The Holy Land saw peace and justice during 1300 years of Muslim rule and persecution of Jews, Christians, and Muslims at other times.
Palestine is the land of prophets. Many prophets were born or died in Palestine, including Prophets Ibrahim (Abraham), Lut (Lot), Dawood (David), Suleiman (Solomon), Musa (Moses), and Isa (Jesus), alayhimu-salam.
Baitul-Maqdis in Palestine was the first Qibla (direction in which Muslims face when praying) too, and Muslims prayed facing Baitul-Maqdis for around 14 years, after which Allah ordered the Qibla to be changed towards the Kaabah in Makkah.
The Canaanites are the earliest known inhabitants of Palestine. They were thought to have lived in Palestine in the third millennium BC. Then Pharaonic Egypt controlled the area for much of the second millennium BC. Prophet Musa, alayhi-salam, was born in Palestine during this time. When Egyptian power began to weaken, new invaders appeared: the Hebrews, a group of Semitic tribes from Mesopotamia; and the Philistines, after whom the country (Philistia) was later named, an Aegean people of Indo-European stock. The Israelites, a confederation of Hebrew tribes, defeated the Canaanites, but the struggle with the Philistines was more difficult. The Philistines had established an independent state on the southern coast of Palestine and controlled the Canaanite town of Jerusalem. The Philistines were superior in military organization and severely defeated the Israelites in about 1050 BC.
Then, in around 995 BC, Prophet Dawood, alayhi-salam, Israel’s king, united the Hebrew tribes and eventually defeated the Philistines. The three groups (Canaanites, Philistines, and Israelites) assimilated with each other over the years. The unity of Israelite tribes enabled Prophet Dawood, alayhi-salam, to establish a large independent state, with its capital at Jerusalem. After the death of Prophet Dawood, alayhi-salam, in around 961 BC Prophet Sulayman, alayhi-salam, his son, became the new king of Israel.
Construction and Destruction of the First Temple
Prophet Sulayman, alayhi-salam, built a magnificent place of worship, the First Temple, which housed the Ark of the Covenant, a sacred chest holding the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Soon after his death, the kingdom was divided into two parts: northern Israel and southern Judah. Pagan Assyrians overran Israel in 721 BC. They destroyed the First Temple. In 538 BC Persian emperor Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem.
Construction and Destruction of the Second Temple
In 515 BC the Jews built the Second Temple at the same site of the First Temple. Alexander conquered Palestine in 332 BC. Three centuries later, the Romans entered Jerusalem. Herod, the client king for the Roman Empire expanded the Second Temple but destroyed the religion. Then Prophet Isa, alayhi-salam, was born, around 4 BC. Jews joined with Roman paganism to persecute Prophet Jesus and his followers.
In 70 CE, Titus of Rome laid siege to Jerusalem. The Herodian Temple eventually fell, and with it the whole city. Seeking a complete and enduring victory, Titus ordered the total destruction of the city. A new city named Aelia was built on the ruins of Jerusalem, and a temple dedicated to Jupitor was raised.
Christian Rule of Palestine
In 313 CE the Roman emperor Constantine I legalized Christianity. Palestine, as the Holy Land, became a focus of Christian pilgrimage. Most of the population became Hellenized and Christianized. In 324 CE Constantine of Byzantium marched on Aelia. He rebuilt the city walls and commissioned the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and opened the city for Christian pilgrimage.
In the year 620 CE, Isra’ wal Mi’raj took place. On this night, in a miraculous way, the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam was taken on a momentous journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and from there to heaven. The Night Journey was a great miracle that Muslims believe was given to Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam as an honor and also to impress upon the Muslims the importance of Jerusalem to them. The Night Journey from Makkah to Jerusalem is called al-Isra’ and the ascension from Jerusalem to the heaven is called al-Mi’raj. Both of these events took place on the same night. Angel Gabriel took Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam from Makkah to Jerusalem. There he met all the Prophets and Messengers and led them in prayers. Then it is reported that the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam stood at the Sacred Rock (al-Sakhrah al-Musharrafah), went to the heavens. He arrived back in Makkah the same night.
Muslim Rule of Palestine
The Byzantines who ruled Jerusalem at this time were very harsh. They not only barred Jews from entering Jerusalem, but also persecuted Christians who did not follow the same sect as them. On the other hand, Muslims had the reputation for mercy and compassion in victory. So when the Muslims marched into Palestine in 638 CE, the people of Jerusalem gave up the city only after a brief siege. They made just one condition, that the terms of their surrender be negotiated directly with the Khalifah Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, in person. Sayyidna Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, agreed to come and entered Jerusalem on foot. There was no bloodshed or massacres. Those who wanted to leave were allowed to leave, with all their goods. Those who wanted to stay were guaranteed protection for their lives, property and places of worship.
The conquest of Palestine by the Muslims put an end to centuries of instability, religious persecution, and colonial rule. After the advent of Islam, people enjoyed security, safety and peace. Schools, mosques and hospitals were founded. Palestine was a center of learning from which a large number of scholars graduated. The conquest of Palestine by the Muslims began the 1300 years of Muslim rule, with the exception of the period of the Crusades (1099-1187) in what then became known as Filastin.
The Christian occupation of Palestine began after the sermon which pope Urban the second delivered in 1095 CE, when he incited the Christians to rescue the Holy Sepulcher from the hands of the Muslims. The Holy Land fell after a month of siege. The Crusades entered it in 1099 CE and massacred its residents not sparing the infants or elderly, and the number killed went over seventy thousand. Then the Crusaders established a Latin kingdom. During the occupation, massacres and great injustices were committed against the Muslim, Jewish and native Christian residents of the area.
Finally, in 1187 CE, Palestine was liberated by the Muslims under the leadership of Salatuddin Ayyubi, who brought back Islamic law to the area. Peace and justice once again ruled Palestine, and everyone, regardless of their religion, was allowed to live there peacefully.
The Founding of Israel and Palestine Today
The first serious plan for the establishment of the country of Israel was in the Bale conference in Switzerland in 1897 CE. The conference succeeded and was attended by 204 of those invited, where they decreed the establishment of a nation for the Jews in Palestine.
After the Bale conference, the Jewish movement became active which led Sultan Abdul Hameed (the then Khalifah) to deliver his famous decree in 1900 to stop the Jewish pilgrims from residing in Palestine for longer than three months. Sultan Abdul Hameed knew very well the designs and plans of the Jews. Contact with the Sultan was commenced by the Jews in 1882 when the Friends of Zion society put up a request to the Ottoman council in Russia for residence in Palestine. The Sultan responded: “The Ottoman government hereby decrees to all the Jews who desire to migrate to Turkey that they will not be permitted to reside in Palestine.”
The Jews were angered and began to send delegation after delegation each of which returned with a response more severe than the one preceding it. Then in 1901, Sultan Abdul Hameed passed a law forbidding the sale of any land in Palestine to the Jews.
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In 1902, Herzl formed another delegation to meet with the Sultan a second time after he attempted to convince him in 1896. The Sultan refused to meet with him, so they went to the Prime Minister Tahsin Basha with their suggestions. They offered the repayment of the entire debt of the Ottoman government which were to the extent of twenty three million gold English pounds, and to build a fleet for he protection of the empire costing two hundred and thirty million gold franc, and to offer an interest free loan to the value of thirty five million gold lira to revive the treasury. All these offers were in return for permission by the Sultan to the Jews to establish a Jewish nation in Palestine; that is to sell the lives and livelihood of the Palestinian people and the holy land for these offers. Sultan Abdul Hameed rejected all these offers.
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Arab region into zones of influence. Palestine submitted to the British occupation and at the same time the ratios of Jewish migration began to increase with support from the non-Muslim countries.
In 1917 CE the British government made promises to Arab leaders for an independent Arab state that would include Palestine (the Hussain-McMahon correspondence). Simultaneously, and secretly, it issued the Balfour Declaration, which declared Palestine to be a homeland for Jews. At that time Jews made up approximately 8% of the population of Palestine and owned approximately 2.5% of the land.
In 1918 the British and their Arab nationalist allies defeated the Ottomans. The British dismembered the Ottoman Empire and occupied Palestine. The British immediately began a campaign of immigrating European Jews to Palestine.
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By 1947, the number of Jews in Palestine had reached approximately six hundred and fifty thousand (31% of the total population). They began to establish organizations, which were trained in organized terrorism. From these a large number were trained in and participated in the Second World War in order to gain experience and skills to go to battle in Palestine in the next stage. So when the United Nations decreed the division of Palestine, the Jews had seventy five thousand armed and trained members.
In 1948 the Jews claimed the establishment of a state for themselves over the land of Palestine and called it Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were forced out of Palestine under the military pressure of Jewish terrorist groups such as the Irgun, Levi, and Haganot, which were financed and armed by the British army as well as US Jewry.
In 1967 Israel attacked Egypt, Jordan and Syria and occupied more land including for the first time Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. Since that time Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa has been the target of several attempts by the Jews to destroy or burn it, including attempts to collapse it through underground excavations.
In December 1987, the Palestinians began an uprising (Intifada) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against the continued Jewish occupation.
On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon broke into Masjid Al-Aqsa with 3000 Zionist soldiers profaning the Masjid Al-Aqsa to provoke the Palestinians. Palestinians protested and the second intifada began. Since then thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israeli army, and there is no end in sight.