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Why Biblical Jerusalem is to Judaism, What Koranic Mecca is to Islam: Prayer Direction Reveals This (Or Should)

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According to a senior administration official (quoted by AFP), POTUS Trump is slated to announce from the White House at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT), today (Wednesday, 12/6/2017),

[T]he United States government recognizes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel… He views this as a recognition of reality, both historic reality and modern reality.

Politico cited these two irrefragable observations from the Trump administration regarding POTUS Trump’s imminent announcement:

While President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue, he does not think it will be resolved by ignoring the simple truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, its supreme court and the prime minister, and as such is the capital of Israel… Delaying the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has done nothing to achieve peace for more than two decades.

The directionality of daily Jewish vs. Muslim prayer illustrates, starkly, another quintessential truth willfully ignored by the uninformed discussions of Jerusalem’s so-called “highly sensitive status,” vis-à-vis Judaism, and Islam.

Normative Jewish law (see: Berakhot 30a) rules that a worshipper should face Israel and Jerusalem during prayer, invoking Biblical admonitions, such as these:

(I Kings 8:44/8:48): and when they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name…and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name

(II Chronicles 6:32) As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple

Koran 2:143 & 2:144 mandated changing Islam’s direction of prayer (qibla) from Jerusalem to Mecca, as a central means of affirming a Muslim’s faith in the creed, and rejecting the “disbelief” of Jews, in particular.  The most authoritative classical and modern Muslim Koranic commentaries (see below), substantiate this notion and further emphasize how praying towards Mecca, instead of Jerusalem affirms a triumphal Muslim rejection of “Jewish hostility toward Islam.”

Koran 2:143: Thus We have made you [true Muslims – real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you. And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e. disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy) except for those whom Allah guided. And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.

Koran 2:144 Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad‘s SAW) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid- al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, the people who were given the Scriptures (i.e. Jews and the Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka‘bah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do;

The classical Koranic commentaries (tafsir) Tafsir Ibn Kathir, and Tafsir al-Jalalayn rivet upon how the Koranic mandate for changing prayer direction distinguished Islam from the disbelief of the Jews, who reacted with “confusion” (at best), “anger,” and “envy”.  Maariful Quran, a contemporary opus on Koranic interpretation avers that Koran 2:143-44 re-affirms the “Arabness” of Islam, and dismissal of “stubborn Jewish animus” toward the Muslim creed of Muhammad.

Ibn Kathir (d. 1373) was one of the best-known historians and traditionalists of Syria during the reign of the Bahri Mamluks, compiling an important history of Islam, as well as a Koranic commentary, still widely referenced at present. His gloss on Koran 2:143-44, states:

[Tafsir Ibn Kathir] Ibn Abbas said: ―When Allah‘s Messenger migrated to Al-Madinah, Allah commanded him to face Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). The Jews were delighted then. Allah‘s Messenger faced Jerusalem for over ten months. However, he liked (to offer prayer in the direction of) Prophet Ibrahim‘s [the Biblical Abraham] Qiblah (the Ka‘bah in Makkah) and used to supplicate Allah and kept looking up to the sky (awaiting Allah‘s command in this regard). Allah then revealed: ―turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction meaning, its direction. The Jews did not like this change…When the change of Qiblah (to Ka‘bah in Makkah) occurred, those inflicted with hypocrisy and mistrust, and the Jews, both were lead astray from the right guidance and fell into confusion…The Jews, who did not like that you change your Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis, already knew that Allah will command you (O Muhammad) to face the Ka‘bah. The Jews read in their Books their Prophets‘ description of Allah‘s Messenger and his Ummah, and that Allah has endowed and honored him with complete and honorable legislation. Yet, the People of the Book deny these facts because of their envy, disbelief, and rebellion. That is why Allah threatened them when He said: ―And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

Al-Suyuti (1445–1505) is recognized as the most prolific author in the realm of Islamic literature. A brilliant multidisciplinary scholar, al-Suyuti was a learned jurist, historian, and biographer. Among his many scholarly contributions are about twenty works of Koranic studies, including seminal Koranic commentaries (tafsir), such as Tafsir al-Jalalayn. The late, great contemporary Dutch Islamologist Johannes J.G. Jansen noted in his treatise “The Interpretation of the Koran in Modern Egypt,” Tafsir al-Jalalayn remains one of the most popular as well as the most authoritative Koranic commentaries in Egypt. Suyti’s gloss on Koran 2:143-44 reiterates the earlier interpretation of Ibn Kathir, maintaining,

[Tafsir al-Jalalayn] ―We only appointed the direction you used to face, which was the Ka‘ba towards which the Prophet had first prayed; when he emigrated, he was commanded to face Jerusalem as the Jews did, and he did so for sixteen or seventeen months, after which the qibla changed back, ― in order to distinguish manifestly ―those who follow the Messenger and confirm him ―from those who turn round on their heels and revert to unbelief, doubting the din [religion, i.e., Islam], and thinking that the Prophet…was confused about the matter. One group reverted ―Though in truth it (turning toward its) ―is a very hard thing and difficult for people—―except for those among them ―Allah has guided.

Lastly, Maulana Muhammad Shafi (1898-1976), a former grand mufti of India (prior to the August, 1947 partition), was the author of Maariful Quran, which remains the best-known Koranic commentary in Urdu. He also wrote more than three hundred books, and in addition to these literary works, broadcasted his Koranic commentary on Radio Pakistan for a number of years. Mufti Shafi’s modern gloss on Koran 2:143-44 establishes a 600-year consensus of opinion, punctuated by contemporary re-statement of traditional, canonical Islamic themes of Muslim Jew-hatred:

[Maariful Qur‘an] According to the blessed Companion Abdullah ibn Abbas, the first Qiblah was the Baytul-Maqdis, and continued to be so even after the Hijrah [emigration to Medina] for some sixteen or seventeen months, and it was only then that Allah commanded that the Baytullah [at Mecca] be taken as the Qiblah…The raison d‘etre of these changes of orientation has been explained like this. When the Holy Prophet came to Madinah, he had to deal with the Jews, and in order to familiarize them with Islam he adopted their Qiblah under divine commandment. But, by and by it became evident that a stubborn people like the Jews would not easily give up their hostility to Islam. So, Allah allowed him [Muhammad] to go back to the original Qiblah…[T]he commandment with regard to the change in orientation is a test of the faith of those who claim to be the followers of the Holy Prophet, which would openly demonstrate the distinction between those who are genuinely obedient to Allah and His Messenger, and those who follow their individual opinion. History records that after this verse had been revealed, those who were weak in their faith, or were just hypocrites, forsook Islam, and even accused the Holy Prophet of having gone back to the ways of his own people—that is, of the mushrikun [infidels]…Once the Ka‘bah had been made the Qiblah of the Muslims, the Arabs could be expected to find Islam more acceptable. As for the hope that the adoption of Baytul-Maqdis as the Qiblah would bring the Jews closer to Islam, it had been dashed by the events of the last sixteen or seventeen months, for the hostility of the Jews to Islam, fed by their vanity, had only been growing more intense

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    • Eli the Enduring

      While in Medina, Mohammad began by stating that the god of the Quran was the God of the Torah. He stated that prayers should be directed towards Jerusalem. When he got to Medina, he encountered Jewish scholars that debunked this, he changed his attitude from peaceful co-existance to hatred for Jews and those of the Book. He also redirected prayer towards Mecca, his birthplace. Mohammad set up Islam to become a co-god to Allah. He did this at the direction of Allah(Satan) to ensure that Islam would not “modernize” to the point that it would co-exist with other religions. If none could ever attain the perfection of Mohammad & none could challenge his hold on the religion, it would remain stagnant. ALL Islamic claims to Jerusalem are based upon lies. Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem 600 years before Mohammad or Islam was born. It is & will always be the capital of Israel. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is an abomination unto the Living God.

    • The Ferrett

      “Why Biblical Jerusalem is to Judaism” . . . this is an incorrect associative assumption. What is “Judaism” exactly and why did Jesus tell us many times to beware of Jewish fables?

      Many books and many scholars state that Judah was the ancestor of the Jews and that the Jews were named for that ancestor. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      The name of the geographical place called Judah, which had been named for Judah, the son of Jacob and the great-grandson of Abraham, was the original location of the Tribe of Judah. The name was changed to Judea after the time of the Captivity, which ended about 538 B.C. The English word “Jew” from the Latin “Iudaeus” means Judean, an inhabitant of Judea. The Edomites, who largely populated Judea after the Babylonian Captivity, were called Jews because they resided in Judea. They were not descended from Judah, and they were not called Jews because of him.

      The complex and often misunderstood words “Jew,” “Jews,” and “Jewish,” are used today to designate individuals following the religion of “Judaism,” or from that heritage. However, these words, as well as the words “Semite,” “Hebrew,” “Israelite,” and “Judahite,” have specific connotations.

      Abraham, along with his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, were Hebrews, a word which came from an ancestor of Abraham named Eber. Before Eber the ancestors of Abraham were Semites, being descended from Shem, a son of Noah. Israelites are from Jacob (who was given the name Israel by God) beginning with his sons who were the founders of the Tribes of Israel, and their descendants. For example, Moses and Aaron were Israelites since they were descended from Levi, the founder of the Tribe of Levi and a son of Jacob/Israel.

      God made a covenant with the Israelites, and they were the ones who were called the chosen people. Judahites are Israelites but specifically the descendants of Judah, the founder of the Tribe of Judah, one of the Tribes of Israel.
      The word “Jew” was not used in the entire original text of the Bible, but only in the modern translations and in those the word “Jews” was first used in the book of 2 Kings. The word “Jew” in the Bible referred to a person from Judea, a region which included people with many different ethnicities, but mainly Edomites.

      The term “Jew” was not significant in biblical history until after the remnants of the original descendants of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned following the Babylonian Captivity about 538 B.C. Mixed in with those returning people were many thousands of mixed multitude, or non-Israelite people, who became known as Jews when they then resided in Judea.
      Earlier, the lands of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin had been taken over by Edomites during the Captivity period. Those Edomites were not born of Israelites, but rather were descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Many of those later fled to North Africa and then to Spain. Those “Jews” became known as Sephardic Jews and later lived primarily in western Europe.

      “In the year B.C. 129, John Hyrcanus conquered the Edomites…the descendants of Esau, who married daughters of Heth, and rather than leave the land they embraced the Jewish religion. After a time, they became absorbed amongst the Jews, and were called Jews; and, as a rule, were not to be distinguished from them. The Jews also mingled with the Canaanites, and during the seventy years’ captivity great numbers of them married women of other nations. No doubt these things were done in spite of the wholesome restrictions to which, as a tribe or nation, they felt it their duty to submit. Yet, notwithstanding these violations of the rule, their descendants were known as Jews, not as Edomites or Canaanites.”

      Many scholars believe that over 90% of all living Jews in the world today are descended from the people of the Turkish-Mongolian tribes of the 8th century called Khazars who lived in what is now southern Russia.

      Many of those pagan Khazars adopted Judaism as their religion. They were then considered to be Jews. The Khazars then spread through eastern Europe over the following centuries. Their descendants are called Ashkenazi Jews.

      But recent DNA analyses do not agree with those who think that the Ashkenazi Jews did not originate in the Middle East. Several Y-DNA studies have been conducted, and it has been determined that about 75% of all Jewish men (in their male line going back, son to father to father etc.) have ancestry from the Middle East. Jews, except for converts from other ethnicities, do have a common ancestry, and are a distinct population, originating in the Middle East.

      The reason is that, according to The Jewish Encyclopedia, “the Chazars [Khazars] formerly lived in the mountains of Seir ….”
      That proves that the earlier ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews were Edomites and that they were descendants of Esau.
      “Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom. And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir ….”
      Those Edomites had escaped from the area which was near to what later became Judea, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., and again when Jerusalem, after Judea had become their adopted homeland, was destroyed in A.D. 70. Thus Ashkenazi Jews do have an ancestral connection to the Middle East, that being from Abraham. They do not, however, descend from Israelites.
      The article titled “Purity of Race” in The Jewish Encyclopedia stated that “some anthropologists are inclined to associate the racial origin of the Jews, not with the Semites, whose language they adopted, but with the Armenians and Hittites of Mesopotamia, whose broad skulls and curved noses they appear to have inherited.”
      That information is incorrect, at least that information that relates to the point that the Jews are not Semites. Being descended from Edomites would make the Jews Semites inasmuch as their ancestor, Esau, was a son of Isaac and a grandson of Abraham, both descendants of Shem. Shem’s descendants are Semites.
      It is well known that many Jews at the time of Jesus called for his crucifixion. They did not like the fact that he criticized them for what he saw as the satanic nature of their religion, Judaism. He had many battles with the Pharisees who by then were populated entirely by Edomite Jews.
      When Christianity became a religion of the Gentiles, (the nations) the gospels included what is sometimes termed an “anti-Semitic bias” against the Jews. That “bias” is believed to be based on the hatred that the Christians thought the Jews displayed towards Jesus. The Christians eventually learned what the Jews thought of Jesus, and the Christians, by becoming aware of the vile statements included in the Talmud.
      The Jews, on the other hand, became obsessed with the statement that appeared in the Gospel of John. Martin Luther’s book On the Jews and Their Lies, also with vile statements, which was written in 1543, included the following: “‘You are of your father the devil.’ It was intolerable to them to hear that they were not Abraham’s but the devil’s children, nor can they bear to hear this today.”
      And now, hundreds of years later, they still can not bear to hear what the Gospel of John reported that Jesus told the Jews, that they were “children of Satan.” A posting which appeared as recently as September of 2014 in a blog in the Jerusalem Post online indicates that, for the Jews, the statement in the Gospel of John can never be forgiven or forgotten. That full statement in the Gospel of John, which quotes Jesus admonishing the Jews who were descended from Edomites, is as follows:

      “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
      But Jesus did not care that he was insulting people whose ancestry was not pleasing to God, and whose religion (Judaism) was insulting to God.
      It is, however, much more understandable that the Jews and the Christians would hate each other forever than that the evangelical Christians would act and donate as if they were Jews themselves.

      Many evangelical Christians believe, incorrectly, that the Jews are the “chosen people,” and they feel that any people chosen by God should be supported. They believe that the nation God promised to bless refers to the modern state of Israel. If they knew that the modern day Jews are not descendants of the Israelites and thus are not descended from the “chosen people” spoken about in the Bible it is likely they would not be so enamored with the modern state of Israel which is populated by descendants of the Edomites/Khazars, and not by descendants of the true Israelites of the Bible.





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