The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently passed a resolution that denies any Jewish historic claim to the Temple Mount and surrounding holy sites in Jerusalem, Israeli media reported.
The draft resolution acknowledges Jerusalem to be a holy city for Muslims, Christians and Jewish people, but states that the Temple Mount is “sacred only to Muslims.”
The resolution was approved by 24 members of the 58-member organization. Twenty-six countries abstained from voting while only six countries voted against it.
What many supporters of this decision were either unaware of, or ignored, is that denying historic Jewish claim to Temple Mount is disrespectful to the Quran itself.
Allow me to explain this point.
First, the Quran specifically mentions the Temple Mount in Jerusalem only once, using its Arabic name, “Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Masjid, the Arabic word translated as mosque, is derived from the root “SuJood,” which means the act of worshiping the Lord by physically prostrating before him.
In other words, "masjid" refers to any place where people prostrate themselves to worship the Lord. It is in no way exclusive to Islam. In fact, the word masjid is used in the Quran to describe worship places that existed long before Mohamed was born.
There is a verse, for example, that describes a group of young people (called: “Ahl- Elkahf,” or “people of the Cave”) who were faithful to the Lord. When they died, those who discovered them decided to build a masjid (mosque) around them so that it became a shrine for them.
This occurred hundreds of years prior to Islam. Quran Surat Al-Kahf (18) Verse 21: "And similarly, We (The Lord) caused them (Ahl- Elkahf or people of the cave) to be found that they [who found them] would know that the promise of the Lord is truth and that of the Hour there is no doubt. [That was] when they disputed among themselves about their affair and [then] said, "Construct over them a structure. Their Lord is most knowing about them.' Said those who prevailed in the matter, 'We will surely take [for ourselves] over them a masjid.'"
Thus, the term masjid is not specific to Muslims or to their places of worship.
To think otherwise is not only factually incorrect, but actually contradicts the Quran.
Second, according to the Quran, Mohamed visited the area of Al-Aqsa mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, or as we call it in English, the Temple Mount) and prayed with all other prophets (most of them were Jewish on the remaining parts of it) while he was living in Mecca in the very early years of Islam.
This was well before Islam had reached Palestine, which did not occur until the Islamic conquests after the death of Prophet Mohamed.
In other words, those people who were worshiping in this masjid when Mohamed’s dream or vision occurred are the ones who have the true right for the place. Quran Surat Al-Israa (17):1, "Exalted is he who took his servant (Mohamed) by night from al-Masjid al-Haram (Kaaba in Mecca) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa (Temple mount), whose surroundings we have blessed, to show him (Mohamed) of Our signs. Indeed, he is the hearing, the seeing."
According to most well respected interpretations of the Quran (Tafseer), including Ibn Katheer and many others, Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa had been the center of Jewish worship long before Mohamed ever walked the earth, or visited the Temple Mount in a vision.
In fact, the Surah of Israa — which has the only clear mention of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa in the Quran — is actually called Surat — “Bani Israel” (the Children of Israel) in the original Quran and ancient Islamic books.
So denying Jewish rights to the place not only denies historical fact, but is also disrespectful to the clear meaning of the Quran itself.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.
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