When Muslims deserved custodianship of Palestine

When Muslims deserved custodianship of Palestine

By Talha Haroun

When we see the injustices in Palestine and all around the world, this should be a reminder for us that this world will never be a world of total justice –

The full text of this khutbah is available here:

Talha’s Khutbah – Palestine

When Muslims deserved custodianship of Palestine

Dear brothers and sisters, Salaam Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,

سُبۡحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسۡرَىٰ بِعَبۡدِهِۦ لَيۡلاً۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡأَقۡصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكۡنَا حَوۡلَهُ ۥ لِنُرِيَهُ ۥ مِنۡ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡبَصِيرُ

“Glorified (and Exalted) is He (Allâh) [above all that they associate with Him]. Who took His slave (Muhammad SAW) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid-al-Harâm (at Makkah) to Al-Masjid-al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad SAW) of Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.). Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer” –  Surah al-Israa: Ayah 1

يَـٰقَوۡمِ ٱدۡخُلُواْ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ ٱلۡمُقَدَّسَةَ ٱلَّتِى كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ وَلَا تَرۡتَدُّواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَدۡبَارِكُمۡ فَتَنقَلِبُواْ خَـٰسِرِينَ

O my people! Enter the holy land (Palestine) which Allâh has assigned to you, and turn not back (in flight) for then you will be returned as losers. – Surah al-Ma’eda : Ayah 21

I’m sure we all have heard of the suffering that our brothers and sisters in Palestine and going through right now. I personally find reading the news and watching the news so disheartening – but imagine the difference between the pain watching the news versus the pain of being the ones in the news, in their situation.

And so I want to speak about today a message that helps us perhaps to contexualise the suffering that the Palentinian people are going through right now. And perhaps share a message of hope although right now all we see is despair.

15 years after the Hijrah, Islam was spreading at pace under the leadership of Umar ibn ul Khattab (RA) and the Muslim army had reached the blessed land of al Quds.

The city was under the rule of the Byzantine empire, who had oppressively held the city for around 500 years. The Muslims, led by leading companions Abū ‘Ubaydah, Amr ibn Al-As and including Khālid ibn Walīd amongst others (radiy Allāhu ‘anhum), patiently besieged the city and offered the Byzantines the options of becoming muslim, surrendering to the Muslims or facing them in battle.

At the time, Jerusalem was inhabited by the Greek Orthodox Christians and their grand Bishop was a man called Sophronius. He had some knowledge of the oncoming Muslims and asked their delegation if they had someone called Farooq amongst them, for this person was mentioned and described in their community as a righteous ruler. He stated that if this man was as described in their scripture, he would hand over the key to the city to him willingly.

Abu Ubaydah (RA) relayed the message to Amīr al-Mu’minīn (the Leader of the Faithful), ʿUmar ibn al-Khattāb (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu), who was in Madinah at the time. A messenger raced from city to city to convey this message to avert any bloodshed while the Muslims patiently waited.

On hearing of this request, ʿUmar (RA) consulted his two advisors, Uthman al-Ghaniy and Ali ibn Abi Talib (RAA). Uthman (RA) didn’t favor entertaining the patriarch’s demands saying that as the Christian forces had been vanquished, they were in no position to dictate terms and there was a risk for the leader of the Muslims going to Jerusalem.

Ali (RA) had a different view and advised Umar (RA) to go to Jerusalem on the grounds that he was the victor and that it was from Jerusalem that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) ascended the Heavens.

Umar (RA) preferred this second opinion and set off with his servant to go to Jerusalem to accept the Christian surrender. They were offered a horse and a camel but Umar (RA) refused the horse and insisted they share the camel on the condition that Umar(RA) sat on it for an hour, his servant for an hour and they allowed it rest for an hour.

The journey was long and tough over mountain passes and ditches and eventually they arrived at a mountain at which point Al Quds was visible. Here they recited the takbeer (Allahu akbar) on seeing this blessed land and knowing that it was the wish of Nabi Musa (AS) to enter this blessed land but he died a stones-throw away from it because of his people.

As they descended the mount, Abū ‘Ubaydah (RA) proceeded to meet him and he had a clean and elegant robe with him. After giving salaam and greeting them, he said “O commander of the faithful, you will be meeting noble leaders amongst the Romans and Christians – it is best you dress appropriately – please take this robe otherwise I do not think it will be easy for me to get the people of this country to honour you.” There are two narrations about Umar’s (RA) response. In the first he said:

“If only someone else had said this, O Abu Ubayda! Verily, we were a disgraced people and Allah honoured us with Islam. If we seek honour from anything besides that with which Allah has honoured us, then Allah will disgrace us.”

The other narration states he took the robe and replaced his own travel-weary and patched thawb with this elegant robe. After trying it on, he paused and then asked for his own ripped thawb back and on putting it on he said “O Abu Ubayda, Islam is here.” pointing at his heart.

As he approached the fort of Al-Quds it was the turn of his servant to ride the camel and Umar(RA) insisted he take it despite him offering to Umar (RA) to ride instead. At the Damascus gate, the Muslim army cheered while the watchful eyes of the Byzantine archers remained poised to attack, withholding only in the hope that this was their prophesised Farooq.

Most of the Christians assumed that it was Umar(RA) riding the camel. He was still in the simple clothing which he had travelled in and could hardly be distinguished from his servant, much to the amazement of the Patriarch who was now facing one of the world’s most powerful leaders.

The patriarch Sophronius left the fort and circled Umar(RA) and counted – 1, 2, 3 … up to 17 and then smiled and confirmed that he (RA) matched their description of Farooq – a tall, strong, humble man with 17 patches in his garment. He then led Umar(RA) on a tour through the city towards the Holy Church of the Holy Sepulchre and introduced him to the cities leaders.

At a short distance from the church, Umar (RA) wrote a convenant, to safeguard the Christian community which is still present in churches and sites across Al-Quds, and at this site, Masjid-e-Umar still stands till today. Imam At-Tabari (rh) records Umar’s covenant as follows:

As the time for Asr prayer began, Umar(RA) asked to be directed to the site of the Al-Aqsa masjid. Then Umar(RA) asked Ka’b b. Ahbar, a Rabbi who had reverted to Islam about the location

He was shocked to find it covered with rubbish as the Romans had been using the area as a rubbish tip. The Khalif(RA) knelt down immediately and with his own hands began to clear the area. When the Muslims saw what he was doing, they followed suit and soon the whole area was cleansed.

Umar(RA) requested Bilal (RA) to call the adhan but he declined as he hadn’t undertaken an adhan since the passing of the Prophet(SAW) due to the intense emotions it provoked. Umar (RA) insisted and Bilal (RA) relented to the command of the Leader of the Muslims. As he pronounced the takbeeraat (saying Allahu akbar) of the adhan, all the Muslims started to cry, for it reminded them of the days of the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is said that Umar (RA) cried and wept as he never wept before. The onlookers were surprised to see these hardened soldiers so taken by the beautiful voice of Bilal(RA) and recognised their humility and love for the Prophet (SAW).

This story reminds us of what the Muslim ummah managed to achieve when our hearts and minds were connected to Allah SWT and the Prophetic way. Unfortunately our state as an ummah is like what the Ayah I recited at the beginning describes:

يَـٰقَوۡمِ ٱدۡخُلُواْ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ ٱلۡمُقَدَّسَةَ ٱلَّتِى كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ وَلَا تَرۡتَدُّواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَدۡبَارِكُمۡ فَتَنقَلِبُواْ خَـٰسِرِينَ

O my people! Enter the holy land (Palestine) which Allâh has assigned to you, and turn not back (in flight) for then you will be returned as losers. – Surah al-Ma’eda : Ayah 21

Brothers and sisters when we see the injustices in Palestine and all around the world this should be a reminder for us that this world will never be a world of total justice – it doesn’t matter how hard we try – although try we must!

But we must hold faith and hope that there will come a day when everyone will be held accountable for their decisions and for what they did. The people who have been wronged in this life will be rewarded in the next life and more for all the suffering they went through. The mothers who lost husbands for Al Aqsa, the fathers who have lost sons for Al Aqsa all of their pain and sacrifice will be rewarded.

And those who think they are winning in this world by killing, murdering, occupying and destroying homes – using their political strength and economic might – they will face the consequences in the next world because this is not just any land. There are not just just Palestinians. This is the blessed land of Al Aqsa and these are Muslims who are part of the Ummah of the Greatest man who lived, Prophet Muhammad SAW, who will personally intervene for them and all of us inshaAllah on the day of Judgement.

  1. Dua of Sulaiman (AS)

Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Aas related that the Prophet (SAW) said:

When Sulaiman bin Dawood (AS) completed the building of Bait ul Maqdis, he asked Allah(SWT) for 3 things:

  • Rulership corresponding with wisdom
  • A kingdom unparalleled to any after him
  • That no-one attends this masjid with the desire only to pray here except that he returns sinless like the day he was born


The Prophet(SAW) said the first two were granted to him and I wish that the third is also.

It will always be difficult to go to visit Masjid Al Aqsa, especially now – but we should all make the effort and intention to go and visit this very special place. Travelling there and seeing for yourself everything that is happening on the ground is so important to the Palestinian people.

But what else can we do?

Ali (RA) said– however you will be, that is how your rulers will be. This is why when the people came to complain to Ali(RA) about why they were facing such difficulty in this time, unlike the previous rulership. Ali(RA) said that they ruled over people like us so there was stability (because the people were righteous and God-fearing) but I am ruling over a people like you, which is why there is such corruption in the land. We all want change but how many of us are willing to change? That change starts with us individually and communally.

We need to ask ourselves why we have forgotten this land of the Qur’an, the land of the Prophets and the blessed land of the believers upon which we were gifted with a direct communication to Allah(SWT) – the salaah.

I want to conclude by reciting a dua of the Prophet SAW he made after he was chased out of Taif with rocks – when he was feeling at his lowest: This is dua we should all memorise and embody:

To You, my Lord, I complain of my weakness, lack of support and the humiliation I am made to receive. Most Compassionate and Merciful! You are the Lord of the weak, and you are my Lord.
To whom do You leave me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy You have given power over me? As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face.
I would, however, be much happier with Your mercy. I seek refuge in the light of Your face by which
all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring your wrath or being the subject of your anger. To You I submit, until I earn Your pleasure.
Everything is powerless without your support.

May Allah SWT ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Palestine.

We pray that Allah SWT allows us to return to him so that one day Muslims can return to Al Aqsa and take it back from the enemies of Allah SWT.  Ameen!