Without question, one of the greatest controversies in the world rages over Jerusalem, a city held sacred by the three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Most Christians understand why Jerusalem is important to them and Jews, but they question the Muslims’ claim to the holy city. Since Muhammad ministered in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, what connection do Muslims have with this city in Israel?
During the expansion of Islam, whenever Muslims seized control of foreign territories, they felt obliged to govern these territories according to Islamic law based on the Qur’an and the Hadith. Fundamentalist Muslims (those wanting to return to the seventh century practices of their prophet) claim that the only hope for the salvation and survival of the world is the rule of Allah as revealed in Islamic Law. In fact, they teach that it is Allah's will for the whole world to be controlled by Islamic Law administered by God’s servants. Furthermore, fundamentalist Muslims see themselves as the only people who can legitimately call themselves “Allah's servants” because they believe that they alone are striving to establish a true religion and government based on “Allah's Law.” They disqualify the Jews because of their idolatry following the reign of Solomon and then their rejection of the prophet of Islam. Muslims also disqualify Christians because of their deification of Jesus and their Trinitarian doctrine, which violates the Muslim concept of the absolute oneness of Allah.
Jerusalem is a holy city in the Holy Land, and because fundamentalist Muslims believe they alone qualify as Allah's servants, they believe they are the administrators of the holy sites and owners of the land. They believe they inherited Palestine and its holy sites in the seventh century and they should control and eliminate un-Islamic influences.
And those of the People of the Book (the Jews) who aided them, Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts, (so that) some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners. And He made you heirs of their lands, their houses, and their goods, and of a land which ye had not frequented (before). And Allah has power over all things. (Qur’an (33): 25-27)
As we look into this more closely, we realize the fundamentalist Muslims’ animosity toward the West and its allies is a matter of ideology. For example, they view democracy as a threat to Islam because democracy espouses a rule of the people as opposed to the rule of Allah. Thus, it is no secret that fundamentalist Muslims view Israel as a major threat to the Muslim community of the Arab Middle East. They regard Israel as a secular democracy and a puppet of the “Great Satan” democracy, the United States. No doubt, the existence of a Jewish state (or any other non-Islamic state) in the heart of the Arab world is viewed as an encroachment upon Allah's territory. To allow people in a secular democracy to mock Allah and defy Allah with lifestyles that violate Allah's laws—and to allow this to take place in the Holy Land—is intolerable for the fundamentalist Muslim. For him, the Holy Land (Palestine) must be rid of such “blasphemy” and be ruled by a theocracy.
For fundamentalist Muslims, the Palestinian issue is not a homeland issue; it is a deep issue of religious ideology that bears eternal consequences: For them, shared sovereignty with Israel over Jerusalem is an unacceptable compromise with evil. Such a position means continued conflict, for Israeli fundamentalist will certainly not yield control of the Temple Mount either. In the natural, there appears no hope of resolving this problem. Prayer for peace in Jerusalem seems only a futile exercise that becomes fainter and fainter as the days of bloodshed extend, but there is most definitely hope. That is why we must continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
How ironic that hidden in the beautiful Arabic calligraphy design of the Dome of the Rock are Qur’anic verses that reveal the term Al-Masih, [the Messiah]—a term common to all three of the monotheistic communities. God has left a witness for the hope that is in us. Yes, there is hope for Jerusalem—hope for all those whose eyes are fixed upon her destiny. Undoubtedly great days of turmoil lie ahead for Israel, but then the Messiah will come with the rule of God and the peace of God—in Jerusalem! The legitimate Servant of God will come to reign over God’s holy possession with truth and justice. He is Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. With that hope and in that name, we can join the chorus, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord … Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see your king is coming” (John 12:13, 14)!