Following is a WorldNetDaily exclusive interview with Sheik Kamal Hatib, vice-chairman of the Islamic Movement, the Muslim group in Israel most identified with Temple Mount militancy. The Movement, which Israel says is associated with Hamas, campaigns for Islamic control of Israeli holy sites, and has been calling the past few weeks for Muslims to ascend the Mount en mass to protect it from “Jewish attacks.”
Translated from Arabic by Ali Waked.
WND: Who should have sovereignty over the Temple Mount – Jews, Christians, or Muslims. Or should it be shared?
HATIB: We absolutely believe that Al Aqsa, all its different parts, all its walls, all its courts, and everything down the mosque or up it, all these fully belong to the Muslims. Only to them. No one other than the Muslims has any right over Al Aqsa, or even over any grain of its sand. We, the Muslims, insist and emphasize that the only sovereignty over Al Aqsa must be for the Muslims. We will not accept or recognize any other sovereignty, including shared control.
WND: But what about the previous Jewish Temples? Do you believe they existed? Do Jews have any historic claims to the Temple Mount whatsoever?
HATIB: We the Muslims believe that Al Aqsa was built since the time of Adam – God bless him. It was built 40 years after the construction of the Al Haram Mosque in Mecca which was built thousands of years ago. Al Aqsa was built by the angels as it is mentioned in a verse of the Quran. The mosque is mentioned in the Quran, which speaks about the raising of the prophet.
We believe that the Jewish Temples existed, but we deny they were built near Al Aqsa. When the First Temple was built by Solomon – God bless him – Al Aqsa was already built. We don’t believe that a prophet like Solomon would have built the Temple at a place where a mosque existed.
WND: What you are saying contradicts reality. There is no serious scholar or archeologist in the world who argues Al Aqsa was built before the Jewish Temples. And if the Temples didn’t exist on the Mount, what then do you say is the Western Wall? What do you make of all the archeological findings?
HATIB: About the Kotel (the Western Wall), we deny any relation between the Temple and the Al Aqsa Mosque. We believe that the Western Wall is part of the mosque and not the Wall of Lamentation, as the Jews say. … The Western wall is an inseparable part of the mosque.
And all the historical and archeological facts deny any relation between the Temples and the location of Al Aqsa. We must know that Jerusalem was occupied and that people left many things, coins and other things everywhere. This does not mean in any way that there is a link between the people who left these things and the place where these things were left.
WND: You have been calling repeatedly for Muslims to protect Al Aqsa from Jewish attack. Which Jews exactly are trying to attack Al Aqsa?
HATIB: We believe the danger over Al Aqsa existed and continues. As long as Jewish groups have ambitions to reconstruct their Temple at the same place of Al Aqsa, the danger of an attack will still exist. Some of these Jewish extremist groups even believe the years between 2005-2007 is the period in which the Temple must be built, and not building it by then means the Lord’s anger will be directed towards them, as they argue. Therefore, this is a very sensitive period and we call in a very loud voice to all who are concerned that the mosque is a redline for us, and any harm caused to it will bring a great catastrophe and a great disaster. The Israelis and the Jewish people will have to face one and a half billion Muslims from all over the world.
WND: It seems you and the Islamic Movement are using Al Aqsa as a political tool to incite Muslims against Israel.
HATIB: Our relation with Al Aqsa is not a political question. Far from that, it is a question of religion and faith. We have the honor to fill this role in favor of Al Aqsa. If the Israelis thought that the Arabs in Israel would not have strong relations and feelings towards Al Aqsa, then they were mistaken. This mosque will always be part of our faith. Our demand from the Israelis and the world is not to desecrate it.
WND: What if a Jew did attack the mosque?
HATIB: We suggest to the Jews and Israelis not to be dazzled from the weakness of our nation at this period. [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’s provocative visit five years ago caused an intifada for the last five years and caused the killing of more than 4,000 Palestinians and more than 1,300 Israelis. Therefore we say that any attack against Al Aqsa means the deluge.
WND: You were talking about Al Aqsa being mentioned in the Quran. But I understand it is never directly mentioned. And the city of Jerusalem is not mentioned once. Commentators later concluded a verse about Muhammad descending to the furthest mosque referred to Al Aqsa. Meanwhile, Jerusalem is mentioned thousands of times throughout the Torah. Half the Torah is about Temple worship. Explain why you feel the Mount is not holy to Jews?
HATIB: The fact that Jerusalem is mentioned in the Torah does not in any way mean that the city was populated or built by the Jews. Everyone knows that when the prophet Abraham came from Iraq in 1850 before Christ he was given by the Arab King Melchizedek the land where he and his wife lived in Hebron, and it was 600 years before Moses’ message, which also proves that Abraham was not a Jew.
And your saying that our faith is based on this interpretation of the verse [about Al Aqsa] is a totally wrong analysis. The Al Aqsa of the Quran is the same Al Aqsa of our days, not any other mosque. That is what our Sharia says. As for what you say that Jerusalem is mentioned thousands of times in the Torah; it is not a matter of numbers and quantity. There is a very clear historical event mentioned in the Quran concerning the mosque that was built by Adam and where all our prophets prayed.
WND: Speaking of praying, currently, Jews and Christians can only ascend the Mount at certain hours on certain days, and only with approval from the Wafq (the Mount’s Muslim custodians). If they go up, it is to tour. Non-Muslims are not allowed to pray on the Mount. Why is it so offensive to you if Jews or Christians pray on the Temple Mount?
HATIB: We don’t want even these scheduled visits, which are allowed to take place only because of the Israeli occupation. The visits are not the result of a free choice of the Muslims and the Wafq. If it was not for Israel, these visits could not take place at all.
As a principle, we are not against the possibility that Jews and Christians enter our mosques, but in present there is a campaign against Al Aqsa and the Jewish occupation still has dangerous ambitions towards the mosque and every entry will be done to demonstrate a religious presence. Therefore, if they would enter freely into the mosque, there will be political consequences and interpretations that we cannot accept.
Speaking about the Christians, I say that every person who believes in God must act for peace and for love among human beings and not to help in creating hate and war. Unfortunately, the evangelical Christians believe in the necessity of a war of civilizations. Because of this belief, President Bush, supported by these groups, is leading this war against the Muslim world.
The crazy support of these Christian groups for Israel is based on their faith that the return of the Messiah – God bless him – would be in Israel. Therefore they support Israel, because they believe that the continuation of Israel to exist hastens the arrival of the Messiah. God forbid! The Messiah can never be the reason for war.