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Islam Has Brought Peace And Harmony To The Middle East ...- BY HARUN YAHYA

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  • idt2001us@yahoo.com
    Islam Has Brought Peace And Harmony To The Middle East All Through History HARUN YAHYA Palestine, and particularly Jerusalem at its heart, has been holy for
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2001
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      Islam Has Brought Peace And Harmony To The Middle East All Through
      History

      HARUN YAHYA

      Palestine, and particularly Jerusalem at its heart, has been holy for
      Muslims since the beginning of the history of Islam. Muslims' seeing
      Palestine as holy has enabled them to bring peace and harmony to the
      region. We shall be considering some historical instances of this in
      this article.

      There are two fundamental reasons why Jerusalem is holy for Muslims:
      It is the first direction to which Muslims used to turn to pray.
      Furthermore, what can be seen as one of Prophet Mohammed's greatest
      miracles, his ascent to heaven, was from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-
      Aqsa, in other words from Mecca to Jerusalem. This fact is revealed
      in the Koran in these terms:

      Glory be to Him who took His slave on a journey by night from the
      Masjid al-Haram to the Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have
      blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs. He is the All-
      Hearing, the All-Seeing. (Surat al-Isra: 1)

      In stories about the Prophets in the Koran, those holy verses that
      discuss Palestinian lands refer to them as 'blessed lands' and 'holy
      lands.' In the above verse about the ascent to heaven, Masjid al-Aqsa
      is described as a land 'whose surroundings We have blessed.' In Surat
      al-Anbiya, in which the migration of the prophets Abraham and Lot is
      recounted, the same territory is described as 'a land We have
      blessed.' All Palestinian soil, where many prophets from the tribe of
      Israel have lived, fought in the path of God, and been martyred or
      died and buried, is holy for Muslims.

      Consequently, Muslims have brought "blessings", i.e. peace and
      security to Jerusalem and Palestine over the last 1,400 years.



      The Peace and Justice brought to Palestine by Khalif Omar

      Jerusalem was the capital of the Jews until A.D. 71. In that year,
      the Roman Army made a major assault on the Jews, and exiled them from
      the area after great savagery. As the time of the Jewish diaspora
      began, Jerusalem and its surrounding area was becoming an abandoned
      land.

      However, Jerusalem once again became a center of interest with the
      acceptance of Christianity during the time of the Roman Emperor
      Constantine. Roman Christians built churches in Jerusalem. The
      prohibitions on Jews settling in the region were lifted. Palestine
      remained Roman (Byzantine) territory up until the 7th century. The
      Persians conquered the region for a short time, but the Byzantines
      later reconquered it.

      An important turning point in the history of Palestine came in the
      year 637, when it was conquered by the armies of Islam. This meant
      the genesis of a period of peace and harmony in Palestine, which had
      for centuries been the scene of wars, exiles, looting and massacre,
      and which saw new brutality every time it changed hands, a frequent
      occurrence. The coming of Islam was the beginning of an age when
      people of different beliefs in Palestine could live in peace and
      harmony.

      Palestine was captured by Omar, the second caliph after the Prophet
      himself. The entry of Omar into Jerusalem, the incredible tolerance,
      maturity and kindness he showed towards people of different beliefs,
      introduced the beautiful age that was beginning. The British
      historian and Middle East expert Karen Armstrong describes the
      capture of Jerusalem by Omar in these terms in her book Holy War:

      The Caliph Omar entered Jerusalem mounted on a white camel, escorted
      by the magistrate of the city, the Greek Patriarch Sophronius. The
      Caliph asked to be taken immediately to the Temple Mount and there he
      knelt in prayer on the spot where his friend Mohammed had made his
      Night Journey. The Patriarch watched in horror: this, he thought,
      must be the Abomination of Desolation that the Prophet Daniel had
      foretold would enter the Temple; this must be Antichrist who would
      herald the Last Days. Next Omar asked to see the Christian shrines
      and, while he was in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the time for
      Muslim prayer came round. Courteously the Patriarch invited him to
      pray where he was, but Omar as courteously refused. If he knelt to
      pray in the church, he explained, the Muslims would want to
      commemorate the event by erecting a mosque there, and that would mean
      that they would have to demolish the Holy Sepulchre. Instead Omar
      went to pray at a little distance from the church, and, sure enough,
      directly opposite the Holy Sepulchre there is still a small mosque
      dedicated to the Caliph Omar.

      The other great mosque of Omar was erected on the Temple Mount to
      mark the Muslim conquest, together with the mosque al-Aqsa which
      commemorates Mohammed's Night Journey. For years, the Christians had
      used to the site of the ruined Jewish Temple as the city rubbish
      dump. The Caliph helped his Muslims to clear the garbage with his own
      hands and there Muslims raised their two shrines to establish Islam
      in the third most holy city in the Islamic world. [1]

      In short, Muslims brought 'civilization' to Jerusalem and all of
      Palestine. Instead of barbaric beliefs that showed no respect for
      other peoples' sacred values, and which killed them simply out of
      differences of belief, there reigned the just, tolerant and moderate
      culture of Islam. After its capture by Omar, Muslims, Christians and
      Jews lived together in peace and harmony in Palestine. Muslims never
      tried to use force to make people convert, although some non-Muslims
      did so of their own free will.

      The peace and harmony in Palestine lasted as long as Muslim rule in
      the region. However, at the end of the 11th century, an invader
      entered the region from abroad, and the civilized land of Jerusalem
      was barbarically and savagely plundered, in a way never before seen.
      These barbarians were the Crusaders

      The Savagery of the Crusaders



      Crusaders plundered Jerusalem and killed all its non-Christian
      inhabitants.
      While members of all three religions were living in peace and harmony
      in Palestine, the Christians in Europe decided to organize
      the 'Crusades.' Following a call by Pope Urban II on 25 November 1095
      at the Council of Clermont, more than 100,000 people from all over
      Europe set out for Palestine to 'Free the Holy land from the Muslims'
      and find the fabled wealth of the East. After a long and wearying
      journey, and much plundering and slaughter of Muslims, they reached
      Jerusalem in 1099. The city fell after a siege of nearly five weeks,
      and the Crusaders moved in. And they carried out a savagery the like
      of which the world has seldom seen. All Muslims and Jews in the city
      were put to the sword. In the words of one historian, 'They killed
      all the Saracens and the Turks they found... whether male of female."
      [2] One of the Crusaders, Raymond of Aguiles, boasted of this
      violence:

      Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more
      merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shoot them with
      arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them
      longer by casting them into flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet
      were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick
      one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small
      matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place
      where religious services are normally chanted ... in the temple and
      the porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle
      reins. [3]

      In two days, the Crusader army killed some 40,000 Muslims in the
      barbaric ways just described. [4] The peace and harmony in Palestine,
      which had lasted since Omar, ended in terrible slaughter. The
      Crusaders violated all the ethical laws of Christianity, a religion
      of love and compassion, and spread terror, allegedly in the name of
      Christianity.



      The Justice of Saladin

      The barbaric Crusader army made Jerusalem their capital, and
      established a Latin Kingdom whose borders stretched from Palestine to
      Antioch. However, the Crusaders who brought savagery to Palestine did
      not last long. Saladin gathered all the Muslim kingdoms under his
      banner in a holy war, and defeated the Crusaders at the battle of
      Hattin in 1187. After the battle, the two leaders of the crusader
      army, Reynauld of Chatillon and King Guy, were brought in Saladin's
      presence. Saladin executed Reynauld of Chatillon, who had won fame
      with the terrible savagery he had committed against Muslims, but he
      let King Guy go, as he had not committed the same crimes. Palestine
      once again saw the true meaning of justice.

      Immediately after Hattin, and on the very same day that Prophet
      Mohammed had been taken from Mecca to Jerusalem in one night, the day
      of the ascent, Saladin entered Jerusalem and freed it from 88 years
      of Crusader occupation. When the Crusaders had taken the city 88
      years earlier, they had killed all the Muslims inside it, and for
      that reason they were afraid that Saladin would do the same thing to
      them. Whereas he did not touch even one Christian in the city.
      Furthermore, he merely ordered the Latin (Catholic) Christians to
      leave it. The Orthodox Christians, who were not Crusaders, were
      allowed to live in the city and live and worship as they chose. The
      British historian Karen Armstrong describes the second Islamic
      capture of Jerusalem in these words:

      On 2 October 1187 Saladin and his army entered Jerusalem as
      conquerors and for the next 800 years Jerusalem would remain a Muslim
      city... Saladin kept his word, and conquered the city according to
      the highest Islamic ideals. He did not take revenge for the 1099
      massacre, as the Koran advised (16:127), and now that hostilities had
      ceased he ended the killing (2:193-194). Not a single Christian was
      killed and there was no plunder. The ransoms were deliberately very
      low...

      Saladin was moved to tears by the plight of families who were rent
      asunder and he released many of them freely, as the Koran urged,
      though to the despair of his long-suffering treasurers. His brother
      al-Adil was so distressed by the plight of the prisoners that he
      asked Saladin for a thousand of them for his own use and then
      released them on the spot...

      When Imad ad-Din saw the Patriarch Heraclius leaving the city with
      chariots crammed with treasure, he urged Saladin to confiscate it.
      But Saladin refused. The Koran said that oaths and treaties must be
      kept to the letter and it was essential that the Muslims should
      observe the legalities... Heraclius paid his ten-dinar ransom like
      everybody else and was even provided with a special escort to keep
      his treasure safe during the journey to Tyre. [5]

      In short, Saladin and the Muslims in his command treated the
      Christians with great mercy and justice, and even showed them more
      compassion than their own leaders had.

      After Jerusalem, the Crusaders continued their barbarity and the
      Muslims their justice in other cities in Palestine. In 1194, Richard
      the Lionheart, who is portrayed as a great hero in British history,
      had 3,000 Muslims, among whom were many women and children, basely
      executed in Acre Castle. Although the Muslims witnessed this
      savagery, they never resorted to the same methods. They abided by
      God's command "Do not let hatred for a people... incite you into
      going beyond the limits" (Surat al-Ma'ida) and never used violence
      against innocent civilians. They never employed unnecessary violence,
      not even against the Crusader armies they defeated.

      The savagery of the crusaders and the justice of the Muslims once
      more revealed a historic truth: Only an administration built on the
      principles of Islam could allow people of different faiths to live
      together in Palestine. This fact continued to be demonstrated for 700
      years after Saladin, particularly during the Ottoman period.



      The Ottoman Empire's Just and Tolerant Rule

      In 1514, Sultan Selim captured Jerusalem and the surrounding area,
      and some 400 years of Ottoman rule in Palestine began. As in other
      Ottoman states, this period would enable Palestine to enjoy peace,
      stability, and the living together of different faiths.

      The Ottoman Empire was administered under what is known as
      the 'nation (millet) system,' the fundamental feature of which was
      that people of different faiths were allowed to live according to
      their own beliefs and even legal systems. Christians and Jews,
      described as the 'People of the Book' in the Koran, found toleration,
      security and freedom in Ottoman lands.

      The most important reason for this was that although the Ottoman
      Empire was an Islamic state administered by Muslims, it had no desire
      to force its citizens to adopt Islam. On the contrary, the Ottoman
      state aimed at providing peace and security for non-Muslims, and to
      govern them in such a way that they would be pleased with Islamic
      rule and justice.

      Other major states at the same time had a much cruder, oppressive and
      intolerant view of government. The Kingdom of Spain could not
      tolerate the existence of Muslims and Jews on the Spanish peninsula
      and inflicted great violence on both communities. In many other
      European countries, Jews were oppressed just for being Jews (for
      instance they were imprisoned in ghettoes), and were sometimes the
      victims of mass slaughter (pogroms). Christians could not even get on
      with one another: the fighting between Protestants and Catholics in
      the 16th and 17th centuries turned Europe into a lake of blood. The
      Thirty Years War between 1618 and 1648 was one result of this
      Catholic-Protestant conflict. As a result of that war, central Europe
      turned into a battleground, and in Germany alone, one-third of the
      population of 15 million perished.

      In such an environment, it is an indisputably important truth that
      Ottoman rule was exceedingly humane.

      Many historians and political scientists have drawn attention to this
      fact. One of these is Columbia University's world-famous Middle East
      expert Professor Edward Said. Himself from a Jerusalem Christian
      family, he continues his research in American universities. In an
      interview in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz he recommended
      the 'Ottoman nation system' if a permanent peace is to be built in
      the Middle East. What he said was:

      A Jewish minority can survive the way other minorities in the Arab
      world survived. …it worked rather well under the Ottoman Empire, with
      its millet system. What they had then seems a lot more humane than
      what we have now. [6]



      Koranic Morality: The Source of Islamic Tolerance

      The fundamental reason for the establishment of exceedingly tolerant,
      just and humane administrations in the Ottoman Empire and other
      Muslim states is that such government is commanded by the Koran. The
      reason for the justice and civilization displayed by Omar, Saladin,
      the Ottoman sultans and many Muslim rulers (and this is accepted by
      the West today), was their faithfulness to God's commands in the
      Koran. These are some of the commandments that make up the basis of
      the Islamic view of government:

      God commands you to return to their owners the things you hold on
      trust and, when you judge between people, to judge with justice. How
      excellent is what God exhorts you to do! God is All-Hearing, All-
      Seeing. (Surat an-Nisa : 58)

      You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God
      alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether
      they are rich or poor, God is well able to look after them. Do not
      follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or
      turn away, God is aware of what you do. (Surat an-Nisa: 135)

      God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought
      you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just
      towards them. God loves those who are just. (Surat al-Mumtahana: 8)

      There is a phrase in politics that 'power corrupts, and absolute
      power corrupts absolutely.' This means that everyone who comes by
      political power becomes somewhat morally corrupted by the
      opportunities this power brings with it. This really does apply to
      most people, because they shape their morality in line with social
      pressure. To put it another way, they avoid immorality because they
      are afraid of society's disapproval or of punishment. Power gives
      them strength however, and decreases social pressure. As a result,
      they become corrupted, or come to easily make concessions regarding
      morality. If they possess real power, in other words if they rule a
      nation, they may try all means of satisfying their desires.

      The only human model where the 'law of corruption' does not apply is
      those who sincerely believe in God, who embrace religion out of fear
      and love of Him, and live according to that religion. Because their
      morals are not defined by society, not even the most absolute power
      can affect them. In the Koran, God gave the Prophet David as an
      example of this ideal ruler, with the way he governed even those who
      questioned his authority, and the way on the other hand that he
      prayed with complete submission to God. (Surah Sad: 24)

      The fact that the history of Islam is full of just, merciful, humble
      and mature rulers stems from this morality that God teaches Muslims
      in the Koran. Since a Muslim ruler fears God, no opportunity that he
      may be given will make him corrupt, proud or cruel. (Of course rulers
      who became corrupt and departed from Islamic morality do crop up in
      the history of Islam, but their numbers and influence were very
      small).



      Conclusion

      History reveals that Islam is the only system of belief to offer a
      just, tolerant and compassionate way of government in the Middle
      East. The Pax Ottomana, which came to an end with the withdrawal of
      the Ottoman Empire from the region, has still not been replaced.
      After the Ottomans, the Middle East first passed into the hands of
      European colonialists, and then became the target of Israel's
      policies of occupation and aggression.

      There is one fundamental reason for the current conflict in the
      Middle East: The fact that the sides do not want to make peace. What
      Israel must do is to abide by U.N. resolution 242 and withdraw to the
      pre-1967 borders, and recognize and grant the rights of the
      Palestinian people. What the Palestinians (and other Arabs) should do
      is to abandon such aims as "pouring Israelis into the sea" and accept
      living together with the Jews. The most important thing of all is not
      to dirty just causes with barbaric acts of terrorism against
      civilians.

      In short, in order for there to be peace in the Middle East, both
      sides have to agree to be moderate and tolerant, and make a genuine
      effort to rid themselves of Jewish racism (Zionism) or Arab
      chauvinism. The vision that is needed for this is hidden in the
      virtues that Islamic morality has blessed the Middle East over the
      past centuries.




      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
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      Notes

      1- Karen Armstrong, Holy War, MacMillan, London, 1988, p. 30-31
      2- Geste Francorum, or the Deeds of the Franks and the Other Pilgrims
      to Jerusalem, trans. Rosalind Hill, London, 1962, p. 91
      3- August C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eye-Witnesses
      and Participants, Pinceton & London, 1921, p. 261
      4- August C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eye-Witnesses
      and Participants, Pinceton & London, 1921, p. 262
      5- Karen Armstrong, Holy War, p. 185
      6- 18.8.2000, Ha'aretz Newspaper; MiddleEast.Org, August 2000
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