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Why Is Jerusalem Holy for the Muslims?

Exploring Israel

Why Is Jerusalem Holy for the Muslims? Well, I will try to answer that question in a short but comprehensive answer. Jerusalem is considered a sacred site in the Islamic tradition; along with Mecca and Medina. Islamic tradition holds that previous prophets were associated with the city and that the Islamic prophet Muhammad visited the city on a nocturnal journey (Isra and Mi’raj). Due to such significance; it was the first Qibla (direction of prayer) for Muslims and the prophet Muhammad designated the Al-Aqsa for pilgrimage. 

In This Photo: The Dome of the Rock, One of the Holiest Sites for Muslims and the Longest Standing Muslim Structure to Date

Muhammad declared himself to be the last prophet of the Judaic-Christian Religions and he founded a third Abrahamic religion: Islam. The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic sacred shrine in Jerusalem; built on the Temple Mount. It is believed this is where Muhammad ascended into heaven and was given the second pillar of Islam; to pray five times a day; from Allah, which is still used today. The Dome of the Rock is influenced by Byzantine Christian architecture, being of a Central Dome Plan.

“Glory to He (God) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque; whose precincts We did bless

Quran 17:1

Muhammad is believed to have been taken by the miraculous steed Buraq to visit Jerusalem; where he prayed, and then to visit heaven; on a single night in the year 610. Jerusalem is not directly mentioned by name in the Qur’an; nor is it mentioned by its Arabic translation (Al Quds). However, the Qur’anic verse (17:1) is interpreted by Islamic tafsirs (commentaries) as referring to this journey; with the term “the farthest Mosque” (al-masjid al-Aqsa) referring to the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem; where the mosque stands. There he meets other prophets (in particular; Abraham; Moses, and Jesus). 

More About Why Is Jerusalem Holy for the Muslims!

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is specified as being in Jerusalem as per numerous hadith:

“Then he heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “When the people of Quraish did not believe me (i.e. the story of my Night Journey); I stood up in Al-Hijr and Allah displayed Jerusalem in front of me; and I began describing Jerusalem to them while I was looking at it.”

Sahih Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 58, Number 226.

In This Photo: The Al Aqsa Mosque is the Reason Why Jerusalem the Third Holiest City for Muslims

Part of Jerusalem’s significance and holiness to Muslims derives from its strong association with Abraham; David; Solomon; and Jesus. They are all regarded as Prophets of Islam and their stories are mentioned in the Qur’an.

Another reason why is Jerusalem holy for Muslims is for political reasons. The Qur’anic reference to a masjid al-Aqsa originally referred to one of two sanctuaries near Mecca. The Umayyad caliphate exploited these traditions connecting Muhammad’s night journey specifically to Jerusalem. In the face of some concerted opposition particularly from Shiites, their claim prevailed. In 682 CE, 50 years after Muhammad’s death, ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr rebelled against the Caliph of Damascus, conquered Mecca, and stopped pilgrims from coming south to the Hajj in Mecca. ‘Abd al-Malik, the Umayyad Caliph; responded by creating a new holy site in Jerusalem.


Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

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