Muslim Caliph Omar, who liberated Jerusalem from the Byzantine Christians in 638 C.E., six years after the death of Muhammad in 632 C.E., revoked Hadrian’s 500 year-old ban on Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, which the Byzantines had kept in force. Omar welcomed the Jews back to Jerusalem. The returning Jews built the Bet HaMenorot (House of Menorahs) synagogue (named for the menorahs drawn on its walls), excavated in 1998 by Professor Naveh Mazar of the Hebrew University.
Muslim Sultan Salah-e-Din, the great Kurdish leader, liberated Jerusalem from the European Catholic Crusaders in 1187 C.E. He suggested to Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides, who was Salah-e-Din’s doctor) that Maimonides urge Jews to return and resettle Jerusalem (as recorded by another Jewish scholar of those times, Rabbi Yehuda al-Harizi). The famous Ramban (Nachmanides) Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City was built by the returning Jews several decades later during the period of Mameluk Muslim rule. The synagogue bears witness to this return.
18th Century – Muslim Sheikh Dahr-el-Omar invites Jews to resettle the Galilee
Muslim Sheikh Dahr-el-Omar, who took control of Galilee from the Turks in the 18th century, told leading rabbis in Constantinople and Morocco that the period of Jewish exile was over and that Jews should return to the Land of Israel to rebuild it. From that time on, the movement for Jewish return to the Land of Israel gained momentum.
20th Century – Feisal-Frankfurter Correspondence (March 1919)
On March 23, 1918, Al Qibla, the daily newspaper of Mecca, printed the following words in support of the Balfour Declaration of 1917:
“The resources of the country [Palestine] are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants (…) we have seen the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, and America. The cause of causes could not escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons [abna’ihi-l-asliyin], for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The return of these exiles [jaliya] to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually an experimental school for their brethren who are with them in the fields, factories, trades and all things connected to the land.”