Crecent Over The Mount – The Temple Mount in Jerusalem

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Jerusalem is not mentioned explicitly in the Qur’an, but its Muslim rulers cemented its status – the third most important site to Islam – and built magnificent and impressive buildings in the city.

In the 7th century, the Muslims reached Jerusalem. The believers of the new religion came forth from the deserts of Arabia, creating a mighty empire.

The “Literature in Praise of Jerusalem” gives special expression to Jerusalem’s importance in Islam, praising the city and emphasizing traditions related to it. Among the city’s alleyways we will discover the beauty of the buildings and the Muslim traditions that preserve Jerusalem’s holiness.

This is one of the eight gates in the Ottoman walls built in the 16th century by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. To our right is the Jerusalem Archeological Park – Davidson Center, featuring the remains of the Umayyad palaces that were built near the Temple Mount in the 7th and 8th centuries CE.

Aerial View of the Temple Mount

Photo: Ron Peled

Layers of holiness – al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary)

This compound is the third holiest site to Islam – after the Kaaba in Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, Saudi Arabia. The Temple Mount plaza was built during the rule of King Herod towards the end of the 1st century BCE, and the Second Temple, which was destroyed in the Roman conquest of 70 CE, stood upon it.

In 638, Jerusalem was conquered by the armies of Islam. According to Islamic tradition, Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab honored the Holy City by coming to accept the surrender of the Byzantine rulers. Upon entering the city, he was respectfully led to the Temple Mount, cleaned with his robe the holy rock standing at the center of the Mount and prayed to Allah.

The Temple Mount from the Al Omaria School

Photo: Ron Peled

Muslim tradition attributes to Jerusalem a Quranic verse that tells about a night journey made by Muhammad: “Glory be to Him who did take his servant for a journey by night from the Sacred 

Mosque (Mecca) to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts we did bless, in order that we might show him some of our signs.” Muhammad took his night journey accompanied by the angel Gabriel, mounted on a legendary beast called al-Buraq, with the face of a woman and the wings of an angel.

Another tradition tells about Muhammad’s ascent to Heaven, where he received the command to pray five times a day. In Muslim tradition, the Temple Mount is identified with the site of Muhammad’s ascent to Heaven and the location of the farthest mosque (in Arabic: al-Aqsa).

Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Interior

Photo: Gad Rize

During the rule of the Umayyad dynasty (661-750), whose capital was Damascus, great importance was attached to Jerusalem, and chief religious and governmental buildings were built there. At the end of the 7th century and at the beginning of the 8th century the Umayyad rulers built the Dome of the Rock with its glittering gold coating, and south of it – the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Muslim Waqf authorities overseeing the compound permit only Muslims to enter the buildings themselves, but we can tour the plaza and view the beauty of the buildings from the outside.


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