Myths and facts about Jerusalem and Temple Mount
(from “Myths of the Middle East“)
Myths and facts about Jerusalem and Temple Mount
One of the most popular lies that has become universally accepted as if it was an indisputable truth is the myth about Jerusalem being the third sacred place to Islam. It is quite rare to hear the honest truth, that Jerusalem is the First and Only Holiest place to Judaism! As a matter of fact, Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in the koran, and Muhammad has never been there (perhaps he did not even know about the existence of Jerusalem!). The tale about his dream flight has been related with Jerusalem in a very recent time for political strategy purposes.
1) The Islamic claim to the Temple Mount is very recent – Jerusalem’s role as “The Third Holiest Site in Islam” in mainstream Islamic writings does not precede the 1930s. It was created by the grand mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini.
Most of the problems surrounding Jerusalem can be traced to two areas of dispute: the political area that asks Jerusalem to be the capital of both Israel and the hypothetic Palestine; the other and most contentious problem is the holiness of Temple Mount to both Judaism and Islam.
The role Jerusalem has in the Hebrew Holy Scriptures is well known and not open to debate; however, there are varying opinions on the holiness of Jerusalem, specifically Temple Mount to Islam.
Many if not most opinions that counter Islam’s claim point out the Jerusalem is not mentioned in the qur’an and did not occupy any special role in Islam until recent political exigencies transformed Jerusalem into Islam’s “third holy site”. This falsehood was created by the grand mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini. The mufti knew that nationalist slogans alone would not succeed in uniting the masses against arriving Jewish refugees; he therefore turned the struggle into a religious conflict. He addressed the masses clearly, calling for a holy war. Since the moment when he was appointed to the position of mufti, Haj Amin worked vigorously to raise Jerusalem’s status as an Islamic holy centre.
2) The Islamic claim to Jerusalem is false – There were no mosques in Jerusalem in 632 c.e. at the death of Muhammad… Jerusalem was [then] a Christian-occupied city
‒by Dr. Manfred R. Lehmann, writer for the Algemeiner Journal. Excerpts of the article originally published in the Algemeiner Journal, August 19, 1994‒
The muslim “claim” to Jerusalem is allegedly based on what is written in the koran, which although does not mention Jerusalem even once, nevertheless talks of the “furthest mosque” (in Sura 17:1): «Glory be unto Allah who did take his servant for a journey at night from the sacred mosque to the furthest mosque». But is there any foundation to the muslim argument that this “furthest mosque” (al-masujidi al-aqsa) refers to what is today called the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem? The answer is, NO!
In the days of Muhammad, who died in 632 of the Common Era, Jerusalem was a Christian-occupied city within the Byzantine Empire. Jerusalem was captured by caliph Omar only in 638 c.e., six years after Muhammad’s death. Throughout all this time there were only churches in Jerusalem, and a church stood on the Temple Mount, called the Church of Saint Mary of Justinian, built in the Byzantine architectural style. The Aqsa mosque was built 20 years after the Dome of the Rock, which was built in 691-692 by caliph Abd el-Malik. The name “Omar mosque” is therefore false. In or around 711, about 80 years after Muhammad died, Malik’s son, Abd el-Wahd ‒who ruled in 705-715‒ reconstructed the Christian-Byzantine Church of St. Mary and converted it into a mosque. He left the structure as it was, a typical Byzantine “basilica” structure with a row of pillars on either side of the rectangular “ship” in the centre. All he added was an onion-like dome on top of the building to make it look like a mosque. He then named it El-Aqsa, so it would sound like the one mentioned in the koran.
Consequently, it is crystal clear that Muhammad could never have had this mosque in mind when he wrote the koran (if he did so), since it did not exist for another three generations after his death. Rather, as many scholars long ago established, it is logical that Muhammad intended the mosque in Mecca as the “sacred mosque”, and the mosque in Medina as the “furthest mosque”. So much for the muslim claim based on the Aqsa mosque.
With this understood, it is no wonder that Muhammad issued a strict prohibition against facing Jerusalem in prayer, a practice that had been tolerated only for some months in order to lure Jews to convert to Islam. When that effort failed, Muhammad put an abrupt stop to it on February 624. Jerusalem simply never held any sanctity for the muslims themselves, but only for the Jews in their domain.
3) The present Arabic name of Jerusalem is “Al-Quds”… but “Al-Quds” is an abbreviation for “The Jewish Temple”!
‒by Rabbi Joseph Katz‒
The Arabic name for Jerusalem is “Al-QuDS” (The Holy), which is abbreviation for another Arabic name used for Jerusalem until the last century, “Bayt al-MaQDeS” (The Holy House), since the 10th century c.e. The name “Bayt al-MaQDeS” is a translation of the Hebrew “Beyt ha-MiKDaSH”, which means “House of Holiness”, “Temple”. But Islam has no Temple, only the Jews did. Thus the Arabic name for Jerusalem makes no reference to Muhammad’s alleged trip to Heaven, but rather refers to the Jewish Temple!
In fact, it can be seen that significant Islamic interest in the Temple Mount does not precede the Six-Day War in 1967. The greatest lie ever told about Jerusalem
‒by Emanuel A. Winston, a Middle East analyst & commentator; January 7, 2001‒
The 13th century Arab biographer Yakut noted: «Mecca is holy to muslims; Jerusalem is holy to the Jews».
The terrorist PLO leader Yassir Arafat and the Arabs claimed the Holy Jewish Temple Mount and Jerusalem based upon one extraordinarily huge lie told over and over again. Here then is a brief history of the religious war against the Jewish people, the Jewish State of Israel and her 3000 year old Eternal Capital, Jerusalem. Would be conquerors invariably issue false claims to provide justification for their march to conquest. The more recent call to “Jihad” against the Jews of Israel was first called in 1947 after the U.N. partition in a “fatwa” (religious ruling) by the Saudis ‒ supposedly to save the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount from the Jews. Thus, Yassir Arafat, with the full support of the Arab nations, later claimed the Jewish Temple Mount as the third holiest site for Islam – including all of Jerusalem. Therefore, as in the past, this claim has its root in a classic religious war – in addition to other spurious reasons offered.
This myth of Jerusalem as Islam’s third holiest city based upon the mythical ascension of Muhammad from Al-Aqsa to Heaven has grown exponentially in the recent telling since 1967. When you tell a Big Lie and repeat it often, it achieves credibility and legs of its own. In Islam, telling a lie to infidels for the sake of enlarging your own believers’ faith or defeating the infidel is acceptable, even desirable.
History and revisionism
These facts of recorded history have been obliterated by the recent false claims made in the name of radical Islamic fundamentalism supported by the silence of scholars unwilling to face a “fatwa” of assassination, the world media, with full access to Biblical scholars and historical files, have instead accepted the Great Lie. They carry it forward without question and with a certain perverse enthusiasm, having refused to use the Bible (Torah) as a resource ‒ the most accurate historic record of contemporary events of ancient times. They also have neglected to publicize the historic documents that attest the Jewish ownership of Jerusalem, including Arab sources.
The history of Jerusalem and the site of the Jewish Holy Temple, constructed in 956 b.c.e. by King Solomon, son of King David, is fully described with minute detail in the Torah (old Testament). The First Temple was later destroyed by the Babylonian King Nebukhadnetzar in 586 b.c.e.
The Second Temple was rebuilt by order of Koresh (Cyrus), the King of Persia, who also paid for its reconstruction and ordered the return of the Jews exiled in Babylon. The Second Temple was completed and consecrated in 515 b.c.e.
After the Jews revolted against Roman rule, the Romans under Titus destroyed and burned the Second Temple beginning on the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av), 70 c.e. This event is illustrated in the carvings on the Arch of Titus in Rome, depicting Titus’ triumphal march through Rome, parading the Holy Temple vessels, including the great Menorah. Despite Arafat’s claim that there was no Jewish Temple, the Romans memorialized their capture of the Jews and their Temple in 70 c.e. by carving it in stone!
Before the days of Muhammad, “Christian” conquerors had occupied Jerusalem (within the Byzantine Empire). Bringing one’s religion into battle demonstrated that both their armies and their religion were superior to those of their victims when they won. So, they usually built their holy places on top of their victims’ holy places, which they did on the Temple Mount, to absorb the strength of their conquered adversaries and to convert them to their religion. Even under the threat of the sword, the Jews refused to convert and allow their lineage to be absorbed, which would in effect, transfer G§d’s Covenant.
Muhammad died in 632 c.e. Jerusalem was subsequently captured from the Romans by caliph Omar, six years after Muhammad’s death. There was a struggle over who would assume Muhammad’s role as leader of the new religion of Islam which he had envisioned.
So, another conqueror (the muslims) had superseded the European invaders and their mosque was proof of their superiority in battle and religion. But, it was much more. It was also to be a mighty symbol in the struggle for leadership of the growing movement of Islam. Since Mecca was already the location of Muhammad’s power with its own priest cult, if a claimant wanted to redirect that power to himself as the new leader of Islam, he would also need an uncontested and new base of religious power. He could not make war on Mecca and expect to be accepted as Muhammad’s rightful heir.
Jerusalem, despite Muhammad’s rejection, was still looked upon in the then Arab world as a powerful symbol where the ancient Jews had placed their faith.
A common misperception is that the Jews were forced into the diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. and then, 1,800 years later, suddenly returned to Palestine demanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years. A national language and a distinct civilization have been maintained.
The Jewish people base their claim to the land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham; 2) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 3) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people and 4) the territory was captured in defensive wars.
The term “Palestine” is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what is now Israel and the Gaza Strip. In the second century A.D., after crushing the last Jewish revolt, the Romans first applied the name Palaestina to Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank) in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. The Arabic word “Filastin” is derived from this Latin name.
The Twelve Tribes of Israel formed the first constitutional monarchy in Palestine about 1000 B.C. The second king, David, first made Jerusalem the nation’s capital. Although eventually Palestine was split into two separate kingdoms, Jewish independence there lasted for 212 years. This is almost as long as Americans have enjoyed independence in what has become known as the United States.
Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in Palestine continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea.
Many Jews were massacred by the Crusaders during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed, Jerusalem and elsewhere during the next 300 years. By the early 19th century-years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement-more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel.
When Jews began to immigrate to Palestine in large numbers in 1882, fewer than 250,000 Arabs lived there, and the majority of them had arrived in recent decades. Palestine was never an exclusively Arab country, although Arabic gradually became the language of most the population after the Muslim invasions of the seventh century. No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab-American historian, Princeton University Prof. Philip Hitti, testified against partition before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said: “There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.” In fact, Palestine is never explicitly mentioned in the Koran, rather it is called “the holy land” (al-Arad al-Muqaddash).
Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as having a separate identity. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose Palestinian representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, the following resolution was adopted:
We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.
In 1937, a local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, told the Peel Commission, which ultimately suggested the partition of Palestine: “There is no such country [as Palestine]! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”
The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United Nations submitted a statement to the General Assembly in May 1947 that said “Palestine was part of the Province of Syria” and that, “politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity.” A few years later, Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO, told the Security Council: “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.”
Palestinian Arab nationalism is largely a post-World War I phenomenon that did not become a significant political movement until after the 1967 Six-Day War and Israel’s capture of the West Bank.
Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.
Sources: Moshe Kohn, “The Arabs’ ‘Lie’ of the Land,” Jerusalem Post, (October 18, 1991); Avner Yaniv, PLO, (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Study Group of Middle Eastern Affairs, August 1974), p. 5; Encyclopaedia Judaica.