BY RICHARD BOOKER, PART 3 of MYTHOMANIACS
In the Bible, the prophet Zechariah writes of the time when God will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it
shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all people; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:2-3).
We are seeing this battle unfold before our very eyes with Israel and the Arabs on the front lines of the battle. But according to the Bible and unfolding events, the nations will also soon join in the battle. For the purpose of this discussion, we want to look at the battle in view of the historical claims Islam has on the Temple Mount as the “third holiest sight” in Islam. The Arab word used for Jerusalem, which you hear often in the media, is “Al Quds.” Let’s consider the “Myth of Al Quds.”
Jerusalem in the Bible and the Koran
You can tell how important a person, place or thing is to people by how often they speak of that person, place or place. We speak most about what we love and cherish. Since people talk about that which is most dear to them, we should be able to get a good idea of how important Jerusalem is to Jews and Arabs by reading their holy books, the Bible for the Jews and the Koran for the Arab Muslims.
We discover that Jerusalem is mentioned over 800 times in the Bible. There are 657 references in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and 154 references in the New Testament. Yet, Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran. And there is no reason that it should be because Muhammed never went to Jerusalem. In Muhammed’s lifetime, Jerusalem was outside the sphere of Islam.
This should make it clear that historically, Jerusalem is very important to the Jews, but has had little or no importance to Muslims until recent times. Furthermore, observant Jews pray facing Jerusalem while Muslims pray facing Mecca. Jews make pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Muslims make pilgrimages to Mecca.
The Temple Mount became part of Islam long after the time of Muhammed. And this was for political reasons arising out of the military expansion of Islam. It was certainly not for religious purposes. And even then, Muslims have only seemed to be interested in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount when the Jews control them. So how is it that the Temple Mount has become the “third holiest site of Islam?
Muhammed’s Night Flight
The Koran states, “Glory be to Him who made His servant go by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque.” All agree that the Sacred Mosque is in Mecca. It’s the location of the farthest or remotest Mosque that has been
Earliest views were that the farthest mosque referred to Medina. It wasn’t until the seventh century that some Islamic leaders identified it with Jerusalem. The legend is that Muhammed, either literally, or in a dream/vision made a journey to heaven from Mecca with a stopover in Jerusalem.
Muhammed’s second wife, Ayesha, said that on the night Muhammed was supposed to make this night flight, he was sleeping soundly by her side. In view of her testimony, Muhammed’s night flight has often been presented as a dream or vision rather than as a literal event, although there are still those who choose not to be confused with facts and present Muhammed’s flight as a literal happening.
The story is that Muhammed flew north on his horse, Burak, which had two wings and the face of a human. After stops at Mt. Sinai and Bethlehem, they landed at the sight of the mosque in Jerusalem.
At this point, heaven lowered a ladder to carry Muhammed to the Seventh Heaven where he was met by Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus and received their blessing to become the last prophet of God. Muhammed then returned by the ladder to Jerusalem from whence Burak flew him back to Mecca. Muslims point to the footprint Burak left when Muhammed leaped onto his back for the return trip to Mecca.
Now all religions, including my own, have their legends. I am certainly not the one to judge them. But the problem with this one is that Muhammed died decades before a mosque was built on the Temple Mount. So Jerusalem and the Temple Mount cannot possibly be the location of the farthest mosque mentioned in the Koran.
Muhammed died in 632, six years before Jerusalem fell to the Arabs under Caliph Omar in 638. The Dome of the Rock was not built until 692, which was sixty years after Muhammed’s death. The Al- Aqsa Mosque was not built until 712, which is eighty years
after Muhammed’s death.
The Mosque on the Temple Mount
The Caliph Omar defeated the Byzantine Christians in 636 at the battle of the Yarmuk River. Jerusalem surrendered to him in 638. Until this time, Jerusalem had been outside the realm of Islam. Caliph Omar built a small house of prayer near the rock on the site of the destroyed Jewish Temple. The purpose was to show that Islam had replaced Judaismand Christianity as the last divine revelation.
Later, the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik, whose capital was in Damascus, built the Dome of the Rock on the same site. Twenty years later, his son, Caliph al-Walid built the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Aqsa is Arabic for furthermost or remotest. As a way of establishing a legitimate claim of Islam over the Temple Mount, this mosque has been identified as the one spoken of in the Koran.
Historians tell us that Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock on the site to: 1) link himself as the successor to King Solomon, (2) to contradict Jesus’ statement that the Temple would be destroyed (Matthew 24, Luke 21), (3) To compete against spectacular church sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and (4) to encourage Muslim worshippers in his territory to make pilgrimages to the Dome of the Rock rather than making pilgrimages outside of his territory to his rival Caliph in Mecca.12
Abd al-Malik was eager to emphasize the independence and the triumph of the new religion over Christianity both militarily and ideologically. He put a lengthy Arabic inscription on the Dome of the Rock condemning Christianity. It contains many verses from the Koran, but not the one about Muhammed’s night journey. Surely, he would have included that verse if he thought it referred to the Temple Mount Mosque.
While Abd al-Malik considered building the Dome of the Rock on top of the place where Solomon’s Temple stood, Islamic leaders today deny there was even a Jewish Temple on the Mount.
Muhammed and the Jews
Muhammed held the Jews in high esteem and even tried to befriend them. Oddly enough, he recognized that the Jews were God’s chosen people and that God had promised them the Land. Note the following quotations from the Koran which are certainly not politically correct statements today.
“O Children of Israel! Remember … that I exalted you above all people.”
“Remember, my people, the favor which Allah bestowed upon you. He has raised up prophets among you, made you kings, and given you that which He has given to no other nation . Enter My people, the holy land which Allah has assigned for you.”
When Muhammed was forced to flee Mecca, he went to Yathrib, later renamed Medina. Yathrib was founded by Jews and populated by Jews as well as Arabs. Muhammed sought to win over the Jews to his new religion by declaring Muslims should face Jerusalem when they pray. But when the Jews refused to acknowledge Muhammed as a prophet, he turned against them and slaughtered all he could. He then literally did an about face and declared Muslims should face Mecca to pray. He then slaughtered the Jews and eventually proclaimed that Islam would be the only religion of Arabia. Arabs and Jews have been in conflict ever since.
In spite of Arab propaganda to the contrary, the Temple Mount is not sacred to Islam.
The Temple Mount is the focus of Islam only when it is not under Muslim control. Jordan controlled East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from 1948-1967. During that time, no Arab leader thought it important to make Jerusalem an Arab capital and no significant leader from the Arab world thought it necessary to come to pray at the Mosque. It was only in 1967, when the Jews liberated the Temple Mount from Arab control that it became the “third holiest site in Islam.”
As the battle for truth rages, the God of Israel will soon reveal the truth concerning these issues. He will return to Zion at which time Jerusalem will be called the “City of Truth.” The prophet Zechariah explains, “Thus says the LORD: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’ ” (Zechariah 8:3).
Dr. Richard Booker is a pioneering Christian Zionist and the author of 40 books and numerous courses many of which are on Israel and Jewish-Christian relationships. He is considered a spiritual father to many. To learn more about his ministry and teaching
resources, see his web site and online bookstore at: www.rbooker.com.