Jerusalem: Why is this ancient city so important for Christians, Muslims and Jews?

Jerusalem or the Holy City is the sacred site for three religious followers namely Christians, Muslims and Jews from over three centuries. Know the importance, significance of this city and the reason for the conflict between Israel and Palestine here
Created On: May 17, 2021 12:25 IST
Modified On: May 17, 2021 13:54 IST
Jerusalem
Jerusalem

Jerusalem: The sacred city

Jerusalem meaning "The Holy" or "The Holy Sanctuary" has been the sufferer in the conflict between 3 religions.  This ancient city has been in news recently due to the continuing Israel-Palestine Conflict. This holy city's name resonates with Christians, Muslims and Jews equally. The article below would answer the questions like- what is the importance of the city for these three religions, how did Jerusalem come into being and what is the reason for the ongoing conflict there?  But before that take a look at the tweet below denoting the kind of conflict over the city. 

Jerusalem: About

Jerusalem was known as Yerushalayim in Hebrew and as al-Quds in Arabic. It is one of the oldest cities in the world which has been repeatedly conquered, destroyed and rebuilt time and again. 

The core of this city consists of a maze of alleyways along with a historic architecture that housed four quarters for Muslims, Christians, Jewish, Armenians respectively. The city is the holiest city in the world and is the cause of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  

The city houses one of the holiest sites in the world.

Also Read| What is Hamas? All about its role in Israel- Palestine Conflict explained

Jerusalem: Early History

  1. As per the scholars, the first human settlement in Jerusalem occurred during the early bronze age. This happened around 3500 BC. 
  2. It is also said that in 1000BC, King David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Jewish Kingdom. The first Holy Temple is said to be built by his son Solomon after 40 years of King David's occupying Jerusalem.
  3. First Temple is said to be started in the fourth year of Solomon's reign and it took seven years to complete.
  4. The temple was used for 4 centuries and became famous due to the Holy Ark of the Covenant on which it was housed. However, the Babylonians destroyed this temple in 586 BCE. The detailed descriptions of the First Temple appear in biblical sources, no archaeological evidence has been uncovered to date. 
  5. After the Babylonians occupied Jerusalem in 586 B.C., they destroyed the Temple and sent the Jews into exile. 
  6. About 50 years later, the Persian King Cyrus allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple.
  7. After Alexander the Great took over Jerusalem in 332 BC, it was occupied by various groups like  Romans, Persians, Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Egyptians, Mamluks and Islamists in the coming 100 years.

Take a look at the key events in the history of Jerusalem with key religious implications:

37 B.C- King Herod restructured the second Temple and added retaining walls to it.
30 AD- Jesus is said to be crucified in the city of Jerusalem.
70 A.D- The Romans destroyed the second Temple.
632 A.D- Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam died and is said to have ascended to heaven from Jerusalem.
1000 A.D- European Christians began their pilgrimages to Jerusalem considering it to be their holy site.
1099 to 1187 Christian crusaders occupied Jerusalem and deemed the city a major religious site.

Jerusalem: Modern History

This rule lasted from 1516 to 1917 and after World War 1, the land was undertaken by Great Britain. The British controlled the city and surrounding region until Israel became an independent state in 1948.

Why is Jerusalem important for three religions:

About the Temple Mount:

Temple Mount is a compound on a hill in Jerusalem. It is a piece of land measuring 35 acres consisting of three religious sites- Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. 

Jews: 

Temple Mount is said to be the holiest place in Judaism. This is the area that Jews refer to as the sacrificial site of Abraham's son Isaac. As per the Jewish legend, Abraham went to sacrifice his son Isaac on God's demand to prove his religion and faith after which a sheep appeared for him from above and his son was freed. 

The site is also the location of the first and second Temples. Here many Jewish prophets preached earlier. Jews are of the belief that the Dome of the Rock is the site of the Holy of Holies. The Western Wall is considered to be the closest place Jews can pray to the Holy of Holies. Rabbi of the Western Wall manages it and hosts millions of visitors yearly. Take a look at the Western Wall below

Western Wall

Muslims:

The Temple Mount is considered to be the third holiest site in Islam - The first two being Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Here is where Muslims believe their Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. In Jerusalem, the Muslim Quarter is the largest of the four quarters containing the shrine of the Dome of Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque (shown below) on a plateau called the Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary.

Al Asqa Mosque

Christians: 

Christians also believe the site is significant to their faith. The Old Testament of the Bible mentions this place to have been visited by various prophets and it was also said to be visited by Jesus according to the New Testament. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was constructed in 335 A.D. It is the site believed by Christians where Jesus was crucified and later had resurrected. This Church is located in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem. Below is a picture of the church. 

Church of Holy Sepulchre 

The city of Jerusalem has been under stress and regular conflict due to the three religions that claim over it. The Jews are forbidden to pray over the Western Wall but Israel lets the Jews in regularly which hypes the Palestinians and this leads to regular debates. Now with many radical groups finding interest in the city and its conflict, it has become next to impossible to end it. 

Know all about Israel Palestine Conflict and its history here

FAQ

Who founded Jerusalem?

As stated in the Bible, King David conquered the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his capital

Where was Jesus buried?

As the Jews forbade burial within the walls of the city various Gospels inform that Jesus was buried outside Jerusalem near Golgotha.

Is Jerusalem in Israel or Palestine?

Both Israel and the Palestine claim Jerusalem to be their capital, however Israel has a Government there

Which religions is Jerusalem sacred to?

Jerusalem is sacred to three religions namely- Judaism, Christianity and Islam
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