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On the Islamic claim to Jerusalem

In my video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bIcbnDXSRg I have stated, that the only reason that Muslims covet Jerusalem is because it is something that belongs to the Jews. In the video, I say that Jerusalem is not even mentioned once in the Qur’an.

I am sometimes questioned on this statement. Proponents of Islam bring Surah الإسراء Al-Israa, 17:1, which according to them proves that Qur’an speaks about Jerusalem.

17:1 سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُُ‎
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

What it means

First of all, the Aya 17:1 makes no mention of Jerusalem. It just mentions a “distant Mosque”. Historically speaking, when this verse was given, there were no Islamic buildings in the lands of Israel¹. You read المسجد الاقصى‎ (al-Masjid al-Aqsa), and you immediately interpret it as al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, because that is the name of a place you know, and that is how you have been taught to interpret it in this 22th century culture. The name was given to the Mosque that was built there by Umar, of the Rashidun caliphate, which came into existence after the death of Muhammad. In other words, it did not exist in the time of Muhammad. But you have to read the text in its historic context. You cannot put effect before cause. The name for a place (and the place itself) came long after the text. What did the words mean when the text was written?

Aqsa literally means “distant” or “far-away”. These were words, not names. There did not exist a Mosque by the name of “al-Aqsa”.¹ There was not even a Mosque, by any name, in the land of Israel¹. Such a thing would have been idolatry, abomination to the Jews. The Israelites were commanded to destroy any such places (Deuteronomy 7:4–11, 12:2–5).

Deut. 12:2–5 אַבֵּד תְּאַבְּדוּן אֶת-כָּל-הַמְּקֹמוֹת אֲשֶׁר עָבְדוּ-שָׁם הַגּוֹיִם, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם יֹרְשִׁים אֹתָם--אֶת-אֱלֹהֵיהֶם: עַל-הֶהָרִים הָרָמִים וְעַל-הַגְּבָעוֹת, וְתַחַת כָּל-עֵץ רַעֲנָן. וְנִתַּצְתֶּם אֶת-מִזְבְּחֹתָם, וְשִׁבַּרְתֶּם אֶת-מַצֵּבֹתָם, וַאֲשֵׁרֵיהֶם תִּשְׂרְפוּן בָּאֵשׁ, וּפְסִילֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶם תְּגַדֵּעוּן; וְאִבַּדְתֶּם אֶת-שְׁמָם, מִן-הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא. לֹא-תַעֲשׂוּן כֵּן, לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. ה כִּי אִם-אֶל-הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר-יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, מִכָּל-שִׁבְטֵיכֶם, לָשׂוּם אֶת-שְׁמוֹ, שָׁם--לְשִׁכְנוֹ תִדְרְשׁוּ, וּבָאתָ שָּׁמָּה.
Ye shall surely destroy all the places, wherein the nations that ye are to dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every leafy tree. And ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods; and ye shall destroy their name out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the YHWH your God. But unto the place which the YHWH your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His name there, even unto His habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come;

The words just say, “far-away المسجد”‭ (and this is indeed how some Qur’an translations translate it, although the practice has fallen out of favor).

Furthermore, the Qur’an likely translates the word “Temple” as “Mosque”. The Arabic word مسجد (Masjad) does not specifically mean an Islamic place of worship. The word means any place of worship, including temples, synagogues and churches, even monasteries. Muhammad would not have invented a new word to describe a place of worship specifically for his new religion. Nobody would have understood what he talks about, if he did that. Rather, the connotation of a pre-existing word changed after Muhammad’s lifetime. In other words, Qur’an 17:1 speaks that Muhammad visited a distant temple. It could be any temple, as long as it is “distant” (Aqsa) from Muhammad’s usual activities. It could have been the St. Catherine Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula. Historically, this is plausible, because it was built before Muhammad was born. It could have been one of the Buddhist Monasteries in Bengal. The earliest of them were built in the third century before Christ. Certainly they would have been distant.

English translations of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and some translations of Qur’an add the subtitle “(in Jerusalem)” where al-Aqsa is mentioned, but these subtitles are modern-day additions by modern-day Muslims, designed to guide the reader towards a particular interpretation. No such reference exists in the original Arabic text.

In short, the story says Muhammad went to a far-away temple.

¹) Muhammad re-framed the Biblical narrative and the nation of Israel, including Jesus, as Muslims all along, and puts Mosques here and there, but this is not supported by historic record. And more importantly, it is not supported by Bible. Since the Qur’an affirms the divine inspiration, preservation and authority of Bible, we’re going by seniority here.

Corruption of Bible is a teaching invented by modern-day Muslims, who, unlike the early Muslims, have ready access to the texts of both Qur’an and Bible, and who, unlike Muhammad himself, have rightly noticed that the Qur’an totally fails to line up with Bible. So they had to come up with an explanation, and thus came the teaching about the corruption of Bible. I would rather not have to begin every single article with a lengthy proof about the preservation of the Bible, so I will just refer to a couple of ayas: 3:3–4, 5:43–48, 5:68, 10:94.

The Jerusalem theory

But let’s agree for the sake of argument, that this temple, مسجد, was indeed in the lands of Israel, and that it was the more famous place of worship that Muhammad most likely would have heard of from his frequent kerfuffles with Jews and Christians, who kept rejecting his claims of prophethood much to his growing dismay. In other words, Muhammad visited, by his own testimony, the remains of the Jewish Holy Temple in the far-away Jerusalem, by night.² What does this passage say, then?

This passage in Qur’an says, that God has blessed the precincts of the Temple. In other words, it was holy, because God himself had blessed it. It has been blessed, past tense: In other words, this Israeli-made site was already holy. And there was no expiration to the holiness. It was still holy. It is still holy. God has blessed the premises, and it happened before Muhammad came there. I can agree with this. According to this verse, it was also a place where God shows his signs. Fuzzy, but not far off. Then the Surah goes on to talk about Moses (Musa) and Noah (Nuh), and speaks about the Torah and how God made it a guidance (17:2). Now we get context! A concept, that is indeed confirmed numerous times in Qur’an. Again, something that I can agree with. Tawrat and Injeel are guidance, and they were valid at the time of Muhammad, and the Qur’an esteems them, even to the extent of saying “if you have any questions about [God’s] revelation, go ask the Jews and Christians, because they have read the Torah and Gospels long before you” (3:3–4, 5:43–48, 5:68, 10:94, et al.) There would be no point for God to say something like that, if the Jews and Christians did not have the right text.

17:2 وَآتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ هُدًى لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَلَّا تَتَّخِذُوا مِن دُونِي وَكِيلًا ذُرِّيَّةَ مَنْ حَمَلْنَا مَعَ نُوحٍ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا
And We gave Moses the Scripture and made it a guidance for the Children of Israel that you not take other than Me as Disposer of affairs, O descendants of those We carried (in the ship) with Noah. Indeed, he was a grateful servant.

5:43 وَكَيْفَ يُحَكِّمُونَكَ وَعِندَهُمُ التَّوْرَاةُ فِيهَا حُكْمُ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّوْنَ مِن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ ۚ وَمَا أُولَٰئِكَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ
But how is it that they come to *you* for judgement while they *have* the Torah, in which *is* the judgement of Allah? Then they turn away, (even) after that; but those are not (in fact) believers.

So basically, if the Surah speaks about Jerusalem, then it follows that Muhammad, in his dreams, made a pilgrimage to an Israeli place, because it was a place that was already blessed by God, in the context of Israel and its prophets, according to Qur’an. In other words, the place is holy because it is associated with God, Israel, and Torah. The center is God, Israel and Torah.

The Jewish Holy Temple was a place where the practices that God ordained for the people of Israel (in the first five books of Tanakh/Torah) were centered. Furthermore, it was built by King Solomon, 14 generations down from Abraham.

²) There would have been little sense for King Solomon to build the Temple, if there already existed a duplicate building (mosque) dedicated to the God of Israel. Therefore we are going to assume that these two terms refer to the same building.

Before the Temple

Before King Solomon built one, there was no temple: The priestly services and God’s presence were centered around the Tabernacle, a temporary dwelling, that could be relocated. The Tabernacle is mentioned in 297 different verses in the Bible. It moved with the nation of Israel as they wandered the wilderness (Exodus 27), before settling in the land that God promised in a covenant to Israel (Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham) and his descendants (Genesis 50:24).

Gen. 50:24 וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹסֵף אֶל-אֶחָיו, אָנֹכִי מֵת; וֵאלֹהִים פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֶתְכֶם, וְהֶעֱלָה אֶתְכֶם מִן-הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב.
And Joseph said unto his brethren: ‘I die; but God will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land unto the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’

The Tabernacle itself was created when Israel — the descendants of the sons of Jacob and the mixed multitude that joined them — fled Egypt, and when they wandered the wilderness, led by God himself, whose commands were relayed to the people by Moses, the great-great-grandson of Abraham’s grandson Jacob. This happened some 210—430 years after the descendants of Jacob moved to Egypt in the first place, about 325—545 years after the death of Abraham. The purpose and function of movable Tabernacle was to provide a focal point for the priestly services that were being conducted in the midst of this nation in the process of being taught by God, and a model of how God’s kingdom works.

Before the Tabernacle, there was no temple or mosque of any kind for the God of Israel. It was simply an unknown concept. God is omnipresent. Why would he need a temple? Why would his followers need a temple? Pray anywhere you like. When God appeared to Moses, he did not appear in a temple. He appeared in a burning bush on a mountain. Even the bush was totally irrelevant, it was just a tool to catch Moshe’s attention.

There were altars though. Noah created an altar for God, for sacrificing animals as a thank offering as they left the ark. (Genesis 8:20). He was not the first one to do that: Cain and Abel, the first two sons of Adam, both offered sacrifices to God, nine generations and over a thousand years earlier. (Genesis 4:3–5) Abraham built an altar when God appeared to him (Genesis 12:7), and again at the mountains as he was praying for God. (Genesis 12:8). He build a third altar in Mamre, near Hebron (Genesis 13:18), and a fourth one to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:9), but God gave him a ram to sacrifice instead. (Genesis 22:11–13) He built a fifth and final altar in Berseba (Genesis 26:25). His son, Isaac did not build any altars according to Torah, but Isaac’s son Jacob (Israel) built an altar in Shechem, on land that he purchased, (Genesis 33:20) and another altar in Bethel (Genesis 35:7). These altars were nothing more than temporary tables of stone in the middle of a wilderness, suitable for burn offerings. Heavy-duty campfires, essentially. Abandoned and forgotten after use.

But King Solomon wanted to make a monumental temple for God, and he did. The construction took seven years. When he finally had the tent Tabernacle moved inside, and the priests exited, then God’s mighty presence filled the place. (2.Chronicles 6:1–7:3) ~900—1100 years later, God’s presence exited the place when Jesus died on cross (a historic fact that the Qur’an denies for no good reason). (Mark 15:37–38) So, according to the popular interpretation of Qur’an, Muhammad visited this site originally built by Solomon³, then later rebuilt by Herod, and ultimately destroyed by the Romans in year 70, and he did so because of God, Israel and Torah.

Thus, if the premises for the story of Isra’ wal-Mi‘raj were in Jerusalem, then the whole story has to be interpreted within the context of Israel and Torah. This framing is supported by the contents of Muhammad’s vision, where he claimed to have met and talked with Israeli patriarchs and prophets, i.e. the heroes of the most popular stories from Bible.

So where does it leave Muslims, who try to take the place away from Jews and strip away its connection to Torah? Basically, if you remove Israel, and you remove Torah, here is what remains:

https://bisqwit.iki.fi/jutut/kuvat/apologetics/islamic_claim_thu.jpg

³) According to Sahih al-Bukhari 3366 (4.60.45) and 3425, Muhammad gave the construction date of his al-Aqsa forty years after the construction of al-Haram in Makkah, which he said on separate occassion to have been built by Abraham and Ishmael. (2:127) While he never stated who built the al-Aqsa, if we are going to assume al-Aqsa refers to the Jewish Holy Temple, the timeline of his claim is in total contradiction with the Torah, considering that King Solomon was born ~1000 years after Abraham died. Islamic scholars attempt to justify this discrepancy by saying Solomon’s temple was a different construct alltogether.

However, if we establish that Solomon’s Temple was a separate building that was built after al-Aqsa, then we must also agree that al-Aqsa could not possibly have survived to Muhammad’s day: Israel was obligated to destroy all signs of idolatry and pagan worship on multiple occassions (e.g. 2.Chronicles 14:2–3). Of course, Muslims insist that King Solomon and others were really muslims, so they would not have destroyed this hypothetical mosque. If so, then the al-Aqsa would have been destroyed by the Philistines and Cananites who lived there while Israel was in slavery in Egypt. Even if this structure survived until Israel settled the land led by Joshua, this would have been recorded in the Tanakh, and the Tanakh is very clear that before Solomon built the imposing Temple that would last for 410 years, the Tabernacle was the only acceptable religious structure in the land. The Qur’an is also very clear that the text in Torah and Gospels were still unchanged (and in fact, unchangeable) Allah’s word in Muhammad’s days. It is the actions of Jews that the Qur’an condemns, not their Scriptures. So Muslims are faced here with a contradiction after contradiction. Muhammad’s explanations just kept failing to line up with the Scriptures.

What happened according to Muslim sources?

Muhammad’s story about this night, commonly referred to Isra’ wal-Mi‘raj, was narrated by Anas bin Mālik, one of Muhammad’s closest companions and the longest-lived one. It can be read in Sahih⁴ al-Bukhari hadith 7517, in volume 9 book 97.

It is too long to be quoted verbatim here, but according to this description, Muhammad was sleeping in al-Masjid al-Haram (the forbidden temple / sacred mosque, in Mecca/Makkah), when three angels snatched him and took him beside the well of Zam-zam, which was nearby in Mecca. The angels cut open his throat and chest, took all the entrails out, washed them in the water of the well, stuffed the entrails back in, and then took him directly to heaven. In several different layers of heaven, Muhammad successively met Adam, then Idris, then Aaron, then someone whose name he could not remember, then Abraham, and finally Moses. He observed sights like the rivers of Nile and Euphrates, and had a lengthy discussion about the number of required prayer services in day, which ended up being five instead of fifty, countermanding Muhammad’s earlier revelation. Obviously, Musa (Moses) was a greater authority than Muhammad or even Allah. Finally, Muhammad woke up back in al-Haram.

Interestingly, this hadith makes no mention of al-Aqsa at all. Muhammad was taken directly from al-Haram into heaven, and back to al-Haram. Other prophets, such as Jesus and John, are mentioned in other Ahadith, such as within Bihār al-Anwār by al-Majlisi, but this collection is generally considered ḍaʻīf⁴.

I was not able to find a hadith that actually mentions both al-Aqsa and heaven, but since Muslims so frequently claim it happened, and al-Isra 17:1 does say al-Aqsa, let’s assume in good faith that Islam actually has a coherent version of this story somewhere. Maybe Anas bin Mālik simply forgot to mention al-Aqsa; or being one of Muhammad’s closest and most faithful companions he maybe had it on good authority that al-Aqsa does not belong in the story or is totally irrelevant, so he left it out.

⁴) Islamic Ahadith fall into several categories of authenticity. The most trusted Ahadith are called “ṣaḥīḥ”, meaning “authentic”. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī is one of the biggest collections of most trusted Ahadith in Islam. The next level is “ḥasan” which basically means “good enough” or “okay”. And then there is “ḍaʻīf” which means “weak”. By this categorisation, created by Muslim scholars themselves, the story described above, which does not even hint at al-Aqsa, nor Muhammad’s flying horse for that matter, is considered reliable. And the one that does mention them? It is considered untrustworthy.

Did it happen?

Now the topic of whether or not Muhammad actually visited anywhere is an interesting question. According to Muhammad’s child wife, Aisha, Muhammad was in his bed the whole time (Ibn Ishaq 265 pp. 183). But he did later go on and describe all kinds of things that he saw, the recounts of which are recorded in the Hadiths. Here’s the thing: absolutely nothing that he (Muhammad) says is backed with evidence. He had a vivid dream. In other words, he made it up. What a great miracle.

A miracle is something that convinces people because of the extraordinary evidence it shows. For example, when Jesus healed the lepers, lame, blind, and even dead, anyone could observe that the man who had been blind, could now see. It was evidence that he possessed control over life and death.

When Moses raised his staff and the Yam Suf parted, making a clear path across the sea for the millions of people and cattle to walk through, that was evidence that God was Israel’s protector and that Moses was appointed by God to lead them into the promised land. The evidence was in that they were no longer trapped in the beach, surrounded by mountains from both sides and chased by Egyptian army. Even generations later, everyone would know it because they no longer lived in Egypt, and they were no longer slaves under the rule of a Pharaoh. It was tangible and unquestionable.

When Jesus raised from the death, it was evidence that the prophecies Jesus had made concerning his own death, burial and resurrection were true, and that he truly was master over life and death. The evidence was that the tomb was empty, and that his disciplines could actually see him, talk to him and dine with him. Everyone also knew that he had really died on the cross for real. It was indisputable. Even today it remains one of the best recorded historic facts of the era: Jesus died on the cross.⁵ But he rose from death, just as he had promised. This evidence finally convinced them, beyond the slightest doubt, that Jesus really was not just some revolutionary speaker who got what’s coming to him by the Roman justice system, but that what he had been proclaiming had always been true: He is the promised Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel, the King of the House of Jacob and the Son of the living God.

What is common with all these examples?

Jeremiah 1:12 וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, הֵיטַבְתָּ לִרְאוֹת: כִּי-שֹׁקֵד אֲנִי עַל-דְּבָרִי, לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ.
Then said the YHWH unto me: ‘Thou hast well seen; for I watch over My word to perform it.’

God of the Bible speaks something through his prophets, and then it happens, and everyone will know it, because they see it with their own eyes.

But Muhammad’s nightly adventure had nothing of that sort. He made extraordinary claims, but there were zero witnesses (in fact, there was at least one reliable witness of contrary as mentioned earlier). Even if we take his own testimony, his story did not contain a single (verifiable) thing that he could not have possibly known and that turned out to be correct. He made no predictions that would turn out to be true, and he made no observations that could be verified by a third party. In conclusion, this was yet another⁶ tale of thousand-and-one nights (proverbially speaking). And this is why Arabs have been perpetrating bloody riots and jihad against Jews for 1400 years.

⁵) For some strange reason, Qur’an denies this fact (4:157). Islamic scriptures are pretty much the only thing in the world that deny the historicity of Jesus’s death, despite its near-unanimous acceptance by historians across the board, including atheists. It would have been easy for Muhammad to deny Jesus’s ascension and get away with that. He could have denied Jesus’s virgin birth; the virgin birth makes absolutely no sense within Islamic narrative. But no — instead, he chose to deny the part that every reputable historian attests to. Furthermore, in the process, he portrayed Allah as a deceiver who tricked people into believing Jesus died, thereby starting Christianity. It just gets sillier and sillier the more you read.

⁶) This was not the only instance where Muhammad made unsubstantiated grandiose claims about himself in the context of sleeping. Bukhari 52:220 narrates Muhammad claiming ”while I was sleeping, the keys to the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand”.

Can Muhammad’s testimony be trusted?

Remind me again, how many witnesses are required for testimony? In Islam? In Torah?

According to Muhammad’s own word, he was the last, best and only remaining prophet. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:56:661)
He architected himself a situation where he could not have any witnesses. There was no other prophet who could correlate his words and testify on his behalf.

The only judge to his words was Allah himself. But wait, he was Allah’s mouthpiece, according to his own revelation!

4:65 فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. – Muhammad (narrating a supposed revelation from Allah)

To put it another way, he was free to say whatever he wanted, without consequences. Well, it eventually turned out that God did judge him. It is a funny story (tragic, but so ironic), and I heartily recommend learning it: https://youtu.be/6st_tFj6ouM

Sahih al-Bukhari 4:55:546 records, that Muhammad’s prophethood was once put to test by Abdullāh bin Salām. Abdullāh asked Muhammad three questions:

  • What is the first portent of the Hour?
  • What will be the first meal taken by the people of Paradise?
  • Why does a child resemble its father, and why does it resemble its mother’s brother?
And Muhammad replied, saying that the angel Gabriel, “the enemy of the Jews”, gave him the answers:
  • The first sign of the Hour will be a fire that collects people from east to west.
  • The first meal by the people of Paradise will be an extra lobe of fish-liver.
  • Whose family the child resembles is decided by whether it’s the husband who gets discharge first, or the wife, in the sexual intercourse.
Abdullāh was amazed by these answers, and exclaimed: “I testify you are the Messenger of Allah!” Here’s the thing: This was an awful test. Abdullāh had absolutely no means to verify whether these answers were correct or not. Worst of all, answer number three was complete nonsense and showed that whichever “angel” Muhammad got their answers from, knew absolutely nothing about genetics. If anything, this only proves that Muhammad was a false prophet.

But within Torah there was actually an established way to judge prophets! It was simple: If their words fail to line up with Torah, they are a false prophet. And we all know how well Muhammad fared in this test. He totally flunked it.⁷

But wait, there’s more! If they predict something and it does not come to pass, they are a false prophet. If they speak in the name of other gods, they are a false prophet. And if they speak something in God’s name that God has not commanded them to speak, they are a false prophet. (Deuteronomy 18:20–22) Muhammad hit all of these traps, the last two by his own admission, when he delivered the so called Satanic Verses. (Ḥasan Ibn Ishaq, pp. 165–166)

Deut. 18:20–22 אַךְ הַנָּבִיא אֲשֶׁר יָזִיד לְדַבֵּר דָּבָר בִּשְׁמִי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר לֹא-צִוִּיתִיו לְדַבֵּר, וַאֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר, בְּשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים--וּמֵת, הַנָּבִיא הַהוּא. וְכִי תֹאמַר, בִּלְבָבֶךָ: אֵיכָה נֵדַע אֶת-הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-דִבְּרוֹ יְהוָה. אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה, וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָבֹא--הוּא הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-דִבְּרוֹ יְהוָה: בְּזָדוֹן דִּבְּרוֹ הַנָּבִיא, לֹא תָגוּר מִמֶּנּוּ.
But the prophet, that shall speak a word presumptuously in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if thou say in thy heart: ‘How shall we know the word which the YHWH hath not spoken?’ When a prophet speaketh in the name of the YHWH, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the YHWH hath not spoken; the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him.

⁷) The stock Muslim explanation is of course, that the Torah had been corrupted, but Muhammad certainly did not seem to think so (5:68), and the Qur’an attests any corruption is an impossibility (6:115).

More on the topic of Muhammad’s miraculous “science”: https://youtube.com/RZjKikybmrE

Why would Muhammad say he met the dead prophets?

What could have been the reason, that Muhammad made up the story about meeting many of the Israeli patriarchs and prophets? Most likely, to bolster the role of his teachings as the direct continuation of the revelation of Torah and Gospels. After all, if he is in good standing with the authority figures of Torah and Gospels, he must be kosher. He maybe even planned to use this to win Jews and Christians to his side. “This time they’ll believe me! How could they refuse Moses and Jesus?”

But it never quite worked, because his teachings totally contradicted the Torah and Gospels, and the Jews and Christians saw it from miles away. It did not work against the pagans of Mecca either: Muhammad did not really offer any convincing proof other than his own words, and the authority figures from his adventure were meaningless to pagans (with the exception of Idris possibly). If I claimed I visited heaven in my dreams and met Zeus and Hercules and led them into prayer, and that it really-really happened, I really met them and did that, you would call me crazy and you would be right to do so!

Ultimately his new religion only achieved its breakthrough⁸ when he began using military tactics (basically: submit or die; issslam!) to win converts, with varying levels of unscrupulity, a model of conduct that his followers continued after his death and are continuing to this day. Quoting the aforementioned Sahih al-Bukhari 4.52.220: Allah’s apostle said: “[...] I have been made victorious with terror”.

⁸) Check out Dr. Bill Warner’s excellent visual summary at: https://youtu.be/gvXsnpIhW7I?t=26s

Why would Muhammad say he went to al-Aqsa?

There is something curious about the nature of Muhammad’s nightly adventure. According to the legend, Muhammad was taken to the aqsa temple (interpreted to mean Jerusalem), met up with the prophets, and was immediately taken up to heaven, where he was paraded through various sights and activities. Afterwards, he was taken back to al-Aqsa where his noble steed, buraq, was waiting, and from there, promptly back to Mecca.

What was the role of al-Aqsa in this story? Frankly, it was a bus station. It was a place where he changed the mode of transportation and regrouped with other passengers, but al-Aqsa itself was never the main focus of the journey. It was more like an afterthought, a framing device to establish a setting for a story.

Since Muhammad had never been to al-Aqsa before (far-away, remember), let alone Jerusalem, did he even know what this mythical al-Aqsa looks like? Since he spent so little time there — and furthermore, he didn’t exactly navigate there out from his own volition — how did he even know where he is?

Here is what I think happened. Muhammad began explaining to his followers: “I met the prophets! —Where? —What? Oh. Well the far-away mosque of course! Because that’s totally where they are. Right? In the mosque far-far-away. (Note to self: Ask the Jews where the prophets are.) Yeah, that’s where I was. And then I was taken to heaven! —*Audible gasps*”

In other words, the concept of al-Aqsa was originally a mythical far-far-away place where all dead prophets go. But afterwards, the concept of al-Aqsa evolved to mean a physical mosque, and the concept of pilgrimage was inserted into the Islamic doctrine. Eventually someone associated al-Aqsa with the Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem because of the connection of Isra’ wal-Mi‘raj to the Israeli prophets.

It does not speak high words about the Islamic claim to Jerusalem!

What else do the Islamic sources say about Jerusalem?

Modern-day Malay language calls Jerusalem by the name Baitulmuqaddis. This is derived from the Arabic name Bait-ulMaqdis, which does appear in select Hadiths (but not in Qur’an). Surprisingly, this name is never used in conjunction with the story of Isra’ wal-Mi‘raj. It is also never used in same context where Jews or Israel are discussed. It is exclusively used to describe the direction of prayer (Qibla). Today Bait-ulMaqdis has been repurposed as an alias to the al-Aqsa Mosque, but the al-Aqsa Mosque did not exist in Muhammad’s time.

There is not much evidence suggesting that Bait-ulMaqdis referred to Jerusalem at all. In fact, considering that the Ahadith speak of Bait-ulMaqdis always in conjunction with Qibla and never in conjuction with Israel, there is considerable momentum to suggest this word actually referred to Petra, the original⁹ Qibla.

In modern-day Arabic, the name of Jerusalem is al-Quds (القُدس), literally meaning “the Holy (One)”. Some languages, such as Turkish, call Jerusalem using variations of this name (such as Kudüs). While flattering, as far as I know, this term is a later-day invention, and does not occur in early Islamic sources at all, at least not within contexts that have anything to do with Israel, Jews, or Jerusalem.

Therefore it is plausible, even likely, that Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in early Islamic sources.

⁹) Modern-day Muslims are taught to believe the original Qibla was Jerusalem, but evidence simply does not back this up. Dr. Jay Smith has studied this matter in great detail. Links to his videos on the subject can be found on this page: https://apologika.blogspot.fi/2014/03/why-did-first-muslims-pray-towards-petra.html

Conclusion

I made two claims:

I have conclusively proven that Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in early Islamic sources, including Qur’an and the Ahadith. Of course, this name Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם‎, or أُورُشَلِيمَ‎, is easy to verify with a simple computer-aided word-search. They do not exist in any early Islamic literature. But the Arabic titles that are popularly interpreted by modern-day Muslims to refer to Jerusalem, don’t seem to conclusively refer to Jerusalem either. There is simply no scriptural basis for the Muslim claim to the city of Jerusalem.

What remains is the claim of al-Aqsa. But the whole term of al-Aqsa seems to refer to a concept of a far-away mosque with no specific location — a term that was so insignificant, that even some of the most detailed descriptions of Isra’ wal-Mi‘raj failed to mention it. This suggests that the term was most likely an afterthought to provide context for the dead prophets, a term that later evolved into a physical location. The first physical location for this mythical place, that no Muslim had ever seen, remains inconclusive — whether it was Jerusalem, Petra, some far-away monastery in Bengal, or whether it existed in any physical location at all — although it is indisputable that modern-day Muslims think it was Jerusalem.

In the unlikely event that al-Aqsa did refer to the Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem, Muslims have a chronology issue, because of the conflicting accounts concerning its date of creation (King Solomon, v.s. an anonymous agent within 40 years of Abraham’s lifetime). And then there is the fact that the place was always associated with the God of Israel, with the nation and kings of Israel, and with the rituals instituted in Torah, which were a direct continuation of what started with in the Tabernacle during the 40-year exodus. The framework for all that is God of Israel, nation of Israel, and Torah.

Of course, Muslims believe that Jews lost their right to those places for rejecting Muhammad. But this is based on nothing but Usurper Muhammad’s own words. If you try to justify this position using Bible, then you must also acknowledge that the Bible provides criteria for prophets, and these criteria condemn Muhammad as a false prophet. Either the book is true, or it is not.¹⁰

However, what is a fact and easily proven is that there is a great disposition against Israel in Islam. This is an understatement. It is basically in the charter of all Islamic organizations and countries, that the right of Jewish people to exist shall never be acknowledged. If you ask any random Muslim for their opinion about Jews — not the westernized ones, but those who are passionate for Islam, who pray five times in day, who listen to Al-Jazeera in Arabic, who have a beard, who listen to an Imam or are themselves one — you will get almost unanimous responses saying that Jews are bad, Jews are murderers, and so on. They will also be supporters of Palestine.

The Hamas Covenant or Hamas Charter, which is the founding document of Hamas, the de-facto ruling organization of Gaza, outright defines their whole existence in terms of extermination of Israel.

“‘Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it’ (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).”
(Opening paragraph of The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement)

And it gets only worse from there.

So it is no surprise that Muslims will attempt to take possession of, or destroy, everything that belongs to the Jews. The battle for the ownership of Jerusalem is not a religious one. It is not based on anything holy, anything to do with Allah. These are only excuses. It is simply a matter of claiming superiority over another nation: What Islam has been from day zero. “Allahu Akbar”, Allah is Greater. It is a war of superiority over another. Truth has nothing to do with it.

¹⁰) In either case, Qur’an ends up being false. (Explained in https://bisqwit.iki.fi/story/apologetics/satanicislam/)


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P.S. Anyone who tries to refute my points by referring to something Zakir Naik said, will be subject to ridicule. Zakir Naik is a joke.

Last edited at: 2018-05-17T11:36:04+03:00