Notable Muslims who publicly supported Zionism include Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a self-described former member of a terror organization and current Islamic thinker and reformer, Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi, Director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community, and Tashbih Sayyed, a Pakistani-American scholar, journalist, and author, and Sallah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Muslim Bangladeshi journalist.
According to British-based imam Muhammad Al-Hussaini, traditional commentators from the eighth and ninth century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Qur'an to say explicitly that the Land of Israel has been given by God to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant.
Hussaini bases his argument upon Qur'an 5:21 in which Moses declares: "O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers." He cites the Qur'an commentator Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, who says that this statement is "a narrative from God … concerning the saying of Moses … to his community from among the children of Israel and his order to them according to the order of God to him, ordering them to enter the holy land." He argued that this promise to the Jews is ever lasting, and further said: "It was never the case during the early period of Islam … that there was any kind of sacerdotal attachment to Jerusalem as a territorial claim." This interpretation of the promise to the Jews as ever-lasting is not uniformly accepted by all Islamic commentators.
The 19th Century
In 1873 , Shah of Persia Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar met with British Jewish leaders, including Sir Moses Montefiore, during his journey to Europe. At that time, the Persian king suggested that the Jews buy land and establish a state for the Jewish people.
According to Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi, originally the Sunni position, represented by the then Sharif of Mecca al-Hussein and later by his son, the King Feisal of Hijaz and then of Iraq, was openly pro-Zionist, while the Wahhabi one was extremely anti-Zionist.
"The resources of the country [Palestine] are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants (...) we have seen the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, and America. The cause of causes could not escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons [abna'ihi-l-asliyin], for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The return of these exiles [jaliya] to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually an experimental school for their brethren who are with them in the fields, factories, trades and all things connected to the land."
On 3 January 1919, Hussein's son, king Faisal I of Iraq and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization signed the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement for Arab-Jewish cooperation, in which Faisal conditionally accepted the Balfour Declaration based on the fulfillment of British wartime promises of development of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and on which subject he made the following statement:
"We Arabs... look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organisation to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through; we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home... I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of the civilised peoples of the world."
A number of non-Arab Muslims including Kurds and Berbers have also voiced support for Israel and Zionism. Ramin H. Artin of the Kurdish-American Education Society, argues that the creation of Israel has been "a thorn in the eye of fascists who would rather eliminate the Jewish state". He concluded that an Israeli-Kurdish alliance is "natural", and that sincere mutual respect and recognition of each other’s rights can lead to peace and prosperity.
Palazzi noted that although in present days support for Israel among Muslims is a minority orientation, there are some exceptions, such as former President of Indonesia and leader of Nadwat al-Ulema, Shaykh Abdurrahman Wahid, The Mufti of Sierra Leone, Shaykh Ahmad Sillah, and the Grand Mufti of the Russian Federation, Shaykh Talgat Tajuddin, the Mufti of European Russia, Shaykh Salman Farid, who wrote a fatwa against the intifadah. According to Palazzi, more examples for Pro-Israeli Muslim clerics are the Muftis of Chechnya, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Notable Muslim Zionists
Notable Muslim Zionists include Dr. Tawfik Hamid A former self described member of a terror organization and current Islamic thinker and reformer, Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi - Director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community, and Tashbih Sayyed - A Muslim Pakistani-American scholar, journalist, and author, as well as Prof. Khaleel Mohammed, Islamic Law scholar of the San Diego State University.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian scholar and self-described former member of the militant al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, said that most Muslims correlate the word Israel to the word “Azraeil” that sounds like "Israel" but means “Angel of death”. This created a link in the minds of most Muslim children the need to hate the word Israel. In an article titled "Why I loved Israel based on the Qur'an" he claims that according to the Qur'an, God gave the Israelites the land of Israel as their promised land (Quran 17:104: And We said thereafter to the Children of Israel, "Dwell securely in the land of promise". He explains the Quran went even further to consider the Promised Land as the permanent inheritance for the Israelites (26:59) "Thus it was, but we made the Children of Israel inheritors of such things (the Promised Land)". He continued by saying "No Muslim has the right to interfere with the gathering of the Jews in Israel, as this is the will of God himself"
Dr. Tashbih Sayyed, a Shi’ite Pakistani-American scholar, journalist, and author, was a prominent supporter and Israel and critic of the Islamist movement. He said that Israel is vital for the stability of the region. Sayyed praised the treatment of Arabs in Israel, and applauded the "strength of the Jewish spirit that refuses to give in to evil forces despite thousand of years of anti-Semitism". He concluded by saying "I am convinced that it is true that God created this earth but it is also a fact that only an Israel can keep this earth from dying". Tashbih condemned the press that portrays paint the Israelis as villains, and "chooses to ignore all rules of ethical journalism when it comes to Israel"
In CanadaIrshad Manji, a Muslim Canadian author and an advocate of progressive interpretation of Islam, says that the Arab's failure to accept the Jews' historical bond with Palestine is a mistake. Manji accepts that the Jews' historical roots stretch back to the land of Israel, and recognizes their right to a Jewish state. She further argues that the allegation of apartheid in Israel is deeply misleading, noting that there are in Israel several Arab political parties; that Arab-Muslim legislators have veto powers; and that Arab parties have overturned disqualifications. She also observes that Israel has a free Arab press; that road signs bear Arabic translations; and that Arabs live and study alongside Jews. She accuses Arab countries for the Palestinian refugees' plight, saying that they "interfered with every attempt to solve the problem" and that they would rather give "generous support to suicide bombers and their families" rather than help the needy refugees.
Sallah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Bangladeshi journalist and publisher. His newspaper, The Daily Blitz, criticizes the jihad culture and advocates inter-faith understanding between Muslims, Christians and Jews. Choudhury was arrested by Bangladeshi police on November 29, 2003 at Dhaka airport since he was scheduled to fly for Israel, a country Bangladeshi citizens are barred from travelling to. After release from 17-months imprisonment, Choudhury wrote in an Israeli newspaper "I also stand before you perhaps as a living contradiction: a Zionist, a defender of Israel, and a devout, practicing Muslim, living in a Moslem country. ". He said "I believe in the justice of the Zionist dream. I also acknowledge this historical reality: that the world has endeavored to crush that dream and, yes, even to destroy the viability of the Jewish people. At the same time, I live in an environment where people believe just as passionately in an opposing view—one that sees Israel as illegitimate; and the Jewish people as evil incarnate.".
Morad El Hattab, a French-Muslim author, ardent supporter of French secularism and critic of Antisemitism, preaches peace and cooperation with Israel. "I think that the criminalization of the State of Israel is the cancer of the 21st century", he said. He states the Jewish state has accomplished miracles and "I want my Muslim brothers to understand this."
In the Qur'an
Muslim Zionists often claim their views are supported by the Quran. Imam Abdul Hadi Palazzi, leader of Italian Muslim Assembly and a co-founder and a co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship, quotes the Qur'an to support Judaism's special connection to the Temple Mount. According to Palazzi, "The most authoritative Islamic sources affirm the Temples,". He adds that Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims because of its prior holiness to Jews and its standing as home to the biblical prophets and kings David and Solomon, all of whom he says are sacred figures also in Islam. He claims that the Qur'an "expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays the same role for Jews that Mecca has for Muslims".
Prof. Khaleel Mohammed, Islamic Law scholar of the San Diego State University, noted that Sura 5 verse 21 of the Qur'an, and the medieval exegetes of the Qur'an, say that Israel belongs to the Jews. He translates it thus:
- "[Moses said]: O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers." Mohammed here understands "written" to mean this is the final word from God on the subject. In reaction, he was inundated with hate mail.