Monday, September 18, 2017

  • Monday, September 18, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

Omar Suleiman is a young Palestinian-American imam who counts Linda Sarsour among his many ardent admirers. According to one flattering profile, Suleiman is “a new kind of American imam” with “a wildly popular social-media presence:” his Facebook page has more than 1.2 million “Likes” and followers, and his YouTube sermons have garnered tens of millions of views. Another article explains that due to “his charismatic sermons and message of inclusiveness,” Suleiman “has gained a national following” and has become a leader “of Dallas’ social justice movement.” As far as Linda Sarsour is concerned, Omar Suleiman makes her “more proud to be a Muslim and a Palestinian.”

All this praise prompted me to try to learn a bit more about Suleiman. Of course, I was particularly interested in finding out what Suleiman thinks about Israel and Jews. As I documented in two recent articles published by The Algemeiner, the results of my research were rather depressing: Suleiman quite obviously thinks the world’s only Jewish state should be replaced by yet another Arab-Muslim majority state, and despite his efforts to present himself as a deeply spiritual and tolerant preacher, he can’t quite hide his intense theological anti-Judaism.

As I argued in The Algemeiner, one example that reveals Suleiman’s hostile views regarding Jews and Judaism is a lecture he gave in January 2016 on “Masjid Al-Aqsa: The occupied sanctuary.” The advertisement noted that Suleiman’s “passion for this topic comes naturally” because he is “the son of Palestinian parents.” In a short promotional clip for the lecture, Suleiman denounced the “brutal occupation” of Al-Aqsa and claimed that “religious rights” of Muslims were being “taken away,” noting dismissively that the site was “being called ‘Temple Mount’ all of a sudden.”
This is truly breathtaking hypocrisy for a preacher who is supposedly “a new kind of American imam:” while claiming that the “religious rights” of Muslims were being “taken away,” Suleiman brazenly denies the Jewish connection to Judaism’s holiest site.

Yet, since Suleiman himself is telling a revealing story about the victorious Caliph Umar in his lecture, there can be no doubt that he knows full well that Jerusalem’s Muslim conquerors built Islamic shrines over the ruined Jewish Temple.

The story takes place after the Christian Patriarch Sophronius surrendered Jerusalem in April 637. Umar supposedly went to clean up what Suleiman calls “masjid Al-Aqsa,”i.e. the Temple Mount, which had become a dumping ground. Suleiman reminds his audience (1:05) that “[in] the middle of masjid Al-Aqsa, there is this rock, this rocky area, … and it’s right in the center, and that’s believed where Suleiman [i.e. Solomon] … established the Temple.”

When the area was cleaned up, Umar and his companions supposedly asked a former Jewish rabbi who had converted to Islam where to pray and where the mosque should be built — a question that obviously shows that there was no trace of any mosque, which should indicate to any thinking person that the tall tale about Muhammad’s supposed night journey to “the farthest mosque” – a story Suleiman also tells in his lecture – cannot refer to Jerusalem and the then obviously non-existent Al-Aqsa mosque. The convert responded to Umar’s question about where to pray: “We should pray behind the rock.” As Suleiman explained to his audience:

“Umar sensed from that that he [i.e. the convert] felt a reverence towards this rock. So Umar [Arabic blessing] said that must be your Jewish influence speaking. He says we’re gonna pray in front of the rock, haha, we’re not gonna honor this rock, we’re gonna pray in front of it, there’s nothing special about this rock.”

So much for Islam’s supposed respect for other religions. Yet, completely oblivious to his own hypocrisy, Suleiman claims shortly after telling the story of the triumphant Umar: “It’s proven that other religions only flourished in Jerusalem under Muslim rule. It never happens any other way.” According to Suleiman, it is therefore terribly unfair that Muslims have the “reputation” that they “want to turn Jerusalem into some sort of blood bath.” Suleiman rejects such suspicions: “No, we recognize the sanctity of that place, we love that masjid, we love that land, we know what that land is. No one wants to do anything with that land except restore it to the way that it was.”

But as far as Suleiman is concerned, “the way that it was” means that there never was a Temple Mount – indeed, his long lecture about Al-Aqsa is a determined effort to Islamicize Jerusalem’s entire history.

Right at the beginning of his lecture, Suleiman announces that he wants to talk about “the history” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is noteworthy that he says “history” and not “myth” or “legend,” or even “religious tradition” — because what follows is simply mind-boggling. Unfortunately, the narrative he presents clearly reflects some mainstream Muslim beliefs that are obviously a major factor in the widespread Muslim hatred for Israel.

Suleiman notes early on in his lecture that people “might think that Al-Aqsa was built maybe by a prophet of Bani Israel, maybe it’s something that arose from the time of Solomon […] or Jacob.” Then he turns to Muslim tradition to answer the question “What mosque was constructed on the face of the earth first?” According to Suleiman, the answer is that the first mosque was built in Mecca, and that 40 years later, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built.

Suleiman then goes on to explain that Muslim scholars believe that Adam built the Kaaba in Mecca, and that he or maybe his son Seth then built the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – which obviously means that Muslims are supposed to believe that many centuries, if not millennia before the rise of Islam, there were people building mosques. Later on, Suleiman repeats the claim that Abraham and his son Isaac “raised the pillars” of the Kaaba in Mecca, and that they “did the same” at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa, which had both been “constructed” and “made a sanctuary” by Adam. Suleiman then emphasizes again that Abraham and his son built “two of the holiest masjids [mosques] in the world.”
The bizarre assertion that the mosque in Mecca and the Al-Aqsa Mosque go back to the time of Adam and were then built up by Abraham and his son long before Muhammad introduced Islam is obviously intended to claim these sites and their builders as part of Muslim heritage. Islamic supersessionism, i.e the notion that Islam replaces and invalidates previous religions, notably Judaism and Christianity, is apparently supposed to operate even retroactively. In the case of Jerusalem, the claim that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was founded by the biblical Adam and built up by Abraham serves to delegitimize all Jewish claims to the Temple Mount — which is exactly what Suleiman is trying to do.

Thus, Suleiman tells his audience (from 18:00 of the speech) that “Solomon is the most important king in the history of Jerusalem. Why? You always hear of the Temple of Solomon.” While that sounds like an acknowledgement of Jewish history, Suleiman immediately adds that Solomon “built about 40 masjids [mosques],” including “Masjid Al-Aqsa.” He then proceeds to spell out this vile effort to Islamicize Jewish history in some more detail:

“And as he [Solomon] builds Masjid Al-Aqsa — and I want you guys to realize, so I’m just going to clear that from now, Masjid Al-Aqsa is that entire rectangle, that entire sanctuary, it is humongous, that is actually all Masjid Al-Aqsa; the Dome of the Rock is at the center of it, so that entire compound is Masjid Al-Aqsa. So Solomon builds that all out, the original Temple of Solomon, what’s known as the Temple of Solomon, right, the first time that Masjid Al-Aqsa would be built in that caliber, right, he built it throughout. The Old Testament has a lot of detail about how lavish and how elaborate the masjid was when Suleiman [sic] built it, but we don’t know if it’s actually true or not.”

So according to Suleiman, we may not know “how lavish and how elaborate” Solomon’s buildings really were, but we do know that he didn’t really build a Jewish Temple because he built “Masjid Al-Aqsa.” This is a particularly pernicious form of Temple denial: following the bizarre “logic” of Suleiman’s narrative — which apparently reflects mainstream Muslim myths — there couldn’t be a legitimate Jewish Temple at the site that Muslim imagine to have been “Masjid Al-Aqsa” since the time of Adam.

When I listened to Suleiman’s lecture I couldn’t help wondering if Muslims don’t feel it is rather undignified to project the sway of their faith back in time in order to claim an ancient holy site of followers of another religion as their own. Does Suleiman’s ardent admirer and friend Linda Sarsour support his pathetic claims that “Masjid Al-Aqsa” was built at the time of Adam, and that Solomon’s Temple was merely a perhaps particularly elaborate addition to what was a mosque compound since time immemorial? Or is the “progressive” Sarsour appalled by this vile example of cultural appropriation? And how does a “progressive” like Sarsour feel about the denial of the historic Jewish attachment to the site where Muslim conquerors built Islamic shrines in order to prevent a rebuilding of the destroyed Jewish Temple and to demonstrate the splendor of their imperial power? Surely this should be completely unacceptable for anti-imperialist progressives who champion the rights of indigenous people?

In any case, it seems that some Muslims haven’t yet understood that imams like Omar Suleiman expect them to insist that all of the Temple Mount is the Al-Aqsa mosque. At the end of July, Suleiman posted a photo (that was at least a year old) of the Dome of the Rock surrounded by thousands of Muslim worshippers with the text: “Breathtaking shot of worshippers at #alaqsa in prostration/protest. Wow.” When several people noted that the photo didn’t show the Al-Aqsa mosque, Suleiman responded on his Facebook page: “For those saying it’s not Al Aqsa, the entire compound is Al Aqsa. Yes, Masjid Al Qibaly [i.e. the Al-Aqsa mosque] is not in this photo.”

I can’t say I’m particularly astonished that Omar Suleiman makes Linda Sarsour “more proud to be a Muslim and a Palestinian.” But decent people who think Suleiman should be praised as “a new kind of American imam” are sorely mistaken: Suleiman has only contempt for the Jews (e.g. he claims they are to blame for the fact that food rots), and he loves to depict Christian crusaders as beasts while presenting the Muslim conquerors of a vast empire as admirable and benevolent rulers of the people they ruthlessly subjugated. Suleiman probably regrets that he once publicly showed support [archived] for the Muslim Brotherhood, but given what he preaches, it seems clear that he would find a lot of common ground with Islamists. 

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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