Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, the secretary general of the Italian Muslim Assembly and the Khalifa for Europe’s Qadiri Sufi Order, is a strong supporter of Israel’s right to exist, as well as Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, based on his interpretation of Islam. He frequently speaks out for Israel despite the fact that it is highly unpopular within the Muslim world to do so. Sheikh Palazzi does so based on his religious convictions. He asserted, “Viewing the Jewish return to Israel as a Western invasion and Zionists as recent colonizers is new. It has no basis in the authentic Islamic faith.” As co-founder and co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship, Sheikh Palazzi argues that Muslim religious opposition to the existence of Israel was created by the Grand Mufti Haj Amin Al Husseini and is not grounded within classical Muslim religious texts, which surprisingly actually do support Israel’s right to exist.

According to Sheikh Palazzi, “Both the Qur’an and the Torah indicate quite clearly that the link between the Children of Israel and the Land of Canaan does not depend on any kind of colonization project but directly on the will of G-d Almighty. We learn from Jewish and Islamic Scriptures that G-d, through His chosen servant Moses, decided to free the offspring of Israel from slavery in Egypt and to make them inheritors of the Promised Land. Whoever claims that Jewish sovereignty over Palestine is something recent and dependent on political machinations is in fact denying the history of revelation and prophecy, as well as the clear teachings of the holy books.”

Evidently, Jewish religious texts are not the only ones that speak about the Jewish people returning to their ancestral homeland, for such sentiments are also expressed in Islam. As Sheikh Palazzi argued, “The Qur’an foretells that before the Day of resurrection the Children of Israel will come back to the Land of Israel from which they were exiled twice.” While he claims that the Muslim religious sources do not mention Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people, they do nevertheless mention that “Jerusalem was the center of the kingdom of David and Solomon, and the seat of the Temple which Solomon built with the help of human beings and invisible beings.” Sheikh Palazzi views this to be very close to the idea of accepting Jerusalem as a capital city for the Jewish people.

For example, Quranic Commentator Imam Abu Abdullah al-Qurtubi, who lived from 1214 to 1273, cited the following Hadith in his Encyclopedia of Quranic Rules, “Verily Solomon son of David raised Bayt al-Maqdis [i.e., Beth ha-Mikdash, the First Temple] with gold and silver, with rubies and emeralds, and Allah caused human beings and spirits to work under his command, until the raising of the House was completed. Afterwards a Babylonian King destroyed Bayt al-Maqdis and brought its treasures to the land of Babylonia, until a King of Persia defeated him and ransomed the Children of Israel. They rebuilt Bayt al-Maqdis for the second time [the Second Temple], until it was destroyed for the second time by an army led by a Roman Emperor.”

Another Quranic Exegete and Jurist, Imam Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari, who lived from 838 to 923, wrote in his History of Prophets and Kings, “When Jacob awoke he felt blissful from what he had seen in his trustful dream and vowed, for G-d’s sake that, if he returned to his family safely, he would build there a Temple for the Almighty. He also vowed to perpetual charity one tenth of his property for the sake of G-d. He poured oil on the Stone so as to recognize it and called the place Bayt El, which means ‘the House of God.’ It became the location of Jerusalem later. In Jerusalem on a huge Rock, Solomon son of David built a beautiful Temple to expand the worship of G-d. Today on the base of that Temple stands the Dome of the Rock.”

Sheikh Palazzi has asserted that contrary to what Wahhabi Muslims and Islamic extremist groups like Hamas claim, Muslim religious sources recognize Jerusalem as the direction of prayer for the Jewish people and some Muslim exegetes even go as far as quoting from the Book of Daniel to prove this. Thus, Sheikh Palazzi concluded that “from an Islamic point of view there is no sound theological reason to deny Jews […] rights over Jerusalem. […] We necessarily conclude that Israelis as a nation and Jews as a religion must have their own political and religious capital, under their sole administration.”

By Rachel Avraham