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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Palestine saw peace only under Islamic rule

The history of the area is long and has been eventful. The world's two ancient civilisations, of Egypt and Mesopotamia (now called Iraq), flourished simultaneously 3,500 years ago. The desert of north Arabia separated them. This was, and still is, as difficult to cross as the most hostile sea. The route linking them was round the northern fringe of the desert where some hills brought rainfall and rivers, producing what has been known throughout recorded history as "the fertile crescent". From Egypt the first step into the Fertile Crescent, after crossing the Sinai, was Palestine, and that strip between the sea and the desert has always been a passage for traders. The most powerful state in the Middle East, in turn Persia, Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, and the Muslims usually controlled it.

In the judgement of anyone who had just walked across the Sinai desert, Palestine must have seemed like a land of milk and honey. More importantly it has proved the most fertile spot on earth for religions. The Bani Israel went there after exile from Mesopotamia. Christianity and Islam, both similarly consider the region significant. The birth of Christianity was there. For us it was the first qibla and the place of the Isra and Miraj.

Following the First Jewish Revolt in 66 CE, the Temple on the Temple Mount was burned to the ground in 70 CE by vengeful Roman soldiers besieging Jerusalem. The Jews were once again exiled from Jerusalem for their rebelliousness, and the Temple Mount was to became a garbage heap throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods. It was this rubbish heap that became transformed when Jerusalem was opened by Umar bin al-Khattab. The Patriarch of the City Sophronius offered the keys of the city to the Amir-al Mumineen himself. A peace treaty known as the Umari treaty (Umar's Assurance) was framed and ratified. 15 A.H." (636CE) This read:

"In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate. This is the assurance of safety (aman) which the servant of Allah, [the second Caliph] 'Umar [Ibn al-Khattab], the Commander of the Faithful, has granted to the people of Aelia [Capitolina]". "He has granted them safety for their lives and possessions; their churches and crosses; the sick and the healthy of the city; and for the rest of its religious community. Their churches will not be inhabited nor destroyed [by Muslims]. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their possessions will be confiscated. They will not be forcibly converted, nor any one of them harmed. No Jew will live with them in Aelia…"

The persons who attest to it were: Khalid Ibn al-Walid, 'Amro Ibn al-'As, 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Awf, and Mu'awiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan (may Allah be pleased with them).
The fact that Islam secured the rights of the people of Jerusalem was demonstrated by the fact that the Christians entrusted the keys to the Holy Sepulcher Church to the Muslims. The most renowned Christian historians have stated that the various Christian groups that use the church could not trust one another to let them in when it was their turn.

One of the conditions of the treaty which the Christians demanded was that "No Jew would reside in Aelia with them". It was Islam that resolved the disputes between the various Christian groups. It was Islam that resolved the disputes between the Jews and Christians. Doctrinal differences between the Christian denominations were endemic. Arguments over beliefs and practices were perennial problems leading to bitter battles. They have had a long running history of internal bloodshed over religious controversies. These have been exemplified by the thirty-year war in Europe, the reformation or the Counter Reformation. Blood to the Christians is symbolically sacred for their rituals. In practice they had little qualms about spilling the blood of their own brethren. They had even fewer inhibitions about terrorising Jews and Muslims. The Spanish inquisition may be taken as a prime example. It is imperative to remember the blood thirsty nature of Christianity when reviewing the history of Jerusalem.


As mentioned, prior to the Muslim conquest of Palestine The temple mount was used as a garbage dump and a dung-heap. The inhabitants had no respect for the place. It was Umar bin Khattab who had the area thoroughly cleaned. It was the Umayyad Khalifah 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan built the Dome of the Rock between 685 and 691 CE.

When the Crusaders invaded Jerusalem in 1099 CE they slaughtered Muslims and Jews and burnt the Jewish synagogue. They converted the Dome of the Rock into a church and used Masjid Al Aqsa as a stable for their horses. The Crusaders were barbaric and they brought nothing but destruction to Jerusalem. Not dissimilar to the Romans, before them, they did not value the holy places of worship. In contrast, when Salahuddin al-Ayyoubi liberated Jerusalem on a Friday in 1187 CE, there was no massacre. There was no looting. There was no destruction of places of worship. He took crusaders as prisoners of war. He restored Masjid Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock to their former glory. What the western Christians have always found hard to comprehend was that the Christians of the Islamic State fought alongside the Muslims to liberate Jerusalem from the Crusaders. The Christians of the Islamic State witnessed the rule of the crusaders. The Christian of the Islamic State had also witnessed the rule of Islam. They were best positioned to compare and contrast. Their response speaks volumes about crusader rule, it also speaks volumes about how they were treated by the Muslims and the Islamic law.

The history of blood letting continued through the centuries. From when the Kharezmians (Mongols), connected to the armies to Genghis Khan, invaded in 1244 CE slaughtering both Muslim and the Christian, to 1917 when the British invaded Jerusalem. General, Edmund Allenby, triumphantly entered Jerusalem in December 1917. Like a good Christian, he humbly dismounted to walk through the Jaffa Gate. This is when he proudly declared "today the wars of the Crusaders are completed," The British press celebrated his victory with cartoons of Richard the Lion-Hearted looking down at Jerusalem above the caption "At last my dream come true." Since then Jerusalem and Palestine has seen nothing but destruction and massacres. Even the Christians were unhappy to see the British. Lord Balfour witnessed anxiety articulated by the Christians of Jerusalem. A report at the time stated; "He could express nothing but surprise that any human being could suppose that Christian interests should suffer by the transfer of power in Palestine from a Mohammedan Power to a Christian Power, especially when that Christian Power was Great Britain…" It went on to say " It was not credible, therefore, that places possessing sacred associations with large bodies of Christian believers should in any way suffer by being taken away from Mohammedan authority and put under a Christian mandatory" League of Nations -- Official Journal June 1922

The British also continued to implement aspects of the Shariah to maintain the peace in Palestine. They recognised only Islam had the ability to maintain peace within Palestine.

"When the British Government occupied Palestine on the conclusion of the WWII, it made a point of maintaining the status quo, realising quite rightly that, in delicate matters such as this, any change might easily lead to serious disputes and unforeseen results …In Jerusalem, where so many Churches are represented, only the observance of the established order of things can ensure religious peace and, at the same time, internal and external peace." - LEAGUE OF NATIONS PERMANENT MANDATES COMMISSION MINUTES OF THE FIFTEENTH SESSION 1929.

These examples illustrate that only Islam has the ability to secure peace and stability in Palestine and to guarantee the rights of the people. Any other system only benefited the people who ruled, and neglected rights of the citizens of Palestine. If Muslims ruled Palestine with other than Islam then it would not secure the rights of the people of Palestine. Only if the Shariah is implemented completely then the rights of the people will be secured as the Shariah is not from man it is from our Creator.

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