Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Why is Jerusalem important to Muslims?

For Muslims, Jerusalem is the third most holy site in Islam. The name of Jerusalem derived from its original Jebusite name Ur-Salem or Urishalim. For Muslims the name suggests "peace" and corresponds closely to the Muslim concept of the sacred; a place where peace reigns and conflicts is excluded.

Going back to Jerusalem's history we find that it marked more by conflict than by peace. Hadrian destroyed the city, replacing it by a Roman creation from which Jews were banned.Then the Sassanids came and laid it waste. Under the Islamic era, Jerusalem enjoyed 13 years of peace until the Seljuk Turks came between 1070 and 1090 AC, in addition to the Crusader Kingdom between 1099 and 1187AC. All that led to a sort of chaos and it brought a constant conflict between the conquerors in the city.

So the question that comes is how did Jerusalem become important in Islam, and to Muslims? Jerusalem was in the middle of Trade routes. Most of the merchants used to pass from there heading towards Asia Minor and the west. Not to forget Arabs from Mecca too. Islam holds a great estimation as the location of many vents associated with the life of Jesus. From that day, Jerusalem has had a very important spiritual meaning for Muslims, not only being the first Qibla but also the mystical experience of the prophet's ascendance to heaven. Jerusalem tried to be focused by Muslim Pilgrimage, but the significance of Jerusalem thereafter declined in favor of Mecca and Medina.

When Saladdin recaptured the city from the Crusaders, Jerusalem regained once again its glory, where Christians were guaranteed rights of worship, Muslim places of worship which had been desecrated were restored, even a small Jewish community returned to the city, and Jewish culture has seldom flourished as they did under Muslim rule, that's how the spiritual significance of Jerusalem has been absorbed by all three religions.
Muslims on the other hand have an obligation to honor other religions. There is recognition, a respect for both Judaism and Christianity as people of the book, mentioned in the holy Quran.

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