Title: Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) and Jerusalem in
Judaism, Christianity & Islam: Discovering The Roots of The East (Muslim) - West (Judeo-Christian) MisunderstandingJudeo-Christian America of the 19th & 20th Centuries & The Quest for A Judeo-Christian-Islamic America in the 21st Century
Author: Imam Yahia Abdul Rahman Ph.D.
I. THE BIBLE AND THE QUR’AAN
The Bible consists of two parts: The Old Testament, which is essentially the Torah (representing about 80% of the bible), and The New Testament, which is essentially four books each is a different version but essentially the same document. This is the foundation of the Judeo-Christian world. The Bible in its format (joining the old testament with the new testament) forms the legitimacy of the Judeo-Christian world.
The Qur’aan is a stand-alone document and is believed to be the last word of God to mankind and that it includes all God’s previous revelations. In fact, a close reading of the old & new testaments reveals that there are many stories, concepts, admonitions, rulings and even sentences that are revealed word-for-word in the holy Qur’aan.
The challenge to the American Muslims: The link between Judaism and
Christianity is made permanent by putting their two sources together
signifying one continuing history and sources. The question to the
Muslims is: How Can we build a bridge to tie Judaism and Christianity
with Islam to achieve a greater vision for America: The Judeo-Christian-Islamic
Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) is looked upon as the Patriarch of all prophets (The Father of all Prophets – Abu Al-Anbiyaa as revealed in the Qur’aan.) Some Judeo-Christian revelations look at him as a patriarch not as a prophet. In Islam he is a prophet of God and was a Muslim; a submitter of his will to that of God. He was the first to popularize the concept of ONE God.
2. Marriage, Wives & Children:
2.1. In the Judeo-Christian tradition it is believed that he married the noble Sarah and later on married their servant/slave Hagar. He had two children: Isaac from Sarah and Ishmael from Hager. In the Judeo-Christian teachings the roles of Sarah, Isaac and their off springs are heavily emphasized while that of Ishmael is very much ignored. Some schools of thought in the Judeo-Christian tradition believe that Ishmael was the illegitimate son of a slave and some right wing fanatics think that Ishmael is the anti-God. In fact Mr. Pat Robertson on his 700 Club TV program mentioned that Islam is the religion of the slaves because their original mother was Hagar!
2.2. In Islam, the emphasis is not placed on the ethnicity, genealogy, and family tree but rather on one’s deeds and belief in God. So, you may find Muslims whose ancestry can be traced back to Abraham’s son Isaac or Ishmael. That is because not all Muslims are Arabs (the off springs of Ishmael), while prophet Muhammad was. In Islam it is believed that when Prophet Abraham did not get a child after his long marriage to Sarah, he married a humble wife Sarah who gave him his first child Ismail (Ishmael.) The story of Ismail’s delivery is well documented and is relived every year during the Safa/Marwa part of the hajj experience. Then Sarah delivered to Abraham his second son Isaac (Is’haaq.)
3. The Sacrifice of Abraham’s Son:
3.1. Who was the son that was to be sacrificed?
• In the Judeo-Christian Tradition: It is believed that the
son that Abraham attempted to sacrifice was Isaac.
3.2. Location of the Sacrifice Event:
• In the Judeo-Christian Tradition: It is believed that the sacrifice was attempted at the top of mount “Moriah.” That is; the mount where the tree of “Morr” (meaning bitter in Arabic) grows. This tree produced bitter fruits that were also used for perfume. These trees grow at the top of the mount where the Dome of the Rock is built today in Jerusalem.
• In Islam, it is widely believed that the sacrifice event was attempted at the foothill of mount Arafat (an important foundation for Hajj) but there is a minority story that talks about mount Marwah (the Safa & Marwah.)
The question that needs research is: is there a possibility that
Morriah and Marwah got confused and hence the general location difference
between the Judea-Christian story (Jerusalem) and the Islamic story
• In the Judeo- Christian story we find that all stays silent after Abraham’s attempted sacrifice, then the successions of Prophets Jacob (or Prophet Israel), King David (believed to be Prophet David in Islam) and King Solomon (again believed to be Prophet Solomon in Islam.) Then we read that “King” David, who was successful in wiping out the anti-God citizens (the Philistines), and is believed to be the first founder of a nation of the Hebrews, attempted to build the temple in commemorations of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac and God’s revelation to him. The chief Rabbis refused because David’s hands, as stated by them, were full of blood. The task was given to “King” Solomon. It is believed by the Judeo-Christians that he built the first temple. It is described to be a stunning memorial in lavishness and structure.
• In Islam, it is believed that the “Temple”, called the Ka’baa (the cubical structure), in Makkah, was built immediately after Prophet Abraham passed the greatest of all tests; i.e. the offering of his own son – the most valuable asset he had – to God. It was Prophets Abraham and Ismail (Ishmael) who built this humble building to be the first ever masjid (Temple in Judeo-Christian language) ever built to worship God in the history of the world (Sura Al-Baqara – The Cow - Chapter 2 verse 127.) Now, regarding King Solomon and the building of the Temple, the Islamic story as revealed in the Qur’aan (Sura Al-Naml –the Ants – Chapter 27 verses 38-44) details the palace of the Queen of Sheba, which most likely is the Temple that the Judeo-Christian story talks about.
It is believed that fundamental research is needed to document and research these important historic events hoping that this will lead to our goal of a true Judeo-Christian-Islamic America.
III. JERUSALEM AND THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE
1. The First Temple Period
Abraham’s journey through what is called by the Gospel the Land of Jacob or the Land of Israel, and in particular his presence on Mount Moriah, consecrate the ground and impact it with national symbolism.
The Book of Judges – the Bible – describes the early day people of Judaism as rebellious and troublesome, squabbling amongst themselves. Internal strife makes them vulnerable to the ever-growing military threat posed by the Philistines in the south.
Essentially, the primary purpose of the monarchy to manage the affairs of the “Land of Jacob/Israel” is to build and maintain the Temple on Mount Moriah. This is in commemoration of the attempted Sacrifice of Isaac (or Isma’il) by his father Prophet Abraham. The Temple was perceived, as a home for God and its construction was to mark the achievement of maturity of the Biblical child – Israel.
The two qualities, which define stable monarchy in the Bible, are:
1. The King must come from the tribe of Judah.
2. The City of David
David ruled his tribe of Judah from the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron). His achievement was the reversal of the unstable and archaic situation described in the Book of Judges. David began his campaign against the Philistines, inflicting the infamous lethal blow to Goliath’s forehead with the slingshot. He is believed to have united the tribes of Israel.
3. The City of Jerusalem
The city of Jerusalem was built at the foot of Mount Moriah (the tree of Morr or bitter fruits & was used as source of perfume in ancient times and it grows in Jerusalem); though David was never permitted to build the Temple. He was a soldier whose hands were stained by the blood of war. The construction of the Temple was privileged for a man of peace.
That is why David resolved to pave the way for his son the Wise Solomon to perform the task. By the way, for those who care to know, Solomon as per the Bible married no less than 700 wives and kept 300 concubines. The purpose of this, as reported in Bible Research, was to establish valuable diplomatic contacts and trade ties with the fathers and kin of his wives who were the kings of the neighboring empires. The details of Solomon’s temple are described in the Book of Kings. This First Temple was to stand on Mount Moriah for an era of 400 years.
4. The Decline of Jerusalem in the First Temple period begins with the death of King Solomon:
The Rabbis of the Talmud say that the First Solomonic Temple was destroyed because of the sins of the people. The Jews of Jerusalem were idol worshippers, adulterers and murderers. The Talmud concludes that the unique relationship between God and man was manifested in the form of destroying the city in 586 BCE. The Babylonians and the Assyrians in 600 BCE started their campaign against the city. In 586 BCE the army of Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, pounding its fortifications and bringing it to its feet on the 9th of Av (August.) The Temple was destroyed and the city of Jerusalem was burnt to the ground. By the way NOT ONE SINGLE piece of Solomon’s Temple was ever excavated. In fact only one artifact of any sort has been found. This is a small clay pomegranate, which is thought, but not for sure to have come from the Temple.
New words were introduced: Zion is Jerusalem. Zion is also mount
Zion, the Biblical name of Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount, and the
Dome of the Rock or Haram Al-Shareef.
The book of Ezra and Nehemiah describes the events, which followed the conquest of Babylon by the Persian King Cyrus. Cyrus, on conquering Babylon issued a declaration permitting all the conquered nations in exile in Babylon to return to their homeland.
As Babylon declined and Persia rose, 70 years of exile come to an end. The Jewish people have their land restored to them but the Jews preferred to remain in Babylon with only a few returning to Zion. Under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, they began building the destroyed city of Jerusalem and ultimately rebuild the Temple. This marks the Second Temple Period.
In 332 BCE Alexander the great conquered the whole of the Mediterranean basin including Jerusalem, and shortly after he died. He created cultural homogeny in his empire by exporting the conquering culture, Greek Hellenism, which glorified the power of human physical and intellectual achievement. The Jews after 332 BCE were attracted to the Greek culture. It taught the Jews to worship themselves, to strengthen their bodies and develop their minds. The whole second temple period history of the Jewish people is conducted in the shade of Greek, and later Roman, Hellenistic culture
Jewish society in Jerusalem was bitterly divided over Jewish law, ritual, and politics and the Temple played a significant role in the struggle.
6. Jewish Rebellion Against the Romans and the Destruction of the Second Temple:
After the death of Herod in CE, the tension between the factions reached the peak. In 66 CE the passion and the tension exploded into an all out rebellion against Rome. The Great Revolt, which lasted from 66 to 73 CE, had disastrous consequences. It brought about the destruction of the Second Temple in the month of Av (August) 70 CE and the total destruction of the upper city of Jerusalem, which burned for over a month. Thousands of Jews were killed in the Revolt and thousands more were taken into Roman captivity. The city of Jerusalem was left in ruins.
The pile of rubble, which stood on the Temple Mount – The Dome of The Rock, was pushed aside and in its place a temple of the goddess Aphrodite was built. The vessels of the Temple were carried away in triumph to Rome where an arch, “Titus’ Arch”, was erected to celebrate and commemorate the victory.
7. The Beginning of the Judeo-Christian Movement
Of all sects in Jerusalem only two, the Pharisees and the Judeo-Christians, managed to survive. The Judeo-Christians broke away from Judaism and established a new faith. Despite the radical difference between the two they both managed to incorporate the memory of the Temple as an integral part of religious life even after its physical destruction.
In the early period after the destruction, the Judeo-Christians were a small and persecuted Jewish sect. Like the Pharisees, they adopted the policy of preserving the memory of the Temple ritual as a central motif in their religious practice.
The physical temple of Jerusalem was replaced by early Christians
with the spiritual Temple of the “Upper” or spiritual
Jerusalem. The ultimate sacrifice, which was atoned for all sin was
the sacrifice, which Christ made on the cross. The cross became the
new alter and Jesus was the last physical sacrifice.
The history of the Judeo-Christian sect as one of the Jewish factions to survive the destruction is a short one. Christianity soon took its leave of Judaism and became a separate faith.
In the fourth Century, it was recognized as the official faith of the Byzantines as a result of extensive missionary activity amongst the Pagans of Roman Empire. This marks the departure of the Judeo Christians from Jewish world.
Approximately 70 years after the Roman Conquest of Jerusalem, Jews began to anticipate the Messianic redemption. They believed that the master of history who rebuilt the second Temple 70 years after the destruction of the first would build the third!
Rabbi Akiva hailed the charismatic military leader Simon Bar Koziva Messiah. He changed his name to Bar Kochba, “son of the star” and appointed him the leader of the Revolt, which was to overthrow Rome, establish Jewish Sate in Jerusalem and build the Temple. The Revolt lasted from 132 to 135 CE won mass support among the Jews. They succeeded to temporarily terrorize the Roman legions stationed in Judea. They provoked a fiercer Roman counter attack. The Romans killed over 600,000 men, women and children. Rabbi Akiva himself was tortured to death by Emperor Hadrian.
The Jewish name of the city; i.e. Jerusalem, was replaced by the Latin name “Aelia Capitolina” and the Jewish people along with their hopes of rebuilding the city were once again left in ruins.
During the 4th century the Roman Empire underwent a dramatic change, which was to deeply affect the history of Jerusalem. Constantine the great brought about recognition of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Byzantine Empire, whose capital was Constantinople. Christians who had spread the faith among the pagans now enjoyed a majority position in that empire. For the first time since the destruction of the second Temple, a people who considered it holy ruled Jerusalem. FROM THE 4th Century on, Christian Byzantine rule precluded Jewish access to the holy city.
9. Jerusalem Under Christian Rule
The physical city where Jesus had preached and spent his last days;
the place where he had been
On account of Jesus’ words the destruction of the Temple was
perceived as a punishment for the
Christian pilgrims came from all over the empire to visit the Holy sites and to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Jews were now granted access to the city only on one day of the year. On the 9th day of Av, the day when Jews commemorate the destruction of the Temple, they were permitted to enter the city, wearing sackcloth and ashes to mourn their humiliation.
IV. THE AGE OF FAITH: THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE ISLAMIC EAST
The “Age of Faith” is the age of the conflict between Christianity and Islam. The world was divided into “Christendom” in the West and the empire of Islam in the East.
1. Jerusalem in Islam
Islam, the new monotheistic faith, which evolved during the first half of the 7th century, inherited many symbols from its monotheistic predecessors. Among them, the city of Jerusalem was sanctified in Islam as the “Stairway to Heaven.” This was the sight where the father Abraham had been tested and where he had been commanded to sacrifice his son, the father of the Arab people Isma’il. It was from here that Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and it was here that he received the order to pray. It was on the Temple Mount (Haram Al-Sharif) that Prophet Muhammad prayed with the prophets and it was from the Rock on the top of that mount that he finally ascended to heaven.
In 638 CE, six years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the Islamic Defense Forces reached the gates of Byzantine Jerusalem. The city fell and so began a period of Islamic rule, which was to continue almost uninterrupted through the 20th century. In the year 692 (54 years later) Abdul-Malik Ibn Marwan built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount and Moriah was once again reinstated as the focal point of the City.
Dome of the Rock (Qubbatul Sakhrah) often (incorrectly called the Masjid of Omar because that is where Omar prayed when he reached it) is more a sanctuary than a mosque and the Caliph Omar did not build it. The Dome stands on the rock on the Temple Mount from which the Prophet ascended to heaven in the night journey (Miraj.) The place is revered by the three Semitic religions and may have been the site of the Holy of the Holies in the temple of Solomon. As is well known, Jesus, Moses and Solomon are prophets of Islam. It was the Original Prayer Direction (Qib’lah) of the early Muslims before it was replaced with Makkah. The Temple Mount is often referred to as the third holy place in Islam (Thalithul Haramain) after Makkah and Madinah.
The Rock itself is oblong and measures 56 ft by 42 ft (18 by 14 meters.) Below it is a chamber accessible by a stairway where one can pray in a small area set aside for that purpose (this special oratory in addition to the large area on the ground level above.) A crack in the rock, visible from the grotto, is piously explained as having split when the Prophet ascended to Heaven; the rock wished to follow. The cave is called the “Well of Spirits” (Bi’r al Arwa’aah.)
The Haram Shareef Sanctuary stands above the rock with its golden
dome that dominates the skyline of old Jerusalem, was built by the
Khalifah Abdul-Malik Bin Marwan 72/691. The design is noted for its
Byzantine-Syrian motifs. Although Syrian craftsmen built it trained
in the Byzantine tradition. It was the first major example of Islamic
Architecture, whose more “indigenous” expressions would
come later. When the sanctuary was built, a challenger to the Khalifah
Abdullah Ibn Al-Zubair was occupying Makkah. The Khalifah Ibn Al-Zubair
issued a decree whereby the Dome of the Rock, rather than the Kaa’bah
became the goal of the hajj, pilgrimage. The decree was later annulled
after the conquest of Makkah but this event demonstrates the sanctity
that Islam attaches to the Haram Shareef.
In Judaism, only the High Priest was allowed to walk in the Holies. Since the actual position of the Holy of the Holies is now unknown, Judaism forbids access to the whole area of the Temple Mount. Orthodox Jews observe this prohibition. Sacred history and rabbinical decisions have closed the Temple Mount to the first of the three Semitic religions
In Christianity the veil of the Temple, which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple, was rent in twain at the crucifixion of Jesus, to symbolize the going forth of the Shechina into the world. When the Crusaders controlled Jerusalem, the Knights Templar turned the Dome of the Rock into a church and made it the model for their chapels, or “temples.” The only such chapel still extant is in the Templar Castle of Tomar, Portugal, and is the small ancient church of the True Cross (la Iglesia de la Vera Cruz) in Segovia, Spain. The Dome was also the emblem of the seal of the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar. When Al-Nasir Salahuddin (Saladin) recaptured Jerusalem he naturally made the Dome once more into an Islamic shrine. The area around the Dome of the Rock contains a number of minor monuments, which are built by the Ottomans who invested a lot of time, energy and resources in developing Jerusalem. At the other end of the esplanade is the al-Aqsa Mosque.
In Islam, the third and final Semitic religion which, like Christianity, is universal, makes of the Temple Mount the place where man as man, is joined once more to God through the restoration of Adam’s relationship to God before the Fall, as expressed in the ascent to heaven of the Prophet; thus it is Islam that restores it as a sanctuary. With Islam in Jerusalem, the destroyed Mountain blossomed with new life as the new Temple, the Muslim Shrine, was built. With a Dome of almost identical proportions to that of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the golden top of the shrine on Moriah outshine the silver roof, which stood on Golgotha. The magnificent building, with its 8 walls and gates representing the 8 doors to heaven looked triumphantly on the 6 walled church, which stood on the facing hill. The Mount, which the Byzantines prophesied would remain in ruins was now rebuilt and splendid. For the Jews of Jerusalem, this was perhaps something of a victory too.
V. THE CRUSADES
1. The First Crusade
The conquest of Jerusalem by the Muslims of the East in the 11th century was an outrage by the Christian West. The West concluded that it was essential to conquer the city in order to reassert the correct order in God’s world. Pope Urban II, who instigated the First Crusade, gave as his primary motive for calling the Crusade the argument that it was inconceivable for the Holy city and the site of the suffering of Our Lord to be held in the hands of the “infidel.” He promised atonement of sin and restoration of worldly goods to all men who would answer the call to redeem the city. The response was fanatical. The whole Western Europe was on the move.
The force and enthusiasm of this movement united European Christendom. Kings, Dukes and Barons, from England, France and Germany fought side by side against the common enemy. The Catholic Church reached new heights of political power. Europe, which has been floundering in Barbarism and economic regression, ruralization and despondency, had been given a noble cause. The execution of the Crusade was carried out with passion unprecedented in European history.
In 1099 the Crusader armies reached Jerusalem. They pounded at the
walls of the besieged city, first burning with fiery arrows the ropes,
which coated the walls so as to absorb the blows of the battering
rams. They broke through and massacred everyone inside. The Jews of
the city were rounded up into the synagogue and burnt alive. So much
blood was split that the rivers of it , which flowed through the city’s
streets reached the ankles of the horses.
© 2003 Dr. Imam Yahia Adbul Rahman Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.