Dr. Farida Khanam

The Speaking Tree | November 15, 2023

Palestine is the holy site of three major Abrahamic religions. For the Jews, Palestine is the ‘Promised Land’ as mentioned in the Bible. Christiansregard this land as holy because Jesus Christ was born here and fulfilled his mission in this land. Muslims consider this place sacred because the Prophet of Islam came here on a journey to Meraj, ascension to heaven, and after migrating to Medina, he made Baitul Maqdis his Qibla, prayer direction, for over a year.

The ‘promised land’ in the Bible is the ‘assigned land’ in the Quran. The Quran commands Moses to lead his people in diaspora, living in Egypt, to this Promised Land. ‘O my people, enter the holy land which God has assigned to you.’ (5:21)

As per the Balfour Declaration, the Jews in Diaspora were permitted to return to Palestine under a limited quota system. The Arab leaders should have accepted this as a legitimate decision, but they showed a strong reaction to it. History shows that the conflict has caused large-scale destruction and displacement of Palestinians since 1948 and has taken thousands of lives.

In the wake of the Balfour Declaration, an opportunity presented itself to the Palestinians to work for progress and development in cooperation with the Jews, who came mainly from Western countries and were highly educated. They could become their best partners in such constructive collaboration. However, the Arab leaders failed to understand this positive aspect of the matter.

The Quran says, ‘Reconciliation is the best.’ (4:128) When we speak to the Arab leaders about the importance of peace and reconciliation, they answer, “Yes, we want peace but peace with justice.” However, according to the law of nature, this kind of peace can never be achieved. Peace does not automatically produce justice. As Maulana Wahiduddin Khan used to say, “Peace only opens the door to opportunities, and the desired justice is achieved only by availing of those opportunities.”

At the time of Hudaybiya, the Prophet had achieved peace only by delinking it from justice. The Prophet had made this peace to create opportunities for constructive activities. And, with the establishment of peace, excellent opportunities for action did open up, which the Prophet made use of in full measure. Thus, the Prophet ensured justice in just a few years and set Islam on amuch more solid footing.
This Hudaybiya peace treaty, which was made by unilaterally accepting all the conditions of the enemy, was, unexpectedly, termed a clear victory in the Quran. (48:1).

Both the Arabs and the Jews need to understand that they cannot keep fighting forever. The practical solution for Arabs is to abandon all kinds of violence and accept Israel as a legitimate state. In return, Israel must make territorial adjustments that Arabs find acceptable. Thus, they can establish peace in the Holy Land by accepting the give-and-take formula, mutually benefiting both parties.

Peace in Palestine is crucial for global peace. There is a relevant saying of the Prophet: God grants non-violence what he does not grant to violence (Sahih Muslim). The system of nature is based on the principle that peaceful methods are far more effective and result-oriented in achieving any goal. Violent methods can produce no positive results.

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