Jerusalem, often referred to as Al-Quds in Arabic, holds a significant place among all of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity & Islam), but in this article we will deep dive into why the city of Jerusalem is so important to Muslims from a historical and religious perspective. Mecca is the holiest site in Islam, Medina is second and such is the status of Jerusalem that is widely considered to be the third holiest site in Islam.
The historical background of Jerusalem helps us understand why it holds such deep importance to Muslims , according to the Islamic calendar, which is based on lunar cycles, commenced with the Hijra, Prophet Muhammad's migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, Jerusalem was weathered the tumultuous Crusades, a series of religious wars in the Middle Ages, where European Christians sought to reclaim Jerusalem from Muslim control. The city changed hands multiple times, culminating in Salahadin's iconic recapture in 1187, underlining its enduring significance to Islamic rulers.
Moreover, Jerusalem's significance lies in its profound associations with revered Islamic prophets. Ibrahim (Abraham) is traditionally believed to have built the Kaaba in Mecca, while Dawud (David) is linked to the city through his reign as king and his association with the site of the Temple Mount. Suleiman (Solomon) is revered for constructing the First Temple in Jerusalem. Isa (Jesus) is also honoured in Islamic tradition, and Jerusalem holds significance in his life and ministry.
Originally, the Qiblah, the direction for Muslims' prayers, was initially set towards Jerusalem. However, around the second year after Prophet Muhammad's migration (Hijra) to Medina, a divine message directed a change in the Qiblah to face the Kaaba in Mecca instead.
“Indeed, We see you ˹O Prophet˺ turning your face towards heaven. Now We will make you turn towards a direction ˹of prayer˺ that will please you. So turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque ˹in Mecca˺—wherever you are, turn your faces towards it. Those who were given the Scripture certainly know this to be the truth from their Lord. And Allah is never unaware of what they do.”
(Surah AL-Baqarah, verse 144)
This ayah from Surah AL-Baqarah, explains the significance of the shift and underscored Mecca's significance as the holiest place in Islam.
The religious significance of Jerusalem is further emphasised by the miraculous Night Journey and Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, also known as Isra and Miraj in Islamic tradition, which refers to the miraculous journey undertaken by the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem on the celestial creature called Buraq, he then ascended through the heavens where he prayed alongside the previous prophets, extending heartfelt dua for the well-being of all Muslims. The Covenant of Salah, which refers to the importance of prayer, was exemplified during this momentous journey.
“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.”
(Surah Al-Isra, verse 1)
Jerusalem is home to sacred landmarks that hold deep religious significance for Muslims. The Blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Believed to be the second mosque established on Earth after the Kaaba in Mecca, and is believed to be a place of extraordinary blessings. It is said that performing prayers in this sacred sanctuary carries immense rewards.
And the Dome of the Rock, Built by Caliph Abd al-Malik (RA) in the late 7th century, its creation marks an era of architectural brilliance and spiritual symbolism. The Dome of the Rock enshrines the Foundation Stone, the site from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heavens during his Night Journey.
As you reflect on the spiritual beauty of these revered landmarks, consider bringing a touch of Jerusalem into your everyday life with Al Aqsa Mosque Islamic art print that you can find at Riwaya.
Jerusalem holds deep associations with earlier prophets and messengers. The city's spiritual tapestry is woven with the stories of revered figures like Ibrahim (Abraham) building the Kaaba, Musa (Moses) delivering the Torah, and Isa (Jesus) preaching and performing miracles in its holy surroundings.
Consider exploring our 'Stories of the Prophet' book, which narrates the stories of prophets and the historical events surrounding Jerusalem.
As we previously discussed, the Quran, the holy book of Islam, contains verses emphasising the significance of Jerusalem and its environs, (Surah AL-Baqarah, verse 144, and Surah Al-Isra, verse 1). Additionally, Hadiths, representing the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, further underscore his deep reverence for the city. For instance, Abu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates a Hadith wherein the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“A prayer in Makkah (Kaaba) is worth 100,000 times (reward), a prayer in my Masjid (Madina) is worth 1,000 times, and a prayer in Al-Aqsa Sanctuary is worth 500 times more reward than anywhere else.”
This Hadith highlights the exceptional value of praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jerusalem holds a profound place in the hearts of Muslims, its historical and spiritual significance echoing through generations. At Riwaya, we strive to bring this essence of heritage closer to you, consider exploring our book collection that narrates the stories of prophets and the historical events surrounding Jerusalem.
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Q1: Why is Jerusalem considered important in Islam?
Jerusalem is considered important in Islam for several reasons. It was initially designated as the qibla, the direction of prayer for Muslims. It is also the site of the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey, where he led a congregation of prophets in prayer. Moreover, the city is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both significant landmarks in Islam.
Q2: What does the Quran say about Jerusalem?
Yes, Jerusalem is mentioned indirectly in the Quran. Surah Al-Isra describes the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his subsequent ascension to the heavens, highlighting the importance of Jerusalem in Islamic history.
Q3: What events in Islamic history solidified Jerusalem's significance?
Two major events solidify Jerusalem's significance in Islamic history. The first is the designation of Jerusalem as the initial qibla of Islam, the direction of prayer. The second is the Night Journey and Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, which occurred in Jerusalem and reinforced its sacred status in the eyes of Muslims.
Q4: How does the significance of Jerusalem impact Muslims around the world?
The significance of Jerusalem impacts Muslims around the world by fostering a deep spiritual connection. Many Muslims aspire to visit Jerusalem at least once in their lifetime to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and experience the historical and religious significance associated with the city. Jerusalem serves as a unifying symbol for Muslims, bringing together diverse communities through their shared faith.