This article is the third and final piece in a series of short articles showing the lie to the Arab (and now, European) claim that the Jewish State has no right to exist in a Muslim Arab Middle East and the claim that “Palestinians” are victims of a (foreign) Zionist colonial enterprise. This is article C.
“I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah.’”
Prophet Muhammad’s farewell address, March 632
“I shall cross this sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah.”
Saladin, January 1189
“We will export our revolution throughout the world . . . until the calls
‘there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’ are
echoed all over the world.” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 1979
“I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah,
and his prophet Muhammad.” Osama bin Laden, November 2001
Thus begins Efraim Karsh’s 2007 history, Islamic Imperialism. Reference to this volume and others by other historians will show that the narrative preferred by the European Union and the United Nations is nothing but the offspring of a union between political correctness gone seriously awry and an automatic Islamic majority in a hijacked international organisation spurred by the twin drivers of financial gain and ideological anti-Semitism. For today’s Islamists in particular, this anti-Semitism finds a sympathetic ear, because of the need of this group to reinterpret their scriptures to find relevancy today. And it is in that need that the seed of the destruction of this movement is already sown.
This is said in context of the two earlier pieces I wrote (Parts A & B) where I posited that the Arab (and now, European) claim that the Jewish State has no right to exist within safe and defensible borders in a Muslim Arab Middle East and the claim that “Palestinians” are victims of a (“foreign”) Jewish colonial enterprise, is but the current iteration of a focused anti-Semitism that stretches way, way beyond the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini. The religio-political ideology that is Islam is interwoven into the religious history of Islamic faith and accounts for the resulting Muslim imperialism which burned, killed and slashed its way across the Peninsular, into the Levant, Africa and Western Europe.
Thus, Paris AD 2015 is, in many core considerations, Medina AD 632 revisited.
However, it was not always thus, and the remainder of this piece will establish the primacy of Israelites and Jews in Arabia and the Levant as indigenous inhabitants with a distinct religion, culture and nationhood 1400 years before the birth of Mohammad.
Very little is known about the tribes of pre-Islamic Arabia due to the lack of surviving Arab historians’ accounts of that era. What is known, and not in any great detail, is taken from existing written sources in other non-local traditions (such as Egyptians, Greeks, Romans etc.).
Three things, though, are known. Many of the tribes in Arabia had practiced Judaism. This is confirmed by Muslim historians who record how, at one time, Judaism held sway in South Arabia, and how, when Islam commenced, it had to deal with Israelitish communities settled in the cradle of the new system, the Hijaz.
Secondly, Christianity too is known to have been active in the region before the rise of Islam, and the parallels and convergences between these three Middle Eastern faiths are easily verifiable.
And finally, there is the enduring rage of Mohammad particularly at Jews; arguably stemming from the fact that he was rejected by those same Hijazi Jews as the messiah.
Margoliouth says that archaeological exploration in the Arabian Peninsula was sparse. But while there was very little material on which to base a description of pre-Islamic religion, particularly in Mecca and the Hejaz, historians like Liske and Muslim historians themselves held that the peninsular Arabs followed Judaism. The Qur’an and the hadith, or recorded oral traditions, also give some hints as to this religion.
So, not only were Jews indigenous to the peninsular particularly along the Arabian coastline and in Yemen and the Hejaz, they shared their religion with the Arab tribes of the south peninsular, and they had been in the area stretching up to the Golan for around 1500 years prior to the arrival of Islam.
Additionally, the earliest account of Arabia and the Arabs is in the tenth chapter of Genesis, where many of the peoples and districts of the peninsula are mentioned by name. The word Arab, however, does not occur in this text. It only makes its first appearance in an Assyrian inscription of 853 BC which records the defeat by the Assyrian forces of a conspiracy of rebellious tribal chieftans; one of them being ‘Gindibu the Aribi’.
So, what are we to make of the 21st century catch cry of Islamists and other Jew haters, that Jews are interlopers in an Arab Muslim Middle East?
The recorded historical facts will show that quite the opposite is, in fact the case. In this modern assertion we have a continuation of the recent Arab Muslim approach of turning history on its head and seemingly convincing millions that black is white.
Together with the facts that early south Arab tribes followed Judaism and the fact that Jews lived and worshipped in the Hejaz as a people, a religion and a nation at least one millennium prior to arrival of Islam, the modern myth that Israel as the nation State of the Jewish people has no right being in an Arab Muslim Middle East, we come to debate surrounding even the origin and application of the word Arab. The origin of the word Arab is obscure.
Bernard Lewis maintains that while the Arabs may today be a nation; they are not a nationality in the legal sense. Today, one who calls himself an Arab may be described in his passport as a national of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, or any other of the group of states that identify themselves as Arab. Their citizens are not, however, designated simply as Arabs. There are Arab states, and indeed a league of Arab states; but there is no single Arab state of which all Arabs are nationals. Therefore, the concept of Arabism has no legal content.
Two millennia before passports, though, modern scholars agree on the meaning of the word Arab by connecting it with the Hebrew “Arabha — dark land, or steppe land (today ‘Árava’); with the Hebrew ‘Erebh’— mixed and hence unorganized, as opposed to the organized and ordered life of the sedentary communities, rejected and despised by the nomads; and with the root “Abhar’— to move or pass (‘Avar’).
The association with nomadism is borne out by the fact that the Arabs themselves seem to have used the word at an early date to distinguish the Bedouin from the Arabic-speaking town and village dwellers of the Hejaz and indeed continued to do so to some extent until very recently.
Moreover, the first Arabian use of the word Arab occurs in the ancient southern Arabian inscriptions inscribed by the Yemeni Arabs dating from the late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries. Written in Arabic but in the Nabatean Aramaic script, it records the death and achievements of Imru’l-Qays, ‘King of all the Arabs’, in terms which suggest that the sovereignty claimed did not extend far beyond the nomads of northern and central Arabia. And finally, in the inscriptions, the word ‘Arab’ means Bedouin, often raider, and is applied to the nomadic, as distinct from the sedentary, population.
So, while Judaism had been practised in the land and points north for millennia, and while Jews lived as indigenous Semites centred on the eternal city of Jerusalem and points south and west, Islam was born to Arabs who had a newly formed identity developed from Hebrew terminology. This despite the erroneous modern day anti-semitic trope that Jews are interlopers in the Levant.
Over the course of the 8th century, in order to spread the word of the prophet, Islam went from being an Arab religion with a Caliphate (Empire) as an Arab kingdom, to an Islamic Empire where membership of the ruling group was determined by faith rather than by origin. Increasing numbers of the conquered peoples were converted to Islam, and the religion acquired the universal character that it has retained ever since.
Judaism and Islam, Arabs and Jews, illustrate two different aspects of the human condition.
Whereas Islam was driven to validate itself through violence and destruction, and cement that validity through forced conversion and religious supremacism, Israel and the Jews stand as a rare example of the persistence of ideas despite indescribable hardships. Ideas which were practised by an ancient people west of the Jordan 1400 years before the birth of Mohammad.
The persistence of the Jewish State of Israel is testimony to the fixity of that idea, a possession deemed to be so very important during the first Exile, 1500 years before the birth of Islam.
The establishment of the State of Israel despite the exilic horrors visited on Jews is proof enough that it was the Jews and Judaism who were indigenous to the Levant. Jews who, despite being subjugated by Islamic imperialism in the Middle East and religious persecution across Europe, symbolised the power of hope in a faith which sustained an ancient indigenous people for millennia.
Today though, as Knudsen points out, Islamic imperialism in the Levant has given way to resurgent political Islam not because there is no Palestinian state, but simply in reaction to the crushing defeats visited on Arab forces by Israel in June 1967. The Six Day War spelled the end of pan-Arab nationalism, and it is no coincidence that the euphemistic narrative of the down-trodden nation of “Palestine” began in that decade…….
It is that seminal event of 1967 which led to the subsequent near catastrophic (for Israel) 1973 war and to the feature which defines Islamists of the 21st century. These Islamists now embrace publicly for the first time since Abu Bakrr in the 7th century AD, the concept of ijtehad: the independent reasoning and reinterpretation of the Quran and Islamic traditions and the need to reinterpret their holy scriptures and apply them to today’s world.
But that investigation will have to be shelved for another time.