Recently the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proposed and subsequently passed a resolution which virtually erases historic ties of Judaism to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Language in early drafts of the proposal referred to the Temple Mount as an exclusive Islamic holy site, but the language was softened somewhat in the final resolution. Still, the language adopted makes no mention of either Jewish or Christian significance to the Temple Mount proper, referring to it exclusively as "al-Aksa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif" according to the Jerusalem Post.
The cultural, religious, and historical associations of the Temple Mount to Judaism are well established and not open to debatet. Archeological digs under and in the direct vicinity of the Temple Mount continually unearth artifacts of the ancient Jewish civilization of the area. Works of history fully document the ties and significance of the Temple Mount and Jews. This article is not intended to discuss these well-established facts. The research is available and abundant for anyone with the slightest interest in doing a bit of simple research.
UNESCO prides itself on being an educational organization. Indeed, that is what the E in UNESCO stands for: Educational. As such, one would think UNESCO endeavors to provide accurate information. But one would be incorrect in assuming that. UNESCO, with the resolution passed, committed two errors, and provided no education at all. First, it denied the well-established ties of Judaism to the Temple Mount, and second, it advanced an illegitimate tie of the Temple Mount to Islam.
HISTORICAL TIES OF JUDAISM TO TEMPLE MOUNT
There should be no need to expound on this, but a few short paragraphs will suffice to put the issue to rest.
First things first. The Bible is a book of history. This is not in dispute. The Bible has been proven time and again to be historically accurate in the places, people, times, and events it describes in its pages. Thus, when the Bible discusses a temple in Jerusalem, and archeological evidence supports the existence of the Temple, the existence of said Temple is not open for discussion. Period.
Second, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has an article detailing the existence of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Wikipedia also has an article about the archeological excavations which have confirmed the ancient temple.
Third, numerous books have been written by renowned archeologists concerning the Temple Mount. One such author is Dr. Randall Price, an expert in Middle East archeology.
Fourth, it is curious that the Muslim keeper of the Temple Mount currently forbids any further archeological digs beneath the Dome of the Rock. If the Jewish Temple has no historical connection, as UNESCO holds and which Muslims also assert, one would think such digs would be welcome as a method to put to rest the Jewish argument. Dr. Randall Price even quotes the Mufti of the Temple Mount asserting that that a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount is an offense to Islam and will not be tolerated. So if there is no historical ties, let the evidence show it.
The historical connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is without dispute. UNESCO is in error on this point. But they are also in error on the second point.
DOES ISLAM HAVE LEGITIMATE RELIGIOUS CLAIMS TO THE TEMPLE MOUNT?
In a word, no. But some background information is needed to understand why.
Around the year 620, Muhammad supposedly took a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and back to Mecca in the course of one night, quite a feat absent the modern transportation systems we have today!! I wrotean earlier article on Islam and the Temple Mount, but this new claim by UNESCO requires a further response.
To recap: Muhammad visited the Al-Aqsa mosque from which he climbed a ladder to heaven. At the seventh level of heaven he learned, after some bargaining, that Allah required the Islamic Ummah to pray five times a day.
To clarify, nearly every original Islamic source states Muhammad was taken to the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Tafsir of Ibn Kathir translates Sura 17:1 this way: "Glorified is He Who took His servant for a Journey by Night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him of Our Ayat. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer." Note that Ibn Kathir affirms Muhammad visited the Al-Aqsa mosque in the year 620.
Ibn Ishaq, the earliest biographer of Muhammad, wrote, "Ziyad b. 'Abdullah al-Bakka'I from Muhammad b. Ishaq told me the following: Then the apostle was carried by night from the mosque at Mecca to the Masjid al-Aqsa, which is the temple of Aelia, when Islam had spread in Mecca among the Quraysh and all the tribes."
More modern scholars also affirm the Al-Aqsa mosque as the place where Muhammad was taken. In the study footnotes of his English translation of the Qur'an, Yusuf Ali says, "The farthest mosque must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah, at or near which stands the Dome of the Rock. This and the Mosque known as the Farthest Mosque (al masjid al aqsa) were completed by the Amir 'Abd al Malik in A. H. 68."
The Noble Qur'an, published by the authorized King Fahad printing press for Saudi Arabia, adds commentary to Sura 17:1 in the English translation by Al-Hilali and Khan. Sura 17:1 in this translation reads: "