A Call for Unity
- :Harun Yahya
A Call for Unity
Now writing under the pen-name of HARUN YAHYA, he was born in Ankara in 1956. Having completed his primary and secondary education in Ankara, he studied arts at Istanbul's Mimar Sinan University and philosophy at Istanbul University. Since the 1980s, he has published many books on political, scientific, and faith-related issues. Harun Yahya is well-known as the author of important works disclosing the imposture of evolutionists, their invalid claims, and the dark liaisons between Darwinism and such bloody ideologies as fascism and communism.
His pen-name is a composite of the names Harun (Aaron) and Yahya (John), in memory of the two esteemed Prophets who fought against their people's lack of faith. The Prophet's seal on his books' covers is symbolic and is linked to their contents.
It represents the Qur'an (the Final Scripture) and the Prophet Mohammed (May God bless him and grant him peace), last of the prophets. Under the guidance of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (teachings of the Prophet), the author makes it his purpose to disprove each fundamental tenet of godless ideologies and to have the "last word," so as to completely silence the objections raised against religion. He uses the seal of the final Prophet, who attained ultimate wisdom and moral perfection, as a sign of his intention to offer the last word.
All of Harun Yahya's works share one single goal: to convey the Qur'an's message, encourage readers to consider basic faith-related issues such as God's existence and unity and the Hereafter; and to expose godless systems' feeble foundations and perverted ideologies. Harun Yahya enjoys a wide readership in many countries, from India to America, England to Indonesia, Poland to Bosnia, and Spain to Brazil. Some of his books are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Urdu, Arabic, Albanian, Russian, Serbo-Croat (Bosnian), Polish, Malay, Uygur Turkish, and Indonesian.
Greatly appreciated all around the world, these works have been instrumental in many people recovering faith in God and gaining deeper insights into their faith. His books' wisdom and sincerity, together with a distinct style that's easy to understand, directly affect anyone who reads them. Those who seriously consider these books, can no longer advocate atheism or any other perverted ideology or materialistic philosophy, since these books are characterized by rapid effectiveness, definite results, and irrefutability. Even if they continue to do so, it will be only a sentimental insistence, since these books refute such ideologies from their very foundations. All contemporary movements of denial are now ideologically defeated, thanks to the books written by Harun Yahya.
This is no doubt a result of the Qur'an's wisdom and lucidity. The author modestly intends to serve as a means in humanity's search for God's right path. No material gain is sought in the publication of these works. Those who encourage others to read these books, to open their minds and hearts and guide them to become more devoted servants of God, render an invaluable service.
Meanwhile, it would only be a waste of time and energy to propagate other books that create confusion in people's minds, lead them into ideological chaos, and that clearly have no strong and precise effects in removing the doubts in people's hearts, as also verified from previous experience. It is impossible for books devised to emphasize the author's literary power rather than the noble goal of saving people from loss of faith, to have such a great effect. Those who doubt this can readily see that the sole aim of Harun Yahya's books is to overcome disbelief and to disseminate the Qur'an's moral values. The success and impact of this service are manifested in the readers' conviction.
One point should be kept in mind: The main reason for the continuing cruelty, conflict, and other ordeals endured by the vast majority of people is the ideological prevalence of disbelief. This can be ended only with the ideological defeat of disbelief and by conveying the wonders of creation and Qur'anic morality so that people can live by it. Considering the state of the world today, leading into a downward spiral of violence, corruption and conflict, clearly this service must be provided speedily and effectively, or it may be too late. In this effort, the books of Harun Yahya assume a leading role. By the will of God, these books will be a means through which people in the twenty-first century will attain the peace, justice, and happiness promised in the Qur'an.
We are living in an era in which the world is desperately in need of peace, friendship, and solidarity. The tensions and conflicts that so defined the twentieth century continue in this new century, and innocent people all around the world continue to suffer from them.
Despite the urgent need for solidarity and cooperation, certain circles are inciting conflict, particularly conflict between the world's two greatest and deep-rooted civilizations. This issue needs to be scrutinized, as the war of civilizations that they envisage would have disastrous consequences for humanity. One of the best ways of preventing such a disaster is to strengthen the dialogue and cooperation between these civilizations. This is not a hard task, as there are no fundamental differences between Islam and the Judeo-Christian western world. To the contrary, there is much common ground between them. Considering the current situation and the nature of the world's problems, these shared values will make the cooperation necessary for solving them possible.
Today, ideological struggles, indeed, continue to divide the world. However, Muslims are not at one pole and Jews and Christians are not at the opposing pole. In fact, one pole represents people who believe in God's existence and unity, and the other pole represents the unbelievers, who believe in such anti-religious ideologies as materialism and Darwinism. There is only one way to defeat the alliance of the various groups of unbelievers on an ideological level: eradicate the negative and destructive influences of anti-religious materialism and further the cause of a society dominated by morality, happiness, tranquility, security, and prosperity. This will be done by forming an alliance of all conscientious people, namely, sincere Christians, along with religious Jews and Muslims, who will come together and unite in this common cause.
There have been conflicts and disputes between members of these three religions in the past, but those were the result of the erroneous reasoning and evil motives of certain states, nations, and individuals who pursued their own economic and political gain instead of the central beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. One of the common aims of these divinely revealed religions is to ensure the happiness, security, peace, and tranquility of all people by opposing conflict.
Therefore, this dialogue and alliance will be based on the sincere believers' quest for justice, peace, and support for all people. The resulting dialogue will not be restricted to meetings and conferences, but will cement an alliance between people who advocate common values, fight for the same cause, and seek permanent solutions to common problems. This alliance will be one of the main contributing factors to tranquility at a time when Prophet Jesus' (peace be upon him) second coming is expected.
This book reveals that Muslims, Christians, and Jews have common principles of faith, worship, and moral values; face common dangers; and calls on the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) to unite with Muslims as fellow believers opposed to atheism, anti-religiosity, and social as well as moral degeneration. In short, it is an invitation to spread virtue around the world, a call to all Jews, Christians, and Muslims who are sincere,
conscientious, tolerant, helpful, conciliatory, reasonable, virtuous, peaceful, and fair to recognize that we believe in the same God and strive to live and extend the reach of God's morality. The followers of these three faiths believe that God created the universe and sustains all matter; created all life forms in a miraculous way; gave each human being a soul; sent Prophets to humanity throughout history, like Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace), and Prophets Jesus, Moses, Noah, David, Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph (peace be upon them all); created our lives according to destiny; and believe in the Resurrection, Hell, Paradise, and angels.
The People of the Book and Muslims also have common moral values. For example, in a world in which prostitution, homosexuality, and drug abuse, together with selfishness, greed, and hardheartedness are spreading fast, they value and seek to live by honor, chastity, modesty, selflessness, honesty, compassion, mercy, and unconditional love.
We Muslims love and respect Prophets Moses (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh), know that they are loved and dear people in God's presence, and believe in all His Prophets. Furthermore, we respect Jewish and Christian beliefs, values, and traditions, for God commands us to invite the People of the Book to unite on a common premise:
Say: "O People of the Book! Come to a proposition that is the same for us and you - that we should worship none but God, not associate any partners with Him, and not take one another as lords besides God." If they turn away, say: "Bear witness that we are Muslims." (Qur'an, 3:64)
This is our call to Jews and Christians: As believers in God and His revelation, let us unite in faith, love and obey our Master and Creator, and pray to Him for enlightenment. When Muslims, Christians, and Jews unite under these premises, when they realize that they are friends and not enemies, and when they see that the real enemies are atheism and irreligion, the world will become an altogether different place. Wars, antagonisms, fears, and violence will end, and a new civilization founded on this common premise, one based on love, respect, and contentment, will emerge.
Islam Accepts Judaism and Christianity
There is a basic difference between how the members of the divinely revealed religions view each other. Judaism does not recognize Christianity and Islam, which superseded it, and Christianity recognizes Judaism but not Islam, which superseded it. Islam however, recognizes both Judaism and Christianity as divinely revealed religions that originated in God's revelation and does not view them as systems of idolatry or unbelief. Rather, it regards Jews and Christians as People of the Book and advises Muslims to accept and respect their beliefs:
Alif Lam Mim. That is the Book without any doubt. It contains guidance for those who guard against evil: those who believe in the Unseen, perform prayer, and spend from what We have provided for them; those who believe in what has been sent down to you, what was sent down before you, and are certain about the Hereafter. (Qur'an, 2:1-4)
These verses describe Muslims as people who believe in the Qur'an revealed to Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) as well as in the earlier divinely revealed books: the Pages of Abraham (pbuh), the Torah revealed to Moses (pbuh), the Book of Psalms revealed to David (pbuh), and the Bible revealed to Jesus (pbuh). However, over time these books were tampered with and therefore contain both accurate (e.g., belief in God, virtue, the Day of Judgment, and the rejection of idolatry), and inaccurate information. One verse says:
He has sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what was there before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Gospel, previously, as guidance for humanity... (Qur'an, 3:3-4)
Another verse states the following about the Torah:
We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light, and the Prophets who had submitted themselves gave judgment by it for the Jews - as did their scholars and their rabbis - by what they had been allowed to preserve of God's Book, to which they were witnesses. (Qur'an, 5:44)
The Qur'an reveals that some Jewish scholars and rabbis "distorted words from their proper meanings" in the Torah (Qur'an, 5:41) and falsified it: "Woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say: 'This is from God,' to sell it for a paltry price" (Qur'an, 2:79). Christians, on the other hand, made a grave mistake by deifying Jesus (pbuh) Qur'an, 4:171). However, God's revelation of such mistakes does not mean that the People of the Book are in complete ignorance and error, for He also reveals that some of them are deeply religious and devoted to God:
They are not all the same. There is a community among the People of the Book who are upright. They recite God's Signs throughout the night, and they prostrate. They believe in God and the Last Day, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among the righteous. You will not be denied the reward for any good thing you do. God knows those who guard against evil. (Qur'an, 3:113-15)
Among the People of the Book are some who believe in God and in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down to them, and who are humble before God. They do not sell God's Signs for a paltry price. Such people will have their reward with their Lord. And God is swift at reckoning. (Qur'an, 3:199)
Therefore, a Muslim's attitude toward the People of the Book reflects the probable existence of genuinely faithful people among them. Only God knows the hearts of people, and He reveals that some Jews and Christians have earned His good pleasure.
Prophet Abraham (pbuh) Was a Haneef
God reveals that He has created a way and a method for all nations. Throughout history, He has sent Prophets to people to inform them of His laws, commands, and prohibitions. Essentially, all Prophets have invited their nations to believe in and worship God and to abide by the limits He has established for humanity. In other words, all true religions in their original state are based on the principles of not associating others with Him and of working to win His good pleasure, compassion, and Paradise. All nations are expected to follow God's will without fail and to do good deeds in order to earn His reward:
We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So, compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God, and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed. (Qur'an, 5:48)
The People of the Book were given a different law than the Muslims, but all sincere Jews, Christians, and Muslims are required to submit wholeheartedly to Him, do what is good, and compete in doing good deeds. All of them who believe in God's existence and unity and the Hereafter and do good deeds are, in reality, following the true religion revealed to Abraham (pbuh). God reveals that Adam (pbuh) was the first of a long line of Prophets, to which his descendents Noah and Abraham (peace be upon them all) also belong:
"Peace be upon Noah, among all beings." That is how We recompense the good-doers. He truly was one of Our servants who believes. Then We drowned the rest. One of his followers in faith was Abraham. (Qur'an, 37:79-83)
The Qur'an reveals that Abraham (pbuh) was a haneef, meaning one who surrenders to God's will, not compromising in any way on his religion, and being devout. In one verse, God commands Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) to abide by this religion:
Then We revealed to you: "Follow the religion of Abraham, a man of pure natural belief. He was not one of the idolaters." (Qur'an, 16:123) Abraham's (pbuh) sons, grandchildren, and other devout Muslim descendents all abided by his religion, for, Who would deliberately renounce the religion of Abraham, except someone who reveals himself to be a fool? We chose him in this world, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the righteous. When his Lord said to him: "Become a Muslim!" he said: "I am a Muslim who has submitted to the Lord of all the worlds." Abraham directed his sons to this, as did Jacob: "My sons. God has chosen this religion for you, so do not die except as Muslims." Or were you present when death came to Jacob and he said to his sons: "What will you worship when I have gone?" They said: "We will worship your God, the God of your forefathers, Abraham, Ishmail and Isaac - one God. We are Muslims submitted to Him." (Qur'an, 2:130-33)
As we can see, the religion followed by Abraham (pbuh) represents the common ground among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Love, faith, and respect for Abraham (pbuh) are just as important to Muslims as they are for Christians and Jews. However, those who follow his morality are the ones who are closest to him. He was exuberant in his faith in God, loved him deeply, followed all of His commands willingly, and thus was an example for all humanity. As God says:
The people with the strongest claim to Abraham are those who followed him and this Prophet, and those who believe. God is the Protector of the believers. (Qur'an, 3:68)
Therefore, all Jews and Christians, who believe wholeheartedly in God, like Abraham (pbuh) and the believers who followed him, must only turn to God and follow this great Prophet's example of virtue, sincerity, and insight. The best way to show one's love, obedience, and closeness to the Prophets is by emulating them. Muslims do not discriminate among all of the Prophets and what was revealed to them, for God commands:
Say: "We believe in God and what has been sent down to us, what was sent down to Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes; what Moses and Jesus were given; and what all of the Prophets were given by their Lord. We do not differentiate between any of them. We are Muslims submitted to Him." (Qur'an, 2:136)
Unbiased people who study Islamic history and the Muslims' relationship with the Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule will come across the following fact: The People of the Book have always lived in peace and tranquility under Islamic rule. Sometimes, Jews and Christians who were oppressed by their own religious or political rulers sought refuge and safety in Muslim countries. The most important reason for their enviable position, when compared to that of their coreligionists in Europe, was the Muslims' submission to the Qur'an's morality.
Islam, a religion of peace and acceptance, requires believers to treat all people with justice and respect. Devout Muslims are tolerant, forgiving, modest, understanding, gentle, genuine, and honest. In fact, God commands them to be just even when it is not in their own interests or those of their families to be so; to feed orphans and prisoners of war first, even if they are hungry themselves; and to be selfless, patient, and firm in virtue. Such Muslims are far more accepting of non-Muslims, for they know that compulsion is disallowed in religion. When dealing with non-Muslims,
they do their best to show the way to the right path, address the other person's conscience, and become the means of this person's acceptance of a virtuous life, which is only possible if God grants him or her faith. The following verse reveals that God rules people's hearts and that only He can bring light into them:
Do those who believe not know that if God had wanted to He could have guided all humanity? (Qur'an, 13:31)
You cannot guide those you would like to, but God guides whoever He wills. He has best knowledge of the guided. (Qur'an, 28:56) Muslims are only responsible for relaying the truth and inviting people to believe, for belief cannot be forced upon someone. God says: There is no compulsion in religion. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false deities and believes in God has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Qur'an, 2:256)
Muslims naturally abide by the Qur'an's morality when dealing with the People of the Book. For example, the Qur'an says that Muslims are expected to respect the Christians' and the Jews' beliefs and reputations, protect them and be compassionate toward them, for they are fellow believers in God's existence and unity, His angels and Prophets, the Day of Judgment, and the necessity to abide by religious morality.
God also reveals that those Christians and Jews who believe in Him and the Day of Judgment and do good deeds will receive the fairest rewards for their virtue:
Those with faith, those who are Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans, all who believe in God and the Last Day and act rightly will have their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Qur'an, 2:62)
Thus, good tidings are given to all who believe in God and the Day of Judgment and do right deeds. The faithful will attain salvation and happiness. Qur'an 5:48 states that "We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you," and they have to "compete with each other in doing good." This is a request for all sincere believers to live righteously and compete in doing good. Therefore, Muslims cannot be uncompromising and intolerant toward people who, like themselves, believe in God and are righteous. The history of Islam proves this point. Before we analyze this history, we must point out a very important factor that determines the Muslims' attitude toward the People of the Book: Muslims' love for Prophets Moses (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh).
Muslims Love Prophets Moses (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh)
In all epochs, God has sent Prophets to deliver His revelations to humanity. Prophets are chosen in His presence and therefore are ennobled by Him. These role models of virtue taught His religion to their nations, advocated goodness and warned of evil, and helped people toward faith. The Qur'an gives many examples of past nations and peoples and their Prophets' lives. These narratives reveal details of their teachings about God and His religion, their ideological fight against unbelievers, and the responses they received from the people they invited to faith. The Prophets' patience, selflessness, sincerity, fine thinking, and other superior human virtues made them ideal role models. Muslims believe in all Prophets who were chosen by God to reveal the truth to humanity, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them all):
He has laid down the same religion for you as He enjoined on Noah: that which We have revealed to you and which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: "Establish the religion and do not make divisions in it." What you call the idolaters to follow is very hard for them. God chooses for Himself anyone He wills, and guides to Himself those who turn to Him. (Qur'an, 42:13)
God also reveals that Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) is an ideal role model for all people who believe in God and the Day of Judgment (Qur'an, 33:21), which is why Muslims seek to acquire his morality, follow his noble path, and become people who please Him. The Qur'an's accounts of Jesus (pbuh) and Moses (pbuh), whose lives are told in some detail in the Qur'an, contain many examples of wisdom and morality for Muslims.
God reveals that Moses (pbuh) and his brother Aaron (pbuh) were His ennobled servants:
We showed great kindness to Moses and Aaron. We rescued them and their people from their terrible plight. We supported them, and so they were the victors. We gave them the clarifying Book, guided them on the Straight Path, and left the later people saying of them: "Peace be upon Moses and Aaron." That is how We recompense good-doers. They truly were among Our believing servants. (Qur'an, 37:114-22)
God sent Moses (pbuh) to the Children of Israel, then enslaved by Pharaoh, for the following reason: "Then We gave Moses the Book, complete and perfect for him who does good, elucidating everything, and a guidance and a mercy, so that hopefully they will believe in their encounter with their Lord" (Qur'an, 6:154). The Qur'an reveals how Moses (pbuh) was chosen:
Has the story of Moses not reached you? When he [Moses] saw a fire and said to his family: "Wait here. I can make out a fire. Maybe I will bring you a brand from it, or will find guidance there." Then when he reached it, a voice called out: "Moses! I am your Lord. Take off your sandals. You are in the holy valley of Tuwa. I have chosen you, so listen well to what is revealed." (Qur'an, 20:9-13)
Moses (pbuh) fought against Pharaoh and his close allies, as well as those hypocrites and people of weak faith from among his own nation, and proved himself a universal role model by means of his submission to God and his faith, patience, courage, selflessness, intelligence, motivation, and drive. Muslims feel deep respect for him. Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is introduced as "God's Messenger and word" (Qur'an, 4:171), as well as a "sign" (Qur'an, 21:91) for people. The Qur'an reveals some enlightening information about his mission, miracles, and life. For example;
When the angels said: "Mary, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near." (Qur'an, 3:45) The nature of the divine revelation given to him is described as follows:
And We sent Jesus, son of Mary, following in their footsteps, confirming the Torah that came before him. We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, confirming the Torah that came before it, and as guidance and admonition for those who guard against evil. (Qur'an, 5:46)
As the Qur'an reveals, Jesus (pbuh) is distinguished from the other Prophets in several ways. The most significant of these is that he did not die, but was raised up to God's presence and will return. The Qur'an states that "they certainly did not kill him" (Qur'an, 4:157), but that God raised him up to His presence. The Qur'an also reveals information about his second coming and future life. Given that all of the events it foretells come true, Muslims are awaiting his return with great joy and anticipation, and are doing their best to prepare for his arrival.
Prophet Mohammed's (may God bless him and grant him peace) Exemplary Attitude
Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace), the best role model for Muslims who deal with the People of the Book, was always just and compassionate toward Jews and Christians and tried to create an atmosphere based on reconciliation and love among these three religious communities. Various agreements and guarantees allowed Christians and Jews to live as autonomous religious communities. When the young Muslim community was still suffering from the Makkan polytheists' cruelty and oppression, our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) advised some of them to seek refuge with the Christian king of Ethiopia, Negus (or al-Najashi).
The Muslims who later on migrated to Madinah with our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), on the other hand, developed a model of coexistence with that city's Jewish community that was to become a model for all later generations. The Muslims' acceptance of Jews and Christians during the period of Islam's expansion in Arabia entered the history books as an example of justice and acceptance.
One such example was our beloved Prophet's (may God bless him and grant him peace) reading of the verse: "Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way - except in the case of those of them who do wrong - saying: 'We believe in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one, and we submit to Him'" (Qur'an, 29:46) after he had the following words written in the text of an agreement prepared for the Christian Ibn Harris bin Ka`b and his co-religionists: "The religion, churches, lives, chastity, and goods of all Christians living in the East are under the protection of God and all believers. None of those living by Christianity will be forced to turn to Islam. If any Christian is subjected to any killing or injustice, Muslims must help him." 1
Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) allowed the Jews to become a party to the Constitution of Madinah signed with the Aws and Khazraj clans, which permitted them to continue living as a separate religious community. The basis for this acceptance of the Jews' faith and traditions was laid down in the following article: "The Jews of Banu Awf [non-Muslim minorities] are a community along with the believers. To the Jews their religion, and to the Muslim their religion." 2
As a requirement of the morality ordained by God, Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) not only showed compassion and understanding toward the People of the Book, but also taught his Companions that those Jews and Christians living under the rule of Islam must be protected. The privileges that he granted them in the settlements of Adruh, Maqna, Khaybar, Najran, and Aqaba prove that Muslims both guaranteed these non-Muslims' lives and property and recognized their freedom of belief and worship. The following articles of the agreement between our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) and the Christians of Najran need to be pointed out:
To the Christians of Najran and the neighboring territories, the security of God and pledge of His Prophet are extended for their lives, their religion, and their property - to those present as well as those absent and others besides;
No bishop shall be removed from his bishopric, nor any monk from his monastery, nor any priest from his priesthood, and they shall continue to enjoy everything great and small as heretofore... They shall not oppress or be oppressed. If anyone demands his right from you, justice will be maintained between you.
Neither you will be oppressed, nor you will be allowed to oppress others. 3 In addition, according to some hearsay, our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) attended their weddings, visited their sick, and was generous to them. Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) even spread out his cloak so that the Christians of Najran who came to visit him could sit on it. Following his death, the Muslims' moral conduct toward the People of the Book continued to be based on the acceptance that Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) had shown to them throughout his life.
Freedom of Belief and Worship
Beginning at the time of Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace), there has always been freedom of religion in Muslim-ruled lands. Muslims protected the Christians' and Jews' belief systems, rituals, churches and synagogues, and schools of religious education. Articles guaranteeing the protection of monasteries and churches have been important parts of all agreements signed between Muslims and the People of the Book. Early agreements also allowed Muslim travelers to rest in the monasteries located along the travel routes. This suggests that Muslims were attempting to base their relationship and dialogue with the People of the Book on mutual respect. Historical documents reveal that many Muslims visited monasteries to rest for the night, to enjoy a meal, or even to have a civilized conversation during their travels or campaigns.
The People of the Book often responded warmly toward Muslims. The following expressions were recorded in an agreement signed by Caliph Umar, which was presented to Abu Ubayda by the Syrian Christians:
[We imposed these terms on ourselves:]… not to withhold our churches from Muslims stopping there by night or day; to open their doors to the traveller and wayfarer; ... to entertain every Muslim traveller in our customary style and feed him… We will not abuse a Muslim, and he who strikes a Muslim has forfeited his rights. 4
As "if God had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, where God's name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed," (Qur'an, 22:40) points out, Jewish and Christian places of worship are regarded by Muslims as holy places in which God's name is remembered. Thus, as it is their responsibility to protect such places, throughout Islamic history all Jewish and Christian houses of worship have been protected so that the Jews and Christians can pray and worship in them as they please. For instance, historic documents signed during Abu Bakr's reign state that the Christians of the peacefully taken city of Tabarriya were given guarantees that their churches would not be harmed. Likewise, the agreement signed after the conquest of Damascus stated that churches would not be destroyed or occupied.
Umar's covenant to the people of Jerusalem guaranteed the protection of all places of worship. During the conquest of the Armenian city of Dabil (Dvin) in Uthman's time, the assurances given to Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians guaranteed the protection of all places of worship. 5 Permission to restore damaged churches and build new monasteries was never withheld. For instance, the St. Sergius monastery outside of Medain was destroyed by Patriarch Mar Amme and rebuilt during Uthman's reign.
Uqba, the governor of Egypt, contributed to a Nestorian monastery, the Church of Edessa was restored during the reign of Mu'awiyya, and the Saint Marcos Church was built in Alexandria. These are just a few examples of this tradition. The continued existence of churches and synagogues in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq proves the Muslims' respect for the other divinely revealed religions. The Sinai Monastery with a mosque right next door is an important pilgrimage center on Mount Sinai and a symbol of Muslim acceptance.
Under Islamic rule, the People of the Book have always celebrated their religious festivities as they pleased. From time to time, the Muslim leadership even attended them. A letter by the Nestorian Patriarch Isho'yab III (650-60) reveals the Muslim leaders' compassion and acceptance toward the People of the Book: They [Abbasids] have not attacked the Christian religion, but rather they have commended our faith, honored our priests... and conferred benefits on churches and monasteries. 6
Benjamin of Tudela, a famous twelfth-century Jewish explorer who could not conceal his astonishment when he discovered such attitudes in the Islamic world, expressed the impossibility of such religious acceptance and pluralism in Christian Europe. He also stated that Jews and Muslims prayed together in holy places and at the tombs of holy people, that mosques were built next to synagogues, and that different congregations celebrated each other's religious festivities. 7 These historical facts reveal that, contrary to much of what we read today, Islam is a religion of peace and acceptance. Christians and Jews lived freely under Muslim rule and enjoyed the freedoms of religious belief and thought.
Tranquillity under Muslim Rule
Christians and Jews enjoyed the highest degree of freedom and tolerance under Muslim rule. During the first few centuries of the Christian era, Jews oppressed Christians; as the latter became more powerful, they began to oppress Jews and even fellow Christians belonging to other sects. The Middle Ages were dominated by the Catholic church's oppression of all Jews and Christians who did not agree with its teachings. Some non-Catholics sought refuge with the Muslims. The oppression and violence directed by Byzantium against the Egyptian Monophysite and the Jacobean Christians, the horrors endured by those Jews and Orthodox Christians who found themselves in the path of the Catholic Crusaders, and the persecution endured by the Jews of Europe, as well as by the Muslisms and Jews in Spain after the reconquista, have never occured on Muslim soil.
The Ottoman Empire set an example of acceptance. The Patriarch of Antalya, Makarios, compared the tyranny of Catholic Poland against the Orthodox population with the Ottoman administration and concluded:
We mourned the thousands of people, men, women, and children killed by those heathens. The Polish wish to exterminate people of the Orthodox faith. May God make the Turkish state eternal, because they do not interfere with the Jews or Christians, provided they pay their taxes. 8 Jews escaping Spanish tyranny found the peace and security they sought on Ottoman soil. Driven out of Spain and faced with more hardship in other countries where they sought refuge, many died of hunger and thirst at the gates of towns and cities they were not permitted to enter. Jews who boarded Genoese ships were either exploited or sold to pirates. Sultan Bayazid welcomed the Jews into his empire and demanded that the people show them the respect and acceptance to which they were entitled.
The order proclaimed not to refuse the Jews entry or cause them difficulties, but to receive them cordially. 9 Sultan Bayazid is known to history as a religious man, and his hospitality and acceptance were based on the Qur'an's morality.
Another example of the comfortable and prosperous lives led by Jews on Muslim soil was seen in Muslim Andalusia. This state, which founded the most advanced civilization in Europe at that time, was characterized by its acceptance of non-Muslims. Andalusia was gradually weakened due to the constant attacks of Spanish Christians. Granada was its last stronghold, and historic documents state that "those who have not seen the splendor of Jewish life do not know what splendor is." At that time, Granada was the safest place on Earth for Jews. 10
Another example is Palestine, where Jewish and Christian communities enjoyed religious freedom, lived in peace and safety, and engaged in trade and crafts. The Ottoman Empire guaranteed peace and security for five centuries in the area, and such order has never been seen there since. The freedoms and acceptance enjoyed in Jerusalem and its surrounding area under Ottoman rule is described by one of Israel's ex-foreign ministers, Abba Eban, as follows:
Jerusalem and the Jewish nation suffered bloodshed and torture from the Romans and every other occupying force. Only after the conquest of Jerusalem by Sultan Yavuz Selim and its fortification by Kanuni did the Jewish nation discover what humanity, equality, and a peaceful life meant. 11 Throughout the Muslim world, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in peace and tranquility for centuries. The People of the Book engaged in commerce and acquired property as they wished, engaged in the trade or profession of their choice, and were appointed to posts in the state administration and even in the sultan's palace. They enjoyed the freedom of thought and expression at the highest degree, and made scientific and cultural achievements that are still with us today. They were not denied their social rights, and enjoyed maximum freedoms of belief and worship.
For instance, historical sources reveal that Christian physicians in the Abbasids' palace could read the Bible with their families and staff, and no one interfered with their worship.
The importance of science and scientists in the Islamic world guaranteed the caliphs' patronage of Christian and Jewish scientists. Scientists of various religious denominations would meet at state-organized gatherings to discuss scientific matters. Jewish and Christian physicists would exchange views with their Muslim counterparts, and many medical works would be discussed in the presence of the caliph or his bureaucrats. 12 Living under the Islamic rule,
the People of the Book took part in the bustling cultural life. Muslim leaders extended their cultural patronage to the lands they conquered and imported them to Baghdad, capital of the empire, where they would be studied by Muslim, Christian, and Jewish scientists. Each of them in turn, could teach their works based on these studies alongside their own religious beliefs. At a time when Muslims supported science and freedom of thought, Europe, the center of Christianity, had Inquisition courts that burned people at the stake for their heretical, meaning non-Catholic, thoughts or religious beliefs.
The Muslim leaders' sense of justice led many Christians and Jews to bring their cases to Islamic courts, even though they had their own courts with their own laws. At one time, the Nestorian patriarch Mar Timothee I (780-825) even circulated a decree to counteract the ever-increasing number of Christians taking their cases to Islamic courts. 13
This unequalled acceptance and justice in Muslim lands was based on the Qur'an's morality. Muslim leaders who adopted such ethical standards always achieved security, peace, and justice in their domains. These administrations' priority was the public's happiness and prosperity; therefore, they established systems that set the standards for future generations. When these same values of compassion, mercy, justice, understanding, modesty, patience, selflessness, and devotion derived from the Qur'an's morality begin to pervade modern-day societies, it will be possible to create a world order in which all people will find peace and security.
The Non-Muslims' Legal Status
The People of the Book living within the Muslim realm were considered dhimmis, rather than prisoners of war, and therefore were guaranteed certain legal rights. For example, in exchange for paying the jizya tax, their lives and property were guaranteed, and they enjoyed freedom of religious belief and thought, were exempted from military service, and had the right to their own law courts to resolve their disputes. On some occasions, their taxes were refunded.
This tax on non-Muslims has sometimes been misinterpreted in order to portray it as an injustice. But as we have seen above, the protections that they secured after paying it were hardly insignificant. In addition, the collected money was used to protect the non-Muslims' rights and future, and to take care of their needy coreligionists. Studying the dhimmis' status and the Muslim administrators' practices in this regard reveal the truth of the matter.
Our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) said: "I am the adversary of those who wrong the dhimmis or burden them with a load they cannot carry." According to this principle, Muslims considered it their duty to protect those non-Muslims living under their rule. The Muslims' sense of justice dictates that dhimmis come under the state's protection. During the reign of Umar ibn al-Khattab, the Muslims signed an agreement with the Christians of Hira. One of the provisions stated: "If any of their men become weak and old,
or inflicted with a disease, or was rich and had become poor, the jizya shall be lifted from him, and he and his family shall be supported by the public treasury [bayt al-mal] so long as he resides in the dar al-Islam." 14 This clearly reveals the attitude of the Muslim authorities toward the dhimmis. When non-Muslims could not pay their taxes, they were supported by public funds, which were an important aspect of state support. Before signing the agreement he had made with the people of Damascus, Umar revealed the sensitivity of Muslims toward the jizya and non-Muslims:
My own opinion and on the Book of Allah [citing Q. LIX, 6-8] is that you should keep what has been given by Allah to you [of the land] in the hands of its people …If the jizya is paid by them [the dhimmis], you should require no more of them … For if we divide the land [among us], nothing will be left for our descendants …[If the land is left with its people,] the Muslims will be able to live on its produce.
You may therefore impose on them [the dhimmis] the jizya, never to take them as prisoners, nor to do any injustice or harm to them, or to take any of their property unless you have a [valid legal] claim to it. You must fulfill the obligations you accepted in accordance with your agreement with them. 15
As we have seen, genuine Muslims who abide by the Qur'an's morality considered it their responsibility to protect the lives, property, and peace of non-Muslims. Once, during a battle with the Byzantine army, the situation became so untenable that Muslims could no longer provide the necessary protection to Christians. Thus, Mohammed, our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), ordered the jizya to be returned to them. 16 The amicable history between Muslims and Jews and Christians is an example for the present.
The Islamic code of ethics requires that non-Muslims be accepted, that their values and beliefs be respected, and that an environment in which peaceful coexistence is possible be created. Therefore, the spread of this code, as well as efforts to correct some misguided practices claiming to be Islamic, will play an important role. In addition, the Muslims' acceptance and understanding must find an appropriate response in the Jewish and Christian communities, because God also commands them to love all other people and to be the leaders in all matters of good and peace.
Radical tendencies, irrespective of their origin, are one of the most dangerous threats to world peace and security. Radicalism means to advocate fundamental and sudden changes by means of uncompromising and hard-line policies. Radicals seek such changes by employing cunning and often aggressive policies. One of radicalism's characteristic traits is the angry attitude visible in its adherents' speeches, books, and demonstrations.
Radical movements are dominated by blindly advocated taboos, instead of conscious behavior, and reflect amass psychology. This psychology, in turn, can get so out of control that people, who no longer know what they are doing or why, turn their aggression on others. In an environment where mutual acceptance and understanding have ceased to exist, people begin to feel animosity toward different ideologies or races without knowing what the other party really represents or believes.
Ignorance enables radicalism to find new recruits, even though it is a harmful and destructive movement. Misinformed or one-sidedly informed people are vulnerable to extremist movements, whose philosophical programs they adopt without careful reflection. This is why education is an essential aspect of the ideological fight against radicalism.
In our own time, radicalism has emerged among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. This situation is abused and taken advantage of by proponents of Samuel Huntington's proposed clash of civilizations theory. The scale of radicalism's threat to world peace has become apparent in the 9/11 attacks on the United States and its consequences. The fact that these attacks are widely believed to have been carried out in the name of Islam resulted in a great deal of prejudice against Muslims and misunderstanding of Islam.
Given the fact that Islam prohibits all acts of violence and aggression, most of the Islamic world condemned these terrorist attacks. Muslims prayed alongside Christians for the innocent lives lost, and American Muslims rushed to the aid of the victims. Despite this, prejudice against Muslims in the United States and some European countries has vastly increased, and incidences of violence have been reported. The arguments of those radicals who seek to divide the world into two warring factions have created an atmosphere of anxiety.
In order to eradicate radicalism and its damaging consequences, cultural and educational campaigns designed to reach all sections of society must be organized. We can list the topics and the responsibilities of various sections of society to be covered by this program, as follows:
An awareness that radicalism, an extremist tendency that is incompatible with true religious morality, must be defeated ideologically so that its claim to be acting in the name of religion can be exposed as false. People of all three divinely revealed religions must be told that they have a responsibility to be compassionate, patient, gentle, friendly, polite, and respectful. They have to be made aware that God forbids violence, aggression, and anything that harms innocent people. They must understand that it is wrong to go down that path. These efforts will ensure that all radicals will be recognized as misguided liars and thereby prevented from finding new recruits.
A program must be designed to give full and accurate information about all parties involved in the conflict, so that international dialogue becomes possible. An important step toward mutually friendly relations is the creation of an environment in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims can begin to know each other's beliefs, traditions, and rituals better. This can be done through cultural and educational programs. As people come to know each other better, they will realize that they have many things in common. This, in turn, will make reconciliation possible. Muslims, Christians, and Jews should tell one another about their respective worldviews in line with God's divine books of revelation, thereby preventing the mutual misunderstanding and radicalism caused by a lack of accurate knowledge.
The media must support the cultural activities necessary to create an environment conducive to international dialogue. They should refrain from sensationalism, which incites violence and segregation, and focus on broadcasts that encourage moderation and acceptance. Carefully prepared broadcasts by the western media will play an important role in eradicating the currently widespread anti-Muslim prejudice. Muslim media organizations, for their part, must refrain from broadcasts and opinions that incite hatred toward non-Muslims and concentrate instead on cultural and spiritual education in the Islamic world.
Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders and opinion makers must identify people who are bent on portraying myths and false beliefs as part of the religious code. They must teach people that God commands believers to be balanced and gentle, and that all extremism is contrary to religious morality. Political leaders must support this awareness campaign in order to prevent extremism in society and to prepare the ground for moderation. These and similar joint efforts will eradicate the conditions conducive to radicalism. In addition, believers must begin to show sincere respect for others' beliefs and values. In Qur'an 2:113, God reveals that the Jews claimed that the Christians "have nothing to stand on" and vice versa. In reality, God knows best who is right, which is why genuine believers must seek to draw closer to God instead of accusing one another.
They should concentrate on enhancing their sincerity and work to earn God's good pleasure and mercy. The following verse reveals that people who act otherwise are wrong:
The Jews say: "The Christians have nothing to stand on," and the Christians say: "The Jews have nothing to stand on," yet they both recite the Book. Those who do not know say the same as they say. God will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding the things about which they differ. (Qur'an, 2:113)
Eradicating the harm caused by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim radicals is possible only if all moderate, peace-loving, civilized, and genuinely religious people cooperate and form an alliance. Such an alliance will defeat those who present war and conflict as the only option, and disprove the assertions of those who advocate a show of force as the only way to achieve security and prevent further bloodshed, tears, and material damage. Another important way to curb radicalism is to expose the movements and ideologies that promote extremism as false. In the coming pages, we will scrutinize the errors of radical Jewish and Christian movements. But first, we need to remind people in the Islamic world to be alert against radicalism.
Qur'anic Morality Forbids Extremism
As mentioned earlier, Islamic societies have been centers of mutual acceptance and goodwill toward non-Muslims throughout history, particularly in our Prophet's (may God bless him and grant him peace) time. Islamic history is full of examples of Christians and Jews seeking and finding refuge with Muslims. Bearing this reality in mind at a time when the world so desperately needs peace, Muslims must develop a model based on the Qur'an's morality and our Prophet's (may God bless him and grant him peace) life that will set the standards for the rest of the world.
Radicalism is wholly incompatible with God's prescribed way of life. God describes Muslims as those who speak nicely, refrain from conflict and fighting, are friendly and moderate toward even the fiercest opponents, and modest, patient, compassionate, and loving. The Qur'an reveals that all of the Prophets were moderate, gentle, and accepting of others. For example, God describes Abraham (pbuh) as: "tender-hearted and forbearing" (Qur'an, 9:114) and Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) as:
It is a mercy from God that you were gentle with them. If you had been rough or hard of heart, they would have scattered from around you. (Qur'an, 3:159)
Since Muslims are only responsible for announcing the Qur'an's morality, and since they are prohibited from being bullies or enforcers and are required to be softly spoken to even the cruelest tyrant, they cannot be extremists or radicals, for such groups advocate that which violates the Qur'an's morality.
Radicalism is an ideological movement and political approach that is foreign to Islam. When radical groups are examined, it gradually becomes clear that they are, in reality, using a compilation of communist slogans and methods or that they have adopted the "fanatical rage of the Time of Ignorance" (Qur'an, 48:26). One of the common characteristics of such ideologies is their emotional force, an underlying cause of radicalism that is totally incompatible with God's commands. The Qur'an describes Muslims as people who control their anger and who are reasonable, moderate, and tolerant. They always prefer reconciliation in order to reach solutions within the framework of mutual acceptance and optimism. They show their calming and peaceful sides in all situations. One verse reveals these attributes:
Those who give in times of both ease and hardship, those who control their rage and pardon other people - God loves the good-doers. (Qur'an, 3:134) Muslims must be polite and respectful when interacting with people of different beliefs and ideologies. They never resort to force or threats, for their responsibility is limited to teaching others about the Qur'an's morality. The rest is up to the conscience of those people. The following verse describes this approach:
Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the kindest way. Your Lord knows best who is misguided from His way. And He knows best who are guided. (Qur'an, 16:125)
God commanded Prophets Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them) to speak with Pharaoh, and to do so softly:
"Go to Pharaoh; he has overstepped the bounds. But speak to him with gentle words so that, hopefully, he will pay heed or show some fear." (Qur'an, 20:43-44) Pharaoh was the worst denier and tyrant of his time. He rejected God, claimed divinity, and was a despot who killed and oppressed the believers (Israelites). Yet, God commanded His Prophets to speak with gentle words when they visited him. Notice that God's ordained method is to establish a friendly dialogue. Agitating words, expressions of anger, and heated protest are incompatible with His code of preaching and morality.
Therefore, all Muslims must refrain from a harsh, angry, and challenging approach, for these are contrary to the Qur'an's method and essence. Instead, Muslims must adopt the accepting, moderate, calm, and rational approach described in the Qur'an. In other words, they must be role models for humanity and earn people's admiration for the morality of Islam and themselves. Muslims should also make great progress and produce superb works of science, culture, art, and aesthetics, as well as live Islam in the best way, and thus represent it to the world.
The Errors of Radical Christians
The vast majority of Christians approach members of other religions with the acceptance, love, and respect required by the Bible. This is a very important - and very recent - development. During the second half of the twentieth century, the Christian world's conviction that all other religions are completely wrong was largely abandoned, and the view that non-Christians should not be automatically condemned gained the upper hand. Christian writers, researchers, and officials expressed this view regularly. Organizations representing Christians decided to establish a dialogue and cooperate with other religions to find solutions to the world's problems. Fundamentalism made way for acceptance.
However, it is still possible - although not often - to encounter Christian intolerance and even aggressions toward non-Christians. Some religious figures make unfounded allegations against other religions and claim that their followers are destined for Hell. Such allegations create discomfort in the Islamic world. Some Christian leaders continue to make aggressive comments about Muslims, misinterpret the Old Testament, and claim that in the near future a Muslim-Christian war will occur. Or, even worse, they claim that such a war is both necessary and unavoidable.
The Old Testament relates stories from past nations, their wars, and the consequences thereof. Most of these are specific to those times and events. Therefore, such narratives must be considered in the context of those times, and one should refrain from reinterpreting those narratives to support war and conflict.
One of the most fundamental errors of Christian radicals is their belief in Armageddon, which they think will take place before the Messiah's arrival. This unfounded belief violates the morality that Jesus (pbuh) taught to his followers. Even a cursory reading of the New Testament shows that Jesus recommended love, peace, and friendship.
Christians should know that Muslims are also awaiting Jesus' (pbuh) second coming, for this miracle is foretold in the Qur'an and in Prophet Mohammed's (may God bless him and grant him peace) hadiths. Therefore, Muslims and Christians should make joint preparations for his arrival. The best preparation is to adopt the morality that pleases God.
After Jesus (pbuh) returns, he will defeat all atheist ideologies and idolatrous philosophies; such ideologies as fascism and racism will be eradicated; the world will be freed from ethnic violence, tyranny, and injustice; and humanity will experience peace, happiness, and tranquility. Therefore, genuinely religious people who are preparing for this great event should make the necessary preparations, try to prevent all kinds of conflict, and leave all disputes, divisions, and animosities behind.
No doubt, the Christians are the best placed to render invalid all of those opinions and attitudes that seek to prevent a dialogue based on mutual understanding and respect between the two communities. True Christians must reveal such people's errors to them, as well as to society, by reminding them that Jesus (pbuh) commanded his followers to treat all people well, love their enemies, and do good to those who hate them.
In other words, he does not call for intolerance toward non-Christians and does not support those self-proclaimed Christians who seek to turn the world into a great arena of warfare. Such a biased and hateful attitude toward non-Christians, especially Muslims, is the result of misinterpreted Christian teachings and certain irreligious ideologies. Moderate Christians must expose the radicals' views as contrary to Christian teachings so that the Christian community will not be led astray. As we stated earlier, radicalism feeds on ignorance, and Christians are morally obliged to prevent this danger. As the Bible says:
For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men... Show the proper respect to everyone. Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God... (1 Peter, 2:15-17)
All conscientious Christians must shoulder this responsibility, for the war and conflict demanded by radicals will bring great losses, tears, and suffering to both sides. It would be a grave mistake to refrain from taking the necessary steps, when an alliance of all believers could remove this probability. The tensions desired by radicals can be prevented by Muslims and Christians of common sense. Removing the prejudices and creating an alliance of believers will enable them to play a leading role in delivering world peace. In this way, Christians and Muslims will bring peace and happiness to the world, just as the morality ordained by God demands.
The Errors of Radical Jews
On 25 February 1994, Baruch Goldstein unleashed a vicious attack on the Abraham Mosque in al-Khalil (Hebron) in the West Bank. This settler, a member of a radical Jewish organization claiming to be following in the footsteps of Meir Kahane, entered the mosque and, under the protection of Israeli soldiers, walked to its center and opened fire with his M-16 assault rifle on the 500 Muslims performing their morning prayers, repeatedly changing magazines.
Sixty-seven Muslims died on the spot; a further 300 were wounded. The Israeli administration announced that this was a frenzied attack by an individual. However, the facts that he entered the mosque with his rifle, passed Israeli soldiers protecting the mosque, and fired on the worshippers for a long enough time to empty many clips prove that this statement was questionable. If nothing else, the Israeli soldiers had given him passive support.
In reality, this was only one of the many attacks carried out by radical Jewish groups. In 1980, the same groups tried to blow up Muslim places of worship in Jerusalem (e.g., al-Aqsa Mosque and the Qubbat as-Sakhrah) in order to rebuild the temple of Solomon. The radical Jewish settlers who walk around with their weapons and launch bloody attacks on Palestinians are members of these groups.
The most radical of them is the Kahane faction, to which Goldstein belonged. Founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, this organization is well-organized in both Israel and America. It is totally committed to Rabbi Kahane's fanatical doctrines and operates in Israel under the name of Kach and in America under the name of the Jewish Defense League. Kahane believed that Jews are superior to all other races, which he considered to be some sort of animals (goyim), and that all Arabs in the occupied territories should be subjected to ethnic cleansing. This organization expressed its rationale as the only good Arab is a dead Arab. His organization survived his assassination in 1990 in New York, and reorganized, particularly in Israel, under such names as Kahane Chai (Kahane lives). Followers of Kahane are responsible for many more massacres besides the one mentioned above.
Another strange aspect of the al-Khalil massacre was the widespread support it received from certain sections of Israeli society. Israel Shahak, one of Israel's critical voices, wrote that Goldstein's attack received the support of "a disturbing level of approval" of Israelis. 17 A poll conducted after the massacre revealed that 40 percent of Israelis supported the massacre or at least understood his motives. Among young peo
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