Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Muslims, Please Don't Visit Jerusalem!?!

Fatwa Forbids Muslims from Visiting Jerusalem
One of the most respected religion interpreters in Islam, Yusif Al Qaradawi issued a "Fatwa" (A juristic ruling  concerning Islamic law) stating that non-Palestinian Muslims are prohibited from visiting Jerusalem. This ruling was issued in response to Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas's call out to Arab leaders to visit the Holy Land. 

Shaikh Yusef Al Qaradawi 
Jerusalem…A Forbidden Land?
The issue of visiting Jerusalem as a tourist has been a controversial one among Islamic thinkers for many years. The way they see it, for Muslims to visit Jerusalem while it is under Israeli occupation means asserting the validity of an illegal occupier and accepting to cooperate with their embassies, airport officers and organizations. The logic is that everything forbidden is desired. If Muslims feel that they are not permitted to visit the Holy Land that holds great spiritual value in Islam, it should in theory, stir up a galaxy of emotions within them and motivate them to fight and reclaim it. 

Al Qaradawi shows some leeway in this ruling by allowing people of Palestinian origins to visit the Land but emphasizes that others are strictly forbidden from doing so. It is intriguing though that the mere concept of "forbidding" people from entering the Holy Land seems contradictory with what most Religious thinkers say about the Palestinian cause being an Arab one? How can it be an Arab cause that only Palestinians are allowed to witness? 

"Jerusalem Like You've Never Seen it Before" Photo Credit: Omar Assi - Jerusalem 
Authority of The Warden
Abbas, who recently spoke at the International Conference to Protect Jerusalem, which was held in Qatar, has an opposing opinion to that of Islamic interpreters. He called on Arab leaders and Arabs in general to visit Jerusalem, arguing that this would allow the world to understand how people within the Holy Land live and provide them with insights on the impact of Israeli occupation on the lives of those residing in the divided land. He argues that visiting a prisoner in no way implies recognition of the authority of the warden.    

Nevertheless, it is in fact true that for most Arabs, visiting Jerusalem requires a visa from an Israeli embassy. However, visitors have the option to not have their passports stamped, thus, their visit would in no way harm their residency status in their country of origin. 

Boycott 80% of Arab World?
Additionally, one of the most emphasized rulings in Islam is "الأعمال بالنيات", this essentially means that human actions are measured by their intentions and rewarded accordingly. Consequently, if we assume that utilizing Israeli embassy services and communicating with Israeli officers are considered unacceptable allegations of Israel's validity, then would the intention of contributing to the betterment of the Palestinian economy and consciously seeking means of aiding the situation from within Jerusalem, not prevail over the "illegitimacy" of the actions? 

Occupation does not necessarily take place through physical military presence in a country, it could appear in the form of economic, social or even educational occupation. In that perspective, it could be argued that the entire Arab world is occupied by foreign forces.  If the argument is that we need to demoralize the authenticity of dangerous occupiers by avoiding formal cooperation with them until we can regain our lands, then, should we not be avoiding Lebanon, which is the victim of a French colonization whose impact never wore off, and boycott the Gulf region that has witnessed an era of irreversible "mcdonaldization"?

Photo Credit: Hanadi Qawasmi - Jerusalem 

The ruling about Jerusalem should be reconsidered by Muftis of the Islamic world because if we follow this logic, Arabs will never visit Jerusalem, never be moved by the surely inimitable feeling resulting from standing in Al-Aqsa, never meet the people of Jerusalem to hear first-hand stories about life under Israeli occupation and thus, never reach a point when the sense of responsibility towards Jerusalem overflows from every inch of their souls calling them to end the occupation. 

Article about Al Qaradawi's Fatwa: http://daralhayat.com/internationalarticle/368103


  1. Thank you Jummana for this post :) We have to start thinking of new ways in supporting the Palestinian Cause!

  2. The provided link was found to be broken, but I found an alter from a non-trusted source; http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1309&dat=19950508&id=Pg5PAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ZB8EAAAAIBAJ&pg=1828,3569611

    Accordingly, the article was published in 1995. Questioning the reliability of the whole fatwa will not be revised. Assuming the guy did say so; This wordings is completely religious free for apparent and logical factors and therefore cannot be considered fatwa anymore as its biased on a personal opinion, scholars often misinterpert their incomplete ability as jurists and unwillingly oppose Islamic theology. It could also be a hoax where he meant to cut off relations with Jerusalem as in Israel, but people love twisting Muslim tongues so we appear in degrade. We most likely need to work much more harder, specifically on the personal level to support Palestine and this was brilliantly conveyed in this post. Idealogies, in the Fatwa, like this are like Fetan, they spread like a plague and synthesizes with ignorance to abhor via brain-colony unless refuted and studied very well.

    PS: As a fellow Pali, I suggest you try being unbiased when speaking of us so you also reach the other audience in a more general convincing way.

    Keep it up =)

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    I apologize, the article is a year old so the link I was referencing must have been deleted.

    This fatwa did actually come out last year (28-02-2012) in response to Mahmoud Abbas's call out to Arabs to visit Palestine. Al-Qaradawi released this fatwa to quickly stop people from answering Abbas's call. http://www.timesofisrael.com/muslim-scholars-debate-arab-visits-to-jerusalem/

    I agree that sometimes our scholars tend to release "fatwas" that are not religion-related, but this in itself should be opposed and criticized by us.

    As for my posts being biased, I do not claim to have an unbiased opinion, my blog is a space where I spread my personal opinions and very-much-biased thoughts. But, I do thank you very much for leaving a comment and if you are more interested in neutral articles, then you can follow my writings on Global Voices http://globalvoicesonline.org/author/jummana-kahlout/

    Thank you for your interest, keep following the blog =)