Journey to Jerusalem: A Turning Point

Nowadays, the hottest issue on Twitter is the Palestine-Israel conflict. There is a never-ending stream of tweets going on all the time about the horror proudly being unleashed by IDF on Gaza. Had it not been for the Western conscience, everyone would have been oblivious to it. And the murder of Palestinians would have been happening without anyone knowing about it. I have been thinking about writing a few things related to it for a long time, but then diurnal chores, routine, workload and engagement with news content have been inhibiting me for a long time.

I just came across a Tweet by some Western person warning people to be careful about Mossad’s possible effort to create rifts between Muslims and Christians. I replied to the Tweet and then I felt compelled to write something in this context. Here is the post by the way, for your kind perusal.

Having said all of this, I just want to digress a little bit from this discourse and take the opportunity of being in the process of writing this to afford a bit of a flashback into history.

For a long time, I believed that Muslims took Jerusalem from the Jews in the early years of Islam. Then, at least for the past ten years, I thought that Muslims won Jerusalem from the Christians. Both of these concepts are not right as a matter of fact. Instead, the reality is that Muslims won Jerusalem from the Roman Empire. Heraclius was the Caesar of the empire at that time. He had been Caesar during the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and he had even clashed with Muslims during the lifetime of the latter. Later on, during the reign of the second Islamic caliph Umar (RA), he lost Jerusalem to the erstwhile. As a matter of fact, most of the Middle East was won by Caliph Umar (RA), but largely from the Romans. Only Persia was won from the Persian empire.

In Roman Jerusalem, Jews had been expelled lately, initially by the Persians, and eventually also by the Romans. And the Christians were also subjects of the empire. When Umar (RA) took Jerusalem, a pact was signed between him and the Bishop of the Basilica of the Holy Speluchre. This is church is the Makkah of the Christian world. The reason is the Jesus Christ is considered to have been both crucified as well as resurrected from this place. It is a site of Holy pilgrimage for Christians. After signing the treaty, the time of afternoon prayers arrived. The Bishop, Sophronius of Jerusalem, offered Caliph Umar (RA) to pray inside the church. The Caliph refused to do so on the thought that the later generations of Muslims would convert the church into a mosque on the pretext that their caliph prayed inside the church. This has been a very touching story for me and an example of extreme tolerance of Muslims towards a non-Muslim faith. And I believe that the real beauty of Islam lies in its tolerance and regard for other peoples’ feelings and emotions.

From his description, Sophronius sounds like a really nice and noble man too. It is a part of Islamic teachings to respect higher-ranking personalities from other cultures too. Respect is a central ingredient of Islam. After that, when the Caliph went out for a tour of Jerusalem, Sophronius accompanied him. Coming close to the temple mount, Sophronius requested the Calpih to keep Jews out of Jerusalem. I think this was possibly his only request. However, the Caliph could not grant this request. He established the well-known Jewish quarter close to the Temple Mount complex. And as he set it, he sought the advice of a very famous companion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). His name was Kaab bin Ahbaar (RA). Kaab ((RA literally means may God be please with him and it is a salutation that is normally used with the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH))) was a Jew from Yemen. And I am sure that the reason why the Caliph sought his advice was his Jewish past. Such is the sensitivity of Islam viz a viz other religions.

This, I suppose, was a major turning point in the history of Jerusalem. One aspect of this is of course that Muslims took charge of the city (rather the whole country) from Romans. Another very important aspect is that the Jews, who had been sent into exile by Romans during the first century, had been resettled in Jerusalem by the Muslims.

A good take-home message for Jews in this is that Islam is not a hostile religion to Judaism as it is portrayed in the media. The other important message is for the Muslims to take heed of the early Muslims and their tolerance and respect for other religions.

Anyhow, I will leave it to this for now. I shall try my best to muster more energy and spare more time to write more interesting things in the coming days. May God have mercy on humans. And may humans also have mercy on humans.

Photo by archer10 (Dennis)

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Journey to Jerusalem: A Turning Point by Psyops Prime is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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