The renowned Turkish poet Nuri Pakdil beautifully summarized our sensitivity to Jerusalem with the words: “Half of our heart is Mecca, and the rest is Medina. And a veil-like presence of Jerusalem.” Let’s collectively remember our sacred city, Jerusalem, with its various aspects.
The Capital of Religious History, Jerusalem
No city on Earth can be compared to Jerusalem when it comes to the history of religions. It’s a city where great civilizations have left their marks, where prophets like Adam, Muhammad, and many others have walked, and where the names of kings, sultans, commanders, scholars, and numerous artists are etched into its stones and soil.
It’s the city that was conquered by Prophet David (peace be upon him), shaped by Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), the place from which Jesus (peace be upon him) ascended to the heavens, and the location where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ascended during the Isra and Mi’raj.
Historical Origin of the Name Jerusalem
“Jerusalem” first appeared in the Middle Kingdom inscriptions of ancient Egypt as ‘Rusalim.’ The Jews call this city Yerushalayim, Christians refer to it as Jerusalem, and Muslims name it Dar al-Salam, all meaning the “City of Peace.”
Despite being destroyed twice in its history and experiencing 23 occupations and 52 attacks, people have always wanted this city to be a city of peace. This is because according to the divine religions, this city holds a divine privilege. In Islam, there are two sacred pieces of land on Earth, the area of the Kaaba and the area of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock
In the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said, “There are only three places on Earth where it is lawful to travel with the intention of earning Allah’s pleasure: the Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), the Masjid al-Nabawi (in Medina), and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Many people think of only one structure when Al-Aqsa Mosque is mentioned. However, what the Quran describes as Al-Aqsa (the distant mosque) is not just an ordinary building; it’s a piece of land that Allah has honored. Of course, the structures built on this significant land are also valuable. Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, the Qibli Mosque, the Buraq Mosque, and the Marwani Mosque, which together form the entire area known as the Noble Sanctuary, are all part of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jesus Ascended to Heaven in Jerusalem
Jesus, peace be upon him, was born miraculously in the neighboring city of Bethlehem without a father, and he spoke while still a baby. He first called people to the true faith in Galilee and later in Jerusalem. He was a healer for both bodies and hearts. When he reached the age of 33, just as the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) night journey was from Mecca, his ascension was from this blessed city, Jerusalem. Thus, the place of ascension to the Divine Presence was Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, the First Qibla of Muslims
The first verse of the Surah Al-Isra clearly indicates that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was taken to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Qibla for Muslims before his Miraj journey. The shift to this Qibla occurred over a period of sixteen to seventeen months after the migration (Hijra).