Introduction:

As Muslims we are to abide by Allah (SWT)’s rules and commands. Whatever Allah (SWT) states in Qur'an, and whatever the Prophet (SAW) commends us to follow we are required to honor, respect, and fulfill without any questioning or doubt. Based on these basic rules, I encourage every Muslim, Islamic institution, and Islamic organization in the western world to refrain, and better still, to completely stop using terms that are clearly absent from Qur'an and Sunna such as Jerusalem (or its derivatives such as east or west Jerusalem).

It is perfectly understandable for Jews or Christians to use the name Jerusalem for Bayt Al-Maqdis because their respective scriptures do refer to it as such. But for us, Muslims, to adopt the nomenclature of "Ahl Al-Kitab" is yet another sign that we are becoming once more "Qawm Tubba' = blind followers" as the Prophet (SAW) mentioned in a well known hadith of his. The following hadith explains my fear in following the ways of Ahl Al-Kitab: "Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported Allah's Messenger (SAW) said:

You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Allah's Messenger, do you mean the Jews and the Christians (by your words)? He said: Who else (than those two religious groups).

Sahih Muslim [Arabic only]: 4822 ".

Using these nomenclatures is also a sign of inferiority complex and giving in to questionable claims of "Ahl Al-Kitab" to this most special place.

Islamic Nomenclatures:

The Islamic nomenclatures are explained in the paragraphs below:

  1. Allah (SWT) said in the Qur’an Al-Karim Surat Al-Maida (Surat 5):


    "Al-Arth Al-Muqaddasa" has been interpreted by most great scholars of tafseer such as Ibn Kathir (RahA) and Al-Jalaleyn (RahA) as "Arth Bayt Al-Maqdis", where Al-Maqdis was explained by all of them as the Arabic word for Tahara or Tohr (purity or purified). For us, it is the Place of Tohr because of all the noble Prophets who lived, preached, and died within its vast blessed land. This is also the name that appeared in various hadiths of the Prophet (SAW) such as the following two famous ones:
  2. "Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated:

    Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: I was brought Al-Buraq which is an animal white and long, bigger than a donkey but smaller than a mule who would place his hoof at a distance equal to the range of vision. I mounted it and came to Bait Al-Maqdis, then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I entered the mosque and prayed two rak'ahs in it, and then came out and Gabriel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Gabriel said: You have chosen the thing of natural disposition. Then he took me to heaven.

    Sahih Muslim [Arabic only]: 234"

    "Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:

    Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: I found myself in Hijr and the Quraish were asking me about my Night Journey. I was asked about things pertaining to Bait Al-Maqdis which I could not preserve (in my mind). I was very much vexed, so vexed as I had never been before. Then Allah raised it (Bait Al-Maqdis) before my eyes. I looked towards it, and I gave them the information about whatever they questioned me…

    Hadith numeration in Sahih Muslim [Arabic only]: 251"

    The name Bayt Al-Maqdis has been also the name used by various sahaba (RA) such as Omar Ibn-Al-Khattab (RA) when he entered this Purest of Cities and Salah Ed-Din Al-Ayyoubi (RahA) the last Muslim ruler and leader to liberate it from the crusaders.

    Note: "Bayt" is more preferable than "Bait" for the latter suggests the meaning of "a lure" in the English mind.

  3. A name that has been adopted in the modern era by most Arabs is also an excellent Arabic alternative name, Al-Quds. This is a shorter form of the previously mentioned name and has been used by Arabs as well as non-Arabs for a few centuries. The only reservations regarding the use of this name are two major ones: (I) Western literature has been very reluctant to adopt it; for example it is not mentioned in the major dictionaries of the English language and western scholars have avoided using it for various reasons that go beyond the scope of this document. (II) The name "Al-Quds" also has become a symbol of a regional local conflict between Arab states and the state of Israel. Bayt Al-Maqdis, on the other hand will invoke in the minds of all Muslims in the world that the sanctity of this place is as much Islamic in nature as it is Christian or Jewish. In addition, the name, Bayt Al-Maqdis, is more preferable because it is the only name that has been in common use by the Prophet (SAW), Sahaba (RA), and most if not all great Muslim scholars (RahA). Finally, the word "Bayt" emphasizes in the Muslim minds the notion of a Masjid (the place of worship) that is also used with another extremely important Masjid to all Muslims, that is Al-Bayt Al-Haram.

Last Statement:

As Muslims, we should strive to preserve our identity and be proud of what Allah (SWT) bestowed upon us because of this great deen, deen Al-Islam. Bayt Al-Maqdis, dear Brothers and Sisters, is our Amana and Allah (SWT) is going to hold each one of us, Muslims, responsible for not taking special care of it. May Allah (SWT) guide us and help us maintain his words "La Ilaha Illa Allah" most high and most sublime.

Thanks:

A) Special thanks to the maintainers of The Noble Quran web site whose Qur’an sources are superb and were used in the aya selections quoted above. Jazahoom Allah Khayran! Please, support their wonderful efforts and visit them at http://www.unn.ac.uk/societies/islamic/quran/naeindex.htm.

B) Special thanks to the maintainers of Al-Islam web site whose Hadith sources were used in the ahaadeeth search and selections used in this article. Jazahoom Allah Khayran! Please, support their wonderful efforts and visit them at http://hadith.al-islam.com/Bayan/default.asp?lang=Eng.


Author: Taoufik Nadji

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