The Muslim Perspective of Jerusalem: The Religious Perspective
Muslims believe they share the same god and prophets with Judaism and Christianity. The Qur’an centers on the God of Abraham, and refers by name to at least 25 common prophets, such as Noah, Job, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus. The mission of these men was often based in Palestine, and for some, specifically Jerusalem (known to Muslims as Al-Quds, The Holy, or Bait-ul Maqdis, The House of the Holy [One]). The Qur’an refers to Palestine as the land which Allah “blessed for the nations” (21:71, 81) and the Holy Land (al ard al muqaddas) which He prescribed for Moses and his people (5:21). The Qur’an also talks about “the place of prostration/ worship” (al masjid) of the Jews which was destroyed a second time (17:7). Muslims have traditionally understood this to be the Temple in Jerusalem.
Because of the status of Solomon’s Temple, Muslims have regarded Jerusalem as a holy place. In fact, the present day Temple Mount (Haram ash Sharif) is their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina. The ancient site of the Temple of Solomon gained prominence after the alleged “night journey” of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, from Mecca to Jerusalem, based on the following Quranic verse:
Glory to (God) who did take His Servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless (17:1).
The word mosque comes from masjid, which means, “place of prostration” or a place of worship. The furthest place of worship blessed by Allah which the Muslims knew about was Solomon’s Temple. Therefore, they understood this Qur’anic verse to speak of a night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. This “furthest place of worship” became more significant because Muslims believe their prophet continued his “night journey” from this Temple site into heaven to speak with Allah.