After some 45 years apart, my friend and medical school peer visited me in Los Angeles. He and his wife brought us many gifts from Germany, including a volume of the Holy Quran in original Arabic along with its German translation. I take tremendous enjoyment reading the books in my library, and the Quran was now one of them. I soon realized that the Quran is unlike the Jewish Scripture, which describes historical events sequentially. And so, during my free time, I looked at pages of the Quran wherever I happened to open the book. One day, I came across Chapter 5, (sūra al-Mā’ida) verse (ayah) 21, in which Allah orders the Children of Israel to go to the promised land. It was amazing how openly and boldly the Quran demonstrated its pro-Zionist standpoint. After coming across more pro-Zionist ayahs, it was difficult for me to comprehend how the Muslim world has remained seemingly unaware of these commandments. So many skirmishes, so many wars, so much misery and loss of life because the Muslims are unaware of these commandments? Or, like everything else these days, are even the divine commandments politically smeared? Or, is it due to lack of information and education? Or, a combination of all? Still more questions popped up when continued research reaffirmed the intent of ayah 5:21. The process of fact finding on this subject took me on a long journey, a journey through 3,500 years of Jewish history. At first, this extensive research was unplanned, but soon it evolved into a planned venture. Fortunately, research and comprehensive reading were part of my education in the European school I attended, and these were habits I never gave up. Having completed my research, I decided to elucidate readers on these Quranic verses, which have never been brought to widespread public attention. The pro-Zionist verses in the Quran express that Jews should live in the land promised by Allah. The Quran attests to the Jews’ affiliation with the land of Israel. Sadly, lack of proper knowledge has aided biased and radical clerics and politicians in their agenda of hiding or misinterpreting these verses to mislead lay Muslims.

Understanding Islam and the Quran would be the prerequisites for following a cliché Muslim’s frame of mind and the aim of his ventures. Assuming we can understand a ‘theoretical’ or ‘stereotypical’ Muslim’s ideas and beliefs would be a slippery slope of assumptions not based on reality or evidence – we might study a school of thought, for example, typical religious beliefs of Muslims in a specific region or of a specific set. This is even more pertinent when Muslim extremists and fundamentalists are the players. For them, the Quranic laws and their interpretations or misinterpretations are crucial to their daily political conduct, as are the many statements and misinterpretations in the Hadith. It is fair to conclude that Islam is not merely a religion, but also acts as guidance for a Muslim’s life and la vie quotidienne. Ever since the Medina Agreement of the 7th century, the religion of Islam and its accompanying politics have merged. Hence, in dealings with the Muslims, one cannot achieve a comprehensive understanding without giving some consideration to their religious mannerisms. For westerners, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia’s government, as theocratic regimes, modus operandi lack comprehensibility. Therefore, the need for information about Islam is essential. Without it, it would be not only difficult but nearly impossible to unravel related local and world affairs. Most westerners lack general knowledge on Islam, its emergence, its laws, its bylaws, and its convictions. In the western hemisphere, people generally only gain information about Islam through news media, which solely serve their own political agendas and espouse their own ideologies without revealing the whole truth.

I was raised in a Muslim country. In school, I never missed the “Sharia hours”, which I was not obligated to attend but I did. Later, in Germany, I encountered Catholic students who, on campus or in the dormitories, tried to proselytize the students from Muslim countries. We spent many nighttime hours into the dawn discussing religion. Ironically, in many instances, I contributed and elaborated more on Islamic worldview than the participating Muslim students. And, without being religious, religion has always been one of the topics I was most interested in, especially from a historical point of view.

Soon after conceptualizing the first steps of the present manuscript, I realized what a difficult task it is, as I had to deal with a great number of historical facts, which at times occurred more than three millennia ago. I shared my plan with my relatives. My wife suggested I had a lot to read, and my son recommended that I study Marcus & Page, A Short Guide to Writing About History, which I greatly appreciated. It was a challenge and admittedly not an easy undertaking.

Our story begins with two major empires, the Christian Byzantine, successor of the Roman Empire, and the Persian Empire, who were periodically involved in warfare for many decades. Then, in the early 7th century, a new force came to power in the Arabian Peninsula that soon developed into a major player: Islam rapidly burgeoned in an expeditious geographical expansion over neighboring regions ever since its inception in 623 CE. Within a relatively short period of time, it covered the entire Middle East, the south of Europe, and the north African continent. In comparison, it took the Roman Empire almost eleven centuries of effort to become a major power in the classical world, while just 70 years after the death of prophet Mohammad–around 646 AD– North Africa had already been almost completely Islamized. Hence, the developmental process of Islam, Sharia, the 633 CE Arab invasion of today’s Syria and Iraq, and the eventually 638 CE conquest of Jerusalem bear relevance to our topic. Islam’s policy of conversion was not only to introduce monotheism to the idolatrous Arab Bedouins, but also to impose its religious laws on non-Muslims, dictating all municipal and social decrees, and legislating and governing in an Islamic environment. Sharia law regulated not only the lives and society of Arabs, but also that of the non-Muslims in lands the Arab army conquered.

In order to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is necessary to have knowledge not only of the regional socio-political and geographical elements, but also of other factors, such as the Muslims’ deeply rooted religious conviction, their cultural background, and the historically low degree of literacy amongst their population.(1)

For nearly two millennia, Jews have been living under Christian and Muslim domination. I have endeavored to set forth the long story of Jewish life under Islam and Christianity in a manner as dispassionate and detached as possible. The continuity of the narrative will be broken at times when the historical context renders it appropriate.

The most logical method to present the narrative seemed to be a treatment in which Part I is totally dedicated to Islam, its development and laws, and the life of the Prophet, which is crucial to the emergence and evolution of the Islamic faith. The pillars of Islam are discussed as briefly as possible, with the emphasis laying on the Islamic laws affecting the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. When needed, the opinions of opposing authors are interspersed with my research and commentary for further exploration of controversial issues. Part I and a section in Part IV, elaborating on the topic of Muslim Zionism, are specifically about the support the Quran offers for the establishment of a Jewish Homeland, which the Jews call Eretz Yisrael. The validity of the translation and interpretation of the referenced Quranic verses are explored and scrutinized in length from the viewpoint of notable religious sages. In this Part, the Iranian scholar Shojaeddin Shafa (1918-2010) gives a great deal of new insight into Arab history and the interpretation of Islamic laws. His cited book, included in two volumes, is in Persian and has never been translated into any western language.

Part II is dedicated to a section of Jewish history, starting with Abraham the Patriarch and ending in the year 135 CE, when Jews eventually lost their independence.

Part III is about Jewish life in diaspora in various European and Muslim countries. Eventually, in the late 19th century, the miseries and deprivations in diaspora gave rise to Zionism and the desire to reestablish the Jewish state.

In Part IV, we will analyze the regional political evolution–which still, after seven decades, involves new developments occurring on a daily basis–beginning with the early history and transiting to the reemergence of Zionism, World War I, the bitter Arab-Jewish relations in the Mandate Palestine, Jewish Aliyah to the promised land, the reestablishment of the Jewish state, and eventually the Zionism in Quran and the Islamic anti-Semitism. In Part V under the title “In Search of the Peace” suggestions and ideals will be prospectively elaborated. Finally in the appendix for visualization of some historical, demographic and geopolitical data few commented images have been added.

Statements and theories are referenced with biographical data. If a source is quoted once or twice, it is not listed in the bibliography but referenced in the endnotes.

(1) Cf. Asad, Talal (1983): pp. 237–259; Ayubi, Nazih (1991), pp. 33-51; Ayyūb, Muḥamm ibn Abī–bakr (1997), p. 43.