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Qur’an And Torah: Gog And Magog Perspectives – OpEd

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A book titled ‘An Islamic View of Gog and Magog in the Modern Age’ by Ibrahim Almoamir begins with: “I began my study of Gog and Magog more than fifteen years ago in the early 90’s while resident in New York. My subsequent public lectures on the subject never failed to provoke keen interest from my Muslim audiences in several parts of the world. The evidence and arguments presented in the chapter on Gog and Magog in my book, ‘Jerusalem in the Qur’an’, succeeded in convincing many who read the book that we now live in a world dominated by Gog and Magog”.

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One of the signs of the End of Days is the arrival and defeat of Gog and Magog (Ya’juj and Ma’juj or Ajuj and Majuj). Gog and Magog appear in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Islamic Quran as individuals, tribes, counties and in our days as racist nationalist states and political movements.

The Quran mentions Gog and Magog twice: “He said: “This (barrier) is a mercy from my Lord: but when the warning of my Lord comes to pass, He will reduce it to dust (and Gog and Magog—the Colonialist Empires, the Nazi racists, and the Communists would be released into the world); and the promise of my Lord is true.” (18:98)

So Gog and Magog are destructive groups like the Colonialist Empires, Nazi racists, and the Communists, who near the time of the end of days will penetrate into every part of the world.

The other mention of Gog and Magog in the Quran is: “But there is a ban on a town which We have destroyed: that they (the people of the town) shall not return (to reclaim that town as their own); until Gog and Magog are let through (the barrier), and swiftly spread out in every direction.” (21:95-96)

This verse refers to Jerusalem, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, and only reclaimed 18 1/2 centuries later as the State of Israel’s capital, following the era of the defeat of the Nazis, the Communists, and the Colonialist Empires, who had been Gog and Magog for many generations.

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Ibrahim Almoamir declares that “…the embrace of Gog and Magog – an embrace that will take 999 out of every 1000 of mankind into the hellfire. Despite my best efforts, however, I failed miserably, again and again, to convince my learned peers, the scholars of Islam, that Gog and Magog were even released into the world.”

Almoamir is wrong in claiming that ‘…the embrace of Gog and Magog – (is) an embrace that will take 999 out of every 1000 of mankind into the hellfire.) To say that Allah, the merciful one, would take (99.9%) of all humans into hellfire, is either paranoia or blasphemy. The scholars of Islam were wise to reject his extremism.

I am an American Reform Rabbi who has studied Islam for 60+ years; and I use both Biblical and Qur’anic insights to understand the last 3-5 centuries of world history. The classical scholars who lived many centuries before the era of Gog and Magog did not have the advantages that we have. I offer a 21st century understanding of the Messianic-Mahdi age we are now a part of.

“There is a ban on a town (Jerusalem) which we destroyed (and whose people were expelled)  that they (the townsman) can not return (to reclaim that town as their own) until Gog and Magog are released; and they spread out in all directions (establishing the Gog and Magog world-order).” (Qur’an 21:95-6)

This era when “Gog and Magog are released; and they spread out in all directions” begins slowly with four centuries of increasing European colonialism; and ends with the French-British agreement dividing up the Ottoman Empire’s Near East Arab countries, and the Communists taking over first Russia and then China.

The word “until” refers to the final releasing of Gog and Magog political anti-semitism in Germany and Russia which led, in the next two generations, to the Zionist movement and the rebirth of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel; which was tragically and violently opposed by many Palestinian leaders, who should have welcomed their cousins home.

The counter-attack of the Mahdi-Messiah democratic forces starts with the defeat of the Nazis, the Communists, the Colonial powers and Isis like religious extremists.

Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has a powerful eschatological strain. It anticipates an end to the world as we know it; a final historical confrontation between good and evil; after which human life will be transformed. As the Qur’an states: “Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews, Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, and do righteous good deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”. (2:62 and 5:69) Notice that the Qur’an specifically stresses religious pluralism in God’s judgment.

Some Ahadith have it that Jesus, will return to a place east of Damascus and will join forces with the Islamic messiah, the Mahdi, in a battle against the false messiah, the one eyed Dajjal, Armilos in Jewish tradition. After the death of both the Dajjal and the Mahdi, the Muslim Jesus will rule the Earth. This Hadith is not useful to Isis because the Hadith say that these events will come to pass when Islam itself is threatened by its own corrupt fanatics which is happening now.

As ibn Babuya writes in Thawab ul-A’mal, “The Apostle of God said: `There will come a time for my people when there will remain nothing of the Qur’an except its outward form, and nothing of Islam except its name, and they will call themselves by this name even though they are the people furthest from it. “The mosques will be full of people but they will be empty of right guidance. The religious leaders (Fuqaha) of that day will be the most evil religious leaders under the heavens; sedition and dissension will go out from them and to them will it return.”

Secularists believe that these apocalyptic visions of the future are absurd, although many secularists themselves fervently believe that run away genetic modification of food and/or extreme climate change is going to doom all of human civilization in the next generation.
After all, since the year 1600, Planet Earth has already estimated to have lost between 7.5% and 13% of the two million known species on Earth—a staggering 150,000 to 260,000 species.

The basic difference between the pessimistic, humanist secularists and religious optimists is that those who believe in the God of Abraham also believe that God’s inspiration guarantees that the spiritual forces of good will overcome all the world’s evils at the end of days; and justice, peace and religious pluralism will prevail. Or as Prophet Micah (4:1-5) envisions it:

“In the end of days the mountain of the Lord’s Temple will be established as the highest mountain; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many (not all) nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob. who will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’


“Torah will go out from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. God will judge between many (not all) peoples and will settle disputes among powerful nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughs, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig-tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. All the nations will walk in the name of their gods, and we (Jews) will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.”

Thus, the Bible and the Qur’an’s final judgement is the self-destruction of violent, hate filled terrorism and narrow ‘my way or death’ philosophy and the victory of kindness, love and religious pluralism. If we all can live up to the ideal that religious pluralism as the will of God. we will help fulfill the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah:

“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel  will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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