The Illusion Behind The Muslim Claim To The Temple Mount
by Debbie Smith
Masked Arab rioters threw fireworks and rocks at security forces on the Temple Mount on Wednesday, hours before the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Riot police pushed the attackers back by setting up roadblocks, but it was not enough to deter the unrest. The rioters continued to throw rocks, bricks and iron bars at police from inside the Al-Aqsa mosque, while shooting fireworks at police and spraying an unidentified flammable liquid on them.
They also threw a firebomb at police, which ignited, wounded four officers lightly. The police later restrained the rioters and removed all barriers protecting the entrance to the mosque. The wounded policemen were treated on the spot. The Jordanian Waqf keeps an iron fist on the Temple Mount and its activities; Jews face constant discrimination and violence for visiting the site, and there is a blanket ban on Jewish prayer there.
Perhaps the most hotly contested thirty-seven acres of land in the world, the Temple Mount in the old city of Jerusalem, is considered a holy site to the three largest monotheistic religions in the world; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each of these, attribute significant events in the history of their religion as having occurred there. Control of this holy site is so contentious that it threatens to ignite war at almost any moment!
The Islamic claim to the holy site rests on a vague Koranic verse in Surah 17:1 which reads, “Exalted is he who took his servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings we have blessed, to show him of our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” This story of the flying horse with the face of a woman is found in both Islamic tradition and commentary, according to an article in the American Thinker.
The tradition teaches that Mohammed took a trip to “the farthest mosque” or al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem on the back of a magical horse, with the face of a woman, wings of an eagle, tail of a peacock, and hoofs reaching to the horizon. Mohammed tethered the horse to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, and was transported to the seventh heaven with Gabriel, along the way meeting Jesus and holy men of Judaism and Christianity. Although Jerusalem is not named in the verse, the location is assumed by Islamic scholars.
One of the problems with this narrative is the time line. Mohammed died in June 632 A.D. so of course, the trip would have had to occur prior to the date. Historically, Muslims did not gain access to Jerusalem until the year 637 A.D., five years after Mohammed’s death. These two facts are not debated by Jews, Christians, or Muslims, as they are considered historical truth. Therefore, no al-Aqsa mosque existed in Jerusalem during Mohammed’s lifetime. Mike Konrad in his article in the American Thinker categorizes the supposed al-Aqsa mosque, visited by Mohammed, as a “fraud.”
Before his death, Mohammed attempted to recruit the Jews to join his fledgling religion; he established the direction of prayer toward Jerusalem. Unsuccessful in this attempt, he then murdered many of the Jews and changed the direction of prayer toward Mecca. Mohammed’s abandonment of Jerusalem is consistent with the fact that the Koran never mentions the city.
Fifty years after Mohammed’s death, in 682 AD, following a war between two Islamic factions, pilgrims were prevented from reaching Mecca and Jerusalem was chosen as an alternate site for the Hajj. Sura 17:1 was used to justify the change and thus the history of Jerusalem as an Islamic holy site was concocted.
According to the Israeli scholar Dr. Mordecai Kedar, Islamists, by claiming the Temple Mount, seek to delegitimize both Judaism and Christianity, and thus present Islam as the replacement for both. Believing that both Jews and Christians have altered the Word of God, thereby forfeiting their favor with God, Islam seeks to expel the two faiths from Jerusalem. “Only Islam-“the religion of truth” has this right, (to possess Jerusalem) and forever,” claimed the Shaykh Ikrima Sabri, the former mufti of Jerusalem, on the Palestinian Authority radio. “Though Judaism and Christianity can exist side by side in Jerusalem, Islam regards both of them as betrayals of Allah and his teachings,” continues Dr. Kedar.
Mike Konrad, in his piece, asserts that anyone who has studied history knows that “only the Jews have a genuine religious claim to the Temple Mount. Even Christians- who do have a legitimate claim to other sites in the area-do not contest the Mount.” Since 1967, the Temple Mount has been controlled by a Jordanian Waqf, an endowment to an Islamic religious trust. Jews are forbidden to pray or worship freely on the Temple Mount. Israel has strictly enforced the Waqf, even prosecuting Israeli offenders. Requests by the Israeli government for the Jordanians to lighten the restrictions on Jewish prayer have been to no avail.
The frequent riots on the Mount indicate that as Israel moves more toward the political right, Jews are asserting their claim to the Temple Mount and the Muslims are defiantly resisting. Since neither the Jews nor the Muslims seem inclined to relinquish their claim to the sacred site, the violence will likely continue and could escalate at any time.