Millions of people today fail to gasp the differences between Jewish and Muslim claims to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. But the differences are enormous. Jewish claims are based on Scripture and more than 1,000 years of historical possession that predates Islam; Muslim claims are based on Muhammad's vision of a mystical midnight ride and a rewriting of the Holy Bible.
Muhammad was born around A.D. 570 in Mecca in what is Saudi Arabia. In 610, at the age of 40, he began to receive what he said was revelation from Allah who demanded complete surrender (Arabic, Islam). So began the Islamic faith - more than 2,000 years after the Five Books of Moses were written and more than 2,500 years after the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet, according to Islam, the patriarchs were Muslims.
How can someone belong to a religion that would not exist for another 2,500 years? Rewriting sacred Scripture makes everything possible.
According to the Muslim publication History of Al Aqsa Mosque by Kais Al-Kalby and Emad J. Meerza on the Stanford University Web site, Islam claims the following:
Muhammad, in fact, never set foot in Jerusalem. The Qur'an says, "Glory to Him Who carried His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque [in Mecca] to the remote Mosque [in Jerusalem]" (surah 17:1) The passage refers to a mystical night ride Muhammad purportedly had in A.D.61 when a winged, donkey-like creature called al-Buraq brought him from Mecca to Jerusalem and back (a round trip of 1,510 miles) in a single night. Tradition says Muhammad ascended to heaven from Jerusalem and led all the prophets in prayer in the Masjid Al-Aqsa. But the experience was purely mystical. Wrote Muslim scholar Maulana Muhammad Ali: "The Ascension was not a translation of the body, but the spiritual experience of the Holy Prophet."(1)
The Qur'an existed in book form in 632. However, not a single Muslim structure existed on the Temple Mount until after 638, when the Muslims conquered Jerusalem. So to what does the Qur'an's mention of "Masjid Al-Aqsa" refer ? It is the site of the Jewish Temple that Islam says began with Abraham as a mosque and was eventually enlarged by Solomon.(2)
In other words, Muslims today claim the Temple Mount is holy to them because the Jewish Temple was actually a mosque (although Islam would not exist for another 1500 years) and because Muhammad spiritually ascended to heaven from there on his night ride.
The Jewish People say the Temple Mount is holy to them because Scripture says a Jewish Temple stood on the site for 389 years and then for 585 years. Unlike Muslims, who revere Mecca above all else, there is no place holier or dearer to Jewish people than the city of Jerusalem, which was the seat of historic Davidic kingdom for more than 400 years - and will be again when the Messiah returns.
Articles related to Islam include:
1). Maulana Muhammad Ali, The Holy Qur'an, trans. Maulana Muhammad Ali, (Columbus, OH: Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Isha'at Isalam, 1995), 544, n 1410.
2). Kais Al-Kalby with Emad J. Meerza, History of Al Aqsa Mosque, Stanford University, <stanford.edu/~jamila/Aqsa.html>.
Friends of Israel Ministries - Israel My Glory - January/February 2011 p.34