Why Jerusalem is important for Jews, Muslims and Christians ?


The issue of Jerusalem has been in the limelight, thanks to Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and shifting of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has long been a point of Arab-Israel conflict ever since the occupation of it by Israel after the 1967 (6 days) war. Till now, no country had recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel owing to its illegal occupation, though Israel holds that it has been the capital of a Jewish nation since ages. Palestine, on the other hand, maintains that East Jerusalem is the capital of a future Palestine nation. Under such circumstances, such a move is bound to create a further volatile atmosphere in an already troubled Middle East. Let’s have a look at what makes it a disputed place.

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and is a sacred place for people of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Around 1000 BCE, King David an important person in Abrahamic religions, made Jerusalem, the capital of a Jewish nation. His son Solomon commissioned the building of First Temple in the city, as a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments which are considered to be sacred in Abrahamic religions. The First Temple was destroyed when Babylonians attacked around 6th century BCE. When the Babylonians fell to Persians, the Persian King invited the Jews to build their temple (Second Temple), which was later destroyed again by the Romans in 70 CE. The only piece of the entire temple left today is the fragment of the Western Wall, which was the wall to the Outer courtyard to the temple. This is where Jews currently offer their prayers currently. Once the temple was destroyed, the Jews got dispersed all over the world fearing any further persecution only to come back after the fall of Ottoman Empire.

In Christianity, Jerusalem is central to the story of Jesus, his death, crucifixion and resurrection all take place in and around Jerusalem. Jesus was also involved in the cleansing of the second temple from merchants and money changers, who did their businesses inside the temple, to maintain it sacred. In Islam, Jerusalem is considered as a sacred site along with Mecca and Medina. It is believed that Prophet Muhammad traveled to here from Mecca during his night journey and prayed with the souls of all the prophets and ascended to heaven. The Al Aqsa mosque was built here as one of the earliest and the most noteworthy places of worship of God. The mosque lies in the same compound as of the Second Temple (which is not present now).

Since 1967, Jordan and Israel agreed that the Islamic trust would have control over matters inside the compound of the disputed site, while Israel would control external security. Non-Muslims would be allowed onto the site during visiting hours, but would not be allowed to pray there. Under these conditions, recognition of Jerusalem as a capital of Israel, by a country which is regarded as a peacekeeper in the region might derail the peace process.