The Meaning of Jerusalem for Muslims

Following is the third piece of information I have received from Churches for Middle East Peace regarding Jerusalem:

"It is believed that the prophet Muhammad traveled to Jerusalem during his Night Journey, around the year 621 A.D.  According to Islamic tradition, this was not only a physical journey, but also a spiritual one.  On this journey, Muhammad traveled to a mosque where he prayed and was then taken up into heaven.  The mosque Muhammad prayed at is now believed to be the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque of Haram al-Sharif, and is subsequently the third holiest site in all of Islam.  Furthermore, the shrine of the Dome of the Rock marks the location of Muhammad's ascent into heaven.

In addition to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the city of Jerusalem holds deep significance as the historical location of many of the prophets of Islam: including Abraham, David, Solomon, and Jesus.

As we learned last week, the holy sites in Jerusalem operate under the security of the 'Status Quo' that has been in effect under every ruling authority since the Ottoman Empire.  The Status Quo is a legally binding agreement between the religious communities in Jerusalem and governs their access to each of their holy sites in the sacred city.  This past summer the Status Quo of Haram al-Sharif, the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, was threatened.  After escalations of violence and an attack against Israeli soldiers, the Israeli government installed metal detectors at the entrances to Haram al-Sharif.  This act brought fear and anger to many Muslims who worship there on a weekly basis and was viewed not only as a violation of the Status Quo but also a violation of Islamic sacred space, leading to protests in the streets of Jerusalem, as well as concern and outrage in the international community.

While the issue around the Temple Mount was temporarily resolved and the metal detectors have been taken down, the Status Quo remains on unsteady ground.  The vulnerability of the Status Quo has been clear this week as Christian sites closed due to the proposed tax bill.  The tax issue even affected what is often considered the holiest site in Christianity, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which closed its doors for a few days this past week in protest.  CMEP advocates policies that call for respecting the religious liberty of all peoples and urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to ensure the access of Jews, Muslims, and Christians to their holy sites in Jerusalem.  As we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, let us do so remembering our Muslim siblings who worship at Haram al-Sharif." 




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