As confirmed in our religious tradition, al-Shām (Greater Syria) – with Jerusalem at its epicenter – is a region brimming with immense barakah (blessings). How these blessings exist and manifest themselves in real life are topics which will be addressed in detail in this article. Many enquire: “When will the Muslims retrieve their Aqsa Mosque, and when will the Muslims worldwide rediscover their unified voice? Can a date be specified, even if approximately?” We will return to these difficult questions at the end of the piece. But in any case, Jerusalem and its surrounding territories will nevertheless remain as a region full of divine blessings.
Speaking about the Muslims of Banī Isrāʾīl, Allah said:
وَأَوْرَثْنَا الْقَوْمَ الَّذِينَ كَانُوا يُسْتَضْعَفُونَ مَشَارِقَ الْأَرْضِ وَمَغَارِبَهَا الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا
“And We made the previously oppressed people inheritors of the eastern and western lands which We have showered with blessings.”
Regarding the favours granted to the Prophet Sulaymān, Allah said:
وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ عَاصِفَةً تَجْرِي بِأَمْرِهِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا
“And to Sulaymān We subjected the raging winds, which through his command blew to the land which We have showered with blessings.”
Even when speaking about the famous trial of the Prophet Ibrāhīm, the virtues of the geographical region are once again addressed:
قُلْنَا يَا نَارُ كُونِي بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ (69) وَأَرَادُوا بِهِ كَيْدًا فَجَعَلْنَاهُمُ الْأَخْسَرِينَ (70) وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَلُوطًا إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا لِلْعَالَمِينَ
“We said, ‘O fire! Be cool and safe for Ibrāhīm!’ They had plotted to harm him, but We made them the worst of losers. We delivered him, along with Lūṭ, to the land We had showered with blessings for all the worlds .”
Upon reading these verses, a valid question which follows is: in what exact sense has Allah blessed Palestine and its neighbouring territories? Furthermore, what are the implications of this geographical region when Allah declares that He blessed it for all the worlds? Part of this blessing relates to how this land purifies itself from tyranny by often sounding the death knell for oppressors throughout history. Its Baraka is entails victory for the believers and a crushing defeat for those who oppose them sooner or later.
Khuraym b. Fātik, a Companion of the Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam), once stated:
أَهْلُ الشَّامِ سَوْطُ اللَّهِ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَنْتَقِمُ بِهِمْ مِمَّنْ يَشَاءُ كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ وَحَرَامٌ عَلَى مُنَافِقِيهِمْ أَنْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَى مُؤْمِنِيهِمْ وَلَنْ يَمُوتُوا إِلَّا هَمًّا أَوْ غَيْظًا أَوْ حُزْنًا
“The people of al-Shām are the whip of Allah on earth, through whom He exacts revenge against whoever He wills, and in whatever way He decrees. Its hypocrites are eternally barred from prevailing over its believers, and they will never die except in a state of grief, rage or misery.”
Every member of Allah’s creation is given a specific purpose. Some angels are assigned the task of transmitting divine revelation, others are to ensure the protection of people, whilst another group is ordered to take the souls of humans. Similarly, some humans are destined to serve as Prophets and Messengers. ,others as their proponents, whilst others as their enemies. In the same vein, certain territories serve specific purposes, and one of theprimary roles served by the region al-Shām is that of a barometer of the Ummah’s well-being for any given period. It honours the believers who stand in its defence, whilst vanquishing its opponents.
Consider how the formidable Christian Crusader armies once had occupied many territories of the Levant region, with Guy de Lusignan (d. 1194 CE) reigning as the king of Jerusalem. Despite their military might, his forces were decisively defeated by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn (d. 1193 CE) and his Ayyubid army in a historic battle in 1187 CE, which immediately opened the path to JerusalemThe name of the battle is Ḥiṭṭīn, and the name of its venue was Palestine.
Not long after these events, the Mongols emerged and rose to prominence. Led by Genghis Khan (d. 1227 CE) and his successors, the Mongols ruled most of modern-day Russia, China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Persia, India, and the Middle East. Their bloody conquests had pivotal consequences for world geography, culture, and history, with many of these after-effects continuing to reverberate to the present. The Sacking of Baghdad (1258) was one of the worst atrocities committed by the Mongol forces, where Hulagu Khan’s forces razed the city to the ground and killed almost one million people indiscriminately. However, just two years later, an inconceivable event took place. Against all odds, a threatening Mongol advance towards Egypt was firmly halted at the hands of Sayf al-Dīn Quṭuz (d. 1260) and his Mamluk army. The name of the military encounter is the Battle of ʿAyn Jālūt (1260), and the venue was none other than Palestine. Interestingly, the first Mongolian force that the Muslims crushed en route to ‘Ayn Jaaloot was in Gaza.
Centuries later, Napoleon Bonaparte’s (d. 1821 CE) formidable Republican French army would wreak havoc in Europe and the Middle East in a bid for global supremacy. Having captured Egypt and determined to further his rapid conquest of Ottoman territories, Napoleon advanced eastward and laid siege to the strategic city of Acre (or ‘Akka in Arabic) in 1799. Led by Aḥmad al-Jazzār (d. 1804 CE), the defending Ottoman forces were resilient throughout the siege. Against all odds, they forced Napoleon to withdraw from the region with humiliation. Not only was Napoleon defeated, the French emperor lost half of his troops during the stiff two-month contest. The name of the encounter is the siege of Acre, and the venue was none other than Palestine. 
One should not be surprised when coming across such epic victories in the Holy Land. After all, the Arabic word for the city of Jerusalem (al-Quds) is a cognate of Allah’s divine name al-Quddūs, which denotes meanings related to purity. The city, therefore, is not just the quintessence of purity, but it also actively cleanses the region from all forms of defilement, whether it be political despotism, religious sectarianism, or spiritual decay, whilst preparing its defenders for the global centre stage.
They Testify Against Themselves
Muslims are well aware of how injustice has led to the downfall of past individuals and nations. When a number of Companions returned from the land of Abyssinia, the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam) asked them:
أَلَا تُحَدِّثُونِي بِأَعَاجِيبِ مَا رَأَيْتُمْ بِأَرْضِ الْحَبَشَةِ
“Will you not narrate to me some of the interesting events you witnessed in Abyssinia?” One of them replied by relating the following story:
بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ بَيْنَا نَحْنُ جُلُوسٌ مَرَّتْ بِنَا عَجُوزٌ مِنْ عَجَائِزِ رَهَابِينِهِمْ تَحْمِلُ عَلَى رَأْسِهَا قُلَّةً مِنْ مَاءٍ فَمَرَّتْ بِفَتًى مِنْهُمْ فَجَعَلَ إِحْدَى يَدَيْهِ بَيْنَ كَتِفَيْهَا ثُمَّ دَفَعَهَا فَخَرَّتْ عَلَى رُكْبَتَيْهَا فَانْكَسَرَتْ قُلَّتُهَا
“Yes indeed, Oh Messenger of Allah. While we were sitting one day, an old nun belonging to the religious class passed by, carrying an earthenware vessel containing water over her head. A young man crept up from behind, placing one of his hands between her shoulder blades. He then shoved her, causing her to fall to her knees, which also caused the vessel to shatter.”
فَلَمَّا ارْتَفَعَتْ الْتَفَتَتْ إِلَيْهِ فَقَالَتْ سَوْفَ تَعْلَمُ يَا غُدَرُ إِذَا وَضَعَ اللَّهُ الْكُرْسِيَّ وَجَمَعَ الْأَوَّلِينَ وَالْآخِرِينَ وَتَكَلَّمَتْ الْأَيْدِي وَالْأَرْجُلُ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ فَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُ كَيْفَ أَمْرِي وَأَمْرُكَ عِنْدَهُ غَدًا
“When she stood up she turned towards him and said: ‘Oh treacherous one, you shall come to learn! On that Day when Allah sets the Footstool, gathers the first and last of creation, and the hands and feet speak about what they earned, you will know then how the matter between you and me will be settled.” The Prophet remarked:
صَدَقَتْ صَدَقَتْ كَيْفَ يُقَدِّسُ اللَّهُ أُمَّةً لَا يُؤْخَذُ لِضَعِيفِهِمْ مِنْ شَدِيدِهِمْ
“She spoke the truth! She spoke the truth! How can Allah bless a nation which does not help its weak ones against its strong ones?”
With that said, the ongoing blockade against Gaza, the military occupation in the West Bank, the second-class status afforded to Palestinians in the occupied territories, the rampant violence and lawlessness wielded by illegal settlers, the apartheid-style infrastructure used to keep the oppressed in check, and the repeated irreverence towards the al-Aqsa mosque lead us to ask the same question posed by the Prophet.; will Allah ever bless a people of such doings? Well, putting us aside for a second. it seems that non-Muslims are also slowly finding their way to an answer similar to ours;; never.
Consider the perspective of Benny Morris, a professor of history in the Middle East Studies department in Ben-Gurion University. He boldly stated in an interview that “this place (Israel) will decline like a Middle Eastern state with an Arab majority.” Just like Morris, Avraham Burg, a former speaker of Israel’s Knesset from 1999-2003 and a former chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, also deems the current Israeli state to be facing imminent collapse. Burg had the following to say in a provocative opinion piece entitled “The End of Zionism”: “Note this moment well: Zionism’s superstructure is already collapsing like a cheap Jerusalem wedding hall. Only madmen continue dancing on the top floor while the pillars below are collapsing.”
Veteran American statesman Henry Kissinger, who is of Jewish origin and served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, is also skeptical in his personal forecasts regarding the fate of Israel. It is in fact alleged that in the year 2012, Kissinger boldly predicted that after the passage of ten years “there will be no more Israel.”
Putting aside any precise doomsday predictions, sixteen US intelligence agencies with a combined budget exceeding 70 billion dollars issued an 82-page memorandum entitled “Preparing for a Post-Israel Middle East.” The authors of this document argue that Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States. In addition to noting that the political interests of the two countries are no longer neatly aligned as before, the document generally outlines how US support for Israel is gradually eroding.
The dramatic events in the previous few weeks mark a watershed moment in the long road to a liberated Palestine. Public opinion has already sharply shifted in favour of the Palestinian cause, despite what “Israel’s” political allies may say.
They say: “Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”
عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُهْلِكَ عَدُوَّكُمْ وَيَسْتَخْلِفَكُمْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرَ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ
“Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors in the land to see what you will do.”
ليبلغنَّ هذا الأمر ما بلغ الليل والنهار، ولا يترك اللهُ بيتَ مَدَرٍ ولا وَبَرٍ، إلا أدخَله الله هذا الدين بعزِّ عزيز أو بذلِّ ذليلٍ
“This religion will certainly reach as far as the night and day. Allah shall not leave a house, be it made of mud or camel hair, except that this religion will enter it, where the honorable will be honored and the disgraceful will be disgraced. ”
لَا تَزَالُ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِي قَائِمَةً بِأَمْرِ اللَّهِ لَا يَضُرُّهُمْ مَنْ خَذَلَهُمْ أَوْ خَالَفَهُمْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ وَهُمْ ظَاهِرُونَ عَلَى النَّاسِ
“There will always remain a group in my Ummah upholding Allah’s commands. They will remain unharmed by those who abandon them or oppose them, and dominating until Allah’s Command comes to pass.”
In another narration, the Prophet PBUH added:
حَتَّى يُقَاتِلَ آخِرُهُمُ الْمَسِيحَ الدَّجَّالَ
“.. till the last of them fight the Dajjāl.”
In a third version of the report, the Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is asked:
يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَأَيْنَ هُمْ
“Where are they, O messenger of Allah?” He responded:
بِبَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ وَأَكْنَافِ بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ
“In Jerusalem, and around Jerusalem. ”
Zooming In On Us
Israel is not a self-supporting state, the will of propping it up against the wishes of more than a billion of its ever-awakened neighbours is only decaying, and their endless idiocies against al-Aqsa and the people of Palestine is causing nations to give preference to their own national interests. and pull the plug on “Israel”. Indeed, oppression in Palestine never lives until old age. Of the impending demise of the occupation, I have no doubt of. My worry is purely on us.
We invoke the āyah:
أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ
“Indeed, the victory of Allah is near.”
But the priceless question that must be posed is: near with regards to whom?
“Near” to people who fully commit themselves to the cause of Islam according to their abilities and respective circumstances, not those who remain idle, expecting abandoned minority to resist in defence of Palestine and al-Aqsa on our collective behalf.
“Near” to those who, upon seeing a child being pulled from beneath the rubble, convert their falling tears of grief into tears of a determined repentance, sincere apologies to their Maker, and a promise of peace that they shall make with Him once and for all.
“Near” to brothers who align their appreciation of Salaah to that of he who stood on the rubble of his demolished Masjid in Gaza, and gave the call to prayer despite the disappearance of that masjid.
“Near” to sisters who see their full Hijaab as that young child in Syria who, despite being wedged in the thick of the rubble of her demolished home, pleas with her rescuers; “Uncle, please don’t put the camera on me, I’m not in my Hijaab”. This, I heard from my own family members in Gaza who told us several weeks ago during the height of the assault, that “we haven’t taken off our Hijaab since the war on Gaza started, keeping it on by night and day, so that we are pulled out from beneath the rubble in a way pleasing to our Lord.”
“Near” to those who possess a project for the service of their religion, where mothers, homemakers, breadwinners, children, Imams, students, activists, businessmen, using their individual strengths as their fuel, their relentless Istighfaar as their ignition, and their unwavering certainty in the promise of Allah as their reserves.
Indeed, the victory of Allah is near, and it’s always been the case, hovering right above our heads. It’s our decisions however that either bring us further away from it or draw us closer. My belief is that Muslims today are choosing to do the latter, and my belief is that you will not allow yourself to be the last to do so.
Picking Up From Where We Started
Indeed, Jerusalem and its surroundings is a place of Baraka, representing the Ummah and acting as our interim Caliph. The classical Muslim jurist al-Māwardī describes the objectives of the Caliph in the following succinct passage:
الإمامة موضوعة لخلافة النبوة، في حراسة الدين وسياسة الدنيا
“The office of Imamate has been placed as a system of order to succeed prophethood to provide protection for the religion and execute worldly affairs.”
In the beginning of Islam, this position of Caliph was assumed by the four guided caliphs, as well as the Muslim dynasties which succeeded them. Similarly, this position will return once more near the end of time when the Muslims unify again under the banner of just rulers. During our times, however, no such political authority exists. But we have been blessed with the cause of Palestine and al-Aqsa in its place, which has united the believers, ended their disputes, and – just like a Caliph – provided them a unified political identity.
With that said, we pick up from where we started and return to the question posed in the beginning: when will the Muslims retrieve their Aqsa, and when will the Muslims finally find their unified voice? Can we specify a date, even generally? The answer to this question is not beyond our control, like – for example – the date of a meteor that passes above us which we have no involvement in. Rather, the answer to this question involves each and every Muslim. We are working towards a date that Allah has decreed for us that is based upon a scene that we set now or delay; repentance and life changing decisions that we choose to make now or leave for another day.
Throughout my life, I have never been more optimistic about Palestine and al-Aqsa like I am today. The events of May 2021 will go down in history as one of the most influential events that irreversibly created a paradigm shift around the world. Indeed, the path to liberation is long, and you and I may never see the end. But thank Allah, for what you saw in the last weeks was undoubtedly the beginning.
 Al-Qur’an, 7:137.
 Aḥmad, al-Musnad.
 Al-Suyūṭī, Tārīkh al-Khulafāʾ.
 Ibn Mājah, al-Sunan.
 https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-has-our-expiration-date-arrived-1.5177965. Although this declaration was even acknowledged by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Times of Israel cited a staffer of Kissinger, who denied that he ever made such a statement.
 Al-Qur’an, 7:129
 Aḥmad, al-Musnad.
This was stated by a senior Israeli Defence Forces official during their 2014 assault on Gaza. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20140709-israeli-official-we-ve-dropped-400-tonnes-of-bombs-on-gaza/
 As mentioned by an Israeli army official during their 2014 assault on Gaza. https://www.islamtimes.org/en/news/405179/2-5-million-bullets-used-by-israel-during-gaza-offensive
 Aḥmad, al-Musnad. This ḥadīth was deemed as weak by Muḥammad Nāṣiruddīn al-Albānī.
 Aḥmad, al-Musnad. This ḥadīth was deemed as weak by Muḥammad Nāṣiruddīn al-Albānī.
Al-Māwardī, al-Aḥkām al-Sulṭāniyyah.
Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is Islam21c’s Tarbiya Editor. A UK national of Palestinian origin, he gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari’ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Shaykh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’, ‘The Ten Lanterns’ and ‘The Friday Reminder’. He delivers sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.