The Temple Mount, Jerusalem
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” John Lennon
Jerusalem is a symbol of three great religions but is also a city filled with hatred. The conflicts are mostly between the Muslims and the Jews but also with the Ultra Orthodox.
The Temple Mount is in the South East corner of Jerusalem’s Old City surrounded by date palms and cypress trees. It is the most holy place in the city, with major significance to all three religions.
It is thought to be Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son Isaac to God.
For Jews, the Temple Mount was the location of the First Temple, built by King Solomon in 957 BC to house the Ark of the Covenant (which held the Ten Commandments) It’s the most sacred site in Judaism.
For Christians, the Temple Mount is significant because the Jewish temple located here was where Jesus prayed daily and later preached with his disciples.
For Muslims, it is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. The rock under the dome is where the Prophet Muhammad left Earth to visit heaven on a winged horse in the 7th Century.
The Temple Mount is a controversial and culturally significant place.
Israel took control of the Old City in 1967, but Muslims continue to manage the site.
However armed Israeli soldiers patrol inside. It’s a regular flash point for protests and violence between Jews and Arabs.
The entrance for non-Muslims is at the Mughrabi Bridge (an enclosed wooden ramp) near the Western Wall. Tourists can usually visit the Temple Mount, but there are restrictions.
It’s a religious site, so modest dress is required. (blue cover ups if you are not dressed correctly)
You must pass a security checkpoint with metal detectors, and certain religious artifacts are not allowed in (Bibles, crosses, Star of David, etc.)
There are only certain times that non-Muslims are allowed to visit.
It is quite different from the staircase in the wall that we used to go back and forth many years ago.
Tourists can walk around the plaza taking photos, but are currently not allowed inside the Dome of the Rock or the Al-Aqsa Mosque after a fire was set inside the mosque by a Christian extremist many years ago. You are able to peek inside Al-Aqsa from a window on the side of the building.
Jews can visit the Temple Mount, but they can’t pray openly. Only Arabs are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount.
Some Orthodox Jews feel the site is too holy to even walk on while others believe they should be allowed to pray there. The chief rabbis have posted a sign forbidding Jews to pray there.
There is definitely tension in the air, but it didn’t feel dangerous.
The world is a big place and three religions are fighting over a plaza of stone. We are supposed to respect each other’s rights and freedoms. None of this feels God like to me.