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.
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 .— Yusuf Ali’s translation [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; in 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.
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 the Muslims is for political reasons. The Qur’anic reference to a masjid al-aqṣā originally referred to one of two sanctuaries at al-Ji’ranah near Mecca, the other being masjid al-adnā. The Umayyad caliphate exploited these traditions connecting Muhammad’s night journey specifically to Jerusalem and; 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.
My Islamic Private Tours of Jerusalem
So on my private tours of Jerusalem; I do give a lot of attention to the Islamic chapter of the city. In fact, Islam left a huge mark on the city; till this very day. You can walk the city and see in every corner an Islamic landmark. For example, the Mamluk minarets dominate the skyline of the city. Or the call to prayer to hear five times a day. Islamic architecture is everywhere! And it’s breathtaking. When you walk around Temple Mount and as you get closer to the Dome of the Rock you stand there with amazement. In fact, you scratch your head and say indeed this is the most beautiful building I’ve seen in Jerusalem so far.
So what I am saying to all my readers; don’t think twice and go on top of Temple Mount and check out these important Muslim landmarks in the city. So Jerusalem is super holy for Muslims the more we know about the subject the better we will understand it.