Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What's the Islamic perspective on Jerusalem?

The Islamic Perspective of Jerusalem
By Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
President, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
(This was a talk presented at the first meeting of American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ) in Washington, DC on April 17, 1999.)

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). In order to understand the sacredness of this city in Islam, one has to understand the faith structure of Islam.

There are three basic principles of faith in Islam:
1. Belief in the oneness of Allah (Tawhid).

2. Belief in the divine guidance through His chosen Prophets and Messengers (Risalah).
3. Belief in the life after death, divine judgment and heaven and hell (Akhirah).
It is the second principle of faith in Islam in Islam that is directly related to our love and devotion to Jerusalem.

Place of Jerusalem in the Islamic Faith
Islam recognizes all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah. The Quran has mentioned many Prophets by name. Their stories and teachings are told at varying length throughout the Quran. Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Zechariah, John the Baptist (Yahya) and Jesus - peace be upon them all - are among the honored Prophets and Messengers of Allah according to Islam.

Jews and Christians also recognize Prophets David and Solomon as great kings and patriarchs of ancient Israel.
However, in Islam they are honored as Allah's great Prophets. The Quran not only narrated their stories, but also restored their honor by removing some of the charges and allegations that were made against their characters by earlier communities.

Prophet David (peace be upon him) was accused in the Bible o f committing adultery (2 Samuel 11 - 12) and Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) was accused of idolatry. (1 Kings 11). The Quran absolved them from all these charges. (28:21 - 25; 38:30). This shows that David and Solomon (peace be upon them) are more revered and respected in Islam than in Jewish and Christian traditions.
Since the city of Jerusalem is historically associated with these Prophets of Allah, it naturally becomes a city sacred to Muslims.
Islam considers itself a continuation of the same spiritual and ethical movement that began with the earlier Prophets.

Historically and theologically it believes itself to be the true inheritor of the earlier traditions of the Prophets and Messengers of Allah. It is for this reason that the Quran called for Palestine - the land associated with the lives of many of God's Prophets - al-ard al-Muqaddasah (the Sacred Land; 5:21) and called its surroundings barakna hawlaha (God's Blessed Precincts; 17:1).
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. In a similar way Jerusalem is blessed and important in Islam because of its association with other Prophets of Allah, namely David, Solomon and Jesus.

Jews and Christians do not recognize Ishmael and Mohammad as God's Prophets and Messengers, so they do not consider Makkah and Madinah as sacred cities.
However, Muslims believe in Prophets Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus, and so they must recognize the sacredness and importance of Jerusalem in Islam.