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A Holy Land for Whom?

12 May, 2021
Q Salam. There is a verse in the Quran that says that Allah has forbidden the Holy Land for the Jews for 40 years. Does this mean that now the Jews have religious right over it? Why cannot the Jews live in Saudi Arabia? Is it prohibited in the Quran?


Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for your interesting question that touches on one of the most important and critical issues of the present day: Jews and the Holy Land.

Let’s first agree that Allah is Just and He does not treat people according to their color, language, tribal loyalty, race, or geographical locations. Allah treats people based on the main criteria of piety and righteousness. Allah says in the Quran what means,

{And indeed, after having exhorted (humankind), We laid it down in all the books of divine wisdom that My righteous servants shall inherit the earth.} (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:105)

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him)

That said, we can start the story by saying that the children of Israel were living in ignominy and oppression under the rule of a pharaoh in Egypt. With them suffering so much and enduring so many tribulations, Almighty Allah sent them a leader who defied the Pharaoh and led them through the sea miraculously until they were delivered to the land of Madyan (most probably what is known as Sinai today).

This leader, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), led the children of Israel to a new land and told them that it is Allah Who sent him to save them because at that time, they were the true worshipers of Allah — the monotheists among a surrounding of idolaters and polytheist peoples whether in Egypt or elsewhere. Allah graced them by showing them the destruction of their enemy: Pharaoh was drowned in the sea and his life was ended in disgrace.

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As they reached the land of Madyan, they discovered that they are in a barren desert, with neither food nor drink. Therefore, Almighty Allah the Ever-Merciful showered them with manna and quails so that they can eat and miraculously He gave Moses some water springs, still seen today in Sinai, and they could drink.

On this, Almighty Allah says in the Quran what means,

{O children of Israel! We saved you from your enemy, and We made a covenant with you on the right-hand slope of Mount Sinai and repeatedly sent down manna and quails unto you.}(Ta-Ha 20:80)

However, when Moses was invited to take the Covenant and went on a short journey to receive revelation, they started their deviation by creating a golden calf and worshiping it, forgetting the core of the message that came with Moses. They gave up on believing in the oneness of Allah and were ungrateful to the One Who saved them.

After Prophet Moses

Even after Moses came back, reminding them of Allah’s grace and some of them repented, they were required to go through a quick test. Allah wanted them to do some effort to prove their love to their Lord. Therefore, He revealed to Moses that they should go and fight the idolaters who own the Holy Land and establish justice there. Declining to the command of their leader and Prophet, they told Moses, these are huge people and we won’t go there.

According to the Quran, when Moses asked them to go and fight and get the land to fulfill of Allah’s command, they replied simply with, “Go with your Lord and fight, we will not move from here.”

With this attitude and with complete denial of Allah’s gifts, Almighty Allah gave His judgment that they will never enjoy a shelter for 40 years.

Allah made them wander in the desert for 40 years without a homeland. After the 40 years when this whole generation died and the time of Moses himself on earth ended, a new generation of righteous Jews appeared; and under the leadership of Talut (the strong knowledgeable man chosen by Allah to lead the Jews in a battle against their enemies), they were able to get into the Holy Land; and Prophet David (peace be upon him) was able to establish his kingdom there and rule the Jews.

As time passed, Jews started deviation again and therefore Allah plagued them with tribulations and afflictions: They were taken in chains by Nebuchadnezzar to the land of Babylon where they suffered ignominy again until a new generation, born in chains, was able to start a liberation movement and go back to the Holy Land.

The series of deviation and corresponding affliction continued as they used to kill prophets sent to them by Allah; and later on, some of them dispersed over vast areas of land, some of them went to Arabia and lived there over generations until they became Arabs.

Bearing all this in mind, it is clear that Jews have had no special merit that entitles them to any right over the Holy Land. They were, at a time, a fulfillment of Allah’s will that the best group at that time (i.e. the one that believes in the oneness of Allah and worships Him) should inherit the Holy Land. As soon as they deviated, the Holy Land was not theirs anymore because they are no longer fulfilling Allah’s law.

Later, people who accepted the way of Allah and followed His Path (i.e. the followers of the Prophet Muhammad) were given access to the Holy Land on the condition that they hold fast to the religion of Allah and fulfill His command.

At a time when Muslims forgot about their mission, the Holy Land was taken from them by those who falsely claim that they have right over it.

Zionism in the Modern Era

The issue now is not an issue of religious right over something. It is an issue of falsifying truths since today people are misusing religion in order to take the belongings and properties of others.

To realize this, we should understand that the Zionist state of Israel is a secular Jewish state, although it includes extremist Jewish groups. Many other Jewish voices already speak out against this occupation and call for the termination of the state of Israel. Even claiming that these are the real Jews (i.e. the descendants of Isaac and Jacob) is not a historically ascertained claim.

What is in Palestine now is simply a Zionist entity that tries to take the land of a people who already own it, under the false pretext of religion and historical fallacies. Such fallacies cannot create a right or entitle them to anything.

The issue takes ages to give full explanations, but this can give hints on what I wanted to say.

As for your other questions on why Jews cannot live in Saudi Arabia (although I don’t know where you got this piece of information), I can simply tell you that there is no Quranic prohibition on that.

But the same kind of question will come again, yet from another angle: why should they occupy a place that does not belong to them? Why do Polish, Russian, and Ethiopian Jews take over and start living in a country that already is inhabited by its original people? Isn’t it the same idea of the Europeans going to the US and settling there after massively killing native Indians?

In the case of the Zionists, it is even worse because religious excuses are added to it; and this misuse of religion is both dangerous and alarming.

Not All Jews Are Zionists

One final word, we should always bear in mind that those who support or stand in favor of Israel are Zionists, whether Jews or Christians. Therefore, we should draw a line between Zionists and Jews because not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews.

Many Jews are nice people who decry the violent acts of other extremist Jews and are very friendly; personally, I have had a good experience with them whether in the US or in the UK.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


(From Ask About Islam archive)