Al-Quds: The Place of Jerusalem in Classical Judaic and Islamic Traditions
by Mohammed Abdul Hameed Al-Khateeb
London: Ta-Ha, 1419/1998. 213 pp. £4.95.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Al-Khateeb, in a typical example of Islamist pseudo-scholarship, dismisses the Jewish and Christian holy texts regarding Jerusalem on the grounds of inaccuracy: "we know for sure they were lost, found again, translated in and out of languages, commented on and the commentaries sometimes incorporated into the texts, and portions erased, altered and ‘creatively' rewritten." In contrast to these many alleged falsifications, "It is with considerable relief then when one comes upon the Islamic texts," which the author deems satisfyingly large in number, directly transmitted, and "critically and ruthlessly" examined by scholars. The tone and content of this contrast then pervades the analysis which follows, a religious polemic masquerading as research, in which the author attempts to make the implausible argument that Jerusalem matters more to Islam than to Judaism.
True, he acknowledges, Jerusalem has a "high degree of sanctity" in Judaism and the city plays a more specific role in that religion's eschatology. But these are petty details compared to his major point – that the Islamic faith is the true one and therefore its claim take precedence. For example, Al-Khateeb argues that the Muslim conquest of the city in c.e. 638 returned it to "the pure faith of Ibrahim [Abraham] which had been corrupted by both Judaism and Christianity." Then, to nail down the Islamic claim, he produces his clinching argument: "Judaism was once a form of Islam" – so how can it have an independent claim anyway? Not content with this, he goes on to insult Jews, saying that thanks to the "embellishments and falsifications of the rabbis," they locked themselves into what the author indelicately calls "a concentration camp mentality." All this leads him to two not terribly surprising conclusions: Jews should convert to Islamand they "historically have no right in al-Quds and Palestine as a whole." Islamists would more effectively advance their arguments if they were more respectful of the sensibilities of others and more intent to seek common ground rather than to magnify differences.
Related Topics: Jerusalem | Daniel Pipes | Fall 2000 MEQ
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