The History of Palestine: Muslim Jewish Relations

“Jerusalem is not Jerusalem without Jews” - Chalip Umar Ibn Al Kattab

As Muslims and Arabs are increasingly portrayed as barbaric and antisemitic, it's essential to counter this narrative with facts.
Fact 1: The Jewish presence in Jerusalem was zero before the Muslim conquest of Palestine - as Jews had been expelled from the city and barred from returning by Roman, then Christian rulers.
Fact 2: The Jewish presence in Jerusalem started only after the Muslim conquest, with Caliph Umar Ibn Al Khatab insisting that Jewish families be invited back and housed in the city
Fact 3: While Jews across Europe faced persecution and programs, they flourished in Islamic countries such as Spanish Andalusia, where they held positions such as Prime Minister and General
Fast 4: During waves of persecution in Medieval Europe, many Jews found refuge in Muslim lands - with cities like Baghdad, Cairo, and Istanbul serving as principal places of refuge


1st Muslim Conquest of Jerusalem
637 AD – Jewish Population: 0

Muslims under the leadership of Chalip Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭab defeat the Christian Byzantine Empire

Ended 500 years of Jewish oppression.

  • Overturned the ban on Jews living and worshiping in Jerusalem
  • Cleaned the Temple Mount and invited seventy Jewish families to settle on its southern end

Marks the start of Jewish presence in Jerusalem for the first time in 500 years


2nd Muslim Conquest of Jerusalem
1187 AD - Jewish Population: 0

Muslims under the leadership of Salah ad-Din defeat the European Catholic Crusader States

 Ended 200 years of Jewish and Orthodox oppression.

  • Overturned the ban on Jews, Copts, and Orthodox Christians living and worshiping in the city
  • Invited Jewish families from Ascalon to relocate to the city


Muslim Iberia (Andalusia)
“Golden age of Jewish culture” in Spain  - 711-1491 AD

Where Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life flourished while their counterparts in Christian Europe faced pogroms and persecution

  Samuel ibn Naghrillah

  Talmudic scholar and  poet

  Prime Minister of Granada and battlefield commander of the army



Moses ben Maimon

Prolific Torah scholar

Served as the personal physician of the Chalip Saladin



A place of refuge 

1187 AD – 1917 AD

The Middle East served as place of refuge for Jews driven out of Europe by massacres and persecution

Example | Sultan Bayezid II sent ships to save the Sephardic Jews from the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 and invited them to settle in the Ottoman Empire

This led to a large increase of the Jewish population in the region with the population in Jerusalem alone increasing from 70 families to over 1,500 people