Before the death of Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE, the people of the city of Jerusalem had begun converting to Islam. This effectively began with the conversion of Tamim Al-Daari in 631 CE and many individuals from his clan, according to “Jerusalem in Islamic Consciousness: A Textual Survey of Muslim Claims and Rights to the Sacred City,” by as Dr. Hatem Bazian of the University of California at Berkeley. This started a trend that grew to include numerous Arabic-speaking tribes and families that inhabited historic Palestine.
The city of Jerusalem at the time already contained one holy Muslim site, the Al Aqsa mosque, which is regarded as the third holiest site in Islam. Muslims believe this mosque was built 40 years after the Prophet Abraham built the Kabah in Mecca. Noted Muslim American scholar Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqui has said Al Aqsa is important to Muslims not just because the Prophet Muhammad took his Night Journey from there but also because of its importance to earlier prophets historically associated with Jerusalem, such as Solomon and David.
The current Al Aqsa mosque standing today actually was rebuilt in the 7th century, according to Siddiqui. Another sacred site in the Al Aqsa complex – the Dome of the Rock – was also erected during that same time frame.
During the immediate decades following Muhammad’s death, Muslim armies defeated The Byzantines, who had conquered the Romans and driven them out of the Holy Land. It was the Romans who, in 70 AD, destroyed the Jewish temple and expelled the Jews from Jerusalem. They remained expelled until Caliph Omar ibn Khattab conquered the Byzantines and gained control of Jerusalem and Palestine. Omar allowed the Jews to re-enter Jerusalem and guaranteed them freedom of worship. The Jewish Virtual Library also confirms that Jews had been prohibited from Jerusalem for at least 500 years, a prohibition that ended under Omar’s rule.
Jerusalem remained under the control of various Muslim empires until the early 20th century when the collapse of the Ottoman Empire meant the end of the Islamic Caliphate.
During the centuries of Caliphate rule over Jerusalem, the region’s inhabitants never questioned the authority of the Muslims over Jerusalem, according to Bazian. Muslim rule continued unabated except for about 88 years during the reign of the European Crusaders.
The Crusades were a bloody, horrifying time when European Christian forces killed Muslims and Jews by the tens of thousands. Some historical reports state Crusaders’ horses walked through streets so filled with blood, it reached the knees of their steeds.
Saladin conquered the Crusaders in 1187 and reclaimed Jerusalem and Palestine for the Muslims.
Centuries passed and Jerusalem remained under the careful watch of Muslims who allowed the freedom to practice the diverse faiths that originated in the Middle East. In fact, the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – one of the holiest shrines for Christians – have been in the hands of the same Muslim family since the days of Saladin. Even today, the Nuseibeh family opens the church in the morning and locks it up at night.
The peace in the future British Mandate of Palestine was soon broken by the start of World War I, which quickly engulfed the Arabian Peninsula as Arab forces, with British support, overran Ottoman strongholds.
The end of World War I marked the end of Muslim rule of Jerusalem, but not the end of Muslim dominance as the British only became rulers of the land, not inhabitants. During the Mandate period, Jews from Europe and elsewhere began immigrating to Palestine.
In 1947, under strong pressure from Zionist Jews, the United Nations partitioned Palestine, giving 54 percent of it to the Jews, who owned about 6 percent of the land. This partition, up through the May 15, 1948, declaration of the state of Israel, spelled doom for the Palestinian people. During the Nakba – Catastrophe – Zionist Jewish militants killed 13,000 Palestinians, forced 750,000 Palestinians into exile and depopulated and destroyed 531 villages, according to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.”
From 1949-1967, West Jerusalem was an All-Jewish sector while Arabs – under the Jordanians controlled East Jerusalem. However, the 1967 Six-Day War changed that when Israeli Forces proceeded to occupy all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.
Israel has claimed a united Jerusalem as its capital, a claim not recognized internationally and refuted by the United
The Noble sanctuary became a great centre of learning; scholars came from all over the world to worship at Al - Aqsa and to study and teach within its precints. Except for a brief period under the Fatimid Hakim which caused as much hardship for the Muslims as the Christians and Jews, the Islamic injunctions to respect the rights of the people of the Book were respected throughout this period. "And We gave Moses the book, and made it a guidance for the children of Israel saying: 'Take not unto yourselves any guardian other than me' They were the seed of those We bore with Noah; surely he was a thankful servant. And We decreed for the children of Israel in the book: You shall do corruption in the earth twice, and you shall become great tyrants. So when the time for the first of these came to pass, We sent against you servants of ours, men of great might, and they ravaged the country, and in it was a promise performed." (Quran, Surah Al-Isra)
1) The first Qiblah of the Muslims.
2) The second house of Allah Ta'ala built on earth.
3) The place from where the miraculous journey of Mi’raaj took place.
4) The place where hundreds of Messengers of Allah Ta'ala are buried.
5) The place where thousands of Sahaabah are buried.
6) A place which Allah Ta'ala Himself calls a 'blessed place'.
7) The only Musjid mentioned by name in the Holy Qur’aan, apart from the Ka’bah.
8) The Qur’aan mentions it seventy times directly and indirectly.
9) The place where angels have descended with Allah Ta'ala's message .
10) Only place on earth where all the Messengers of Allah Ta’ala performed salaah at same time, led by Rasulullah
11) Ibn Abbas added. “The Prophets of Allah Ta’ala lived there. There is not a single inch in Al-Quds where a Nabi of Allah Ta'ala has not performed salaah or an angel has not stood”. [Tirmidhi]
12) Abdullah ibn Umar relates, I asked Rasulullah, “Tell us the law about (visiting) Baytul-Maqdis. Rasulullah said, “Go and perform salaah there. If you cannot visit and perform salaah there, then send some oil to be used in the lamps (of the Musjid).” [Bukhaari].
13) Rasulullah said, “Ibn Maryam (Isa) will kill Dajjaal at the door of Ludd (a town in Palestine).”
14) Maymunah bint Sa'ad reports that she asked Rasulullah, “Oh Messenger of Allah, tell us something about Al-Quds.” Rasulullah replied, “It is the land where mankind will be raised (Hashar) and gathered (Mahshar).”
1) Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) – Indeed a great Prophet blessed with the title of ‘Friend of Allah’ by the Almighty Allah himself (4). Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) is mentioned in the holy Quran sixty nine times and Allah constantly refers to Islam as the religion of Ibrahim (Peace be upon him). During his lifetime he encountered several miracles of Allah and faced many difficult trials which all brought him even closer to Allah. Due to the excellence of Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) Allah made many Prophets from his progeny including our last beloved Prophet Mohammed (Peace and blessings be upon him). Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) spent many years of his life in Palestine with his family and his blessed Tomb is located in the old city of Al-Khaleel (also known as Hebron). It is a site where Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) with his wife Sarah (May Allah be pleased with her) and son Ishaq (Peace be upon him) lived and today is known as Ibraheemi Masjid. Sarah’s (May Allah be pleased with her) grave is also located inside the masjid next to Ibrahim’s (Peace be upon him).
2) Prophet Ishaq (Peace be upon him) – Son of Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) and an important Prophet in Islam who continued to spread the message of the oneness of Allah after the death of Ibrahim (Peace be upon him). The Quran speaks of Ishaq (Peace be upon him) as a ‘gift’ to Ibraheem (Peace be upon him) from the Almighty Allah (5). Ishaq (Peace be upon him) and his wife Rifaqah’s (May Allah be pleased with her) tombs are also located in the Ibraheemi Masjid next to each other.
3) Prophet Yaqoub (Peace be upon him) – Son of Ishaq (Peace be upon him) and a noble Prophet of Allah, mentioned sixteen times by name in the holy Quran. Yaqoub (Peace be upon him) was born in Palestine and spent most of his life in the blessed land. Towards his later days the honourable Prophet migrated to Egypt with his family on the invitation of his son Yusuf (Peace be upon him) and settled there but after his death he was brought back and buried in Al-Khaleel according to his will. Yaqoub’s (Peace be upon him) and his wife Leah’s (May Allah be pleased with her) tombs are also located in the Ibraheemi Masjid but since recently it is not possible for Muslims to visit this part of the Masjid due to the political situation there.
4) Prophet Yusuf (Peace be upon him) – One of the favourite Sons of Yaqoub (Peace be upon him) and his only son to have been given the gift of prophecy. Allah bestowed utmost grace upon Yusuf (Peace be upon him) and chose him to be among the most exalted men. The complete and detailed narrative of Prophet Yusuf (Peace be upon him) is given in ‘Surah Yusuf’ of the holy Quran. According to the Islamic traditions, Yusuf’s (Peace be upon him) burial site is also in the holy city of Al-Khaleel, next to the Ibraheemi Masjid and inside a medieval structure known as Yussuf-Kalah (Castle of Yusuf). The well in which the brothers of Yusuf (Peace be upon him) threw him in out of jealousy is located near ‘Kibbutz Amiad’ in Galilee. The site is known locally as ‘Judd Yussuf’.
5) Prophet Musa (Peace be upon him) – A worthy Prophet of Allah also from the lineage of Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) and mentioned in the Quran one hundred and thirty six times. Musa (Peace be upon him) was blessed in many ways by Allah since his childhood and had the privilege of speaking to Allah directly. During his lifetime he faced many trials and tribulations but remained steadfast in accomplishing the mission of Prophet hood which Allah honoured him with. The holy book of Towrat was revealed to him as a guidance for his followers. Musa’s (Peace be upon him) tomb is located at Maqam El-Nabi Musa which lies six point eight miles south of Jericho and 12 miles east of Jerusalem in the Judean Wilderness.Go back
Published on May 21, 2021
A short History of Palestine and why Palestine is important to the Muslim Ummah.
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