JERUSALEM (AP) “” Anger over Israeli construction to repair a damaged ramp near a disputed Jerusalem holy site erupted into violence Friday as police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of rioting Muslims. Protests spread across the Arab world, with demonstrators accusing Israel of plotting to harm Islamic shrines”¦.
Small protests against the renovation began as soon as work started this week. They became violent after Friday prayers, when Muslims at the compound began throwing rocks at police stationed outside, according to Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby. — from this article
It could be worse. When Friday Prayers are let out in Bangladesh, whipped-up “worshippers” have expressed their frenzied devotion by beating to death passing Hindus. You can see some of the scenes online, if you care to. And no doubt were there not an Israel and an Israeli police force to prevent it, they would do the same thing to Jews after Jumaa Prayers on the Temple Mount.
Of course the whole Muslim outrage is a crock, one more excuse to whip up fanatical frenzy. The repairs to the staircase which are made necessary by damage that a freak snowstorm caused several years ago, damage that can not be left unrepaired much longer, is a full 200 feet from the Temple Mount.
Will this be pointed out in the world’s press or on television? No. It won’t. We will see scenes of Muslims who claim to be aggrieved. We will see scenes of Israeli police and tear gas on the Temple Mount. You get the picture, the dreary picture.
Will there be any interviews with archaeologists around the world — and of course in Israel — about the real damage being done entirely by Muslim Arabs as they throw out hundreds and hundreds of tons of earth, and together with that earth all kinds of artifacts, Jewish and Muslim, and then dump it, because they wish to remove whatever traces they can of the Jewish past to be found on or under Temple Mount? They cannot stop to pluck out, and have no need to pluck out, Muslim artifacts — because their claim is based on a single line in the Qur’an, about where the fabulous Night Journey (“miraj”) of Muhammad took place (up and down from earth to seventh heaven, in a mere twenty-four hours).
That fateful line in the seventeenth sura about the “farthest mosque” (al-masjid al-aqsa”) was subsequently, after some debate, fixed as Jerusalem by the Omayyad caliph sitting in Damascus. He chose to stake a claim to the city holy to Jews and Christians, just as Muslims had appropriated and distorted so much of the stories and figures in the prior monotheisms, Judaism and Christianity.
And for a bit more on how the Omayyad Caliph in Damascus went about staking that claim to Jerusalem, consider the “Dome of the Rock,” which is nothing more than a Byzantine martyrium, of which there were so many. Within it, high up, there is Arabic but non-Qur’anic writing — i.e. non-Muslim in its significance. People keep forgetting that Arabic writing does not always and everywhere imply Islam. See the analysis, which Muslims have chosen to ignore entirely, hoping it will not be noticed — but it will, it is and it will — by the great philologist of Syriac and classcial Arabic Christoph Luxenberg, “Neudeutung der arabischen Inschrift im Felsendom zu Jerusalem.” It can be found in the anthhology “Die dunklen Anfange” published by Schiler in 2005. Silence by the world’s Muslim scholars does not constitute a convincing refutation of Luxenberg’s thesis that the inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock are not Islamic, but Christian in origin. The refusal by Muslims to question anything about their faith, and to refuse any hint of historical investigation akin to that which both Judaism and Christianity underwent with the Higher Criticism (starting in Germany and in England) may be understandable, given the rigidity and brittleness of Islam and its enforcement mechanism on its adherents.
But what explains the scandalous timidity of non-Muslim scholars, so afraid to investigate early Islam, or the origins of the Qur’an, with the kind of unafraid forthrightness of those who engaged in the Higher Criticism? Instead, so often they are so timid, so afraid of antagonizing their Muslim colleagues, so worried about giving offense, that their own scholarly efforts are fatally vitiated because they merely accept, without more investigation, the standard and received Muslim version of the history of Islam. For one example, look at the work of Fred Donner. But there are so many others.
Meanwhile, Puin and Popp and Claude Gilliot and a hundred others are making the scholarly contributions that others, out of their timidity or their sheer inability, cannot or will not make.