Last updated on: 5/21/2008 | Author:

What Is the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)


This site was archived on Aug. 3, 2021. The two-state solution is no longer the most popular solution among the jurisdictions involved. A reconsideration of the topic is possible in the future.

David K. Shipler, in his Pulitzer Prize winning book Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, wrote the following:

“Mount Moriah, or Temple Mount to the Jews, and Haram al-Sharif to the Muslims, is a flat, raised area of about 175,000 square yards just inside, and bordered by, the eastern wall of the Old City, facing Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives. There, Abraham is believed to have been prepared to carry out God’s order to sacrifice his son Isaac. There in 960 B.C. King Solomon completed the first Temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. The Second Temple was built on the plateau in 520 B.C.

It is a place of sacred conjunction for both Islam and Judaism: The vein of bedrock that breaks into the open there, that stone from which Muslims believe Muhammad rose on his horse to heaven, may also be the Even Shetiyab, the rock around which the earth was created, according to ancient Jewish lore, and which was probably enclosed inside the holiest part of the temple. Today the western wall of the mount is a focus of Jewish worship, but only out of frustration, for the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, as it is also known, is nothing more than a massive retaining wall holding up the tons of earth and stone that form the plateau.”


Gershom Gorenberg, senior editor and columnist for the Jerusalem Report, in a May 2, 2001 briefing at the Middle East Forum titled “The Struggle for the Temple Mount,” stated the following:

“The Temple Mount is an area of only thirty-five acres in the southwest corner in the old City of Jerusalem, but it is the most contested real estate on earth.

By calling it the Temple Mount, I am already standing in one political corner. Muslims call it al-Haram ash-Sharif, which includes the Dome of the Rock and al-Masjid al-Aqsa, or ‘the furthest mosque.’ People ask me if there is a neutral term for the Temple Mount. The answer is no. There is no neutral term or neutral story.

As a journalist, I have a standard paragraph to describe the Temple Mount: It is the site of the first and second temple in ancient Jewish times. It is also the place that the prophet Muhammad, according to the Qur’an, was said to have stepped before taking his ‘night journey’ to heaven, where he met Allah, and received the Islamic commandment to pray five times a day.

Israelis and Palestinians have both constructed their national narratives around the Temple Mount. In each narrative, an ideal past is seen as a time when the Temple Mount was under their sovereignty. In both cases, the present is seen as a disruptive time when the site is disputed. The ideal future is then seen as a time when the Temple Mount will be theirs again. The Temple Mount is now an emblem of the hopes and aspirations for both peoples.”

May 2, 2001