The tomb of the Prophet Samuel lies to the north of Jerusalem. Built on the heights, it is a sentinel overlooking the city and the desert beyond, visible from miles around. It has been an outlook protecting the city, for over a thousand years. As such, over the centuries the traditional resting place of Samuel the Prophet has seen armies clash at its feet, conquerors come and go, and pilgrims of many faiths assembled in worship.
The site offers breathtaking views of Jerusalem, especially from the roof of the structure. There is mosque here, built on the ruins of a Crusader fortress, as well as a small synagogue. In Hebrew, it is known as Kever Shmuel and in Arabic as Nebi Samwil.
We know from the response of Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn (Abi) Zimra (the Radbaz), a 15th century scholar, that this was a site of pilgrimage already then, where Jews came to celebrateupsheren, the ceremonial first hair-cut of three-year-old boys, particularly on the 28th day of the Jewish month of Iyar, the anniversary of Samuel’s death. Samuel was a nazir – he had made a vow never to cut his hair – so the custom seems appropriate. To this day, crowds gather on the 28th of Iyar (which coincides with Yom Yerushalayim, the day of Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967) to celebrate upsheren, continuing the ancient tradition.
Having said all that, Israel is being verbally blasted by leading Islamic religious figures after the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria announced its intention to renovate the Tomb of Samuel, the burial site of the great judge and leader of ancient Israel, Samuel the Prophet.The site is located just north of Jerusalem, even though Samuel grew up in Shiloh in the heart of Samaria (in the so-called West Bank).
Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf Adeis has referred to the planned renovation as “religious persecution being carried out by the Israeli government on Islamic and Christian holy sites in Palestine.”
Lest anyone think that this proposed renovation might actually be a case of religious persecution, the question must be asked: What is really bugging these Muslims?
To understand the answer, it’s worthwhile to pay some attention to the building of other Islamic “places of worship”, especially in the Land of Israel, but it would be instructive to start with one such site in New York City. Many Americans were shocked a few years ago by the announcement of “The Cordoba Initiative”, a worldwide Islamic effort to raise funds for the construction of a fifteen story mosque and Islamic cultural center next to Ground Zero in Manhattan, the site of one of the worst Islamic terrorist attacks in history.
The name of the project was not without significance. Cordoba was the city in southern Spain where the first great mosque in Spain was built at the onset of the Islamic conquest in the eighth century. It also served as a symbol of this conquest, as the great mosque in Cordoba had been symbolically built on the foundations of a large Christian Cathedral that the Muslims had destroyed.
One historical fact that many folks in the West are unaware of is that Muslims have always built their mosques on the ruins of historically significant sites of other religions. This is to show their sovereignty and the triumph of Islam over all of the people who they refer to in the Koran as “the unbelievers”.
Several poignant examples:
The Temple Mount – The massive Islamic Dome of the Rock structure was built on top of the ruins of the Holy Temple of Israel in Jerusalem.
The Cave of the Patriarchs – The large prayer area in Hebron that the Muslims call the Ibrahimi Mosque, today dominates the site that the biblical father of Israel, Abraham, bought to bury his wife Sarah, and where the Patriarchs of Israel and most of the Matriarchs of Israel are buried. Samuel’s Tomb – A large mosque complex was built above and around the tiny that houses the tomb of Samuel the Prophet.
If Israel was to destroy any of the above “Islamic” sites, which were all built illegally as an invasion of Jewish holy sites, it would be standing on firm moral ground. Obviously, this won’t be done in the near future due to the international political ramifications, as perceived by Israel’s current political leadership, but it would certainly be an historical correction of a severe injustice perpetrated by Islam.
However, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Simply renovating Samuel’s Tomb is an absolutely minimal exercise of Israel taking responsibility as the sovereign authority for a religious, historical site that needs renovation. The Islamic savages may scream and yell and complain about persecution, but if their ruckus turns into riots or attempts at terrorism, they should be crushed with no hesitation. There is only one legitimate sovereign authority in the Land of Israel and it is indeed an act of folly to be merciful towards those who are making religious war against us on every level.
It would be wise to remember that Samuel the Prophet made the ultimate statement about asserting Israeli sovereignty, by appointing the first two kings of Israel – Saul and then David, who united the Land of Israel under Israel’s sovereignty, some 1,500 years before Islam was invented. That lesson about asserting sovereignty should be heeded today, as well.