Ghada Hashem Talhami, PhD, Professor in the Department of Politics at Lake Forest College, in a Feb. 2000 Middle East Policy Council essay titled "The Modern History of Islamic Jerusalem: Academic Myths and Propaganda," wrote:
"Jerusalem became irrefutably holy to Muslims as the place from which
it is believed Muhammad rose to heaven and received instructions
regarding the Muslim prayers. Physical space associated with a divine
revelation becomes a religious trust and the occupants its guardians.
Muslims today regard Jerusalem as a waqf (a religious foundation),
which cannot change ownership. And since Palestine is the final repose
of Muslim Clerics, learned Sheikhs and those who devoted their lives to
the service of the faith, then all of Palestine is a religious trust."
Rashid Khalidi, PhD, 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."
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."
Bernard Lewis, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Near East Studies at Princeton University, in his 1995 book The Middle East, wrote:
"Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Qur'an. Even the name 'Jerusalem' does not figure in early Muslim writings. When the city is mentioned at all -- as for example on [caliph] 'Abd al-Malik's milestones -- is called Aelia, the name imposed by the Romans to desacralize the city and to obliterate its Jewish and also Christian associations... Jerusalem came to be known for a while as Bayt al-Maqdis, clearly related to the Hebrew Bayt ha-Maqdash, the biblical name of the Temple. In time both this name and Aelia were replaced by al-Quds, 'the [city of] holiness'...
A Qur'anic verse (17:1) tells how God took the Prophet on a journey by night from the sacred mosque (in Mecca) to the farthest mosque (in Arabic, al-Masjid al-Aqsa). One early exegetical tradition places 'the farthest mosque' in heaven; another places it in Jerusalem. The latter of these interpretations came to be universally accepted by Muslims."