The former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem gave an interview in which he claimed that there is no connection between Judaism and the Temple Mount. His statement comes at a time when many Sunni from the Arab Gulf States are beginning to express their belief that the Aqsa Mosque is, in fact, located in Saudi Arabia and not on the Temple Mount.
Sheik Sabri: Turkey-Palestine Alliance: “Centuries Old”
Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, formerly the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem until 2006 who was appointed by Yasser Arafat, was interviewed by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency during a visit he recently made to Turkey. In the interview that was covered by Elder of Ziyon, he praised Turkey’s policy regarding Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
“Turkey’s relationship with Palestine is not new, but it is centuries old, and it has been strengthened even more through its wise policy of extending bridges of brotherhood with the Arab world,” Sabri said, emphasizing that “this is a policy that we always demand.”
It should be understood that there has never been an independent political entity named Palestine. Turkey was, in fact, the first Muslim majority country to recognize the State of Israel in 1949. It should also be emphasized that the current constitutional republic of Turkey has existed for one hundred years. The Ottoman Empire which preceded Turkey was a non-Arab Muslim Caliphate ruling over the Arabs in the region.
Mufti Ignorant of Muslim History
“The occupation uses several methods in order to impose its sovereignty over Al-Aqsa,” Sabri said. “It is imperative to publicize the Islamic narrative about Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and educate Muslims about it in return for responding to the Israeli narrative.”
“The occupation [Israel] realizes the importance of Al-Aqsa for two billion Muslims,” Sabri said. “We are not concerned with affection only. The problem with Muslims is that they are overcome by emotion. They love Al-Aqsa, but if you ask a Muslim about the history of Jerusalem and its status, he may not know it.”
Sabri’s declaration comes after a prominent Saudi Arabian journalist describing the historical roots of that the myth that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam. 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.
It should be noted that according to the Palestinian religious leaders, not only is the Temple Mount exclusively for Muslims, but it is not for all Muslims. In August, the current Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, issued a fatwa (religious proclamation) declaring that Muslim citizens of the United Arab Emirates will not be permitted to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem due to their signing of the Abraham Accords normalizing relations with Israel.
Temple Mount: Only for Muslims
“It is our duty to clarify our strategic position, which is that Al-Aqsa is for Muslims alone, and the Jews have nothing to do with it,” Sabri said. “It is linked to a decision from God Almighty, not from a security council or a body of nations.”
Elder of Ziyon commented that “one of the names of Jerusalem in Arabic is Bayt al-Muqaddas, a direct Arabic translation of the Hebrew Beit HaMikdash, or Holy Temple.”
The United Nations and UNESCO have passed resolutions recognizing the Temple Mount’s religious significance as exclusively pertaining to Islam. The resolutions refer to the Temple Mount and several other holy sites by their Arabic name without any reference to their Hebrew names.
“The intruders (Jews) come with an escort, while the foreign visitor comes without it, and this confirms that the intruder is an aggressor who wants to prove his existence,” Sabri said.
In June, the Israeli security authorities banned Sabri from the Temple Mount for four months charging him with incitement and participation in violent protests.