Grace is a word with various meanings. Primarily it has a religious...
Love and hate in the Middle East?
As I have already said, Muslims too believe that Jesus will return. The bad news is that they have a very different view of Jesus from Christians. The Muslim Jesus is not the Son of God who atoned for our sins through his death, only to rise again in victory over death. Instead they believe he is just a prophet, albeit a lesser one than Muhammed. This Muslim Jesus will return, so they believe, but the scenario is not the Christian one.
It involves a period of religious turmoil, when a figure called the Mahdi appears, "riding on a white horse". He will set up his kingdom in Jerusalem (yes, you heard it right - not Mecca or Medina or Cairo) and will be opposed by the Dajil, a Jewish 'beast', accompanied by thousands of other Jews, who will be like a rapacious dog, hoping to occupy the City. He will eventually be slain by Isa (Jesus) on his return and the "day of salvation" will be established. This is the official position of Islam on end-times and is all described in the influential Muslim book, "The End Times and the Mahdi", by Harun Yahya.
This is the real reason why Jerusalem is important to Muslims - it's not about the past (as there are no foundational Muslim ties to the city), it's about the future. Jerusalem, in the World's eyes, has been the stumbling block to peace in Israel, but, despite what the World has been told, it's not because of any historic Muslim associations with the city, it's simply because that's where they believe Islam is finally going to be declared the true faith. One thing is clear - Jerusalem is the big issue in the Middle East; let there be no confusion over this.
Modern Islamic anti-Semitism started in the 1930s, as a result of the rise of Jewish immigration to the "Promised Land". We now turn our attention to Haj Amin al-Husseini, a typical product of those times. He was a member of one of the two major Arab dynasties in Palestine, the others being the Nashashibis. This other family produced more rulers, giving the World Abdullah and Hussein (of Jordan) and Feisal (of Iraq). These were the days of European colonialism and Britain and France managed to control most of the Middle-East between them. Haj Amin al-Husseini was appointed the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem by the British in 1921. He was a Muslim extremist and violently opposed Zionism, as the following activities will show us:
- On August 1929 he inspired a massacre of Jews praying at the Western Wall, their holiest place in Jerusalem.
- During World War II he moved to Germany and became associated with Hitler. He worked on the assumption that, as we both have the same hated enemies (the Jews), we can be friends. If he only knew what Hitler thought of him (a member of a sub-race) and what his fate was to be in the Third Reich!
In the view of al-Husseini and his ilk, all Jews were fundamentally evil, dedicated to the destruction of Islam. This is still the position today with Muslim extremists.
The Muslim holy book, the Qur'an did no favours for the Jews, with plenty of verses - some already mentioned - speaking against them. If the Muslims have shown negativity to the Jews then they can honestly claim that they are just following the teachings of the Qu'ran. At least this is a more honest position than those Christians who read hatred against the Jews in their Bible, where it plainly isn't there to start with!
But it's not all bad news. There are little pockets of hope dotted around that can provide possibilities of what can be in the future. One such story appears in the book, "Israel: The Mystery of Peace", by Julia Fisher, in the chapter "From Algeria to Jerusalem".
It is the story of Marcel Rebiai, born into an Algerian Muslim family, but brought up in an orphanage, where he was taught to hate the Jews (as well as the Americans and the French). After running away from there he became a street child, until he was rescued and taken to Switzerland. He later became a drug addict, until God rescued him and gave him a mission. God called him to Israel and helped birth, "The Community of Reconciliation", working to bring Jews and Arabs together in love. Here he speaks of their aims:
"We have experienced massive opposition and violent assaults from both Islamic fundamentalists and Jewish Orthodox groups. But this has not stopped us. We also experience lives being changed and reconciliation and hope becoming a reality for our Jewish and Arab friends. This encourages us to fully invest our lives, because we believe according to Isaiah 19:24-25 that the day will come when God will make the two peoples a blessing for the whole world. We are working towards the fulfilment of this promise."
So there is hope. Jews and Arabs (those who can trace themselves back far enough) are half-brother nations, Semitic, descendants of Noah's son, Shem. There's more to unite them than to divide them. Yet, perhaps, no people in the modern age are so divided. Why should this be? Why indeed? The answer can only be seen in the unseen, in spiritual realms. This idea will be developed later on.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book Outcast Nation )