I have listened to the latest Osama bin Laden tape in Arabic on Al-Jazeera TV. He released it in memory of Sept. 11. It was clear that bin Laden was trying to convince a Western audience that the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11, and the larger phenomenon of Islamist violence, is caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. He argued that the land of Palestine belongs to Muslims rather than the Jews, and that Muslims will never forget this.
This tape raised some questions that need to be answered: Is bin Laden trying to convince us that his fellow jihadists in Iraq, Algeria, and Pakistan — who explode mosques, detonate Muslim funerals to kill innocents, and behead their fellow Muslims — are committing these barbaric atrocities because of the Arab-Israeli conflict? If the cause of terrorism against the West is the Arab-Israeli conflict, why don’t the Christians in the Middle East, who live under the same circumstances, commit suicide bombings and attack Western targets as their fellow Muslims do? If the cause of Islamic terrorism is the “occupation” of the Arab land, as bin Laden claimed, how can he explain the lower levels of terrorism against the West between 1967 and 1993, when the Palestinians started to take more control over the West Bank and Gaza as stipulated by Oslo Accords? During the pre-1993 period Israel fully controlled the West Bank and Gaza, but Islamic terrorism was much less common than we see today. In brief, terrorist acts by radical Muslims became much more frequent after Israel started to withdraw from these areas and cede them to Palestinian control. If bin Laden is using Islam in his argument and trying to convince his followers that he is a good Muslim who follows the Quran, why does he not then apply the Quranic verses that clearly and unambiguously state that the Holy Land belongs to the Children of Israel? These include the following verses:
Quran 17:104: “And we said thereafter to the Children of Israel, “Dwell securely in the land of promise.”
Quran 26:59: “5:21 "O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you [as a contract].”
Quran 7:137: “And We [God] made a people, considered weak [i.e., the children of Israel], inheritors of the lands in both east and west, lands whereon We sent down Our blessings. The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy, and We leveled to the ground the great works and fine buildings which Pharaoh and his people erected [with such pride].”
So according to the Quran itself, the Holy Land is the land promised to the Jews, given to them as a contract and their inheritance. How come bin Laden ignores these unambiguous verses of the Quran?
If bin Laden rejects these verses in the Quran he should be considered an apostate, and thus he MUST be killed according to his strict interpretation of Shariah law!
Further questions: If Jerusalem belongs to Muslims, why isn’t it mentioned by name in the Quran even once? By contrast, it is mentioned in the Bible hundreds of times. Muslims claim Jerusalem is theirs because the Prophet Muhammad visited it once in his vision of the “Israa”. But the Jews had lived in Jerusalem for thousands of years and built a kingdom in the land of Israel far before the Prophet Muhammad saw it. The Jewish people’s claim to the land is thus based on reality rather than visions. If visions are taken into considerations, would Muslims accept the idea that the Baha’i, for example, could legitimately lay claim to Mecca if one of their prophets had seen it once in his vision? Bin Laden and his Muslim brethren destroyed the Buddhist temple in Afghanistan, stoned women until death for adultery, and burned the faces of young girls who go to schools to prevent them from getting education. Were these barbaric atrocities also due to the Arab-Israeli conflict?
I am waiting for Mr. bin Laden to answer my simple questions!
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad." He was a former associate of Dr. al-Zawahiri (second in command of al-Qaida) and currently he is a reformer of Islam. To know more about Hamid please visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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