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The City of Jerusalem in Islam

Jerusalem is Known as "Al-Quds" in Arabic

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Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

David Silverman/Getty Images
The city of Jerusalem is known in Arabic as Al-Quds or Baitul-Maqdis ("The Noble, Sacred Place"). Jerusalem is perhaps the only city in the world that is considered historically and spiritually significant to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Perhaps you are wondering why Jerusalem is considered a holy city in Islam? Why is this place so important to Muslims?

Center of Monotheism

Jerusalem is known as the land of many prophets, peace be upon them all. Muslims revere all of the "Biblical" prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus - peace be upon them all. They all taught the Oneness of God.

First Qiblah for Muslims

Jerusalem was the first Qiblah for Muslims - the place toward which Muslims turn in prayer. It was many years into the Islamic mission (16 months after the Hijrah), that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was instructed to change the Qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca (Qur'an 2:142-144). It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad said, "There are only three mosques to which you should embark on a journey: the sacred mosque (Mecca, Saudi Arabia), this mosque of mine (Madinah, Saudi Arabia), and the mosque of Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem)."

Site of Night Journey and Ascension

It is Jerusalem that Muhammad (peace be upon him) visited during his night journey and ascension (called Isra' and Mi'raj). In one evening, the angel Gabriel miraculously took the Prophet from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to the Furthest Mosque (Al-Aqsa) in Jerusalem. He was then taken up to the heavens to be shown the signs of God. The Prophet met with previous prophets and led them in prayer. He was then taken back to Mecca. The whole experience (which Muslim commentators take literally and Muslims believe as a miracle) lasted a few hours of a night. The event of Isra' and Mi'raj is mentioned in the Qur’an, in the first verse of Chapter 17 entitled 'The Children of Israel.’

"Glory to Allah, Who did take His servant for a journey by night, from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless - in order that We might show him some of Our signs. For He is the One who hears and knows all things." (Qur'an 17:1)

This night journey further reinforced the link between Mecca and Jerusalem as holy cities, and serves as an example of every Muslim's deep devotion and spiritual connection with Jerusalem.

It is the hope of every Muslim that the Holy Land will be restored to a land of peace.

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