Jerusalem is a holy city for all 3 Abrahamic faiths; it is holy to Judaism, holy to Christianity, and holy to Islam. From an Islamic perspective, what is Jerusalem’s significant for Muslims? Why do Muslims consider Jerusalem to be a holy place for Islam?
Now while Jerusalem has often been associated with the Israelite and Jewish prophets that walked it’s area, for Muslims, these same prophets are revered and believed by us too. As Muslims we believe in the Israelite prophets who were sent to the land, such as Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus peace be upon them all.
In Islam all of these men are prophets of God, who brought and preached the same message about God, and it was this same God that sent the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ with the revelation of the Quran. So this is one of the reasons why Jerusalem has a significant place in Islam, we do not view these prophets who were sent to Jerusalem, as being separate or divided from Islam, rather they are a part of Islam.
Another reason why Jerusalem is so significant for the Muslims is because of an event that took place during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, an event known as the Isra wal Miraj. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, we believe, was taken from the city of Makkah, to the city of Jerusalem by the angel Gabriel. During his visit of Jerusalem, the prophet was taken to the holy temple site, the temple site that was formerly built by the prophet Solomon (pbuh). Ibn Kathir recounts this event:
“Then the Messenger of God ﷺ was taken by night from the masjid-al haram to the masjid al-aqsa, the latter being the holy temple of Aelia. By then Islam had spread in Mecca into Quraysh and all the Arab tribes.”
He continued, “Concerning the night journey of the Messenger of God (SAAS), I learned what follows from a hadith that came down from Ibn Musud, Abu Said, Aisha, Muawiya, Umm Hani, daughter of Abu Talib, God bless them all, and al-Hasan b. Abu al-Hasan, Ibn Hisham al-Zuhri, Qatada and other scholars. Individually that combines in this account.
“The night journey of the Messenger of God ﷺ was filled with trials and tribulations and (instances) of God’s power and authority; it provides a lesson for men of intelligence, a guidance, a mercy and an affirmation for those with faith and belief. It was certainly an act of God.
“He carried him on his journey as and how He wished, to show him those of His signs He desired. He thus surveyed some of the Might of God, His will, power and authority by which he accomplishes His purposes.
“Abd Allah b. Masud would say, as I have been informed, the Messenger of God ﷺ, was brought al-Buraq, that being the name of a mount on which previous prophets were carried; its stride was such that it could place its hooves as far as it could see. He was borne away on it.
“His companion (Gabriel) then took him off to see signs between heaven and earth. Eventually he reached Jerusalem, where he found Abraham, Moses and Jesus, in a company of prophets assembled for him. He led them in prayer. “Then he was brought three vessels, containing milk, wine and water. He said that he drank the vessel of milk and was told by Gabriel, “You have been given guidance, and so has your nation.’”
So the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was taken to Jerusalem, and once in Jerusalem, he saw other prophets gathered there, after which the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ led them all in prayer.
As well as leading the other prophets in prayer, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was then taken up directly into heaven. Now some Muslims often confuse the Al-Aqsa mosque, with the famous golden dome. The golden dome is one of the most well known sites of Jerusalem, whenever you see a picture of Jerusalem; you see the dome of the rock. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was taken to the Al-Aqsa mosque, now the dome of the rock is part of the sanctuary, but it is not the Al-Aqsa mosque. The prophet prayed, and led the other prophets in prayer from the Al-Aqsa mosque.
The significance of the golden dome is that this was the spot in which the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was taken up to the heavens. So the prayer was made in the Al-Aqsa mosque, while the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was taken up to the heavens from the dome of the rock site.
Also Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Do not set out on a journey except for three Mosques i.e. Al-Masjid-AI-Haram, the Mosque of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) , and the Mosque of Al-Aqsa, (Mosque of Jerusalem).”
[Sahih Bukhari Vol. 2, Book 21, Hadith 281]
So all of these factors together, make Jerusalem a very holy place for Muslims, it is the 3rd holiest place in Islam, after Makkah and Madinah.