Friday, September 15, 2006

The Sanctity of Jerusalem in Islam

Guest Column
Wednesday, January 24th, 2001
The Florida Alligator
Yasmine Taeb

Jerusalem holy city for Muslims

Jerusalem is often referred to as “The Holy City” because of its sacredness to Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike.

Past guest column writers have condemned Muslims for having no ties and claim to the Holy City, and furthermore professed that Muslims want claim to the land as indicative of their greed and desire for power. Fellow brothers and sisters of the Islamic tradition remember the editorials vividly because of the writers’ disrespect toward Islam, along with the fabrications and incredulous accusations they made about the religion.

A graduate student from the University of South Florida, Jason Rosenzweig, wrote in his Jan. 10 guest column, “The Quran, the holy Islamic book, does not even make mention of Jerusalem once.”

First, Mecca is the holiest city in Islam, correct? And yet the Qur’an and Hadith (narrative record of the sayings of the Prophet) hardly refer to the city as such, but make reference to the city as “Bakkah”, “The Sacred Mosque,” and “Masjid al-Haram.”
The Qur'an is written in Arabic, but even in its English translation, Jerusalem is referred to as Al-Aqsa, the name of the blessed mosque residing in Jerusalem. The al-Aqsa Mosque is not only the second mosque built on earth, but as stated in the Hadith, one prayer at al-Aqsa mosque is equal to 500 prayers performed else where. Also, Jerusalem’s Arabic name is Al-Quds, which literally translates to “The Holy”.

I cannot show greater distaste for individuals who base their premise of sanctity merely on the number of times a name is spotted or printed in a Holy text.

Continuing with the sanctity of Jerusalem in Islam, Jerusalem is the third holiest city in Islam, after Mecca and Medina. Jews and Christians do not recognize Ishmael and Muhammad, peace be upon them, as God's Prophets and Messengers, and so they do not consider Mecca and Medina as sacred cities. And not to mention that as stated in the Qur'an, Jerusalem was Islam's first "Quibla," or direction to which Muslims turn to pray. God then commanded the change of direction for prayers from Jerusalem to Mecca because the Qur’an said the Kabah in Mecca was the First House established for Mankind to worship the One God as it was constructed by Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and Ishmael (peace be upon him). Furthermore, Islam recognizes all the Prophets and Messengers of God, and Jerusalem was home to many of the Prophets of Islam, including David, Solomon, and Jesus, peace be upon them all.

The city of Jerusalem is the centerpiece of Haram al-Sharif, or “NobleSanctuary,”containing al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
The Qur’an states: “Glorified be He [God] who took his servant [Muhammad] for a journey by night from al-Masjid al-Haram [in Mecca] to al-Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem], whose precincts we have blessed...( Qur'an: S. 17.v.1)
During the night journey, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was taken miraculously from Mecca to Jerusalem, and from The Dome of the Rock ascended to heaven. During the trip, the five obligatory daily prayers were ordained for Muslims; therefore, Jerusalem is on the consciousness and in the spirit of every Muslim day and night.

An interesting fact to consider: Muslims praying in the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem have to pray with their backs to the Holy City and to the Dome of the Rock. Does that signify that Muslims are being disrespectful toward the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Holy City by having their backs to Jerusalem and to the site where the Prophet ascended to heaven? Of course not. But individuals who are not familiar with the Faith constantly make those claims.

Finally, the sacredness of the city of Jerusalem, according to Islam, is in its historical religious reality. This is the city that witnessed the life and works of the greatest Prophets and Messengers of God. In order to understand the sacredness of this city in Islam, one has to understand the faith structure of Islam.

In other words, for all who would like to write a wretched and false account of the significance of Jerusalem to Muslims, don't. Please stop because your presentation of the Holy City in relation to Muslims will be displayed in a demeaning and false light. Finally, for all you wonderful writers out there, please write about a subject you are knowledgeable in, and never speak nor write about a religion you have no knowledge about for the disrespect you are showing the followers as well as to God.