It’s sadly ironic, says an Israeli Islamic scholar, that Jews won’t be able to ascend their Temple Mount next Thursday on Holocaust Remembrance Day because Muslims will be celebrating Muhammad’s “miraculous” night journey there on a mythical winged horse – an event not actually mentioned in the Quran.
The source of the Muslim holiday of “Isra” and “Mi’raj” is indeed is based on a story in the Quran, but the story doesn’t actually mention Jerusalem or the historic site of the Temple.
“This claim is simply fake news,” said Mordechai Kedar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University, told Breaking Israel News. “It is entirely based on opinions and not on any textual source. Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran and there is not a basis to believe that Jerusalem had any significance for Muhammad.”
Kedar explained that in the Quran, Al-Aqsa specifically referred to a mosque near Jeharna in Saudi Arabia.
“In early Islam, we see that assigning holiness to the Temple Mount was criticized as an attempt to introduce Jewish concepts into Islam,” he said. “Jerusalem only took on any significance in Islam in the late 8th century when the Bedouin Muslims prevented the Damascus Muslims from making Haj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. As an alternative destination for Haj, the Damascus Muslims decided on Jerusalem, adding a Hadith (oral commentary) shifting the scene of Muhammad’s Night Journey to Jerusalem in order to justify their decision.”
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Kedar said this change, granting a level of significance to Jerusalem for the Damascus Muslims, lasted only eight years.
“For eight years, Damascus Muslims made Haj to Jerusalem, during which the Dome of the Rock was constructed and the Foundation Stone sacred to Jews became a sacred place to Muslims. This was to create religious competition for the Qa’aba (a large stone in Mecca that is the holiest site in Islam),” Kedar said. “But when they were again permitted to travel to Mecca, Jerusalem was forgotten and even became a garbage dump for construction materials.”
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 the during the Crusades, the First World War and, of course, the period of Zionism.