Jerusalem Under Different Rulers
The hot sun scorched the master and his attendant. The long journey tired them. They only had one camel, and they rode it turn by turn. By chance, it happened to be the attendant’s turn to ride the camel the day they were going to reach their destination. “Commander of the Faithful,” said the attendant, “I give up my turn. It will be awkward in the eyes of the people if I ride and you walk.”
“Oh, no,” replied the master, “It’s your turn. I am not going to be unfair.”
They were received by the commanders of the Muslim army. The commanders were wearing clothes of silk, and this enraged the master. He picked up a rock and threw it at them, saying, “Have you changed so much in just two years? What dress is this?”
The officers replied, “Commander of the Faithful, we are in a land where the value of clothes worn tells the status of a man. If we wear ordinary clothes, we will command little or no respect among the people.” This answer cooled the anger of the master.
Who was the master? It was none other than the second Caliph, Umar (May God be pleased with him). He had journeyed all the way from Medina to Jerusalem to sign a peace treaty with the rulers of Jerusalem.
Afterwards, Umar signed the peace treaty. It read as follows:
“This is the protection which the servant of God, Umar, the Ruler of the Believers, has granted to the people of Jerusalem. The protection is for their lives and properties, their churches and crosses, their sick and healthy and for all their coreligionists. Their churches shall not be used for habitation, nor shall they be demolished, nor shall any injury be done to them or to their compounds, or to their crosses, nor shall their properties be injured in any way. There shall be no compulsion for these people in the matter of religion, nor shall any of them suffer any injury on account of religion... Whatever is written herein is under the covenant of God and the responsibility of His Messenger, of the Caliphs and of the believers, and shall hold good as long as they pay Jizya [the tax for their defense] imposed on them.”
The gates of the city were opened and Umar went to the Masjid Aqsa, the third most holy place in Islam, and prayed. Afterwards, the Bishop of the city invited him to tour the biggest church of the city. Umar was in the church when the time for the after-noon prayer came. The Bishop offered to let him pray in the church.
“No,” replied Umar, “If I do so, the Muslims one day might take this as an excuse to take the church from you.” So Umar prayed on the steps of the church. He then gave the Bishop a pact that forbade the Muslims from ever praying on the steps of the church.
Thus was the conquest of Jerusalem by the Muslims. Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others lived together peacefully under Muslim rule until 1099 CE when the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem.
The French historian Michaud (1767-1839), who traveled in the Middle East and wrote a book on the Crusades called Bibliotheque des Croisades (Library of the Crusades), says on the conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099, “The Muslims were massacred in the streets and in the houses. Some fled from death by precipitating themselves from the ramparts; others crowded for shelter into the palaces, the towers and above all, in the mosques where they could not conceal themselves from the Crusaders. The Crusaders, masters of the Mosque of Umar, where the Muslims defended themselves for sometime, renewed their deplorable scenes which disgraced the conquest of Titus. The infantry and the cavalry rushed pell-mell among the fugitives. Amid the most horrid tumult, nothing was heard but the groans and cries of death; the victors trod over heaps of corpses in pursuing those who vainly attempted to escape.”
“There was a short lull in the act of slaughter when the Crusaders assembled to offer their thanksgiving prayer for the victory they had achieved. But soon it was renewed with great ferocity. All the captives, whom the lassitude of carnage had at first spared, all those who had been saved in the hope of rich ransom, were butchered in cold blood. The Muslims were forced to throw themselves from the tops of towers and houses; they were burnt alive; they were dragged from their subterranean retreats, they were hauled to the public places, and immolated on piles of the dead. Neither the tears of women nor the cries of little children--- not even the sight of the place where Jesus Christ forgave his executioners, could mollify the victors' passion... The carnage lasted for a week. The few who escaped were reduced to horrible servitude.”
Raymond d'Agiles, who was an eye-witness, says, “Under the portico of the mosque, the blood was knee-deep, and reached the horses' bridles.”
Such was the cruelty shown by the Crusaders. In total contrast to this, the Muslims, when they had conquered Jerusalem showed total respect and nobility. They let the population alone. They shed no blood. They made sure that the churches weren’t changed into Masjids.
The treatment that Umar gave wasn’t one isolated event in Muslim history. There were hundreds of such incidents. In fact, all of these were in line with the tradition Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam (Peace be upon him) set when he conquered Makkah. The day in which he declared to the pagan Makkan chiefs, “You are free from all fears today. May God forgive you.”
When the Muslims re-conquered Jerusalem in 1187, they again showed extreme mercy and kindness. The ruler at the time, Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi, gave free pardon to the Christians in the city. Only the soldiers were required to pay a very small fee. However, the Sultan himself paid the fee for about ten thousand people. His brother paid it for seven thousand people. Salahuddin also allocated one of the gates of the city for people who were too poor to pay anything to leave from there. A number of weeping Christian women carrying their children in their arms approached the Sultan and said, “You see us on foot, the wives, mothers and daughters of the warriors who are your prisoners; we are quitting forever this country; they aided us in our lives, in losing them we lose our last hope; if you give them to us, they can alleviate our miseries and we shall not be without support on earth”. The Sultan was highly moved with their appeal and set free their men. Those who left the city were allowed to carry all their bag and baggage. The commanders under the Sultan competed with each other in showing mercy to the defeated Crusaders.
Today, the Zionists in Israel are doing similar to what the Crusaders did.
Innocent civilians are randomly tortured and killed. Little children are shot. Hospitals regularly overflow with patients. Entire blocks are bulldozed for no reason.
Palestinians on the streets during curfew, even those seeking medicine or food are shot out of hand. Kids throwing stones at heavily armored tanks are gunned down, schools are destroyed, clinics ransacked, homes plundered, tank shells lobbed into marketplaces and missiles hurled into crowds.
While settlers fill their swimming pools, Palestinians go begging for water; the Israeli army destroys wells.
Countless orchards nurtured over generations have been wiped out, marketplaces bulldozed, civilian infrastructure everywhere trashed, often for no apparent security reason.
Palestinian paramedics are beaten to a pulp by the Zionist soldiers, used as human shields by them, kidnapped or delayed for hours from reaching patients.
Israeli soldiers use terrifying methods of torture. They beat innocent people going about their daily lives. They detain random people for undefined periods of time. They use poison gas against protesting civilians. They shell crowded houses in the middle of the night. They routinely disallow Muslims to offer their prayers in Al-Aqsa Masjid, the third holiest site in Islam.
Jerusalem is a holy land for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. All live there. All have ruled there at different times. But their rules were not the same. Some filled it with justice; others with oppression.