When Muhammad established Islam, he introduced a minimum of innovations. He employed the hallowed personages, historic legends and sacred sites of Judaism and Christianity, and even paganism, by Islamizing them. Thus, according to Islam, Abraham was the first Moslem and Jesus and
Jerusalem, too, underwent the process of Islamization: at first Muhammad attempted to convince the Jews near Medina to join his young community, and, by way of persuasion, established the direction of prayer (kiblah) to be to the north, towards Jerusalem, in keeping with Jewish practice; but after he failed in this attempt he turned against the Jews, killed many of them, and directed the kiblah southward, towards Mecca. Muhammad's abandonment of Jerusalem explains the fact that this city is not mentioned even once in the Qur’an.
"Glory to Him who caused His servant to travel by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs, He is indeed the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing."
The meaning ascribed to this verse (see the commentary in al-Jallalayn) is that "the furthest mosque" (al-masgid al-aqsa) is in Jerusalem and that Mohammad was conveyed there one night (although at that time the journey took three days by camel), on the back of al-Buraq, a magical horse with the head of a woman, wings of an eagle, the tail of a peacock, and hoofs reaching to the horizon. He tethered the horse to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and from there ascended to the seventh heaven together with the angel Gabriel. On his way he met the prophets of other religions who are the guardians of heaven: Adam, Jesus,
- How can a living man of flesh and blood ascend to heaven?
- How can a mythical creature carry a mortal to a real destination?
Questions such as these have caused orthodox Moslem thinkers to conclude that the nocturnal journey was a dream of Mohammad's.
The journey and the ascent serves Islam to "go one better" than the Bible: Moses "only" went up to Mt. Sinai, in the middle of nowhere, and drew close to heaven, whereas Mohammad went all the way up to Allah, and from Jerusalem itself.
What are the difficulties with the belief that the al-Aqsa mosque described in Islamic tradition is located in
For one, the people of
The second difficulty is that Islamic tradition tells us that al-Aqsa mosque is near
According to al-Waqidi, there were two "masjeds" (places of prayer) in al-Gi'ranah, a village between
This description by al-Waqidi which is supported by a chain of authorities (isnad), was not "convenient" for the Islamic propaganda of the 7th century. In order to establish a basis for the awareness of the "holiness" of Jerusalem in Islam, the Califs of the Ummayad dynasty invented many "traditions" upholding the value of Jerusalem (known as "fadha'il bayt al-Maqdis"), which would justify pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the faithful Moslems. Thus was al-Masjid al-Aqsa "transported" to
Though Judaism and Christianity can exist side by side in Jerusalem, Islam regards both of them as betrayals of Allah and his teachings, and has always done, and will continue to do, all in its power to expel both of them from this city. It is interesting to note that this expulsion is retroactive: The Islamic broadcasters of the Palestinian radio stations consistently make it a point to claim that the Jews never had a temple on the
The Jews are the sons of monkeys and pigs (5,60). (For the idea that Jews are related to pigs and monkeys see, for example, Musnad al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, (Beirut 1969) vol. 3, p. 241. See also pages 348, 395, 397, 421, and vol. 6, p. 135.). The Jews are those who distorted the holy writings which were revealed to them (2,73; 3,72) and denied God's signs (3,63). Since they violated the covenant with their God (4,154), He cursed them (5,16) and they are forever the inheritors of hell (3,112).
So how can Arafat abandon
Source: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Lecturer Dept. of Arabic Bar-Ilan University