Jerusalem…The Arab Right vs. Zionist Allegations*

  • | Sunday, 31 March, 2024
Jerusalem…The Arab Right vs. Zionist Allegations*

By Prof. Al-Husainy Hassan Hammad[1]

Translated by Elsayed Zakaria Abu Amer[2]


Jerusalem, the Holy city of peace, is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is of an Arab origin and Islamic identity whose roots date back to nearly 6000 years. Its Arab origin and identity is undoubtedly well-established. It is the land that has the honor of being dwelled or visited by most of Allah’s Messengers and Prophets, Peace be upon them all, and it was the destination to which Prophet Muhammad went in the Night Journey (al-ᵓIsrāᵓ). It is home to the third holy site in Islam and the first qiblah (place towards which Muslims direct themselves in prayer) –Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is a major city that impacted the course of history. It is capital of the Free Palestine. 

The Arab Origin and Identity of Jerusalem

The history of Jerusalem is inseparable from the history of the land inhabited by the Canaanites who migrated from the Arabian Peninsula and settled in Palestine in 4000 BC. They established a civilization therein and were famous for agriculture, trade and pottery, textile and glass industries. This is evidenced by archaeological record. In the 12th century BC, the southern western coast of Canaan (from Gaza to Yafa) witnessed the migration of one the tribes of the Mediterranean Crete Island; the Philist tribe. They merged into the Canaanite civilization and benefited from its progress. This is documented in archaeological writings from the last centuries BC.  Afterwards, the 4th century-Western historians, such as Herodotus and others, called this region of the Canaanite Coast as “Philistine," a name that was used to refer to the whole land. With the passage of time, and due to a corruption of the word, the land of Canaan came to be known as Filisṭīn (Palestine). In old Arabic, the word Kanᶜān (Canaan) denotes hard terrain and therefore its people came to be known as bold, powerful and mighty people[3].

Jerusalem was established in the 4th century BC at the hands of the Jebusite Arabs, one of the Canaanite Arab tribes. They chose a distinctive location in the center of the land of Canaan (Palestine) to establish the city of Jebus (Jerusalem) on a hill overlooking the village of Silwan. Although this place is naturally fortified from three sides, they built a fortification wall around it. Since ancient times, it has been distinguished by its distinctive geographical, strategic and fortified location, which gave it a natural immunity against invasion[4]. Thus, it is one of the oldest Arab and world cities, which dates back to six thousand years ago.

The city of Jerusalem had many names as many peoples settled in it throughout ages. In the beginning, it was named Jebus after the name of its founders; the Jebusites. It was known as such till the beginning of the eleventh century BC. Thereafter, it was named as Oro Salem -meaning the city of peace- after the name of Salem, the god of peace for the Canaanites. It is also said that it was called so after the name of the Arab Jebusite leader Sālim or Salīm, who supervised its construction. This name was recorded in ancient archaeological texts, such as Hieroglyphs and Assyrian texts. The European name Jerusalem derives from this very word. In the Greek era, the city of Jerusalem was also known as Kadets, which is derived from its Arabic name. It was also known in the Roman era as Aelia Capitolina -which means the great city of Aelius- in reference to the family name of the Roman Emperor Aelius Hadrian. After the Islamic liberation of the city by ‎ᶜ‎Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, may Allah be pleased with him, in 15 AH/636 AD[5], it was named Bayt al-Maqdis and al-Quds again. Thus, it is evident that the names of Jerusalem are either Arabic or derived from it, and it never had any Hebrew name or a name belonging to the people of Israel.

Archaeological Evidence Confirms the Arab Identity of Jerusalem[6]

Archaeological evidence confirms beyond doubt the Arab identity of Jerusalem in terms of origin, composition and civilization. ᶜ‎Ayn Silwān (Spring of Silwan) attests to this fact. It is the well located three hundred meters from the southeastern corner of the Holy Mosque. It was excavated by the Jebusites for water extraction. As one can only access it through stairs or steps, the local people of Jerusalem have called it Umm al-Daraj. Caliph ᶜUthman ibn ᶜAffān, may Allah be pleased with him, endowed the well and its water to the poor people of Jerusalem. In addition, archaeologists found large parts of the ancient Jebusite walls and military installations, such as Fortress of Yabus. The oldest building in the city was built by the Jebusites on the southern part of the eastern plateau. In order to have full control of the area, they built a high tower at the edge of the fortress, and surrounded it with a wall. Archaeologists found also some tools, such as cooking utensils, Arab arrows, and other equipment which prove the Arab origin and nature of the region. In the middle of the twentieth century, archaeologists uncovered clay tablets written in the Canaanite language near Jerusalem, which date back to 2500 BC. In addition, its Arab, Jebusite, Canaanite name is mentioned in ancient Egyptian writings, such as Tell el-Amarna tablets, and the texts of the Torah is full of occurrences that all confirm its Arab identity and prove that its existed hundreds of centuries before the existence of the children of Israel. When the land of Canaan was ruled by Egypt in the 15th century BC, the Egyptians called Jerusalem as 'Yabishi', its Jebusite name, at times, and as 'Oro Salem', its Canaanite name, at other times.

The relationship of the children of Israel to Jerusalem

The children of Israel do not have the slightest relationship to the establishment of Jerusalem. In addition, their presence in it as well as the surrounding areas was temporary and transitional, leaving no lasting impact on its extensive history. The lineage of the children of Israel goes back to our Prophet Ya‎ᶜ‎qūb (Jacob) son of Isḥāq (Isaac) son of Ibrāhīm (Abraham), peace be upon them all. Prophet Abraham lived in southern Iraq in the 19th century BC. Afterwards, he traveled to the land of Canaan (Palestine). The Canaanite Arabs cordially welcomed him and, as a gesture of honor, named Hebron, the city in which he settled, after his name, Al-Khalīl. He and his followers were known as the Hebrews, in reference to their crossing of the Euphrates coming from Iraq. As for the sons of Jacob (the tribes), they are the origin to which the children of Israel are attributed. They lived in the 13th century BC, and then traveled to Egypt, which was occupied by the Hyksos. They lived in Egypt until the era of Prophet Moses, peace be upon him. After his death and the end of the period of wandering, they invaded the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua bin Nun[7].

The children of Israel remained dispersed on the outskirts of the land of Canaan (Palestine) until the era of Prophet Dawūd (David), peace be upon him, at the end of the 11th century BC. He was considered the first to unite the children of Israel and establish a kingdom over part of the land of Canaan in nearly 1000 BC, which lasted for four decades. He named the city of Jebus (Jerusalem) as the capital of his kingdom and established a fortress known as the Fortress of David. After his death, his son Sulaymān (Solomon), peace be upon him, rose to kingship and his rule continued for three decades. During the two eras of David and Solomon, the Jebusites lived in and administered their city of Jebus as they were used to do before. After the death of Prophet Solomon, peace be upon him, his kingdom got divided as his sons[8] had disputes and conflicts. They fought each other until they were defeated by the Assyrians and Babylonians. They were all taken as captives. All their sanctuaries and the Temple of Solomon were destroyed. This was known as the Babylonian Exile or Diaspora that took place in 586 BC. During the Persian era, some of them returned to the land of Canaan (Palestine) again and established a temple similar to the Temple of Solomon. Then the country fell under the control of many ancient Western empires, the most recent of which was the Roman Empire, in which the Christ, peace be upon him, was born in Bethlehem. This period witnessed the end of the rein of the children of Israel in Jerusalem and Palestine forever. As they used to cause unrest and revolt against the Romans, they were annihilated, the temple was completely destroyed, and their sanctities and everything belonged them were destroyed in 135 CE by Emperor Hadrian. This is known as the Roman diaspora or the last diaspora, as the Jews were forbidden from living in Jerusalem since then. Those who survived annihilation fled to various European cities. Their number was then estimated at 40.000 Jews. Jerusalem remained under the rule of the Romans until it was liberated by ᶜUmar ibn Al-Khattāb, may Allah be pleased with him, in 15 AH/636 CE[9].

From the above discussion, it becomes clear that the city of Jerusalem is of Arab origin and identity. It also reveals that the argument that the children of Israel have a connection to it and its origins is spurious and tenuous. In fact, it was founded by the Jebusite Arabs in the 4th millennium BC, and its Arab origins preceded the birth of Abraham, peace be upon him, by more than 20 centuries. It also preceded the birth of the sons of Jacob, peace be upon him, to whom the children of Israel are attributed, by more than 26 centuries. Moreover, it preceded the era of our Prophet David and his son Prophet Solomon, peace be upon them, by more than 30 centuries. On the contrary, the presence of Arabs in Jerusalem was not interrupted throughout its history.

It is crystal clear that the presence of the Children of Israel in the land of Canaan (Palestine) and Jebus (Jerusalem) was temporary and peripheral. Moreover, it is historically established that Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, to whom the Jews are attributed was born, lived and died in Egypt during the time when the Children of Israel resided there, and he never went to Jerusalem. Furthermore, the Children of Israel did not rule Jerusalem except during the eras of Prophets David and his son Solomon, peace be upon them, which lasted for only seven decades of its deep-rooted history of six thousand years. This confirms the Arab right to this land and refutes the Zionist claims in this regard.



* A translation of “Al-Quds bayna al- Ḥaq al-ᶜArabī wa al-Mazāᶜim al- Ṣuhyūniyya,” Al-Azhar Magazine, Jumāda al-Ula, 1445 AH/Dec. 2023, pp. 1041-1045.

[1] Professor of History and Civilization, Faculty of Arabic Language, Al-Azhar University

[2] Researcher, AOCE

[3] See Shawqī Shaᶜth, Filisṭīn SSs ssFilistīn Arḍ al-Ḥaḍārāt (Palestine: the Land of Civilizations), Damascus: Dār al-Awāᵓil li al-Nashr wa al-Tawzīᶜ, 2000, p. 8-9; Jamāl Ḥamdān, Al-Yahūd Anthrūbūlūjyā (Jews: Anthropology), introduced by ᶜAbd al-Wahhāb al-Misīrī, Dār al-Hilāl, 1996, p. 55-56 ; Ẓafar al-Islām Khān, Tārīkh Filasṭīn al-Qadīm (1220 BC – 1359 CE) mundhu awwal ghazw Yahūdī ḥattá ᵓākhir ghazw Ṣalībī (Old History of Palestine (1220 BC – 1359 CE) from the First Jewish Invasion till the Last Crusade Invasion), Beirut: Dār al-Nafāᵓs, 3rd ed., 1401 AH / 1981 AC, pp. 15-19.


[4] See Sayyid Faraj Rāshid, Al-Quds ᶜArabīyah ᵓIslāmīyah (Jerusalem is An Arab and Islamic Land), Riyadh: Dār al-Marrīkh li al-Nashr, 1406 AH / 1986 CE, p. 29 ; History and civilization Committee at Al-Azhar Council of Senior Scholars, Malāmiḥ min Tārīkh al-Quds ᶜAbra al-ᶜUṣūr (Highlights on the History of Jerusalem through Ages), Al-Azhar Press, 1442 AH / 2021 CE, pp. 9-10; Mīkhāᵓīl Maksī, Al-Quds ᶜabra al-Tārīkh Dirāsah Jughrāfīyah Tārīkhīyah Atharīyah li al-Madīnah al-Muqaddasah (Jerusalem throughout Ages: Geographical, Historical and Archeological Study of the Holy City), 1972 CE, p. 6.

[5] See ‎ᶜ‎Aref Pasha ‎al-ᶜ‎Aref, Tārīkh al-Quds, 2nd ed., Cairo: Dār al-Ma‎ᶜ‎ārif, 1994, p. 11; Muḥammad ‎ᶜ‎Alī Hillah, Al-Qusa al-Sharīf: Ḥaqāiq al-Tārīkh wa ‎ᵓ‎Afāq al-Mustaqbal, 2001, pp. 9-10; Al-Quds ‎ᶜ‎Arabiyah Islāmiyah, pp. 27-28.

[6] The Zionist movement is a settler-colonial idea that appeared in eastern and central Europe in the middle of the 19th century. Towards the end of the same century, it turned into an organized racist political movement. Its goal was to bring together Jews from all over the world and establish a Jewish state as a final solution to get rid of the persecution that the Jews were going though in Europe. As a movement, they believe in supremacy and racial isolation, and use religion as an instrument to achieve their short and long-term goals of phased regional expansion, leading to full control over the peoples of the earth politically, militarily, and culturally as a final stage. In order to realize its goals, the movement relied - and still relies- on terrorism at times, and aggression at other times. This movement emerged at time of modern European colonialism of the peoples of the world, and made the best use of colonialism and major powers to achieve its goals and objectives. It was called Zionism in reference to its call to immigrate to Jerusalem and reside on one of its mountains; Mount Zion. (See: Maḥmūd Ḥassan Ṣaleh Mansī, Tarīkh al-Ḥarakah al-Ṣuhyūniyah (The History of the Zionist Movement), 2003 CE, pp. 19-21; Muḥammad ‎ᶜ‎Alī Hillah, Tarīkh al-Ḥarakah al-Ṣuhyūniyah (1897-1967): Dirāsah fī al-Qaḍiyah al-Filiṣtīniyah (The History of the Zionist Movement (1897-1967 CE) A Study on the Palestinian Issue), Cairo: Dār al-Kitāb al-Māsī, 1424 AH/2004 CE, pp. 26-30).

[7] See Malāmiḥ min Tārīkh al-Quds ᶜAbra al-ᶜUṣūr, pp. 17-21.

[8] His offspring was divided into two tribes: the tribe of Israel and tribe of Yuda.  

[9] See Al-Qusa al-Sharīf: Ḥaqāiq al-Tārīkh wa ‎ᵓ‎Afāq al-Mustaqbal, pp. 11-13; Al-Quds ‎ᶜ‎Arabiyah Islāmiyah, pp. 54-56; ‎ᶜ‎Aref Pasha, Tārīkh al-Quds, pp. 14-40

Categories: Articles