Yishmael’s Resentment: The Al-Aqsa Flood

BY RABBI ELIE MISCHEL

When Hamas launched its war against Israel on October 7, it gave the attack a fascinating name: “The Al-Aqsa Flood.” The primary reason for the attack, in Hamas’ own words, is “the Israeli Judaization plans to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, its temporal and spatial division attempts, as well as the intensification of the Israeli settlers’ incursions into the holy mosque.” On its face, this is a complete fabrication. The Jordanian Waqf controls the Temple Mount, and neither the Israeli government nor “Israeli settlers” interfere with Al-Aqsa Mosque in any way. If Muslims already control Al-Aqsa, why is Hamas obsessed with “protecting” Al-Aqsa from non-existent Israeli aggression? 

The question is only strengthened by the relatively low status of Jerusalem in Islamic thought and practice. Muslims do not pray to Jerusalem, nor is Jerusalem ever explicitly named in their prayers. Throughout history, the city has never been the capital of a sovereign Muslim state nor has it evolved into a hub of cultural or scholarly activities. Historians agree the Prophet Muhammad never stepped foot in Jerusalem. As Daniel Pipes writes, “Jerusalem appears in the Jewish Bible 669 times and Zion (which usually means Jerusalem) 154 times, or 823 times in all… In contrast… Jerusalem and Zion appear as frequently in the Koran as they do in the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, the Taoist Tao-Te Ching, the Buddhist Dhamapada and the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta – which is to say, not once.” (Daniel Pipes, The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem).

Why has Jerusalem become a focal point of fundamentalist Islam and the rallying cry for Hamas? Why do passionate imams regularly whip their followers into an angry frenzy over the supposed evils Israel is committing against Al-Aqsa, after 1,300 years of Muslim indifference?

The unique holiness of the Temple Mount far predates the Temple itself. After the awesome drama of Akeidat Yitzchak, Avraham named the mountain where he and Yitzchak stood. “And Avraham named that place, ‘The L-rd will see,’ as it is said to this day: ‘On the mountain, the L-rd will be seen’” (Bereishit 22:14). What, exactly, will the L-rd see in this place? “The L-rd will choose and see for Himself this place, to cause His Divine Presence to rest therein and for offering sacrifices here. Future generations will say about it, ‘On this mountain, G-d appears to His people’” (Rashi, Bereishit 22:14). The mountain where Avraham was prepared to sacrifice Yitzchak for G-d was none other than the Temple Mount itself.

The story of Akeidat Yitzchak is uniquely important for Muslims, even though Islam does not accept the Torah. The Koran contains its own version of the binding story, but unlike the Torah, it does not mention the name of the sacrificial son. Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, an 18th century Sunni Muslim scholar, concluded that the sacrificial son must have been Yishmael, for the Koran describes the sacrificial son as Avraham’s “unique son” – which could only have been Yishmael, the forefather of Muhammad.  

Who wAs the beloved and chosen son of Avraham who was bound up as an offering to G-d? Was it Yitzchak, the forefather of Israel, or Yishmael, the forefather of Islam? G-d said to Avraham, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love, Yitzchak, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you” (Bereishit 22:2). The contrast between Yitzchak, the chosen son, and Yishmael, banished from Avraham’s home, could not be clearer. It was inevitable that Islamic tradition, while keeping the basic framework of the story, would replace Yitzchak with Yishmael. 

Against the background of this ancient rivalry, Hamas’ Al-Aqsa Flood becomes clearer. The Temple Mount is not simply a contested holy site; it is the root of Yishmael’s age-old resentment of Israel and the passionate hatred that fuels Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. If the Torah is true, if the Temple Mount is the place where Yitzchak willingly allowed his father to bind him and offer him as a sacrifice, it is a constant reminder of Yishmael’s humiliation and secondary status. And so Muslim leaders constantly deny the Jewish people’s historical ties to the city and Temple Mount, assuming that if they repeat the lie for long enough, the international community will believe it.

“Behold! I am making Jerusalem a cup of weakness for all the peoples around… And it shall come to pass on that day that I will make Jerusalem a stone of burden for all peoples; all who bear it shall be gashed, and all the nations of the earth shall gather about it” (Zechariah 12:2–3). Our enemies are obsessed with Jerusalem, but it will be “a cup of weakness” and “a stone of burden” for them that will lead to their destruction. With the Al-Aqsa Flood, Hamas and other jihadists have made Jerusalem the center of their longing, even more than Mecca and Medina – but the “stone of burden” will come crashing down upon their heads.

 

Rabbi Elie Mischel is the Editor of HaMizrachi magazine.

© 2024 World Mizrachi

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