian state, at least the eastern or Arab part, that is. There’s no denying that the city has religious significance for Muslims; but, since Muhammad later directed his followers to pray towards Mecca, and not Jerusalem, it means that Mecca became the more important place insofar as Islam goes. Muslims are also buried with their heads toward Mecca and feet towards Jerusalem, the direct opposite of Jews.
If the city were not so important to Jews, Muslims would probably not be so keen to possess it so much. As noted in numerous articles, Jerusalem, or Al Quds as the Muslims refer to it, became a holy ‘city of convenience’ for them. After all, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the city was an impoverished dirty ‘backwater’ of a place, and definitely not a glorious place to visit. Muslims throughout the centuries, including famous travelers like Ibn Batutta, made numerous pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina. Ibn Battuta went on the Hajj no less than seven times, the same number of times the faithful must circle the Qaaba.
Muslims have their own version of ‘Zionism’, which changes when they feel the need. The Palestinian’s call for a law of return to places they once lived, in both Israel and Palestinian held areas, is designed for one main purpose: and that is the ultimate destruction of Israel â€“ by sheer demographics if nothing else.