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Palestine: Is It the Jews’ Promised Land?

16 December, 2017
Q I want to ask you about the Jews’ claim to Palestine as their promised land. Is there any basis for that claim? Does the Qur'an specifically say that Palestine was given only to the Jews? If not, what would you say to refute it? Also, I would like to ask you about the Qur'anic interpretation of the meaning of the Jews as the "Chosen People." Are they chosen? And if not what does it mean that Allah preferred them to others?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

The Qur’an addresses the children of Israel as the people who were descendant of Jacob, son of Isaac, and the grandson of Ibrahim. Israel is another name of Jacob.

2- Allah has never chosen any people because of any racial or ethnical entity but he chose certain people because of Islam.

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3- Children of Israel, when they followed Islam, they were the best nation; they were Muslims but others were polytheists or disbelievers.

4- The Holy Land is blessed because of being the place of Allah’s Messengers and His Message. Descendants of Jacob, among whom are Moses, David, Solomon and `Isa (Jesus) who are holy prophets, so they can fit the Holy Land.

5- The Qur’an addressed earlier the followers of Moses to liberate the Holy Land, they were afraid to get into the Holy Land and they made an excuse for not restoring that land because they believed that the Canaanites are too strong to defeat. They mocked Moses and rebelled his request, the story is detailed in surat Al-Ma’idah, 21-26.

6- The Holy Land is always the land assigned for the servants of Allah who surrender everything to him.

7- The occupation of the Holy Land is due to Muslims’ lapsing in weakness and deviating from Allah’s teachings. The occupation of the Jews to the Holy Land is something casual. The Holy Land is waiting for the time when there will be holy people who strictly abide by Allah’s teachings to deserve it.

Focusing more on the Jews’ claim to Palestine as their promised land, the late  prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states:

Twenty centuries before the birth of the Christ, there lived on the shores of the Euphrates a tribe from the descendants of Ibrahim (Abraham) searching for rich places to graze their flocks; they went westwards till they crossed Galilee.

They were given the name of the Hebrews, now known as the Jews. They moved aimlessly without having a certain destination until they arrived Egypt where they lived in peace and security for five centuries.

The rulers of Egypt, known as the Pharaohs, kept a tight fist on the Jews and humiliated them. The rescue of the Jews was attained when Moses (peace be upon him) was sent to them. He led them through Sinai to a new land and a fresh dwelling.

For some time, they stayed in Sinai till commands were given to them to enter the Holy Land of Palestine. In Palestine, there was a tribe called Canaanite who built some cities part of which is Jerusalem. Days went on till the Jews revolted against the teachings of Allah and deviated from His religion. Almighty Allah sent to them the governor of Babel, Buchtnasser who humiliated them and enslaved many of them.

Many years later, they returned back to Palestine and some of them went to dwell in the Arabian Peninsula. The Jews in the Arabian Peninsula showed enmity to Islam and fought the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) till they were driven out from the peninsula by Muslims.

Though, seizing the chance of Muslims’ lapsing in weakness and deviating from Allah’s teachings, the Jews have occupied Palestine, they will never remain there forever, for the evil within themselves is beyond description. They will suffer another defeat and severe blow; we hope this will be at the hands of Muslims once they return back to their Lord and be unified again.

Allah says in this regard, “And when your Lord announced that He would certainly send against them to the day of resurrection those who would subject them to severe torment; most surely your Lord is quick to requite (evil) and most surely He is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Al-A`raf 7:167)

As for claiming that the Jews have a right to take Palestine as their promised land, we will say that the verse that reads, “Go into the holy land which Allah hath ordained for you.” (Al-Ma`idah 5:21) means that the promise stands so long as the people given this promise abide by Allah’s teachings. Once they show disobedience, the promise no longer exists.

In addition, this promise is not an absolute one; rather, it is confined to a certain period of time. Now, the promise is no more valid, for Almighty Allah says, “We have written in the Scripture, after the Reminder: My righteous slaves will inherit the earth.” (Al-Anbiya’ 21:105)

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.