Jerusalem or Kabul? Jihadists Squabble Over Islam’s ‘Third Holiest Site’

ISIS upset after Taliban builds a replica of the Dome of the Rock in Kabul, and equates the Afghan capital with Jerusalem

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Jerusalem, Temple Mount
That hilltop and this city are only truly holy to one people - the Jews.
That hilltop and this city are only truly holy to one people - the Jews. Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

The notion of Jerusalem as Islam’s third holiest site is beginning to unravel. The truth is that up until 150 years ago, Muslims didn’t pay much attention at all to Jerusalem or the Temple Mount (ie. the Al Aqsa Mosque). It wasn’t until Jews started returning and reestablished Jerusalem as their capital city that the Muslim world began pressing its own claim.

The assertion that this is Islam’s third holiest site centers on the Al Aqsa Mosque at the southern end of the Temple Mount (not the golden Dome of the Rock, which is situated over the spot where the Jewish Temples once stood). The Koran says that Mohammed ascended to heaven from “the furthest mosque” – “Al Aqsa” in Arabic.

As renowned Egyptian scholar and novelist Youssef Ziedan acknowledged in a series of television interviews in recent years, Jerusalem of course had no mosques at the time of Mohammed. It was still a Byzantine city with only churches.

It is impossible that the “furthest mosque” identified in the Koran was in Christian-held Jerusalem.

But it made sense later following the Arab Muslim conquest of the region to transplant the myth of Mohammed’s miraculous ascension to Jerusalem, thus equating him with Jesus, who had ascended to heaven from the nearby Mount of Olives.

Still, it was a ruse, a means of encouraging the Muslim faithful to leave the Arabian Peninsula and settle in newly-conquered lands. And those who can still see through the obvious ploy, and who value historical fact over religious propaganda, thus afford little if any importance to Jerusalem, at least for followers of the Muslim faith.

See: “Jerusalem Had No Mosques at the Time of Mohammed”

In Saudi Arabia, too, the faithful are beginning to downplay the position of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque in Islam, and to tire of its religious exploitation by the Palestinians.

See: Saudis Say Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Not Important to Islam


Jerusalem or Kabul?

Now we see something similar taking place in Afghanistan, where the Taliban recently constructed a replica of the Dome of the Rock.

Issue No. 196 of the Taliban’s official Arabic-language monthly magazine, Al-Somood included an article comparing Kabul to Jerusalem, the Middle East Media Research Institute’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (MEMRI-JTTM) stated in a report shared with JNS.

In the editorial, a parallel is drawn between Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and its “sister city.” The writer argues that Kabul was the first of the two cities to achieve liberation when freed from “the oppressive American occupation that lasted 20 years.”

On May 18, the Kabul municipality inaugurated a replica of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock.

The article asserts that the replica represents the unity of the Islamic nation and serves as a “reminder of the dangers, threats and repeated violations to which Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Arabic name for the Temple Mount containing the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque] has been exposed.”

According to MEMRI, several ISIS supporters criticized the project.

A pro-ISIS media outlet, the Al-Adiyat Foundation, printed a poster arguing that the building of a Dome of the Rock model had initially been proposed by Libya’s frmer leader Muammar Gaddafi and was widely mocked at the time.

Let’s be clear, no Muslims, no matter how radical, would dare to build a replica of the Kaaba, that black square structure in Mecca, because it is genuinely sacred to all followers of Islam.

The mosques that occupy Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, no so much. They are more propaganda tools, and ones that are rapidly losing their effectiveness.

See: 100 Years of the Temple Mount as a Tool of Muslim Propaganda

With reporting by JNS.

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