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Pastor Matthew Fanning

OUT OF EGYPT:  A Christian Analysis of Obama’s Cairo Speech

Part 3 - Why the Story of Isra?

The last part of Obama’s Cairo address to the Muslim world, was a reference to the Koranic story of the Isra of Mohammed.

All of us have a responsibility to work for this day when the mothers of Israeli’s and Palestinians could, can see their children grow up without fear, when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be, when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews, Christians and Muslims and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra- as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus and Mohammed-peace be upon them- joined in prayer. (Obama speech)

Remember that Obama is simultaneously speaking to two completely different audiences in this unprecedented and in many respects groundbreaking speech, he is addressing the Muslim world, one billion people, literally spanning the globe. At the same time listening in is the western world, most of which definitely wants ‘peace and safety’ and cannot figure out why there is so much hostility and terrorism emanating from the world of Islam. Why do they hate us? What can we do to ‘fix this’?

Why did Obama refer to the Isra? Most westerners no doubt, have never heard of it, until this speech. But it sounds good, the vision of the three major monotheistic faiths praying together in peace and harmony in Jerusalem! Moses, representing the Jews, Jesus, the Christians, and Mohammed, the Muslims, all joining in prayer? What a vision of peace and ecumenical unity! It’s just the kind of vision the vaguely observant, post Christian, secularized west would embrace. Can’t we all just get along? Can’t the religions just start praying together and quit fighting? Most westerners unfortunately would be unable to perceive the blasphemy in the suggestion of Mohammed, Jesus and Moses praying together as equals because they aren’t religious anymore - they just want peace and safety.

But Obama’s speech was directed to the Muslim world.  They know what the Isra is. Evidently, Mohammed is said to have been visited in the Kaaba in Mecca by Gabriel the angel. Gabriel brought him a winged steed named “Buraq” (amazing isn’t it, Buraq, Barrack?) Buraq supposedly carried Mohammed to the “furthest mosque” from Mecca; the Koran doesn’t state the location. The Buraq eventually takes Mohammed to heaven where he leads Moses and Jesus in prayer.  Muslims would not see ecumenism in Mohammad, Jesus and Moses praying because they believe that all three are Muslim.  

The Muslims claim that Jerusalem is their city, and preposterously that it has never been a possession of the Jews. Nowhere in the Koran is Jerusalem even mentioned. Where then, do the Muslims claim the right to the city of Jerusalem as their third holiest site? From the story of the Isra in which Muslim scholars have claimed that Jerusalem is the “furthest mosque” referred to – the same story Obama cites in his speech.  Could this be Obama’s way of reinforcing to the Muslim world their claim to Jerusalem?

The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.  Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.  And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. (Zechariah 12:3)