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By Dr. Asher Eder
Jewish Co-Chairman
Islam-Israel Fellowship
Root & Branch Association, Ltd.


[Note from Nora: The Rock in the Mount is Mount Moriah, the Rock of Abraham, where the near-sacrifice of Isaac occurred.]

This is how the temple mount with the Muslim mosque looked in the 1920s. It was completely empty and neglected. Nobody cared about it, nobody attended the mosque. So much for historical importance to Muslims in Jerusalem.

Before the Oslo Agreement, hardly any Muslim objected to the fact that the hill colloquially called the Temple Mount was indeed the site of the First and the Second Temple.

Khaliph Omar, after he took over Jerusalem in 638 C.E., helped personally to clean the site which the Byzantines had turned into the city's garbage dump. He conceived to build a mosque there - on that very site he realized as the one mentioned as El-Aqsa in Surah "Bani Israel", vs 1. After some consultations he decided to erect the mosque not on the northern part of the plateau as some of his followers had suggested, but at the southern end where it is still located. This southern site was chosen to make sure that the two different directions of prayer (of the Jews toward the site of the Temple; and of the Muslim toward Mecca) would not get confused; and would avoid that Muslim worshippers facing south toward Mecca - would also have the site of the previous Jewish Temples before them, but rather have it behind their backs. In other words, the very location of the El Aqsa Mosque is an architectural and religious proof of the location of the First and the Second Temple there. (In fact, there is no other reason why of all the places on earth Khaliph Omar should have chosen that place if it had merely been a garbage dump!).

Another proof can be found in the Koran. While its Surah "The Cow", vs 138, ordains for Muslim the direction of prayer (qiblah) toward Mecca, it states that "those (the Jews) who have been given the Book (Torah; Hebrew Bible) will not follow thy (-the Muslims') direction (vss. 141,143); that is it confirms the direction of payer for the Jews toward Jerusalem (in accordance with 1.Kings 8:30,35,38).

Several decades after Khaliph Omar, under the rule of the Ommayad King Malik I, the extraordinary beautiful "Dome of the Rock" was built on that hill's peak which was known since ancient times as "even shetiah", the Lord's Foundation Stone; the center of the Temples. It was meant to honor the site. Most likely it should attract Christian pilgrims as well as Muslims who should besides going to Mecca also visit Jerusalem.

As the "Dome of the Rock" was conceived to be a shrine, not a mosque, originally no minaret and not prayer niche (mikhrab, pointing the direction toward Mecca) were added. Yet, since Muslims liked to pray there, prayer niches were added in modern times, one for men and one in the women's section. But there is no minaret - one of the two requirements to distinguish a building or a room as a mosque. That is, the Dome of the Rock is still a shrine, not a mosque (the customary term "Mosque of Omar" is incorrect. It was neither built by Omar, nor is it a mosque, as said. The Mosque of Omar is opposite the entrance gate to the Holy Sepulchre).

Abraham's Rock

After the Oslo Agreement, when the PLO felt it could get the upper hand, these facts were denied, even suppressed. Let me bring here a conversation I had on the subject in 1996 with one of the new PA appointed guides there (it took place on the Temple Mount in an office room of the Waqf, in the presence of the Imam of the El Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Y.):

Q: "Do you really deny that the First and the Second Temple were located here?"
A: "If there was ever such a thing like Jewish Temples, they were probably located over there (he pointed to the Western Hill which the Byzantines established as the "Christian Mount Zion", then with its Hagia Zion Church, and now its Dormition Church).
Q: "Why then did Rassoul Mohammed in his "Night Journey" and for his Ascension, come to this hill according to your tradition, not to that Western Hill?"
A: "He wanted to establish this place for us."
Q: "Why exactly this place? It must have been known to him beforehand, as it says (in Surah "Bani Israel", verse 1): '...by night from the Holy Mosque [=Mecca] to the El-Aqsa [=Further Mosque; lit. the mosque at the other end]."
A: "Allah knows everything beforehand, and He guided his Messenger here."
Q: Why did King Malik build this beautiful Dome of the Rock here, after the El-Aqsa Mosque was already established?"
A: "Perhaps he simply liked it."
Q: "The Dome of the Rock has four entrance gates. Why do you, in Muslim tradition, call its eastern gate the "Baab haqmat Daoud" (the Gate of David's Judgment)? And why does your tradition say that the small structure just outside that gate, the "Silsileh", marks the place where King David - described as Allah's servant (in Surah Zad, 16), and his viceroy [Khaliph] on earth (in verse 25) - will once judge mankind? King David, the Founder of Zion! How does that fit into your denials of the Jewish background of the site?"
A: Oh. oh.... that is ... sorry, I have to ask my superiors.."

Ceding the Temple Mount or its surface structures to the PA would not only be equal to waiving Jewish history and future; it would be equal to an endorsement of blunt lies. True peace can never be based upon lies, and not at all upon lies about such crucial matters as the Temple Mount and what it stands for.

E-mail Dr. Asher Eder

Readers who are interested in what the Koran has to say about Muslim-Jewish relations, may like to read the essay of mine:
"PEACE IS POSSIBLE BETWEEN ISHMAEL AND ISRAEL ACCORDING TO THE KORAN" available from the author; or from Root&Branch Assoc., Jerusalem, or by e-mail.

© Copyright 2001, Dr. Asher Eder
Thank you, Dr. Eder, for allowing me to post your article.