Dr. Youssef Ziedan, an Egyptian philosopher and expert in Arabic and Islamic studies, has taken a public stand against the Muslim claims to al-Aksa mosque in Yerushalayim, a stand which could cost him his life.
“Beit Hamikdash is a Hebrew term,” Ziedan stated in a two-hour CBC interview in Egypt. “Hence, in my opinion, the al-Aksa mosque isn’t legitimate. Al-Kuds, the temple, is an ancient Hebrew word, and Muslims adopted the word.”
Addressing his fellow Muslims, he said: “You’re annexing the city, annexing the word, and claiming that it is holy to you. But from where exactly? Can you tell a Jew that Yerushalayim is not his?”
It was not long after the interview was over, that the storm of controversy broke and threats began.
“Ziedan is ignoring the tenets of Islam and is entering a dangerous circle,” Dr. Abbad al-Fatah Hader, a lecturer on Koran studies at Al-Azhar University, warned. “Whoever questions the truthfulness of the Koran is a heretic.”
According to Ziedan, though, the Koran provides no basis for the claim that the site belongs to Islam.
Al-Aksa mosque was built, he said, by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, the 5th caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty in Damascus, 73 years after the founding of Islam, and centuries after the Beis Hamikdash.
Ziedan said that Marwan built al-Aksa in order to compete with Mecca, which at the time was controlled by his political enemies.
“Al-Aqsa mosque was a pawn in a political game, led by ibn Marwan,” contends Ziedan
While the general public was reportedly unmoved by Ziedan’s controversial comments, some members of the Islamic clergy expressed outrage.
Dr. Abbed al-Munam Fuad, a university lecturer on theology, said that Ziedan “must be brought to trial… for trying to undermine the ideological security of Muslims.”
Dr. Abbad al-Fatah Hader, branded Ziedan a heretic who must “express regret to All-h” to expiate his guilt.
Dr. Ali Gomaa, former Grand Mufti of Egypt, said that Ziedan wasn’t competent to express his opinions in a public forum.
“There is freedom of thinking – a man can think as he wishes – but when you speak, your words need to be accurate,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Israel, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) submitted a bill demanding that Jews be allowed freedom of worship on Har Habayis.
While Israeli law guarantees freedom of religion, it “does not protect, specifically, freedom of worship and freedom of access.”
“Therefore, it is proposed to add to the current law [a clause] protecting the holy places, [allowing] freedom of worship for all religions with free and fixed access, so that this fundamental right will be defined by law and will result in freedom of worship anywhere and to anyone,” the MK explained.
Five other MKs have already signed the bill, Walla! News reports: Shuli Muallem-Refaeli (Jewish Home), Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), Mickey Zohar (Likud), Avraham Nasoga (Likud), and Oren Hazan (Likud).
In accordance with the ruling of poskim that Jews are not permitted on Har Habayis, no chareidi MK’s support the move.