Tuesday, 12 March 2013

New Muslim vision for Temple Mount

Devout Muslim dreams of seeing people of all faiths praying together at Jerusalem holy site

The unique importance of the Temple Mount to Judaism and to Islam makes the location vulnerable to tensions and conflicts between Jews and Muslims. Usually, these incidents originate in rumors such as: "The Jews are coming today to bomb the mosques and build their Third Temple." Obviously, false accusations and baseless suspicions such as these turn the site from a holy place of prayer and love into a site of violent political demonstrations. The potential escalation of tension brings on more restrictions and discomfort to all. Who benefits from this? Certainly not the worshippers.

While the Israeli government ensures limited public access to the Temple Mount regardless of religious beliefs, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site, which is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. The Israeli government has prohibited everyone except Muslims from worshipping there since 1967, due to security concerns. Nevertheless, Muslims too are occasionally restricted. The Jordanian waqf, which administers the site, has restricted non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque since the year 2000. What is more, non-Muslim religious symbols are not also allowed to be worn while entering the site

Freedom of worship is an essential issue. The Temple Mount is the holiest place to the people of Israel; the place where the First and Second Temples stood. However, it is no less holy to both Muslims and Christians. Since this is a location that God designated as a "house of prayer for all nations," it should be a place of festivity for all believers. As all those who pray to the God of Abraham are brothers, Jews and Christians should be able to offer prayers there in dignity and peace along with Muslims. To cast believers out from such a place, to prevent worship there, is a heinous and cruel policy which insults Islam. God Himself condemns anyone who forbids worship:

"And who is more unjust than he who forbids that in places for the worship of God, God's name should be celebrated?-whose zeal is (in fact) to ruin them? It was not fitting that such should themselves enter them except in fear. For them there is nothing but disgrace in this world, and in the world to come, an exceeding torment." (Koran 2:214)

Likewise, the Bible declares the will of God to make this unique spot a common sanctuary where all people learn to coexist and pray together:

"For then will I turn clear language to the nations, that they may all call upon the name of God, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder." (Zephaniah 3:9)
Wherever one prays to God is a house of prayer. Therefore, it is an atrocious thing to forbid anyone from praying at the Temple Mount. The longings of Bnei Yisrael to pray at the Temple Mount can never be an offense to a Muslim. On the contrary, it is very pleasant to see Jewish people praying at the Temple Mount. Indeed, all the faithful people should be able to pray there. As a matter of fact, in Istanbul's Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and others houses of worship, foreign tourists often come and pray. Some perform their religious obligations according to their own faith, and it is something quite beautiful to see. As a devout Muslim, I take pleasure in seeing Jews pray to God, anywhere in the world. It would please me very much if they would be able to pray at the Temple Mount as well.Continue Reading

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