Last updated on: 5/1/2015 10:13:56 AM PST
What Is the Significance of Jerusalem for Muslims?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Michael Dumper, PhD, Professor of Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, in his 2013 book titled The Politics of Jerusalem Since 1967, wrote:

"The conquest of Jerusalem by 'Umar ibn Khattab, the successor to the Prophet Mohammed and the First Caliph in Islam, in 638 C.E. opened a new era of Muslim rule in the city which, save for the interruption of the crusades, was to last until 1967. Jerusalem was of little military and strategic significance at that time and its conquest was mainly for religious purposes. The sanctity and religious significance of Jerusalem had already been well-established by Christians and Jews, but for Muslims too it had great significance. Jerusalem had been the first qibla, or direction of prayer, which Muslims were obliged to carry out five times a day; it was also the destination of Muhammed's 'night journey' and the site where it is believe he ascended briefly to heaven, both events being recorded in the Qur'an…

The political significance of Jerusalem grew in measure with the growth of its religious significance. Between 685 and 709 C.E. the Dome of the Rock and the al-Asqa mosque were built in an enclosure that became known as al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Nobel Sanctuary. It became the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina…

Right up to the eleventh century the praises of Jerusalem were sung and it became known as the bayt al-maqdis, the house of Holiness, from which the Arabic name for the city, 'Al-Quds,' is derived…

The rise of the Abassids in 750 C.E. and the transfer of the seat of the Caliphate from Damascus to Baghdad led to a relative decline in the fortunes of Jerusalem… During the Fatimid dynasty's rule over Jerusalem, Cairo became more important to Islam and the number of Muslim pilgrims to Jerusalem declined…

Soon after the establishment of Mamluk rule came a flowering of Islamic culture in the city. While it remained unimportant administratively, politically, and militarily, its importance as a Muslim sacred place returned… Jerusalem's sanctity to Islam was also reinforced during this period through writings of poets and religious scholars."

2013 - Michael Dumper, PhD 

Yitzhak Reiter, PhD, Professor of Middle East, Israel and Islamic Studies at the Ashkelon Academic College and Senior Researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in his 2013 article for Israel Studies titled, "Narratives of Jerusalem and its Sacred Compound," wrote:

"The common Arab-Muslim narrative tells of the ancient history of the city. In contrast to the Jewish narrative of 3,000 years for the City of David, the Arab-Muslim narrative clings to 5,000 years for Arab Yevus… They claim that the many names of the city reflect its history long before the Jews arrived Canaan and King David's subsequent conquest and establishment of his capital in the city. The Jebusites and Canaanites are identified as Arab tribes who roamed the region 5,000 years ago... and that the Arab Jebusites were those who built the city some 2,500 years BC. The 'Arab' founding myth of Jerusalem emphasizes that Arabs preceded the ancient Hebrews in the city in particular and in Palestine in general…

The dispute within Islam over Jerusalem's sanctity ended with the victory of those who identified al-Quds as third in importance after the holy places of Mecca and Al-Medina, although there were long periods in which Jerusalem was relatively neglected by the central Muslim ruling authorities, mainly from the time of the Abbasid Caliphate, beginning 750, until Saladin's jihad to conquer it from the Crusaders at the end of the twelfth century, and again during most of the Ottoman period…

Since 1967 a new Islamic ethos of Jerusalem has developed, at the center of which lies a re-writing of Jerusalem's history. Its main features are claims of an Arab-Islamic past that significantly predates the ancient Hebrew's arrival in Palestine and the Davidic and Solomonic monarchies; an emphasis on the city's Islamic character; and, primarily, an attempt to attribute to the city a political importance in Muslim history, to claim that Jerusalem and Palestine are one and the same, and that Jerusalem's sanctity is a reflection of the sanctity of Palestine as a whole."

2013 - Yitzhak Reiter, PhD 

Rashid Khalidi, DPhil, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, in the introduction to K.J. Asali's 2000 Jerusalem in History, wrote:


Muslims praying on the compound
of the Haram al-Sharif (Dome of the Rock)
and al-Aqsa Mosque
in the old city of Jerusalem
"While Christians and Muslim believers accept the historicity of the basic elements of the Jewish tradition relating to Jerusalem which are familiar to us from Biblical and other sources...Christians and Muslims also naturally privilege the elements in their respective religious traditions which place their own connection to the holy city on a special level...

For Muslims, they are the isra' and mi'raj of the Prophet: his night journey to al-masjid al-aqsa (the 'furthest mosque' referred to in the first verse of Sura 17 of the Qur'an, and universally understood since then by Quranic commentators to mean Jerusalem) and his ascent thence to heaven, in consequence of which Jerusalem is for Muslims uwla al-qiblatayn wa thalith al-haramayn: the first direction of prayer, and the third of the holy places...

According to Islamic tradition, it was the second caliph, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, who recognized this location as marking the site of the Prophet's night journey. The caliph is supposed to have done so immediately after the conquest of Jerusalem, during a visit to the city whose historicity is in question, but which most scholars agree probably took place. The Muslim conquerors understood that this entire site had been the location of the temple first built by Solomon whose repeated destruction is described in the Qur'an, and what they found on their entry into the city was in fact the deserted platform on which the Herodian temple described by Josephus had stood until its demolition by Titus in 70 A.D., At the southern end of this platform the caliph 'Umar ordered the erection of the first of several structures to bear the name of al-Masjid al-Aqsa, the al-Aqsa Mosque, adjacent to which his successor 'Abd al-Malik was to build the Dome of the Rock a few decades later."

2000 - Rashid I. Khalidi, DPhil 

Muzammil H. Siddiqi, PhD, President of the Islamic Society of North America, in an Apr. 17, 1999 speech titled "The Islamic Perspective of Jerusalem," presented at the first meeting of American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ) in Washington, DC, stated:

"The city of Jerusalem is very sacred to Muslims. It is one of the three most sacred cities in Islam. Jerusalem is called al-Quds al-Sharif (the Noble Sacred Place)...

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 Allah. Here the Divine Grace touched the earth repeatedly. Allah's great Prophets and Messengers lived and moved in its valleys and its streets. Makkah and Madinah are blessed cities in Islam because of their association with the Prophets Abraham, Ishmael and Mohammed."

Apr. 17, 1999 - Muzammil H. Siddiqi, PhD