In July of this year (2009), I travelled to Istanbul to meet with Muslim leader Adnan Oktar. You may watch a video of one of our meetings or read the full transcript here. Shortly after our meeting, Mr. Oktar also met with three representatives from the Reformed Israeli Sanhedrin. See my post regarding this meeting here. As well as the following two commentaries regarding these meetings here:
Now, three of the Sanhedrin Rabbis have returned to Turkey to meet once again with Mr. Oktar.
The offical statement regarding this meeting was released by the Sanhedrin on their web-site and may be read here. A video of the meeting may be viewed here, but I recommend reading the full transcript below:
ALI SADUN ENGIN: … I would like to start our program first by introducing our guests. This gentleman is Rabbi Hollander. Welcome Mr. Hollander.
RABBI HOLLANDER: Thank you very much.
ALI SADUN ENGIN: Rabbi Abrahamson, on the right. Welcome Mr. Abrahamson.
RABBI ABRAHAMSON: Thank you, good to be here.
ALI SADUN ENGIN: Rabbi Loebel, right next to me. Welcome.
RABBI LOEBEL: Welcome.
ADNAN OKTAR: I imagine he would like to say a prayer, wouldn’t he?
ALI SADUN ENGIN: Yes. Rabbi Hollander would like to start the program with a prayer. Yes please.
RABBI HOLLANDER: I have written a short prayer for the success of this meeting.
May it please you, oh God, that you bless this meeting, that we shall not make mistakes, that we shall continue and increase the understanding, harmony and love between us, and succeed in finding the ways of increasing the understanding, harmony and love between of our peoples.
ADNAN OKTAR: Masha’Allah. Masha’Allah. Insha’Allah, insha’Allah.
RABBI HOLLANDER: I would like to give you a present before we begin. Before we start the events, this is from Rabbi Yoel Shwartz of Jerusalem, the seven Noahide laws, about the seven Noah’s laws.
ADNAN OKTAR: Masha’Allah.
RABBI HOLLANDER: And this is a book in Arabic and English, A Light to the Nations. This is our duties to the world. Here it is in French.
ADNAN OKTAR: Insha’Allah, masha’Allah. Thanks be to Allah, our Jewish brothers regard our Muslim brothers, alhamdulillah, as believers. They believe in the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him), so they regard Muslims as the People of Noah. They therefore regard us as brothers in faith. This is very excellent. As you know, and may Allah forbid, some Christians regard Muslims as unbelievers. But in contrast, Jews regard Muslims as believers. There are seven laws, as you know, to being one of the People of Noah. These are beliefs also accepted by Muslims, such as that you must not kill, you must not commit adultery and you must not worship false idols. In those terms, there is an excellent union between us, insha’Allah. They are also a community descended from the Prophet Abraham (pbuh). In that respect, they are entrusted to us by Allah. The law of the Messenger tells us to love, be affectionate toward and watch over and protect the People of the Book. And that is how our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) behaved. We also feel love and affection for them. Insha’Allah, all states will be independent in the time of the Turkish-Islamic Union. Israel will be, and so will Syria. And Iran, they will all be independent, but they will love one another very strongly with a spiritual bond, a bond of brotherhood.
RABBI HOLLANDER: Insha’Allah.
ADNAN OKTAR: We have a duty as Muslims to respect all beliefs. We respect Christians in their own beliefs. And we have a great respect and love for Jews. They go to their own synagogues and worship. But there is a major snare of satan’s here. Because some Christians regard Muslims as the army of the antichrist. And some Muslims view Christians as the army of the antichrist, or else try to set Jews and Muslims at odds, or Jews and Christians. This is a grave danger, making serious imputations in this way. Of course we will serve Allah, and the appreciation thereof lies with Almighty Allah. Allah will issue the finest pronouncement regarding us in the Hereafter. We have a duty to live as brothers and in peace in this world.
If you could set them in a queue to speak, introducing them by name, insha’Allah. Let us start with this gentleman, and then take it from there.
ALI SADUN ENGIN: So please, now we would like to listen to you dear Hollander. What do you want to say about today, this meeting, about what Adnan Oktar has explained to you?
RABBI HOLLANDER: First of all to begin with, I would like to thank Mr. Oktar for his most excellent hospitality, and for enabling our previous meetings which were so valuable to us, and especially for this meeting, which gives us an opportunity to respond publicly to his love for us, and declare publicly our love for him and for all people whom he represents. In particular we wish to express our thanks to the very diligent helpers of Mr. Oktar. Without their willing efforts on our behalf, our meetings could not take place. I would like to say a bit what this is all about from out point of view. We have been asked how do Rabbis, Members of the Nascent Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, come to make such statements? Well the truth is it is perfectly natural.
ADNAN OKTAR: Masha’Allah. Masha’Allah, alhamdulillah. Please go on.
RABBI HOLLANDER: We have met Mr. Oktar, we heard about him before. Mr. Oktar is a philosopher, and a lover of humanity. Consequently he is a lover of truth, because every lover of humanity is a person who abhors war, who loves peace and harmony. But peace and harmony can exist only if the relationships between peoples are based upon truth.
ADNAN OKTAR: Masha’Allah, masha’Allah, that is true.
RABBI HOLLANDER: Now the Sanhedrin that we represent also has a major purpose of bringing peace and harmony. We are dedicated to this effort. Our tools for doing this are derived from the Holy Torah, given to Humanity by God, the Creator. In a sense, the Holy Torah is analogous to a User Manual to the great and intricate machine, this world in which we all live.
ADNAN OKTAR: Yes, please go on.
RABBI HOLLANDER: Mr. Oktar has, in his diligent studies, discovered the value of studying the Holy Torah for himself, for understanding the Creation, and for understanding Humanity. He has published an important book The Wisdom and Sound Advice from the Torah, and in his quest for peace he has published another book Islam Against Terror. It is a sign of the inherent goodness of humanity that so many of these books have been downloaded from the internet, have been read by so many millions of people.
ALI SADUN ENGIN: So meanwhile I would like to give the word a little bit to Mr. Abrahamson. Could you comment on the issue a little bit?
RABBI ABRAHAMSON: Hello, my name is Benyamin Abrahamson. I am an orthodox Chassidic Jew from Israel. And I work as a historian or a kind of consultant to the court in Jerusalem that Rabbi Hollander is talking about. Mostly people here know me from my endless discussions about the similarities between the Islam and Jewish customs. I enjoy talking about the Hadiths, Tabari, Ibn Hisham and al-Waqidi, and talking about the kings of Himyar as I much as I enjoy talking about the Midrash Rabbah, the Midrashei Geulah, Rambam, Tosefos or the Shulchan Aruch. I like very much to talk about the common shared customs between Islam and Judaism, about the similarities in architecture between the masjid and the synagogue, between the similarities of the calendar, holidays and customs. But it is clear to me that there is more than just similarities, that they obviously go back to a common root and a common faith.
ADNAN OKTAR: Masha’Allah. Of course, every faith has a duty to maintain that its own beliefs are true. Otherwise, a Jew could not be a Jew, a Muslim a Muslim, or a Christian a Christian. But respect for all faiths is also exceedingly important. It is the duty of a Muslim to respect those people’s worship and beliefs, and to watch over and protect them with love as servants of Allah. But of course Almighty Allah has produced a path for everyone. That is what Allah has ordained, but we have a duty to live together in this world as friends and brothers, never departing from the path of love, affection and compassion, and never falling for satan’s snares, insha’Allah.
RABBI ABRAHAMSON: So when talking about our common heritage, in our Jewish literature we are taught that there is such a thing as a common faith, a fundamental religion which all men are born into. And this is a basic faith which is obligated on all mankind. In the past we have called it by different names, yireh shomaym which means the people who have fear of heaven, ger toshav or bnai noah, the children of Noah, or during Hellenistic times in Greek it was called theosebeia, and according to the school of Rabbi Benamozegh, this fundamental faith is also called by the name Islam.
In the Torah, everywhere that the word “Kenite” which means the children of Jethro, is translated to Aramaic in the Targum Onkelos the word used is Salamai or Musalamai. Some have suggested that this refers to the great numbers of non-Jewish believers who came to sacrifice the Qurban Shlamim in Jerusalem together with the Jews. Salamai, Musalamai, Muslimi. This could be a clear indication in our literature that Islam is an ancient religion, dating back to the time of the Second Temple or even earlier. And if Islam’s roots, the root of Islam are the same as what we call “Bnei Noah”, then for us it is much older. This is the religion of Noah; this is the religion of Adam himself.
The closeness of Islam and Judaism has always been understood by Biblical Scholars up until recent years. The close relationship with Jews, the ten lost tribes, the Arabs and Rachabites, all this was assumed to be true. It was only with the advent of German revisionists like Wellhausen and B