A Saudi Arabian journalist published an article in a prominent Saudi newspaper describing the historical roots of that the myth that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam.
Osama Yamani: Al Aqsa in Saudi Arabia, Not Jerusalem
Saudi Arabian lawyer and journalist Osama Yamani wrote an article in Okaz, a prominent Arabic Saudi Arabian daily newspaper, maintaining that the true location of the Al Aqsa Mosque described in Koran is in Al Ju’ranah, near Mecca in Saudi Arabia and not on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Yamani begins by explaining that during Mohammad’s lifetime Jerusalem was called ‘Ilya’, a name it was given by the Greeks and adopted by the Romans. It was adapted to Arabic. The name ‘Jerusalem’ does not appear in the Koran however ‘Ilya’ appears in some Hadith.
Yamani claims that confusion arose due to misrepresentations in history books, later exegesis, and the ‘qibla’, the direction Muslims face when praying. Muslims currently face towards the Kaaba in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca as per a teaching in the Koran that was revealed to Muhammad in the second Hijri year. Prior to this revelation, Muhammad and his followers in Medina faced Jerusalem for prayers, mimicking the custom of the Jews in Medina.
Yamani emphasized that Al Aqsa is not Al Quds, the Arabic name for the city of Jerusalem which is the short form of “Beit al-Quds” the holy house.” Al Aqsa Mosque, meaning the furthest mosque. This is a reference to Muhammad’s “Night Journey” from Mecca. In this context, “farthest” means “farthest from Mecca.”
“Jerusalem is not Al-Aqsa, which is not cited in the missions that Allah gave Muhammad and the caliphs. Similarly, Jerusalem is a city, and Al-Aqsa is a mosque,” he stated simply.
Near Mosque and Far Mosque: Both in Jeharna
Yamani explained that Al Aqsa was located in Al Ju’ranah (also referred to as Jeharna), near Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It was called Al-Aqsa (the furthest) Mosque because there is another mosque in the region built by one of Mohammad’s benefactors known as “al-Masjid al-Adna, “the Near Mosque”.
Yamani then went into a complex analysis of the qibla and the process that culminated in Mohammad establishing the tradition currently accepted throughout all branches of Islam to pray towards Mecca. He explained that the construction of the Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik in 691 CE came nine years after Abd Allah Ibn al-Zubayr rebelled and prevented the Umayyads who ruled Damascus from fulfilling the obligation to make the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca.
“At that stage, [al-Malik] changed the direction of prayer toward Jerusalem,” Yamani wrote.
Yamani wrote that the differences between the claims pertaining to the actual identity of which site is the Aqsa Mosque described in the Koran are due to “political matters that were employed for the benefit of events or issues and political positions at the time that have nothing to do with faith or religious dictates or God’s intention.”
Dr. Kedar: Jerusalem’s Holiness to Islam is “Fake News”; Islamist Agenda
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University, frequently refers to the myth that the Aqsa Mosque described in the Koran is located in Jerusalem is “fake news” and insulting to Saudi Arabian Muslims since it would raise the mosque on the Temple Mount to a level of importance that could contest the centrality of Mecca in Islam.
“In early Islam, we see that assigning holiness to the Temple Mount was criticized as an attempt to introduce Jewish concepts into Islam,” Dr. Kedar said. “Today, this narrative describing Mohammad’s Night Journey as culminating in Jerusalem has been revived, advanced by the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey’s President Erdogan, Qatar, and other Islamist movements seeking to unite Muslims and/or Arabs under a caliphate who seek to take over Jerusalem and use it like a crown.”
Dr. Kedar cited the notable exceptions of Islamic interest in Jerusalem were the periods in which the Muslims identified a risk that other religions would rule in Jerusalem, such as the during the Crusades, the First World War and of course, the period of Zionism.
In an article first published in 2016, Dr. Kedar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University, is a long-time advocate for a more precise and accurate understanding of the significance of Jerusalem for some Muslims by dispelling some clear lies perpetuated about the Temple Mount. Dr. Kedar explained that Al-Aqsa is mentioned once in the Koran, and Jerusalem is never named even once.
Since the Haj pilgrimage is one of the five basic Islamic commandments, the Umayads were forced to choose Jerusalem as their alternative for a pilgrimage site. In order to justify choosing Jerusalem, the Umayyads rewrote the story told in the Koran, moving the al Aqsa mosque to Jerusalem, and adding, for good measure, the myth of the night-time journey of Mohammed to al Aqsa. This is the reason the Sunnis now consider Jerusalem their third holiest city.
Shia Islam, mercilessly persecuted by the Umayya Caliphate, did not accept the holy Jerusalem canard, which is the reason the second holiest city to Shiites is Najif in Iraq, the burial place of Shiite founder Ali bin Abi Talib. Many of the Shiite elders – Iranian and Hezbollah – only began to call Jerusalem holy after the Khomeni rebellion in 1979 so as to keep the Sunnis from accusing them of being soft on Zionism.”
Dr. Kedar went on to explain that this lie was expanding to include the entire Temple Mount with the intention of claiming the entire city of Jerusalem for Islam.
The first lie, in that case, is the spurious claim that the “farther mosque” is in Jerusalem. More lies were piled on to the first one, the main prevarication being the exact location of this so-called al Aqsa mosque, which until not very long ago, was the silver-domed building on the southern end of the Temple Mount.
The entire area of the Temple Mount is known as al-Haram al-Sharif – “the holy and noble site”- but a change came about after the Six-Day War, when Jewish voices could be heard, particularly that of the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rav She’er Yashuv HaCohen, calling for the establishment of a synagogue on the Mount. Immediately after the war, Chief IDF Rabbi Shlomo Goren also said that he wanted to celebrate religious events on the Temple Mount. It was felt that the Muslims would not object, since al Aqsa was on the southern edge of the compound and the synagogue would not be nearby.
As a result, however, the Muslims decided to announce that the al Aqsa mentioned in the Koran refers not only to the mosque on the southern end of the compound, but is the name for the entire Temple Mount area, abandoning the original name, al-Haram al-Sharif.
Islam’s liars decided to “expand” al Aqsa – whose real location is actually in the Arabian desert – to encompass the entire Temple Mount area only after the Jews liberated the site of their Temples in the June 1967 Six-Day War. After all, the Jews might want to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount under the direction of Rabbis Goren and She’er Yashuv Hacohen.
One wonders why the al Aqsa Mosque is of such importance to the Muslims and why they have accorded it such prominence that it is becoming accepted as one of the basic principles of their faith. The answer lies in the fact that Islam defines itself as a religion that did not enter the world to live in peace with Judaism and Christianity, the religions that preceded it, but as a universal religion that is meant to obliterate them and take over the world. Islam sees itself as “Din al-Haqq,” the true religion, and Judaism and Christianity as “Din al-Batil,” the false religions. The Muslims fear that the Jewish people’s return to their land, cities and the site of their Temples will grant Judaism the status of a vibrant, active and true religion, posing a theological threat to the very existence and raison d’etre of Islam.
That is the reason that all Jewish activity on the Temple Mount, especially Jewish prayer, infuriates them, and they will do everything, including spreading prevarications and outright lies, to prevent the Jews from returning to the places from which they were exiled almost 2000 years ago. That is what makes the conflict over Jerusalem the basis of a theological struggle whose source is the Muslim world’s inability to recognize the history and religious rights of non-Muslim believers, all of whom are slated to disappear, according to Islam.
Yamani: Critical of Palestinians
Yamani has written on controversial subjects in the past. In September, he was critical of the Palestinian leadership writing:
“The Palestinian issue concerns the Arab peoples who want a solution, but the leaders benefit from the status quo. These leaders benefit from the problems and suffering of their people. There is no solution under corrupt leaderships…Our enemy today is Iran and Turkey, who occupy Arab lands in the name of the Palestinian issue. As for the enemy of the Palestinians at home, they are the corrupt leaders and traitors who rest in the bosom of Iran. For us, the real issue now is development, peace and justice that were stolen from the Arab world and forgotten by the Arab peoples. The Palestinian issue concerns the Arab peoples who want a solution, but the leaders benefit from the status quo. These leaders benefit from the problems and suffering of their people. There is no solution under corrupt leaderships. The Palestinian leadership is in the hands of traitors and beneficiaries.”