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The new Palestinian year: A mixture of myths and hope

February 19, 2022 at 2:34 pm

Palestinian artist Muhammed Tutah, who lost his leg during an Israeli attack in 2008, draws 2022 on the sands of the beach ahead of the new year in Gaza City, Gaza on 28 December 2021 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

For many Palestinians, 2022 is a very special year as it marks the beginning of the “downfall” of the Israeli occupation. This belief is widely spread by some Muslim religious scholars, Palestinian and non-Palestinian, especially the well-known Sheikh Bassaam Jarrār. Jarrār delivers his speeches at a local mosque in the outskirts of Ramallah in the West Bank. He was among more than 200 Palestinian leaders deported to south Lebanon by the Israeli occupation authorities in the early nineties.

Upon the orders of the Israeli prime minister, then Yitzhak Rabin, they were rounded up, put on buses and taken across the border to Lebanon, where they were thrown, in the middle of the chilling winter, under the eyes of the watchful international media. They stayed in a camp made of tents and insisted on returning to their homeland. For months, their tragedy was widely covered by major media agencies and represented a huge embarrassment for Israel, until finally, Israel had to take them back.

Jarrār claims that he could decipher one of the Holy Quran secrets foretelling the approximate date of the liberation of Palestine and the end of Israel. However, he does not claim it as a certainty; he claims that his inferences are logical, supported and 97 per cent true. His theory is, indeed, not new. He started voicing his ideas in the nineties, based on an old mathematical calculation system known as Hisāb alJummal, which is thousands of years old. It is a numerical system used by Arabs before the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and known by other civilisations and religions, including Judaism.

According to a specialised website: “The Abjad numerals, also called Hisab al-Jummal, are a decimal alphabetic numeral system/alphanumeric code, in which the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet are assigned numerical values,” better known in English as Arabic Geometric Numerology. According to Jarrār’s calculations, based on many Quranic texts, 2022 represents the actual beginning of Israel’s downfall. On 5 March, 2022, according to Jarrār, a huge event will mark the beginning of the “Israeli downfall”. How it will happen is not yet clear.

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Another well-known Muslim scholar, this time from Iraq, Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed Al-Rashed, listed seven reasons why Israel will collapse this year. One of them is a story narrated by an old Jewish lady who was his neighbour when he was a child in Baghdad in 1948. According to him, the lady rushed into their house wailing, and his mother asked her what was wrong. The old lady told her that Jews had declared a state in Palestine, and there is a Jewish prophecy that stated that if Jews established a state, it would be a sign of their destruction and would not last more than 76 years.

I heard a similar story from an old lady who was a friend and neighbour of my grandmother in the seventies. The old lady claimed that when she was living in Tiberias before the Israeli occupation forced them out of their homes, an old Jewish paddler told her that there would be a state for Jews in Palestine, but it would only last for 78 years.

Al-Rashed bases his theory on Sheikh Ahmad Yassin’s prediction in an interview with Al Jazeera news channel, where Yassin said Israel will cease to exist in 2027. Yassin claims that this is based on the story of 40 years of wilderness wandering mentioned in the Holy Quran and Torah. This tells us that there is a generation change, consisting of two phases. Each phase is forty years, and upon the completion of two generations, Israel will lose its foundations and collapse.

Al-Rashed links his conclusions to Jewish astronomy and astrology, indicating that Jewish rabbis attach much importance to astrological events. He references Halley’s comet, which occurs every 76 years, as its appearance in 164 BC signalled the destruction of the Jewish presence in Palestine. Yet, the celestial event is supposed to happen in 2061, so I am not sure how it would relate to this case.

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These stories are so common that some people even wrote books on them, such as Mohammed Al-Nobani, a Palestinian engineer I once met in Malaysia. He discusses certain Quranic calculations made by an Islamic scholar who lived in the 12th century, Ibn Barrajan Al-Andalusi, one of the greatest Sufis of Andalusia and a hadith scholar. He is most famous for his prediction of the conquering of Jerusalem from the crusaders by Salahudeen Ayyubi. Al-Nobani claims that he applied Ibn Barrajan’s methodology, and the result was the year 2022. This event, alleged to start the downfall cycle, is supposed to occur between March and June.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials and media frequently talk about normalising their relations with more Arab and Muslim countries. Gaza’s situation is becoming worse by the day, and the Israeli occupation is snapping up the status quo in Jerusalem, contrary to international law. Al-Aqsa Mosque was stormed by 63,000 Israeli settlers last year, and discontent in West Bank is simmering, waiting to explode. Hundreds of Palestinians lost their lives trying to illegally immigrate to Europe.

How these prophecies might affect the attitudes and behaviours of the people who believe in them could be the right question. Yet, we will find many in the traumatised Arab World who would wait for them to come true.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.