Is the Temple Mount Really Islam’s 3rd Holiest Site?

“Palestinians” claim that the Temple Mount has always their holy site, but historical records and photographs from the late 1800s tell a very different story.

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“Palestinians” claim that the Temple Mount (known to Muslims as the “Haram esh-Sharif” or “Noble Sanctuary” has always their holy site, yet photographic evidence testifies otherwise. While it is believed by Sunni Muslims that Mohammed ascended into heaven from the al-Asqa Mosque nearby, it is clear from these photographs of the Dome of the Rock that were taken in the late 1900’s by Felix Bonfils (1831-1885), a French photographer that the Temple Mount complex was very neglected under Ottoman (Muslim) rule. There are no people visible in any of the photographs and thick tufts of grass are seen growing between the paving stones in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque.

Let’s look at a brief history of the Temple Mount;

King Solomon, son of King David built the First Temple on the the Mount beginning in 833 BCE completing it in 827 BCE. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians 470 years after it was built, and the Jews were taken captive to Babylon. In 353 BCE, exactly seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple, the Jews began building again after the captives returned from Babylon, under the Medo – Persian Empire.

The Second Temple, was constructed under Zerubbabel from 353 -349 BCE.

Prior to the arrival of the Romans, the Jews enjoyed political independence and self-rule under for ~80 years under the Hasmonean (Maccabean) Dynasty, beginning in ~167 BCE.

In 66 CE, after the Jews protested excessive Roman taxation, the Romans plundered the Second Temple and killed 6,000 Jews. This was the start of the Jewish-Roman war (66-73 CE). The Roman Emperor Titus ordered the burning of the Second Temple, which was only ~ 90 years old at the time.

[Note: To put this in context, the first time an Arab government ruled in that region was in the sixth century CE; 700 years later!]

The (Western) Roman Empire fell in the 5th century and Christians ruled the Land during the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) until the rise of Islam in the late 6th century.Islam sought to establish a very different type of “empire”; the Caliphate. The Caliphate is a form of Islamic government led by a Caliph who is considered to be the political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad, and its role is to administer everything according to the teachings of Mohammed (“Sharia law”). The Sunni-Arab Caliphate was carved out an Islamic empire from the Sassanid (Persian) Empire and the former Byzantine Empire became the Islamic Umayyad Empire (661-750 CE).

Jerusalem was captured from the Christians by Caliph Omar in 632 CE and the Dome of the Rock was built in 691 CE by Caliph Abd el Malik of Syria as a means of demonstrating Islam’s superiority over the Christians and Jews that they had driven from Jerusalem. The Muslims continued to direct their prayers toward Mecca, and what they consider the holy Kaba (a stone cube).

The al-Aqsa mosque was built ~20 years after the Dome of the Rock.

The Christian Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) continued until the Middle Ages, with it’s capital city at Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). The Ottoman Turks (Muslims) ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople.

During the Ottoman Empire, the Grand Mufti of Constantinople was the religious scholar responsible for interpreting Sharia (Islamic) law. Constantinople was the centre of religious life, not Jerusalem. While the Temple Mount was held by the (Muslim) Ottoman Turks for several hundred years, there are no historical records of high Muslim clerics or kings coming to Jerusalem to worship at the al-aqsa mosque or the Dome of the Rock.

During the World War I (1914-1918) there were two competing Grand Muftis of Jerusalem; one endorsed by the British and one by the Ottomans, however after the war, with the British administering the land under the Mandate of Palestine, the British appointed the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In 1922, Haj Amin al-Husseini was appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and took it upon himself to launch an international campaign to gather funds from Muslim lands in order to restore the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock (which stands over the remains of the 2 Jewish Temples) — because the area had fallen into such disrepair.

Note: This is the same al-Husseini who later allied himself with Hitler, became very close friends with Heinrich Himmler and became known as the “Fuhrer of the Arabic world” — leading 30,000 Muslim Nazi SS to destroy the “Jewish element living in the Arab sphere”.  [seehttp://www.morehasbara.com/2015/10/24/nazi-influence-in-the-middle-east-haj-amin-al-husseini/]

Prior to 1922, the Temple Mount was not revered as a major holy site in Islam.

As can be clearly seen in Bonafil’s photographs from the 1870’s, the Temple Mount was neglected, largely unused and the Dome of the Rock was unattended and fell into disrepair.  The building show decay and weeds and grass grew up between the stones; which would not occur if throngs of Muslim worshipers were coming there.

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The “Palestinians” claim that they have been in the Land “since time immemorial” and the Temple Mount (or as they refer to it the al-Haram al-Sharif) has been their holy site “from the beginning“.  The historical record, however indicates the Jews lived in the Land and built the First Temple almost 1500 years before the Arabs arrived and that Jewish rulers (Maccabees of the Hasmonean Dynasty) ruled the Jewish Land 700 years before the Arabs came and conquered it; long after the Roman Empire and after the Christians.

The “Palestinians” refer to Jews as the “settlers” and “occupiers” but history establishes otherwise.  The Arabs claim the Temple Mount has always been the third holiest site in Islam, but 1922, when al-Husseini applied himself to the task of restoring the neglected site wasn’t that long ago.  It has not even been 100 years.

“Time immemorial” is seems, is rather short.


UPDATE: A lecturer with the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University and expert in military intelligence, Arab political discourse and Arab mass media recently raised some doubt as to whether the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is same al-Aqsa Mosque mentioned in the Qu’uran. If it is not, that would shed a very different light on ‘Palestinian’ claims that the Temple Mount is the 3rd holiest site in Islam. http://www.morehasbara.com/2016/08/16/is-the-al-aqsa-mosque-in-jerusalem-the-one-in-the-quuran/