I’m going to be posting something interesting about the Qur’ān every day during Ramaḍān, the month the Qur’ān was revealed.
Today’s commentary is on the state of Israel and Palestine.
“And after him We said to the children of Israel, ‘Dwell ye in the land; and when the time of the promise of the latter days comes, We shall bring you together out of various peoples.'” (17:105)
“The land” here refers to Canaan, the land promised to the Israelites. The Jews suffered at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon first who exiled them, and a second time at the hands of Emperor Titus of Rome. In both these times, they were driven out of Canaan and scattered around the world.
This verse explains that a promise is given to them that they will be gathered in the Holy Land at the time of the fulfilment of the “promise of the latter days” (وعد الاخرة). Elsewhere (73:16) the Qur’ān has compared the Prophet Muhammad (sa) to Moses and 1:7 as well as a tradition of the Prophet says that Muslims would follow the footsteps of Jews. It can therefore be concluded that Muslims would also suffer two national disasters similar to Jews.
The first of these disasters befell Muslims at the time of the Crusades when for a time the Holy Land was lost to them, and later when Baghdād fell to the arms of the Tartars unders Halākū Khān.
According to the Qur’ānic commentary Fath al-Bayān, some prominent Muslim scholars of the past held the view that “promise of the latter days” refers to the time of the Imām Mahdi, the promised reformer of Islām.
However, the Qur’ān also promises that Muslims shall regain the land of Palestine:
“And already We wrote in the Book of David, after the exhortation, that My righteous servants shall inherit the land.” (21:106)
The word “the land” (الارض) refers to Palestine. The reference in the words “in the Book of David” refers to Psalms 37:9, 11, 18, 22, and 29 in which it is stated: “the meek shall inherit the earth…the righteous shall inherit the land.”
The word “the exhortation” (الذكر) may refer to the Torah, the Book of Moses, where it is mentioned that Palestine was promised for the Jews.
Palestine, the Holy Land, remained in the hands of Christians (after Roman conquest) until the Muslims conquered it in the Caliphate of ‘Umar, the Second Successor of the Holy Prophet (sa), and unlike Nebuchadnezzar and Titus, he gave kind treatment to the Jewish and Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem and showed reverence and respect to the Temple of Solomon. Palestine then remained under Muslim rule for 1350 years with the exception of a brief space of 92 years when during the Crusades it changed hands, until our own time when through the designs of Western powers, the country of the name of Palestine has altogether ceased to exist and on its ruins the state of Israel has been built.
The Muslims were told that in the time of the Promised Messiah (who has come according to the Ahmadi Muslims in the late 1800’s), the Jews would come back to their Holy Land as explained in the first verse above (17:105), which was fulfilled in the early 1900’s by the creation of the state of Israel. But this is only a temporary phase. The Muslims are destined to win it back. Sooner or later, Palestine will revert to Muslim possession. This is a Divine decree and nobody can alter God’s decree.