Op-Ed: Ishmael and the Temple Mount
Prof. Paul EidelbergProf. Paul Eidelberg (Ph.D. University of Chicago), former officer U.S. Air Force, is the founder and president of the Israel-America Renaissance Institute (I-ARI), www.i-ari.org, with offices in Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He has written several books on American and on Jewish Statesmanship. His magnum opus The Judeo-Scientific Foundations of American Exceptionalism: Today’s Choice for the “Almost Chosen People" is in process of publication. Prof. Eidelberg lives in Jerusalem.
The writer is president of the Israel-America Renaissance Institute.
Apropos of MK Israel Eldad's urging an end to Arab occupation of the Temple Mount, it is appropriate to recall the following teaching.
The Midrash states: "There are three whose names preceded [their birth]: Yitzhak [Isaac], Shlomo [King Solomon], and Yoshiyahu [Josiah]." As Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz points out in his masterpiece, WorldMask, all three names are conceptually connected to the Temple, the Beit Hamikdash.
A fourth name is mentioned, Ishmael, the main subject of this article.
Yitzhak represents "sacrifice," meaning drawing close to God. Rabbi Tatz writes: "Yitzhak was bound on the altar built on the site that would later become the Temple. He laid the foundation [the first stage] of the function of the Temple, the function of service and sacrifice, with his own being."
King Solomon built the second stage—the actual structure of the Temple. And he prepared a secret underground cavern with an entrance to the Holy of Holies so that when the destruction would occur later, there would be a place to hide the Aron (the Holy Ark).
The third stage was accomplished by King Yoshiyahu (Josiah) who, prior to the Temple's destruction, moved the Ark into its secret hiding place.
Now let us turn to Ishmael, the progenitor of the Arab world.
In Genesis 16:12, Ishmael is called a "pera adam"—literally a beast in the form of a human being, a "savage." "Savage" is precisely what Ibn Khaldun, a thirteenth-century Arab historian, called Ishmael's descendants! But let's probe verse 16:12 more closely.
Contrary to Hebrew usage, the adjective "pera" precedes the noun "adam." This means that Ishmael's humanity is inverted or deceptive. One might say he's human but not “humane.” Accordingly, the same Genesis 16:12 refers to Ishmael as a man whose "hand will be against every man," which is to say he will wage war against everyone. Churchill called the Quran "the Mein Kampf of war." Indeed, war has punctuated Arab-Islamic history since Muhammad.
But what has Ishmael to do with the Temple Mount?
It was Ishmael’s descendants who built the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Whereas the mosque is circular or curvilinear, the design of Israel's Temple is rectilinear.
It is known that circularity is representative of "Nature," a word that does not occur in the Bible of Israel. Nature is the domain of determinism, the absence of free will. Islam posits absolute determinism or predestination. Predestination precludes "personal responsibility" and "conscience"—concepts that distinguish human beings from beasts. We see nothing of this in Nature.
Naturalism—whether in Lucretius' de Rurum Natura or in Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion—is devoid of morality, of right and wrong that transcend the cultural differences of men and nations.
For example, to repay good with evil is wrong—absolutely wrong, independently of time and place. Surely you would be most uncomfortable dealing with a person who did not share this moral attitude, without which civilization and peace is impossible.
If Ishmael's humanity is misleading, perhaps his descendants' understanding of God is also misleading? Perhaps their notion of God has been warped by the doctrine of determinism, and perhaps this is why mosques are curvilinear and why they are places of worship for people whose religion is fatalistic?
Alternatively, perhaps Islam's theology exemplifies what scholars have called "monotheistic idolatry." Monotheistic idolatry renders God absolutely transcendent without any personal relationship to man. This idolatry logically precludes man's creation in the image of God—a Jewish and Christian idea foreign to Islamic theology.
Islamic theology therefore rejects what Yitzchak represents: man's closeness to God, or Abraham's idea of God as the "father" of mankind. This is profoundly significant. It could induce Muslims to regard "infidels" as subhuman!
After all, Islamic scriptures and Arab propaganda refer to Jews and Christians as pigs and dogs. Pigs and dogs do not have rights—at least not the rights of human beings.
Accordingly, in 1985, Sa'id Raja 'i-Khorassani, the permanent delegate to the United Nations from Iran, avowed that “the very concept of human rights was 'a Judeo-Christian invention' and inadmissible in Islam." According to the Ayatollah Khomeini, one of the Shah's most despicable sins was the fact that Iran was one of the nations that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Enter Iran's Shiite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
When Ahmadinejad vows to "wipe Israel off the map"—a vow proclaimed decades earlier by the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and elaborated both in the Hamas Covenant and the Fatah Constitution—this genocidal vow may be construed a theo-political manifestation of Islam's monotheistic idolatry.
Ponder the projected mosque at Ground-Zero. We can be certain that this mosque will eventually have an imam who will brazenly preach the Islamic equivalent of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's malediction, "Death to America"—and he will do so with impunity.
Ponder the projected mosque at Ground-Zero. We can be certain that this mosque will eventually have an imam who will brazenly preach the Islamic equivalent of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's malediction, "Death to America"—and he will do so with impunity given President Barack Obama's appointments to the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, two multicultural relativists like himself.
Be this as it may, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was constructed on the Temple Mount to teach Muslims everywhere the doctrine of Islamic supremacism—in this case the triumph of Islam over Judaism. On the other hand, that mosque also serves to visibly remind Jews that what they lack most by the absence of the Beit Hamikdash is the most profound closeness to God. Hence they are trapped in the circularity and determinism of Nature.
To escape this entrapment, Israel must be true to its God-given name—Yisrael—whose prefix, "yashar," means "straight" or truthful. To be true to its name, Israel must sanctify the Name of God by living according to His Torah, exemplifying a nation wherein freedom dwells with righteousness, equality with excellence, wealth with beauty, the present with love of the Eternal.
How contrary to Islam's art of deception, taqiyya. This art is conceptually linked to Islam's bellicosity and to Allah's attribute of Power as opposed to Reason and Justice. Whereas Reason and Justice can unite men willingly, Power can only unite men through fear and coercion, and then only for a ,unless sustained by a militant ideology. This is why Islam suppresses freedom of speech and books written by "infidels." Islam demands undeviating obedience.
Contrast how Abraham questioned the justice of God's decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorra. That dialogue signifies that God is immanent as well as transcendent. One could draw this conclusion logically from God's infinity, but Abraham's dialogue with God makes this vivid. Notice, however, that the immanence of God is unknown to Islam, whose founder and caliphs equate Allah with the attribute of Power as opposed to Reason and Justice.
That unqualified attribute of Power impels Islam to wage war against civilization whose foundational principles are Reason and Justice. That is what monotheistic idolatry and the Ground-Zero mosque portend.
Indeed, as Robert Reilly, author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind, has pointed out, the patron of that mosque, the Sufi imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, reputedly a "moderate," has given as his intellectual genealogy: al-Ghazali, ibn Taymiyya, and ibn Wahhab—who utterly rejected the Greco-Judeo-Christian foundations of Western civilization.
To paraphrase some arcane thoughts about monotheistic idolatry contained in an essay of Professor Kenneth Hart Green:
Green regards Islam's Nazi-style anti-Semitism combined with its fanatical and obscurantist Holocaust denial as a manifestation of "monotheistic idolatry," which he also calls "absolute idolatry."
According to Green, monotheistic idolatry presents itself as God (or at least His immediate mouthpiece or representative), which makes Islam capable of justifying and sanctifying murder as good.
This idolatry simultaneously produces radical evil and unconscious denial of its evil, because as God (or His spokesman), it can legitimately deny that what it is doing is evil.
Green views this demonic phenomenon as the moral corruption of contemporary Islam, and he relates it to Islam's virtually "religious" commitment to Holocaust denial.
Given, however, its fanatical history of murder, rapine, and destruction across three continents, it seems to me that “monotheistic idolatry” has been percolating in Islam from its very inception, that is, from its superimposition of a warped or truncated monotheism on pre-existing Arab polytheism whose gods compete in power.
Perhaps the Muslim chant "Allahu Akbar" is Muslim boast—that Allah is more powerful than other gods?
Of course, all this is beyond the domain of public discourse. Hence we are daily inundated by feckless "political correctness" or disarming drivel about Islam, even from eminent personalities who oppose the Ground-Zero mosque and who know well enough that far more is involved than the issue of sensitivity to the victims of 9/11.
That projected mosque represents Islamic triumphalism. Its modus operandi is "stealth Shariah." Its goal is the demise of the United States and Western civilization.
1 Cited in Robert Spencer, Islam Unveiled (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2002), 57.
2 Kenneth Hart Green, “Leo Strauss’ Challenge to Emil Fackenheim: Heidegger, Radical Historicism, and Diabolical Evil,” in S. Portnoff, J.A. Diamond, and M.D. Yaffe (eds.) Emil L. Fackenheim: Philosopher, Theologian, Jew (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2008), 151n42.