Jerusalem in early Islam

The making of the Muslims’ Holy City 1

Authored by: Suleiman A. Mourad

Routledge Handbook on Jerusalem

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138936935
eBook ISBN: 9781315676517
Adobe ISBN:


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In 638 ce, the Muslims captured Jerusalem and laid a physical claim to its religious and historical legacy. Later Islamic traditions describe the entrance of caliph ‘Umar (r. 634–644) and his tour of the holy city, which culminated in a communal prayer on the Temple Mount, known in classical Arabic as the Haram of Jerusalem. The various stories about ‘Umar’s visit convey two realizations. On the one hand, the Muslims believed they were legitimate heirs of the city and some of its sacred sites. On the other hand, it was also their conviction that Jerusalem was sacred as well to Christians and Jews, who have a right to it on the same par as the Muslims. The dynamic between these two convictions (at times pursued together, at other times one triumphing over the other) elevated Jerusalem to become one of Islam’s most revered religious towns.

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