|From an interview with a Muslim Scholar teaching Religious Studies at San Diego State University:
The Koran and the Jews
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 3, 2004
Frontpage Interview's guest today is Prof. Khaleel Mohammed, Assistant Professor at the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University.
FP: Prof. Mohammed welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Mohammed: You do me a great honor. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to introduce my views to your readers. As you know, I am interested in a moderate Islam, one that is inclusive and is concerned about all human rights. My mission is to help reclaim the beauty that once was practiced in Islam, a message not currently in fashion amongst more traditional or fundamentalist Muslims.
FP: You are yourself a Muslim and yet, quite unconventionally amongst Islamic clerics and scholars, you teach that the Koran says Israel belongs to the Jews. Can you educate us on this Islamic teaching?
Mohammed: The Qur'an adumbrates several principles that hover around a common theme: God does not love injustice and will assist those who are wrongly treated. And it focuses so much on this that the person most mentioned in the Qur'an is Moses -- who is presented as God's revolutionary, and who leads a people despised and tormented for no other reason than that they worshipped God, out of the land of bondage to the Promised Holy Land.
The Qur'an in Chapter 5: 20-21 states quite clearly: Moses said to his people: O my people! Remember the bounty of God upon you when He bestowed prophets upon you , and made you kings and gave you that which had not been given to anyone before you amongst the nations. O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers."
The Quran goes on to say why the Israelites were not allowed to enter the land for forty years...but the thrust of my analysis is where Moses says that the Holy Land is that which God has "written" for the Israelites. In both Jewish and Islamic understandings of the term "written", there is the meaning of finality, decisiveness and immutability. And so we have the Written Torah (unchangeable) and the Oral Torah (which represents change to suit times). And in the Qur'an we have "Written upon you is the fast"--to show that this is something that is decreed, and which none can change. So the simple fact is then, from a faith-based point of view: If God has "written" Israel for the people of Moses, who can change this?
The Qur'an refers to the exiles, but leaves it open for return...saying to the Jews that if they keep their promise to God, then God will keep the divine promise to them. WE may argue that the present state of Israel was not created in the most peaceful means, and that many were displaced--for me, this is not the issue. The issue is that when the Muslims entered that land in the seventh century, they were well aware of its rightful owners, and when they failed to act according to divine mandate (at least as perceived by followers of all Abrahamic faiths), they aided and abetted in a crime. And the present situation shows the fruits of that action--wherein innocent Palestinians and Israelis are being killed on a daily basis.
I also draw your attention to the fact that the medieval exegetes of Qur'an--without any exception known to me--recognized Israel as belonging to the Jews, their birthright given to them. Indeed, two of Islam's most famous exegetes explained "written" from Quran 5:21 thus:
Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) said: “That which God has written for you” i.e. That which God has promised to you by the words of your father Israel that it is the inheritance of those among you who believe” . Muhammad al-Shawkani (d. 1250/1834) interprets Kataba to mean “that which God has allotted and predestined for you in His primordial knowledge, deeming it as a place of residence for you” (1992, 2:41).
The idea that Israel does not belong to the Jews is a modern one, probably based on the Mideast rejection of European colonialism etc, but certainly not having anything to do with the Qur'an. The unfortunate fact is that most Muslims do NOT read the Qur’an and interpret it on the basis of its own words; rather they let imams and preachers do that for them.
FP: You say that when the Muslims entered the sacred land in the seventh century, “they aided and abetted in a crime.” Can you expand on this a bit? How honest is contemporary Islam with this fact?
Mohammed: How did the Jews lose their right to live in the Holy Land? All reliable reports show that it was by the looting and burning that followed from 70-135 C.E. When the Muslims entered the place in 638, liberating it from the Byzantines, they knew full well to whom it rightfully belonged