7. The Return of the Jews and the Prophetic Gap
The reader of the Bible, especially the books of the prophets of the Babylonian captivity and the period thereafter, clearly discovers that they contain prophecies concerning the Jews of the latter days, that a remnant of them will gather in Palestine and revive their ancient kingdom, and that Allah will strike them with His wrath through a powerful nation who will gather together from the ends of the earth to attack them.
But the reader will be confused and perplexed by the great number of disputes and contradictions between the various commentaries and interpretations of these prophecies and their application to current events, and the multiplication of new sects and interpretations which increase with the passing of time.
However, we can assist the reader by pointing out that the majority of these opinions belong to one of two categories:
- That these prophecies have already been fulfilled. This is an old opinion. The Jews in every age apply these prophecies to their circumstances in expectation of their salvation. This is similar to those Islamic states of history which were established in the name of the expected Mahdi, such as the Fatimids and the Mohades. People believed in them –and they still have followers- or as in the gospel of Matthew whose author had all the previous prophecies fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, which had a great effect on the Catholic Church, the majority of whose followers lean toward this opinion.
This opinion is the foundation on which the founders of the historical-critical school of Biblical interpretation during the period of the enlightenment. Some of them go so far as say that the statements of the prophets were dealing with events of the past, not predictions of the future. In this case they are not prophets, but merely storytellers. This view contradicts these prophecies in letter and in spirit, since how could Allah say to a prophet, “Arise and prophesy against Israel,” or “against Egypt,” or “against Edom,” when those events had already occurred?
There is no evidence that the events described preceded the era of the prophets other than conjecture, or rather, recklessness.
For this reason we have no difficulty refuting this opinion from its foundation, especially when history has become clearly exposed to us than it was to those of the past, so that there is no excuse for rejecting the prophecies altogether.
- That these prophecies are literally, statements concerning the future, which is the logical option. Especially, since interpreting all of them to concern Christ's first advent contradicts reason as well as the facts, since they describe states, kingdoms and wars, which cannot possibly apply to the time of Christ. Despite this, the majority of the Jewish and Christian commentators and interpreters, especially in recent times, interpret these prophecies as concerning the age of salvation, or the messianic era. That is, the events of the latter days before or during the great judgment. The age of salvation according to the Christians, is connected to the second-coming of Christ, while the Jews hold that it is connected to the king from the descendants of David, whom they call, 'the Prince of Peace.'
This means that both sides, and both methods of study of the prophecies, agree that since the time of Jesus, or a short time thereafter, there have been no historical events that correspond to the prophecies, and it shall remain so until the events of the final hour. Without doubt this is an unfair allegation, which would not be put forth without an important cause.
Therefore, there must be some matter which they purposely seek to avoid, for them to flee from relating these prophecies to the historical period between their time and that of Christ. What is this matter? And why this insistence on leaving this gap to widen ever more which the passing of time, until it reaches perhaps thousands of years? (And Allah knows best).
Doubtlessly, this did not happen suddenly. Rather, they found that the greatest event in history during this period was the coming of Muhammad –Allah's blessings and peace be upon him- and the domination of his religion over all others, so they had but two choices:
- To believe in what the prophecies reveal, or at least those which relate to Muhammad and his followers. This means believing in him or accepting that some of the prophecies concern him. This leads logically to the step beyond that, so that in the end one can easily and clearly replace the missing bricks in the structure of prophecy, and suddenly, the entire structure is a visible witness to the truth of Islam, its state, and its culture.
This has rarely been the path chosen by Christian or Jewish commentators, since in reality this means joining that chosen community, and being driven out by his own people.
- Or else, to totally ignore everything related to this religion, and to conceal it in such way as to perplex everyone who examines it, which is by far the more popular choice among them.
It is necessary at this time to point out that the unbelievers of previous times (that is, the scholars of the middle-ages) were better than those of today, since they were unable to go beyond that stage, but they divided into several groups:
- Some of them found no way out of acknowledging the prophethood of Muhammad –Allah's blessing and peace be upon him- and that his coming, and the rule of his community was the greatest event in the entire history of the world. It is unreasonable that prophecies would come concerning local events of a small tribe –that is, Israel- and ignore the great event embodied in the destruction of the pagan world empires, and the establishment on their ruins, of a unified kingdom serving Allah, and venerating all His messengers, which is the kingdom that spread its authority and implemented justice and security of religion, person and property throughout most of the known world. But this glaring reality is in opposition to their blind religious zeal, so they decided that the way out of it was to claim that they are not required to follow the law of Islam, and that Islam is the religion of the Arabs alone. One of the best known of those holding this view was Paul of Antioch, whose book was refuted by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya in his book, “Al-Jawab al-Sahih liman Badala Din il-Masih.”
- Others of them were unable to affirm his prophethood, and claimed that he was merely a ruler like Nebuchadnezzar or Sencharib, and that the rule of his community was simply an extension of those pagan empires. In reality, they neither followed the prophecies, nor did they accept Islam, nor did they any service to their own prophet. Thus, they were fewer in number and less influential than the previous group.
- Others among them went beyond all bounds in their extremism, turning the truth around, making the night day, and the day night. They claimed that Allah's Messenger –Allah's blessing and peace be upon him- was the Anti-Christ, or the False Prophet, or the Beast mentioned in the prophecies, and that those who fight him and his community are holy saints and sinless angels. This is the absurd interpretation which the Popes and monks who called to the crusader campaigns used to stir up the zeal of the ignorant masses and drive them to Muslim lands. 15
The clearly negative results of these three opinions made the choice of silence and ignorance to be the preferred option among most researchers, especially those who hide behind scholarly objectivism.
These old opinions were nearly lost in the violent struggle in modern times between the Church and science on one hand, and between the various Christian sects on the other. This was accompanied by the nearly total subjugation of the Muslims to the Western powers, and the Jewish exodus from the ghetto and their pursuit of gold and usury, and the exclusive control of the Promised Land and the age of salvation. But the birth of the Zionist movement brought these matters back to the arena of religious faith and ideological debate.
The amazing thing is that the Zionist movement was not born Jewish, but is actually Christian in its origin and development. Its Jewish proponents came later and were secularists. One need only look at the Zionist communal farm, the 'kibbutz,' for an example of their application of the principals of socialism, and many Jews see the establishment of this state a violation of the divine law, and a forewarning of the destruction of the Jewish people. Because it was the Christian Zionist movement as represented in the aforementioned fundamentalism that started the battle all over again, which began and continues to circulate false interpretations of the prophecies, which considered the establishment of the Jewish state as the prelude to the coming of Christ, and which was thrilled by the failure of the peace process and the beginning of the latest intifadha.
It was they who exposed in practical form, the depths of that historical gap, and the doubt contained in their silence or ignoring. For that reason, the other Christian sects hastened to join the fracas after previously considering it a danger that should not be approached.
Thus, did world thought in general and future studies in particular fall into a raging chaos and violent crisis caused by the separation of and collision between acceptance that all of the prophecies concerning salvation, justice, peace, and the nation which Allah has chosen as a vehicle for His vengeance, which He will inflict upon the forces of unbelief, darkness and corruption, will not be realized except at the end of time at the hand of Christ, and the totally rational rejection of the claim that the establishment of the State of Israel and the dawn of the new millennium are the beginning of the end of time, and that that distant future is this present epoch. The cause of this is the contradictory nature of Biblical thought which sees one sect among them open the prophetic gap in history, while another comes to close the gap using that which is irrational and illogical.
In this way the truth which the followers of the Bible possess is dispersed either through intentional ignorance or purposeful distortion. As Allah says:
“Followers of the Bible, why do you mix truth with falsehood, and knowingly conceal the truth?”
Inverting of the facts is not the only crime of these Jews and Christians, but the severing of human hope for deliverance, and their loss of the expectation of the triumph of truth, good and peace is their other crime which should be acknowledged by reasonable people of every faith.
Since it is obvious that the intellectuals of the world, including those of America, will never believe in the future as depicted by these people, then where is deliverance and hope? Where are the divine wisdom, mercy and justice of which the scriptures speak, towards which humanity's inner nature points, and which has been confirmed by reason and witnessed by facts of history? Is this to be the grievous end of the human race that Allah has favored above all creation?
Since this cannot possibly be the case, and since the Muslim scholar alone is able to ascertain reality and enlighten humanity, because it is he who possesses both authentic revelation and sound reason, and because he adheres to fairness and academic neutrality, not out of fear of critics but due to his fear of Allah and in obedience to His commandments. For all of that we summon the Muslims to assume their duty in this regard, and hope that what we write here contains some reminder to them, and a notice of the coming of good and justice from every religion and nation. Especially, the Jews and Christians, a group of whom we hope will reexamine the prophecies in the light of the recension which we are now presenting to them.
15 See "In Pursuit of the Millennium"? by Norman Cohen.