By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
June 9, 2012
We are reproducing in original Urdu and in English and Hindi translations a widely syndicated article in India’s Urdu Press by Maulanama Nadeemul Wajidi of Deoband seminary detailing Muslims’s love for and claims to Haram Ash-Sharif Baitul Muqaddas and Masjid-e-Aqsa, also known alternatively as Temple Mount and Solomon’s Temple or First Temple in Jerusalem. Muslim Press the world over is constantly full of Muslim lamentation over the loss of full control over Baitul Muqaddas and Masjid-e-Aqsa since Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem. Fighting an occupation is one thing. All Justice-loving people in the world are with Palestinians on that issue. But world Muslim community making an ideological claim over a building complex that God told us belongs to our religious cousins, the Ahl-Kitab Jews and Christians, is something quite another.
Muslims revere these structures as their first Qibla, as it was this direction they faced in their prayers in the formative phase of Islam when Prophet was still hoping for reconciliation with and acceptability as a Biblical prophet by the Jews and Christians. Even though the Prophet and other Meccans always wanted to use Kaaba Shareef as their Qibla, this was one of the concessions they were willing to make as per God’s advice in the interest of wider acceptability by other Biblical religions. However, when all these attempts failed and Jews had to be expelled because of their perfidy in times of war which would not be acceptable to any besieged city, the Prophet and the Muslims from Mecca started looking towards Heaven for permission to change their Qibla from Baitul Muqaddas to Kaaba Shareef.
This is how God responded while recording the Prophet’s desire for a separate Qibla: Surah Baqra 2: 144. “We see the turning of thy face for guidance to the heavens. Now shall We turn thee to a Qibla that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque. Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The people of the Book know well that that is the truth from their Lord, nor is Allah unmindful of what they do.”
This is what most Muslims remember and follow. But the very next verse explained to them that Baitul Muqaddas was the Qibla for Jews and Christians, something Muslims have forgotten; our self-righteous ulema are of course in the habit of ignoring inconvenient Qur’anic verses, verses that do not support their rapacious, self-righteous, male-chauvinist, Islam-supremacist attitudes. Let us read this verse and see what it says:
Sura Baqra: 2: 145: “Even if thou wert to bring to the people of the Book all the signs (together), they would not follow thy Qibla (Kaaba); nor art thou going to follow their Qibla (Baitul Muqaddas) nor indeed will they follow each other’s Qibla. If thou, after the knowledge hath reached thee, wert to follow their (vain) desires, then wert thou indeed (clearly) in the wrong.”
To buttress this proposition, let us also consult, the Tafseer (exegesis, interpretation) of the authorized Saudi translation in this context. It says: “A very clear glimpse of the old Jewish practice in the matter of the Qibla and the importance attached to it is found in the book of Daniel, V1. 10. Daniel was a righteous man of princely lineage and lived about 606--538 B.C. He was carried off to Babylon by Nebuchednezzar, The Assyrian, but was still living when Assyria was overthrown by the Medes and Persians. In spite of the “captivity” of the Jews, Daniel enjoyed the highest offices of state at Babylon, but he was ever true to Jerusalem. His enemies (under the Persian monarch) got a penal law passed against anyone who “asked a petition of any god or man for 30 days” except the Persian King. But Daniel continued true to Jerusalem. His windows being open in his chamber towards, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
Were we thus to read the entire Qur’anic exhortation on the issue of Qibla, we would not have fallen into the ever deepening morass of intra-Ahl-e-Kitab conflict. We can continue to revere the sacred places in Jerusalem according tour traditions while recognizing God-ordained rights of the Judaeo-Christian religious communities to their Qibla in Jerusalem as we have ours in Mecca. Exactly what shape our expression of reverence for our original Qibla takes and whether we are allowed to visit and when and how frequently, etc, can be peacefully and easily negotiated once we concede their God-given right to their Qibla.
In the meantime let us also try and remember another of God’s commandments that will help us come out of our Qibla fixation.
Surah Baqra: 2: 115 “To Allah belong the East and The West: Wheresoever Ye turn, there is Allah’s Face. For Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.”
Dear Mr Binyamin, I have merely mentioned Urdu Press here in India has come up with the news of Jews desecrating Prophet Joseph AS’s Tomb. Islam is a religion of pluralism. Its holy book and books of Ahadith are full of such messages. Only that, it has to be understood and practiced.
I wish Muslim readers of www.NewAgeIslam.com would read at least this much unbiased information from Wikipedia to expand their horizons: Joseph's Tomb (Hebrew: ??? ?????, Qever Yosef, Arabic: ??? ?????, Qabr Yusuf) is a funerary monument located at the eastern entrance to the valley that separates Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, 325 yards northwest of Jacob's Well, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus, near Tell Bala?a, the site of biblical Shechem. Biblical tradition identifies the general area of Shechem as the resting-place of the biblical patriarch Joseph, theeponymous ancestor of the northern kingdom of Israel, and his two sonsEphraim and Manasseh.Joseph's tomb has been venerated throughout the ages by Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims. Post-biblical records regarding the location of Joseph's Tomb at this site date from the beginning of the 4th-century AD. The present structure, a small rectangular room with acenotaph, dates from 1868, and is devoid of any trace of ancient building materials. While some scholars, such as Kenneth Kitchen and James K. Hoffmeier still affirm the essential historicity of the biblical account of Joseph, many others, such as Donald B. Redford, argue that the story itself has ‘no basis in fact’.
Modern scholarship has yet to determine whether or not the present cenotaph is to be identified with the ancient Biblical gravesite. No Jewish or Christian sources prior to the 5th century mention the tomb, and the structure originally erected over it appears to have been built by the Samaritans, for whom it was probably a sacred site.
At key points in its long history, Joseph's Tomb has witnessed intense sectarian conflict. Samaritans and Christians disputing access and title to the site in the early Byzantine period often engaged in violent clashes.After Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, Muslims were prohibited from worship at the shrine and it was gradually turned into a Jewish prayer room. Interreligious friction and conflict from competing Jewish and Muslim claims over the tomb became frequent. Falling under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) following the signing of the Oslo Accords, it remained under IDF guard with Muslims prohibited from praying there. At the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, just after being handed over to the PNA, it was looted and razed. Following the reoccupation of Nablus during Israel's Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, Jewish groups returned there intermittently. Recently the structure has been refurbished, with a new cupola installed, and visits by Jewish worshippers have resumed.
Dear Mr. Neyazi, How can saying Talmudic prayers at the tomb be considered desecration? All that Jews want to do is to pray there, naturally with all the reverence that we give to all those whom Muslims too consider prophets. Why can’t we both communities say prayers in a tomb in our own ways? We do have to co-exist in this world.
Now Urdu Press is reporting that Jewish settlers accompanied by the Israeli military have again invaded Nablus city in the occupied West Bank, desecrating Prophet Joseph AS's Tomb. Prophet Josef AS's Tomb has been closed to Israeli settlers since 2000, after their visits to the holy site caused violent confrontations in the region.
@Sadaf. Your comment reminds me of Musaddase Hali’s these lines:
banana na turbat ko meri sanam tum
na karna meri qabr par sar ko khamtum
nahin banda hone me kuch mujh se kam tum
ki bechargi may barabar hain ham tum.”
While I take your points I will remind you that all humanity will be judged on deeds and faith. Let us leave the faith to God alone and let us try to be models of excellence and good deeds. If you try to find ‘faults’ in the customs and traditions – there will be no end and you will get nowhere. So remember what Iqbal said, as adapted to your comment: zara dekh us ko jo kuch ho raha hai hone wala hai – dhara kiya hay bhala gumrahiun (ahde kuhan in the original) ki dastanon may”. Please read my last detailed comment on today’s realities below.
I don't know how would be my comment taken by different kinds of Muslims, but surely some of them will think it is blasphemous to say that the grave of Prophet should be razed in accordance to the policy of stopping grave worship. Those who feel that the grave should remain there protruding out of the earth to me is either doing grave worship or assisting in someone else doing grave worship.
The reason why that grave is still there is because Saudis have made it as dhandha and tourists/piligrims attraction. In fact the black stone at Kaaba too is serving the same purpose for them.
I say this on the basis that that there is 'no god but Allah, and Muhammad (SAW) was His Prophet'. When there can be no concept of any God existing beside Allah, then surely there can be no Godliness in that particular grave or that particular stone and hence whatever people do or feel for that stone or grave is just stone parasti or grave parasti.
Islam is basically an abstract concept, with an abstarct God, mind it just one God as a concession when there could have been no God at all if it was not needed to have at least one who created the whole thing. This God is formless and simply too great to be sufficiently described. Prophet Muhammad SAW was the person who affirmed of the existence of this God and since he was an honest person, in fact, the most honest and most trustworthy and the most truthful, people of his time one by one accepted his views. Later, progeny of such people too accepted what their forefathers told them about Prophet Muhammad SAW.
One particular thing that reached us was that Prophet SAW himself never wanted to be mistaken as someone to be worshipped. He explicitly prohibited making his portraits, knowing fully well how people love carrying photographic images of whom they love and in fact go even beyond loving, that is, they start worshipping that image. Muslims, the puritan ones never got themselves photographed till some decades ago for the same reason and that was that their photographs will remain collected with their children, grand and great grand children and they might one day go beyond the limit of loving them. They might start worshipping their images. Since Prophet himself didn't qualify to be worshipped, how can anyone else qualify?
The same reason of vanishing from the public eye after their death makes the orthodox Muslim wish to be interred into a mud grave as soon as possible after death and the grave be not marked, so that in due time he/she is lost because the concept is that he/she is not important at all, only his/her deeds which he or she did when he/she was alive were important. The material self of any person is not important.
In case of Allah, there is no material identity of Allah. The stone that many Muslims just wish to see out of curiosity is also wished to be seen and kissed by many Muslim because it was kissed by Prophet SAW himself. But certainly there are many Muslims who think that having a wish to see or having seen or touching or kissing that stone makes any divine difference to their life. Such people are Sang-e-aswad parast. Same is the case with those who have similar wishes for Prophet’s grave or just about any grave of this auliya or that auliya.
The Barelvis however opposes this thesis, while Deobandi though endorse it to an extent, but only for the reason to identify themselves different from Barelvis. World over various version of Barelvies and Deobandis exist. The one who oppose this thesis of disallowing them to feel spiritually joyed or pacified are some or the other version of Barelvi, while the one who stick to the puritanical stand of not endorsing any activity which may give a sense of worshipping anyone or anything other than Allah and thus doing Shirk is some version of Deobandi.
Wahabis are basically hypocrites of Deobandi kind of school of thought who put on display that black stone and that grave beside many thing else to attract customers/pilgrims. These hypocrites are either the progeny of the people who used to sell spirituality to spirituality seeker when Kaaba was the centre of idol worshipping (or better said- a temple just as present Non-Muslim temples are) or these hypocrites are those converts or progeny of converts who found this business of selling spirituality too lucrative. They are basically the equivalent of Hindu Pandas but from the community identified as Muslim.
Since they are hypocrites, they are profiting from activities which can be sttributed to Barelvis but they not just do not identify themselves with Barelvis but do every possible act except that spirituality selling job to distance themselves from Barelvis and compete with them and beat them in that business. Otherwise as they approve of Deobandis and exhibit themselves in tune with Deobandism, they shouldn’t have indulged into selling spirituality to seekers.
A deobandi, like Aurangzeb Alamgir was, even after being an Emperor of the country as vast as it never was and as rich as to be called as Sone ki chidia and as powerful as any King could be after gaining a throne that was in his family for over a hundred years spanning six generations, he preferred to live a life of austerity using his personal wealth acquired by writing and as someone also informed, by knitting caps, for the money needed for his personal usage and stopped all wasteful activity of Shahjahan’s time. He didn’t indulge in making wasteful TajMahal which is after all, a grave and ultimately rested in a grave which is still identified but identified more for its simplicity in an obscure village in the outskirt of an obscure city.
What the present Wahabi’s feel joyed about building a grand clock tower overlooking Kaaba is an act similar to what Shahjahan did in his time and puritan Muslims are now reacting to the overindulgence of Wahabi Sauds. They have indeed made Hajj- a holy activity of Muslims a commercial activity for them. They are razing everything that is claimed by Shias like the graves of the relatives of Hazrat Ali’s (even though these happened to be of those related to Prophet as well) but that is because of their enmity and envy of Shias/Iran but they retain that particular grave which has highest value to not just Muslim but even for non-Muslim if it is sold in any auction. But they are wise(read shrewd /cunning) enough to keep alive the hen which gives them eggs of gold and slay the one which can get out of their hand and land into their enemy’s lap.
Janab Reihan Nezami sahib, Dargahs housing the tombs of respected sufi saints are not only in India and Pakistan, but world over. There are many Dargahs in Russia and the other new born countries which emerged following the fall of USSR. When I was in New York, I was taken to a Dargah by a relative of mine and I was surprised to find many US Muslims visiting the shrine. I also met a few top personalities who were having high opining on Sufism concept.
Moreover recently viewed a video, in which the Saudi Prince offering prayers at the Rauza shareef of Prophet Sallalahu alaihi vasallam, contrary to the normal belief that people are not allowed to pray at the Rauza Shareef. In Dubai, the re is a big tomb for the former ruler of the UAE, where Quran Shareef is recited round the clock on all the 365 days in a year. Moreover, the death anniversary of the late ruler (urs, what we call in India) is performed every year with much fanfare. Instead of saying just graveyard, please give our forefather who have achieved all this with true worship and love towards Allah Almighty, their due.
It is about Mr. Sultan Shahin's article on Qibla-e-Awwal i.e. Al Quds.
Islam as is followed ordains the faithful to believe in all Prophets right from Prophet Adam(AS) and the Holy Books revealed to them. Till Allah directed our beloved Prphet(PBUH) during the prayer to change the direction to Baitullah, Muslims used to pray in the direction of Al Quds. That's the reason why Muslims rever it.
Al Quds has never been revered as Holy Place by either Jews or Christians. The fact of the matter is that in the war against Islam, all its enemies chiefly Jews and Christians have conspired to destroy our Qibla-e-Awwal and grab it. Muslims will never give it up, rest assured.
I am quite disappointed by the Article, which in name of modernism, advocates for withdrawal from our beliefs and sacred places. I condemn his views !