As the “Palestinians” try to reestablish themselves with the new US president, many Arab nations, now politically aligned with Israel, are rejecting the Palestinian claim to the Temple Mount, saying it is insulting to Islam. It seems, in fact, that the Palestinian efforts to dominate Judaism’s holiest site have more to do with an eschatological battle described in the Zohar than with Muslim theology.
“PALESTINIANS INSULT AND HUMILIATE SAUDI ARABIA”
A new Saudi Arabian social media initiative is working to refute the “Palestinian” claim to the Temple Mount.
Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) reported on a new Saudi Twitter campaign that emphasizes the religious importance of Mecca and Medina while refuting that the Temple Mount has any significance to Islam.
“According to the Saudis, the campaign is in response to the Palestinians who insult and humiliate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its cooperation with Israel, both online and in many demonstrations on the Temple Mount on Fridays,” the report read.
Jews around the world face towards the Temple Mount when praying. Islamic law mandates the ‘qibla’, requiring Muslims to face the Kaaba in Mecca when praying. This is expressed in 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.
A FRIDAY TRADITION
Thousands of Palestinians come every Friday to pray at the Temple Mount in contravention of Health Ministry guidelines pertaining to the pandemic.
“The reaction of the Saudis is to emphasize that Al-Aqsa is a mosque like all mosques, but the direction of prayer of the Muslims is to the city of Mecca and to it only,” the report in Arutz Sheva continued. Despite their insistence that the Temple Mount is holy to Islam, even the Muslims who pray on the Temple Mount do so while facing Mecca, effectively turning their backs to the Dome of the Rock, the site of the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temples.
This point was emphasized in the Twitter campaign as seen in the comment by prominent Saudi cartoonist Fahd al-Jabiri who wrote, “”The direction of the prayers of the Jews is not important to us, what is important to us is only our homeland.”
In the context of current events, we see the Palestinians insisting upon worshipping on the Temple Mount despite its non-relevance to Islam. They are,in effect, disassociating from Saudi Arabia, the leaders of Sunni Islam, and instead of bowing down on the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock, the site of Holy of Holies, as the focus of their religious war, precisely as the Sohar predicted.
TEMPLE MOUNT HOLY TO ISLAM: “FAKE NEWS”
Many of the comments noted that the Temple Mount has, in fact, no significance to Islam, a claim that is becoming more prominent in Saudi Arabian social discourse.
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 as “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 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,” Dr. Kedar explained. “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.”
ZOHAR: SONS OF ISHMAEL WILL BOW DOWN BEFORE GOD AT THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
The Palestinian imperative to lay claim to the site of the Jewish Temples may have more to do with an end-of-days prophecy described in the Zohar than with Muslim theology. Jewish sources describe that in the end-of-days the descendants of Ishmael will have a place and a purpose on the Temple Mount. A surprisingly detailed description of the Messianic process is given in the Zohar Hadash, a collection of previously unpublished manuscripts pertaining to the Zohar printed in the late 16th century. In one section (Balak 68b), the Zohar Hadash describes a process that will begin in the 274th year of the sixth millennium. This works out to be the year 5774 in the Hebrew calendar which began in September 2013. This same prophecy is repeated in other sources, adding that the “Sons of Ishmael” (Arabs) will make war against the Messiah, and will “come and bow down before God at the holy mountain in Jerusalem”.