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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

city.

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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