Tears...on the Vow of Omar
by Ghassan Mukahhal
Assafir, Nov 24, 1999

History shall register that on the 22nd of November,
1999, at the doorstep of the third millenium AD,
visitors to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
stood crying in front of it, frustrated at not being
able to visit it, because of its closure, perhaps for
the first time since its erection, in protestation by
those in charge of it over injustice that has
afflicted them from their Muslim brothers!!

History shall also register that Muslims from
Palestine sought aid from the Zionists, against their
Christian brothers, and imposed the erection of a
mosque on the lot in front of the Basilica of the
Annunciation, not for reasons related to lack of
worship places, but for oppression [qahr] of Christian
Palestinians, in a behavior totally opposite to
Islamic behavior in Palestine since Islam reached the
land of Palestine at the hands of the Great Caliph
[Khalifeh] Omar Bin Al-Khattab.

History shall also register that the man who laid the
cornerstone for the mosque stood flaunting
[yatamarjal] and declaring that leaders of the
Palestinian Authority and of Arab countries have
nothing to do with Palestinians in the Occupied
Territories from 1948, indicating that patronage and
responsibility there belong to the Israeli

What is happening now on the land of Palestine is more
than a discord between Muslims and Christians, of the
same nation and cultural identity, and is more than
division that Israel is fomenting, taking advantage of
weak souls. What is happening constitutes the first
serious attempt to break the vow that Caliph Omar gave
to the people of Palestine, which was the basis for
unique peaceful coexistence on the land of Palestine
and one of the principles of Islamic presence in

It is a vow no one broke or altered before, even at
the peak of Islamic-Christian conflict in the Middle
Ages, and especially during the Crusades--that is the
period when the mujahid Shahabuddin, whose name the
instigators are using for their purposes, fell
martyr--and the proofs for that are too numerous to
count. Of note, Salahuddin [Saladin] personally
protected Christians and their rights even at the
worst times during the war with the Crusaders, and he
did not retribute for the massacres in Jerusalem that
the Crusaders committed, but responded by promoting
tolerance and solidifying coexistence [among the
people of Palestine].

It is a path laid down by Caliph Omar, through his
avoidance of praying inside the Church of the
Resurrection in Jerusalem, for fear of extremists
(like the ones instigating strife in Nazareth) who
would want to destroy it [and build a mosque or ...]
if Omar prayed in it. It is a path laid down by Caliph
Omar, through his provision of peace to Christian
Palestinians, the people of As-Sayyed Al-Maseeh
[Prophet Issa, Jesus Christ], so that they can live
with security, peace of mind, and dignity on their
land, the land of prophecy and holiness...

It is a vow that Omar gave for the sake of both
Christians and Muslims, so that the land of Palestine
remains a land of peace, however hard the times may be
and however cruel and divisive the aggressors (the
Zionists being the latest of them) may be.