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Islam’s Tenuous Connection to Jerusalem

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 29.06.2015 10:33

Islam’s Tenuous Connection to Jerusalem

Eli E. Hertz

Despite 1,300 years of Muslim Arab rule, Jerusalem was never the capital of an Arab entity. Oddly, the PLO’s National Covenant, written in 1964, never mentioned Jerusalem. Only after Israel regained control of the entire city did the PLO “update” its Covenant to include Jerusalem.

Overall, the role of Jerusalem in Islam is best understood as the outcome of political pressure impacting on religious belief.

Mohammed, who founded Islam in 622 CE, was born and raised in present-day Saudi Arabia; he never set foot in Jerusalem. His connection to the city came years after his death when the Dome of the Rock shrine and the al-Aqsa mosque were built in 688 and 691, respectively; their construction spurred by political and religious rivalries. In 638 CE, the Caliph (or successor to Mohammed) Omar and his invading armies captured Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire. One reason they wanted to erect a holy structure in Jerusalem was to proclaim Islam’s supremacy over Christianity and its most important shrine, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

More important was the power struggle within Islam itself. The Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphs who controlled Jerusalem wanted to establish an alternative holy site if their rivals blocked access to Mecca. That was important because the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca was (and remains today) one of the Five Pillars of Islam. As a result, they built what became known as the Dome of the Rock shrine and the adjacent mosque.

To enhance the prestige of the “substitute Mecca,” the Jerusalem mosque was named “al-Aqsa.” It means “the furthest mosque” in Arabic, but has far broader implications, since it is the same phrase used in a key passage of the Quran called “The Night Journey.” In that passage, Mohammed arrives at “al-Aqsa” on a winged steed accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel; from there they ascend into heaven for a divine meeting with Allah, after which Mohammed returns to Mecca. Naming the Jerusalem mosque “al-Aqsa” was an attempt to say the Dome of the Rock was the very spot from which Mohammed ascended to heaven, thus tying Jerusalem to divine revelation in Islamic belief. The problem however is, that Mohammed died in the year 632, nearly 50 years before the first construction of the “al-Aqsa” Mosque was completed. Jerusalem never replaced the importance of Mecca in the Islamic world. When the Umayyad dynasty fell in 750, Jerusalem also fell into n ear obscurity for 350 years, until the Crusades. During those centuries, many Islamic sites in Jerusalem fell into disrepair and in 1016 the Dome of the Rock collapsed.

Still, for 1,300 years, various Islamic dynasties (Syrian, Egyptian, and Turkish) continued to govern Jerusalem as part of their overall control of the Land of Israel, disrupted only by the Crusaders. What is amazing is that over that period, not one Islamic dynasty ever made Jerusalem its capital. By the 19th century, Jerusalem had been so neglected by Islamic rulers that several prominent Western writers who visited Jerusalem were moved to write about it. French writer Gustav Flaubert, for example, found “ruins everywhere” during his visit in 1850 when it was part of the Turkish Empire (1516-1917). Seventeen years later Mark Twain wrote that Jerusalem had “become a pauper village. Indeed, Jerusalem’s importance in the Islamic world only appears evident when non-Muslims (including the Crusaders, the British, and the Jews) control or capture the city. Only at those points in history did Islamic leaders claim Jerusalem as their third mos t holy city after Mecca and Medina. That was again the case in 1967, when Israel captured Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem (and the Old City) during the 1967 Six-Day War.


Eli E. Hertz, June, 2015
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Annukka
 
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The PLO's Ten Point Plan is Alive and Well

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 29.06.2015 21:24

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Annukka
 
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Jordan� Shameful Record

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 02.07.2015 10:00

Jordan� Shameful Record

Eli E. Hertz

As recently as the mid-20th century, when Arabs last controlled parts of Jerusalem, they exhibited no respect for the Holy City.

In 1948, when Jordan took control of the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City, it divided the city for the first time in its 3,000-year history. Under the 1949 armistice agreement with Israel, Jordan pledged to allow free access to all holy places but failed to honor that commitment. From 1948 until the Six-Day War in 1967, the part of Jerusalem controlled by the Jordanians, again became an isolated and underdeveloped provincial town, with its religious sites the target of religious intolerance.

The Old City was rendered void of Jews. Jewish sites such as the Mount of Olives were desecrated. Jordan destroyed more than 50 synagogues, and erased all evidence of a Jewish presence. In addition, all Jews were forced out of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City adjacent to the Western Wall, an area where Jews had lived for generations.

For 19 years [1948-1967], Jews and Christians residing in Israel (and even Israeli Muslims) were barred from their holy places, despite Jordan� pledge to allow free access. Jews, for example, were unable to pray at the Western Wall; Christian Arabs living in Israel were denied access to churches and other religious sites in the Old City and nearby Bethlehem, also under Jordanian control. During Jordan� reign over eastern Jerusalem, its restrictive laws on Christian institutions led to a dramatic decline in the holy city� Christian population by more than half �from 25,000 to 11,000 �a pattern that characterized Christian Arabs in other Arab countries throughout the Middle East where religious freedom is not honored.

It was only after the Six-Day War that the Jewish Quarter was rebuilt and free access to holy places was reestablished. It is worth noting that after Jordan annexed the West Bank in the 1950s, it too failed to make Jerusalem �a city that Arabs now claim as �he third most holy site of Islam��its capital.


Eli E. Hertz, July, 2015
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Annukka
 
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Palestinians: More Missed Opportunities

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 02.07.2015 22:02

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Swedish Jihadi: "Go There with a Bomb"

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 19.07.2015 11:08

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Awaiting Israel's Demise

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 19.07.2015 11:18

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