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People may have different views about a belief or religion, but often both sides see a place of
importance to them in the same way. Jerusalem has a religious importance for three religions. For
Christians, the city is the site of many of the events in the life of Jesus Christ. For Jews, Jerusalem is the
focus of their religious longing, the site of their ancient Temple, and their historical capital. For Muslims
the city is their third holiest as the site from which Muhammad is said to have risen to heaven, and the site
of important mosques. As a pilgrimage for three world religions Jerusalem is considered to be the holy
The importance of Jerusalem to Jews stretches back about five thousand years. About 2500
B.C.E., the Canaanites inhabited the city, later Jerusalem became a Jebusite citadel. When David captured
the city in 1000 B.C.E., the Jebusites were absorbed into the Jewish people. David made Jerusalem the
capital of his kingdom, and Solomon built the first Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. ( Elon, 1989,
p.89) Because of David making Jerusalem the capital of their kingdom and Solomon building the first
Temple located in Jerusalem, which is important to Jews because it housed the Ark of the Covenant which
Jews see as important to them because it is a symbol of their freedom from slavery and the Covenant God
made with Moses, and allowed Jews to establish their promised land. Jerusalem is considered by Jews as
their holiest city. In 586 B.C.E., the Babylonian, Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple
and exiled the Jews to Babylonia. Fifty years later in 537 B.C.E!
., Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylonia and permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild
their Temple. ( Safdie, 1990, p.107)
Jerusalem is the holiest city for Jews because their Temple, their place of worship was placed here until it
was destroyed. Again when they were allowed to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem they obviously had a
religious attachment to this city and that is why today it remains a holy pilgrimage for Jews. Persia held
Jerusalem until 333 B.C.E., when Alexander the Great added Palestine to his empire. About 198 B.C.E,
king Antiochus III conquered Judea of which Jerusalem was a part, making it a tributary to Syria. The
Jews later revolted under the leadership of Maccabees and defeated the Syrians. The Temple was
reconverted in 165 B.C.E., and the Maccabean dynasty ruled until Rome took the city in 63 B.C.E. The
Romans set up a local dynasty, the house of Herod, to rule most of Palestine. Herod the Great rebuilt much
of Jerusalem, including the Temple. While suppressing a major Jewish revolt, the Romans destroyed the
second Temple in 70 C.E. In 135 C.E., after the failure of!
the Bar Kochba revolt, Jews were banished from Jerusalem.
( Thubron, 1987, p.45) Bar Kochba, also known as Simeon ben Koseva was the leader of the Jewish
rebellion against Rome to regain their holy city, Jerusalem. After a lengthy and heroic defence, the
rebellion failed, fifty fortresses and a thousand villages were destroyed. The Jews fought hard to get back
control of this city which must be of great importance to them or they would not put up such a fight. It was
during the period of David?s kingship that the city of Jerusalem became the centre of Israelite government
and religion. Until David?s reign, Jerusalem was held by the Jebusites, a people from Canaan. Over time,
especially as the monarchy declined, Jerusalem became the symbol of God?s promise to Israel and the
centre for Israel?s hope for the future. ( Peters, 1987, p. 135) This shows how important the city of
Jerusalem is to the Jewish religion and to their existence. The importance of Jerusalem to the religion of
Judaism is quite evident, in addition to Judaism!
, Christianity also sees Jerusalem as a holy pilgrimage for their religion.
Jerusalem for Christians is the site of many of the events in the life of Jesus Christ, who is the
Messiah for the Christian religion. From the early fourth century, when Christianity became legal in the
Roman empire, Jerusalem developed as a centre of Christian pilgrimage. ( Bahat, 1989, p.230) When
Christianity was recognized as a legitimate religion by the Romans, Christians built churches and Christian
shrines in Jerusalem. Jerusalem to Christians is where the first Christian community was formed. More
importantly this is where Jesus Christ the Christian Messiah was tried, condemned and executed as a
claimant to Jewish kingship, and where his resurrection into heaven took place. Jerusalem had been under
Muslim rule since the seventh century, but pilgrimages were not cut off until the eleventh century, when the
Turks began to interfere with Christian pilgrims. For Christians, the very name of Jerusalem evoked
visions of the end of time and the heavenly city. ( Peter!
s, 1987, p.38) Like to Judaism and Islam, Jerusalem is extremely important to Christianity, because the
basic beliefs about the religion take place in this holy city. The importance of Jerusalem to Christianity is
quite clear, in addition to Christianity, Islam again sees Jerusalem as a holy city for their religion.
The city of Jerusalem is the third holiest for the religion of Islam. Jerusalem was under Roman
control until 638 C.E., when the Muslim Arabs took it over. The Arabs in 668-91 C.E. built the Dome of
the Rock mosque on the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. (Elon, 1989, p.79) With the building of the
mosque in Jerusalem, Muslims would see Jerusalem as a holy city for their religion and would try to take
control of it. In the eleventh century, Muslim toleration of both Jews and Christians gave way to
persecution under the Seljuks, who took control of Jerusalem in 1071. This led way to the launch of the
Crusades by the Christians, who conquered Jerusalem in 1099. Saladin recaptured the city for the Muslims
in 1187. ( Thubron, 1987, p.56) Jerusalem being the religion of Islam?s third holiest city did not mean it
had no importance to them. Muslims fought long and hard to regain control of Jerusalem which obviously
meant there was a great significance to having it as part of !
their religion. In the year 619, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad experienced one of the most
remarkable events of his life. Muhammad was woken one night by the angel Gabriel, together they
journeyed to Jerusalem, then, from a prominent rock, to heaven. There he said to have met with the great
prophets Abraham, Jesus, Moses and others. ( Safdie, 1990, p.98) For Muslims, this miraculous journey is
further evidence of Muhammad?s profound spiritual nature, and the religious significance of Jerusalem.
Muhammad was welcomed by the Jewish population of the city of Medina because of the peace he
promised to bring to the feuding Meccans and Medinans. They soon had second thoughts about his
leadership and his teachings. Muhammad considered incorporating certain Jewish practises into the rituals
of Islam. For a time, Muslims and Jews prayed together in the direction of Jerusalem. ( Bahat, 1989, p.110)
This shows that Muslims do see the city of Jerusalem to have importan!
ce to their religious beliefs.
Three religions of the world see Jerusalem as a pilgrimage for their beliefs, that is why Jerusalem
is considered to be the holy city. Jerusalem is a religious pilgrimage for three religions. For Christians, the
city is the site of many of the events in the life of Jesus Christ. For Jews, Jerusalem is the focus of their
religious longing, the site of their ancient Temple, and their historical capital. For Muslims the city is their
third holiest as the site from which Muhammad is said to have risen to heaven, and the site of many
important mosques. Different types of people may have opposite views about certain beliefs or practises,
but often both sides may see a place of importance to them, in much the same way.
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