Starting with Manchester's first Limmud in 2005, on many occasions I have spoken at Limmud conferences in Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds alongside David Berkley QC who is Jewish.
I like to choose challenging subjects, and when volunteering for Manchester Limmud 2019 suggested the topic "Does the Quran support Zionism?" I wanted to explore points which I had occasionally seen being put, for example on the pages linked below.
“Allah is a Zionist: The Quranic argument for Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel” by Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi
“The Zionist Quran” by IQ al Rassooli
The Wikipedia article "Muslim supporters of Israel"
Article 11 of the Hamas Covenant of 1988 includes the sentence “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it.”
However, the Quran tells us the story of Abraham, and of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt into the land promised to them. Does an unbiased reading of the Quran support the Jewish claim to Palestine?
Mohammed Amin MBE is Co-Chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum which is affiliated to the Conservative Party, Chairman of the Islam & Liberty Network which promotes the Muslim case for religious, political and economic freedom, and Chairman of the Advisory Board of Children of Peace.
Many of his writings and presentations can be found on his website www.mohammedamin.com. Before retirement he was a tax partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. He will be speaking in a purely personal capacity.
Founder and Executive Committee Member of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. Formerly President of the Zionist Central Council.
My first presentation recording was done on the spur of the moment, just putting my iPhone 6 on the table and relying on its built in microphone. See my page Lecture: One Muslim’s Perspective on Religious Freedom.
Once I found recording presentations worthwhile, I purchased a high quality Sennheiser digital lapel microphone which plugs into the lightning port of my iPhone. That produces a much better recording.
I am happy to share the original PowerPoint slide presentation.
The question and answer session was also recorded. However, I am not publishing the full audio recording for two main reasons:
Instead, I have listened to the Q&A session and, where I regard the questions as being worth sharing, have written down a condensed version of the questions. I have then published the audio of my answers.
As a preliminary point, while my presentation is only 11 minutes long, the Q&A session took 45 minutes, since the session as a whole had a one-hour slot in the timetable.
DB began by outlining various different meanings of the word Zionism, which I have summarised in my own words as follows:
David asked to what extent would Muslims today agree that the Quran supports any of the above categories of Zionism.
As a preliminary part of my answer, I explained the perspective on the land of Palestine held by Hamas.
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?
Hamas Covenant of 1988, extract from Article 11
DB specifically asked whether any Muslims would regard the return of Jews to Palestine during the 20’th century and the establishment of the state of Israel as something in accordance with the Quran.
O my people! Enter the holy land which God has promised you; but do not turn back [on your faith], for then you will be lost!“ They answered: “O Moses! Behold, ferocious people dwell in that land,” and we will surely not enter it unless they depart therefrom; but if they depart therefrom, then, behold, we will enter it.”
DB pointed out how close the above text is to text in the Torah where the Israelites were afraid to enter into the Promised Land. He emphasised that the Torah text relates to the people who lived there at the time, and is not a reference to Arabs.
And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe: And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:
And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
Deuteronomy 1:23-28 King James Version
Part of Article 11 of the Hamas Charter is quoted earlier on this page. Article 11 continues with the words below:
"This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement."
I explained how the idea of a Caliphate ruling all Muslims has never existed operationally apart from the very earliest days of Islam.
My answer was: "That is quite clear. The 'Children of Israel' are the descendants of Jacob." I emphasised that there was no geographical connotation to the phrase.
I explained that this is how it is written in The Study Quran and what the commentators thought.
"Motley crowd" is how Muhammad Asad translated the relevant Arabic text. The Study Quran translates the same Arabic words as "Mixed assembly", and offers two conjectures from past commentators regarding the meaning. The full text is below; I abbreviated it for the PowerPoint slide.
"as a mixed assembly, meaning that there will be various types of people amongst them — noble and base, obedient and disobedient, pious and iniquitous, strong and weak"
"["as a mixed assembly]— or that God will bring them and their enemies together for judgment on that day.""
Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say: "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."
Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177
In responding to this question in detail, I referred to my talk “Do Muslim religious texts cause religious persecution?” and also gave my general perspective about eschatological Hadith (Hadith about the end of time).
In my answer, I pointed out that this point is often made by “Instant experts” on Islam! I also explained the concept of “abrogation.”
In my answer I illustrated some of the progressive thinking that is taking place amongst Muslims in many countries, and even some of the positive trends in Saudi Arabia.
In my answer, I explained why I publicised my dinners at the home of the Israeli ambassador, the social media response, and the positive aspect of the responses.
The above answer mention my tweet and Facebook status update after the 2017 dinner and the subsequent response.
The tweet is embedded below, and clicking it will show you the responses it received.
I enjoyed attending iftar hosted by Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev at his residence this evening. Good mix of Muslims and Jews present.— Mohammed Amin (@Mohammed_Amin) June 19, 2017
Here is the linked Facebook status update, and the comments and likes and other reactions it received.