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Will the Dome of the Rock be replaced with a New Jewish Temple?

- "The Temple Mount is ours and we shall take it" - Jewish Protestors

The Temple Mount is the site of the first and second Jewish Temples, destroyed in 586 BCE and 70 CE, respectively--a historic fact accepted even by Muslim authorities. Nevertheless, that fact has not stopped some journalists from reporting on the Temple Mount’s significance in Jewish history cautiously, as if its status is a matter of Jewish faith, or “belief,” and not archeologic evidence. Thus, in the context of anticipated demonstrations by nationalist Israeli Jews, Reuters’ Jonathan Saul reported on April 7:

In Jerusalem, thousands of police officers fanned out in and around the Old City to prevent the threatened march on Al Aksa mosque. Jews believe that the site, also known as the Temple Mount, housed the second temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. (Photo credit : News on Terror )

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The ancient mosque compound is Islam’s third holiest site. It is Judaism’s most sacred site, the place were Jews say a biblical Jewish temple was razed by the Romans in 70 A.D. ("Non-Muslims Banned from Flashpoint Jerusalem Shrine")

Likewise, the New York Times’ Steve Erlanger reported yesterday in the second paragraph of his article “Israeli Troops Kill 3 Teenagers In Buffer Zone at Gaza Border”:

The shootings sharply raised tensions ahead of a planned protest in Jerusalem on Sunday by Israeli militants who oppose a pullout from Gaza and want to demonstrate at one of Islam’s holiest places, Al Aksa Mosque.

Much further down, in the second to last paragraph, he notes:

In Jerusalem, thousands of police officers fanned out in and around the Old City to prevent the threatened march on Al Aksa mosque. Jews believe that the site, also known as the Temple Mount, housed the second temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.

But it is not Jews who “say” or “believe” that the site housed both Jewish temples. Indeed, Muslim conquerors selected that site to build the Al Aqsa Mosque precisely because the Temples stood there. This fact is not under dispute even among Muslim authorities, (Yasir Arafat’s protestations to the contrary at Camp David in 2000 notwithstanding.) For instance, the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, a pro-Arab source edited by John Esposito, notes that the Muslim armies:

First built at [the Temple Mount’s] southern end their congregational mosque (al-Aqsa), and by 692, had completed at is center the splendid shrine called the "Dome of the Rock," revered both as the terminus of [Mohammed’s] Night Journey and the biblical site of Abraham’s sacrifice and Solomon’s Temple.(page 368)

Two young Palestinians practice with unloaded weapons during a rally of the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades militant group, in Gaza City Friday April 8, 2005. So do we still wonder why Muslims so easily grow up to be murders?Thats anybody's guess!

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Another pro-Arab source, Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East, edited by Reeva Simon, Philip Mattar, and Richard Bulliet, also confirms that the Temple Mount housed the Jewish temples:

Temple Mount in Jerusalem was expanded by Herod the Great (ruled 40-4 BCE); it is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and has dozens of structures on it from various periods. Most notable is the Dome of the Rock–a sanctuary located over the ancient Jewish Temple of Solomon (founded 970 B.C.E.; destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the Second Temple rebuilt under Herod the Great during the Roman Empire. . . .( Page 1753-4)

The most famous of the archaeological remains of the Second Temple is the Kotel, the western retaining wall of the Temple’s plaza. The southern, eastern, and northern retaining walls are also still extant. Surviving features abutting the southern walls include a broad stairway leading up to the Temple Mount’s entrance and two gates, known as the Huldah Gates, which provided access to the Temple Mount (Hershel Shanks, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography, p. 143). Some of the interior part of the Herodian Double Gate (which is one of the Huldah Gates) is also still intact. There are also surviving underground remnants of the Temple complex, including the area known as Solomon’s Stables. In addition, an area called “Robinson’s Arch,” in the south-western corner of the Temple complex, still remains. In his book, Shanks provides details concerning numerous other remnants.

The problems between Israelis and Arabs on the status of the holy sites in and around Jerusalem are similar to the Ram Janmabhomi Babri Masjid controversy of the Hindus in India with the Muslims. The site of the second temple is the most sacred site of the Jewish people which is today known as the Wailing Wall. This wall is the only surviving part of the last temple of the Jewish people that was destroyed by the Romans. When the Arabs (Muslims) overran Jerusalem in the year 634 C.E. they rebuilt the temple to god on the ruins of the original Jewish Temple. But since they had started a new (and violent) religion different from Judaism) they called this new temple, a mosque. This mosque is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which is considered to be the 3rd most holy site by Muslims after Mecca and Medina. While the Wailing Wall that is adjoining the mosque, is part of the original Jewish temple that once stood there is considered holy by the Jewish people.

Haram Al Sharif and Temple Mount Dispute

The history of the Temple Mount another Jewish-Muslim Holy site is similar. This site is called the Haram Al Sharif by the Arabs, and Temple Mount by the Jewish People. The violence we see these days (October 2000) is centered around these disputes. The reason given is the visit of Ariel Sharon the Israeli Leader to the site which the Muslims found offensive. But the root of all these disputes is the Muslim insistence of claiming the religious places of other religions as their own, once they destroy the original non-Muslim places of worship and erect mosques over them.

We should note here that in spite of being in control of Jerusalem, since 1967, the Jewish people have not yet demolished the Dome of the Rock or the Haram Al Sharif as many would like them to do. Neither has any other religious community so far given umbrage to the Muslims by destroying or even attempting to demolish the Kaaba at Mecca. This is in spite of the fact that Muslims have with impunity gone about destroying the religious places of every other religious community for the last Fourteen Centuries since the formation of Islam in the 7th century.

Hagia Sophia Basilica and the Selimiye Masjid Issue

The history of Hagia Sophia Basilica in Istanbul is also similar. There the victorious Uthman (Ottman) Turks converted the Cathedral into a mosque and renamed it Selimiye Masjid. This structure was converted into a secular one (as a museum) by the Turkish Secular-minded Visionary Mustafah Kemal Pasha (Ataturk). Thus another potential dispute was resolved. We from the Hindutva team, share Ataturk's vision to a great extent. We wish there are more leaders like Ataturk in today's world.

Waiting for a Yigal Amir (Photo credit : Modern Crusader)

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It should be noted that the New York Times deserves commendation for removing the mischaracterization of the Temple Mount in a subsequent story. The story by Steven Erlanger and Greg Myre today is a significant improvement. It begins:

About 3,000 Israeli police officers moved into positions throughout Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, foiling a rally called by Israeli rightists at one of Islam’s holiest sites.

The police, some of them in helmets and bulletproof vests, arrested at least 31 Israelis to prevent them from entering the Temple Mount, revered as the site of the two Jewish temples. The same spot is revered by Muslims as the Haram al Sharif, which contains Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. (“Huge Police Force Bars Israeli Rightist Rally at Jerusalem Holy Site")

Story Credits: International Herald Tribune, News on Terror and Free Republic

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