This week, five terrorist attacks claimed the lives of 11 Israelis. Some experts believe that this violence results from Muslim ‘prophecies’ circulating for 25 years. And with Ramadan beginning Saturday night, this violence is, for many reasons, expected to get even worse.
On Wednesday night, a Palestinian terrorist murdered four Israelis in Bnei Brak. Just two days earlier, two Israeli-Arab terrorists murdered two 19-year-old Border Police officers in Hadera in an attack claimed by the Islamic State. One week earlier, a Bedouin-Palestinian terrorist killed four Israelis in a stabbing and vehicular ramming attack in Beersheba.
In 1997, Sheikh Bassam Jarrar, a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian scholar, wrote “Israel’s Disappearance in 2022 – Quran Prophecy or Numerical Coincidence”. In the book, Jarrar interpreted a section of the Koran known as the Sura al-Isra, which stated that the Jews corrupted the land twice. Jarrar interpreted this to mean that Jews corrupted Medina in the time of Mohammad and would come to corrupt Jerusalem in current days. Using Arabic numerology known as Hisāb alJummal, Jarrar inspected the appearances in the Koran of the number 19, a significant number in Islam. Ironically, he cites a “legend or prophecy” he attributed to an old Jewish woman from Tiberias who, before the state was established, predicted Israel would exist for 76 years (four times 19) and no more.
Based on his calculations, Jarrar stated that 2022 was the beginning of Israel’s downfall. On 5 March of this year, Jarrār predicted that a huge event would mark the beginning of the “Israeli downfall.”
The Israeli government deported Jarrar to Lebanon in 1993, but his book sparked a wave of ‘prophecies’ about the imminent demise of Israel. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the founder of Hamas who died in 2004, told Al Jazeera that Israel will cease to exist in 2027. He based this on the story of 40 years of wilderness wandering mentioned in the Koran and the Torah. He explained that this was an example of an entire generation as a stage of change. Each phase is forty years, and upon the completion of two generations, Israel will lose its foundations and collapse.
Iraqi Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed Al-Rashed cited Yassin while listing seven reasons Israel will cease to exist this year. He also related a story about an old Jewish woman who, upon hearing in 1948 that Israel had declared its independence, cited a ‘prophecy’ that this was a sign of its ultimate destruction and would not last more than 76 years.
Al-Rashed linked his conclusions to Jewish astronomy and astrology, claiming that rabbis attach much importance to astrological events. Al-Rashed referenced Halley’s comet, which passes by the Earth every 76 years. He stated that its appearance in 164 BCE signaled the destruction of the Jewish presence in “Palestine” (sic).
This reference by Al-Rashed is incongruous as Haley’s Comet is not expected to pass by the Earth until 2061. It is incongruous as the First Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, and the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. The first confirmed sighting of Haley’s Comet was in 240 BCE, over 300 years after the destruction of the First Temple. Haley’s Comet did appear in 66 CE but was described by the Romano-Jewish historian Josephus as appearing several years before the destruction of the Second Temple.
In 2014, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said that the Palestinians would liberate all of Palestine “within eight years” in 2022. In 2015, in an interview on Lebanese TV, the Imam of the mosque of Al Quds in Sidon, Maher Hamoud, said that “according to calculations based on the Quran, the end of Israel will be in 2022.”
In February, Dr. Mohammad Makram Balawi, a Palestinian writer and academic based in Istanbul, wrote that “for many Palestinians, 2022 is an exceptional year as it marks the beginning of the ‘downfall’ of the Israeli occupation.”
“How these prophecies might affect the attitudes and behaviors of the people who believe in them could be the right question. Yet, we will find many in the traumatized Arab World who would wait for them to come true,” he wrote.
Perhaps the most influential of these ‘prophecies was stated in an interview with Al Jazeera by Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the founder of Hamas who died in 2004. Yassin told Al Jazeera that Israel would cease to exist in 2027. He based this on the story of 40 years of wilderness wandering mentioned in the Koran and the Torah. He explained that this was an example of an entire generation as a stage of change. Each phase is forty years, and upon the completion of two generations, Israel will lose its foundations and collapse. Yasin cited the Koran’s version of the Exodus in which Allah commanded the children of Israel to wander in the wilderness for 40 years so that the cowardly generation would die and a warrior generation would rise in its place.
Yassin claimed that “the Palestinian people were defeated in 1948 and expelled from their homeland”. He noted that 40 years later, the Intifada broke out in Gaza and “forced Israel and the world to recognize the existence of the Palestinian people.” He used this as the basis for his claim that Israel would end within the next 40 years.
These ‘prophecies’ will take on intensified import in the coming weeks as the month-long Ramadan period will begin on Saturday evening.
Dr. Kedar: Ramadan, holy violence
Dr. Mordechai Kedar believes that the current wave of violence is partly a result of these prophecies.
“This belief was recycled and discussed, so now it has roots and is considered mainstream among Palestinians,” Dr. Kedar said. “Of course, the Muslims believe that Mohammad was the last prophet, but just as the Jews listen to holy rabbis as a form of lesser prophecy, the Muslims have their modern-day semi-prophets. Their connection to the deity and deeper understanding gives them authority.”
He explained that observing the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the lunar Hijri calendar, is one of the Five Pillars of Faith of Islam. It is characterized by sunrise to sunset fasting and refraining from smoking and marital relations.
“By distancing themselves from the matters of this world, the Muslim is free to sanctify himself to religious matters. This is primarily through introspection, prayer, repentance, and acts of charity.”
“In Islamic history, Ramadan is also known as a time of great victories. This is accredited to their dedication to Allah. Since the Muslim devotion to Allah is intensified during Ramadan, victories over their enemies are seen as a sign of Allah’s favor granted for this devotion.”
Two such prominent battles were the Battle of Badr, fought in 624 CE, the Battle of Hattin in 1187, and the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260.
It is important to note that the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, known to Jews as the Yom Kippur War, is referred to by the Arabs as the Ramadan War. As both sides were fighting on their holy days, it was indeed perceived by the Muslim instigators as a battle of religions.
“We are certainly witnessing this in our times when the intensifying religious fervor manifests in nationalist violence. This will certainly be targeted against the Jews and perhaps become focused on the ‘Al Aqsa,’ the term the Palestinians now use to describe the entire Temple Mount.”
“What we are seeing now is an accumulation of many things, including the prophecies about this year as prophesied and the intensity of Ramadan. But this year is also the result of a catastrophic political deterioration that began in the wake of the conflict last May. Hamas fired 4,600 rockets into Israel, and at the same time, the Bedouins in the south and the Palestinians inside Israel initiated violence. There were even rockets from Lebanon. We see them all as separate, maybe as a divide and conquer ideology. But that should have shown us that they don’t see themselves as divided. The response was very weak, partly out of bad politics and a weak government and partly because the police were overwhelmed. The Arabs certainly understood that Israel would collapse if they united all their efforts. If the Arabs rise up on all fronts, inside and outside Israel, in three days, they will be able to kill whoever they want.”