Another issue that is open to media manipulation and often exploited to create agitation among Muslims with the aim of a political agenda is the situation at the Temple Mount, known as Haram al-Sharif in the Islamic world. This area is surely one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, and has been a holy place for thousands of years. However, the unique importance of the Temple Mount to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam makes the location vulnerable to tensions and conflicts, especially between Jews and Muslims.
Usually, these incidents originate in rumors such as: “The Jews are planning to bomb the mosque and build their Third Temple” or “Jews are digging under the Al-Aqsa Mosque to make it collapse.” Obviously, false accusations and baseless suspicions like these turn the site from a holy place of prayer and love into a site of violent political demonstrations; consequently, potential escalation of tensions brings more restrictions and discomfort to all.
In an atmosphere of such high tension, any dissemination of provocative news and rumors – sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes intentional – results in acts of violence and clashes. However, Muslims are obliged to investigate the source and truth of news in order not to cause harm to people out of ignorance (Qur’an,49:6), and they should not disseminate news without fact-checking it first since causing disorder is a serious crime in the Qur’an. (Qur’an, 10:81, 2:205)
On the other hand – because of the general hatred of Jews and anti-Israel sentiments – Jews’ coming to pray in the area is declared as a “calamity” and a call for clashes. Jews’ praying to God anywhere can never possibly be construed as an offense or an act that would cause unease to a Muslim, and it is an atrocious thing to forbid anyone from praying at the Haram al-Sharif or anywhere in the world, for that matter. This is clearly stated in the Qur’an:
And who is more unjust than he who forbids that in places for the worship of God, God’s name should be celebrated? – whose zeal is (in fact) to ruin them? It was not fitting that such should themselves enter them except in fear. For them there is nothing but disgrace in this world, and in the world to come, an exceeding torment. (Qur’an, 2:214)
Furthermore, among some Muslim religious and political leaders, in order to delegitimize the Jews’ existence in the region as an indigenous people, we also witness the complete repudiation of their connection to the Temple Mount. For instance, long-time chairman of PLO Yasser Arafat commented about this issue as such:
For 34 years [the Israelis] have dug tunnels [around the Temple Mount….[T]hey found not a single stone proving that the Temple of Solomon was there, because historically the Temple was not in Palestine [at all]. They found only remnants of a shrine of the Roman Herod….They are now trying to put in place a number of stones so that they can say ‘We were here.’ This is nonsense. I challenge them to bring a single stone from the Temple of Solomon.
His successor, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), also talks in a similar manner:
[The Israelis] claim that 2000 years ago they had a Temple [on the Temple Mount]. I challenge the claim that this is so. But even if it is so, we do not accept [current Israeli claims on the Temple Mount].
Furthermore according to the statement by the Higher Islamic Authority of Palestine:
The claims being made by the rulers of Israel and its rabbis about the alleged Temple are pure fabrications without any base or foundation.
It is a well-known fact that for 3,500 years there has been a continual Jewish presence in the Holy Land, not to mention abundant historical discoveries. The Temple Mount, where the First and Second Temples stood, is the holiest place to the Jewish people; although it is no less holy to Muslims and Christians, one’s rights in this religious site do not necessarily conflict with others.
From an Islamic point of view, anywhere one prays to the One and Only Almighty God is a house of prayer. Therefore, the Prophet Solomon’s Prayer House, Beit Hamikdash, is holy for Muslims as well, and it is a duty for Muslims to rebuild and repair all houses of prayer.
As a matter of fact, the longings of B’nei Israel to pray in that place can never be an offense to a Muslim; on the contrary, it is very pleasant to see Jewish people praying at the Temple Mount, and also to see the Prophet Solomon’s House of Prayer rebuilt.
This is definitely not a threat to al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. There is a broad expanse of land in that particular area easily allowing the Prophet Solomon’s Prayer House to be placed just a bit away from Qubbat as-Sakhrah, and a little ahead of Masjeed al-Aqsa.