The conflict over the Temple Mount is a clear manifestation of Islamic replacement theology, a noted archaeologist told the Knesset on Wednesday. It is the site’s holy status in Judaism that is the basis of Islam’s interest, and this phenomenon has been seen throughout history, with Islam appropriating major Christian sites as well.
Asaf Avraham, former director of the Jerusalem Walls National Park of the Parks Authority, addressed the newly formed Temple Mount Heritage Foundation headed by Rabbi Yehudah Glick (Likud) and Shulamit Mualem-Rafaeli (Jewish Home). Avraham explained that the Islamic connection to the gold-capped Dome of the Rock, and indeed the entire Temple Mount Compound, is based on the sanctity of the Jewish Temple that previously stood on the site.
Avraham based his claim on thousand-year-old Arabic writings he discovered in the Muslim village of Nuva, located next to Hebron. The writings refer to Sachrat Beit El Maqdis, which translates to ‘Rock of the Holy Temple’.
“This was one of the names of the Dome of the Rock in early Islam,” Avraham explained in an interview with Arutz Sheva. “This is of the evidence from early Muslim literature which defines the Dome of the Rock as Beit El Maqdis (Beit Hamikdash – ‘Temple’ in Hebrew)”.
Avraham’s claim stands in direct contradiction to UNESCO resolutions passed last summer which effectively erased any connection between Judaism and its holiest site.
“There is no doubt that the original source of the place’s holiness is the Temple,” said Avraham. “When Muslims arrived in the seventh century, and probably even before that, they absorbed the Jewish faith which then entered the Muslim faith. You see it in the Koran which is heavily laden with Biblical stories. “
Avraham explained to the Knesset committee that Islam is a form of replacement theology, seeing itself as replacing Judaism and Christianity. “The first Christians saw themselves as the new Jews and this phenomenon also affected the Muslims, who saw themselves as carrying on the traditions of monotheistic faith and the true followers of the Bible. Muhammad was considered to be the Messiah, and they hoped that the Jews would cooperate with them. This is not a surprise, but the strengthening of an existing theory.”
Replacement theology, also called supersessionism, is the belief that one religion has replaced another, making the previous religion obsolete. For thousands of years, this was a tenet of Christianity, defining the Church’s relationship to the Jews. Subsequent to and because of the Holocaust, many mainstream Christian theologians and denominations have moved away from the theological belief, and today, most Christian supporters of Israel reject it entirely.
As replacement theology becomes less prevalent in defining the relationship between Jews and Christians, it becomes clear that it does define the relationship between Islam and other religions. Professor Ze’ev Magzhen, a professor at Bar-Ilan University and Shalem College, explained replacement theology’s roots in Islam.
“Islam is very open and candid that they came to replace all previous religions,” Magzhen told Breaking Israel News. “We see in Muslim literature a belief that Judaism was appropriate for the Jews at a certain time, but that time has passed.
“They also say the same thing about Christianity. Islam is the abrogating but never abrogated religion, what they call, ‘al nasikh wal rer mansukh’. It abolishes what came before, but Mohammed was the last prophet, so it is now the only truth.”
“The same can be said for both Christianity and Judaism in regards to how they viewed the religions that came before,” the professor added.
The professor observed that the Islam has a history of usurping the holy sites of other religions, and in that respect, the Temple Mount is not unique.
“Muslims frequently placed mosques where churches used to be, or simply turned the church into a mosque,” the professor said, citing the example of Hagia Sophia. Built in Istanbul the sixth century, Hagia Sophia stood as the world’s largest cathedral for nearly one thousand years. In 1453, it was turned into a mosque.
“The Temple Mount can easily be seen as a physical manifestation of this replacement theology,” Professor Magzhen concluded.
Yaakov Hayman, chairman of the United Temple Movement, attended Avraham’s lecture in the Knesset.
“It is true that there is a Muslim minority who recognize the Jewish source of the site’s holy status, and see it as their role to return it to us,” Hayman told Breaking Israel News. “But the main Palestinian narrative, as seen in UNESCO, is driven by the element in Islam that seeks to replace Judaism, especially on the Temple Mount.”
He contrasted the present Muslim-dominated reality on the Temple Mount with the Jewish vision for the site.
“It is intended as a House of Prayer for all nations,” Hayman insisted. “Anyone who believes in one God and follows the seven Noahide laws will be part of the Third Temple.”