COMMENTARY: UNESCO’s Temple Mount Decision Should be Apolitical
Controversial, but widely respected Muslim intellectual weighs in on Temple Mount dispute, noting its holiness to Jews
The following is an article submitted by Turkish Muslim intellectual Adnon Oktar. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Israel Today, but is an important insight into how many Muslims view the question of the Temple Mount.
UNESCO’s decision that “Al-Aqsa Mosque had no affiliation to Judaism” met with a strong reaction from the Jewish world last month. There are, of course, some important points that need to be evaluated and clarified in this decision. The fact that the resolution was backed by twenty-four countries, which have a troubled history with Israel, clearly hinted at the presence of political motives at work. This view is reinforced when we consider the twenty-six countries that abstained from voting.
The truth is, this resolution is of an unsolicited nature from the beginning. Why?
First of all, the significance of an important religious site such as the Temple Mount for the three Divine religions should not be determined through an international vote, as in the case of this UNESCO resolution. Moreover, it is an undeniable fact from religious and historical perspectives that the Temple Mount is sacred for the three Abrahamic religions. In the Torah, the Temple Mount is described as a sacred location, the Christians deem the site sacred because it is where the Jesus, Messiah was taken up to the Sight of God. And the Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the holiest sites for Muslims, as the Prophet Mohammed’s Mi’raj (ascension) took place here. It was also the first qibla (the direction Muslims face while praying).
Moreover, in stark contrast to certain Muslim countries’ approach to the matter, the Temple Mount’s relationship to and holiness for the Jews is clearly explained in the Qur’an through many verses:
“We settled the tribe of Israel in a noble place and gave them good things as provision” (10/93), stating that He chose these lands for the Jews.
As revealed in another verse, the Prophet Moses (pbuh) called upon his people to enter and dwell in the Holy Land: “My people! Enter the Holy Land, which God has ordained for you. Do not turn back in your tracks and so become transformed into losers.” (5/21)
The following verse also reveals the holiness of the site for Jews: *”Remember when We said, ‘Go into this town and eat from it wherever you like, freely. Enter the gate prostrating and say, “Relieve us of our burdens!” Your mistakes will be forgiven. We will grant increase to all good-doers.’” (2/58)
These verses make it abundantly clear that the Muslim countries are making a mistake in their attempts to cover up Jewish link to the site. In pursuit of largely political goals, they seem to be ignoring the clear commandments of the Qur’an.
Muslims all around the world, rather than trying to prevent a Jewish presence in this holy area, should rejoice in the fact that the Temple Mount is sacred for all three of the Abrahamic religions. As it has for centuries in the past, it can and must be once again, a place where the members of three religions, all those who love Almighty Lord, can worship and thank God in peace.
It should also be kept in mind that such politically motivated decisions have a potential to incite further division and hostility in an already volatile environment. Therefore it would certainly be a serious mistake to pass such resolutions that defy not only religious facts but also historical truths and common sense.
UNESCO, on the other hand, should set aside the agenda of certain deep powers, ignore their political interests and base its decisions regarding religious topics on the commandments of the Holy Books.
Despite all these seemingly mistaken resolutions, righteous and sincere Jews, Christians and Muslims know that there is no preventing the beautiful destiny created by God. Therefore, they are comfortably waiting for the beautiful promise to come true. They know that King Moshiach will open the Ark of the Covenant at the Temple Mount in the presence of Muslims, Christians and Jews. When this happens, there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the site is holy and sacred to all three Abrahamic religions, who are joined in their shared love for God. King Moshiach will surely bring ultimate peace to the whole world and the world will clearly understand that what God wants from us is not enmity, but love and peace.