Why Do Muslims and Jews Have Religious Claims to Jerusalem?

The city of Jerusalem is synonymous with Christianity and has often been mentioned multiple times in both the Old and the New Testaments. However, the 5,000-year-old city has claims in the Jewish and Muslim faiths as well but understanding the connection requires a historical understanding.

Jew Connection to Jerusalem

  • The Jewish bible shows that Jerusalem is very popular city in this religion. Jerusalem albeit referred to by many different names has been mentioned over 500 times, sometimes as Yerushalayim or Tziyon among other names.
  • The holiest place, according to the Jewish faith, is Mount Moriah which is known as the Temple Mount located in Jerusalem. This is where Solomon’s Temple (Beit HaMikdash) was built. The church was later destroyed by Babylonians and virtually all Jews were expelled from the city. However, the legacy and historical relevance persists.

Muslim Connection to Jerusalem 

Just Christianity and the Jewish faith, the connection of Jerusalem to Islam is mostly religion based. However, on the historical timeline, this link came in much later during the 7th century CE.

  • The most famous prophet in the Islamic faith during prayer (Qibla) initially faced Jerusalem. He would later change to face Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
  • After his death, Mohammed’s successor Caliph Omar led his army to Jerusalem and in 638 captured the city from the Byzantines. After which he held his first prater there.
  • In 688 after Umayyid Caliphate lost control of Mecca, the Dome of Rock was built in Jerusalem at the former site of the Jewish temple as an alternative holy site that was closer to Damascus.
  • Even though Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran, the connection between Islam and Jerusalem is found in Chapter (Sura) 17 of the Koran which recounts a dream Mohammed had where he was taken by his flying horse to Al-Aqsa. According to early Muslims, the site of Al-Aqsa is restricted to the mosque area at the southern end of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This is the first place where Omar first prayed when he arrived in Jerusalem.

For the Muslim and the Jews, the city of Jerusalem is home for their holiest prayer sites within the city only being superseded by Mecca and Medina in Islam. While the Temple Mount was destroyed, the Dome of the Rock still stands. 

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