Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

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Temple mount (har habayt) - JerusalemThe Temple Mount also known as Har Habiet and Haram Ash-sherif is situated in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel and easily identifiable by the main structure which stands on the Mount, the Dome of the Rock with it’s golden dome. The Temple Mount is in fact a large open area of 37 acres consisting of an expansive plaza, fountains, trees and several temples. Access to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims is only from an entrance near the Dung Gate and Muslims may enter from the Arab Quarter.

Significance of Temple Mount to Christians

The Christians recall the role Temple Mount played in the New Testament, when Jesus would visit the Jewish Temple, also in the 2nd century when Jerusalem was ruled by Baldwin I the Dome of the Rock was turned into a church. During the Byzantine period as well a church existed on Temple Mount.

Significance of Temple Mount to the Jews

┬áIn the Jewish faith Temple Mount is believed to be either Mount Zion or Mount Moriah both of which are referred to in the Bible. It is here that Abraham brought his son Isaac to sacrifice, and most importantly this is the location of the two holy Jewish Temples which were destroyed thousands of years ago. The first Holy Temple was built by Solomon in 957BC and the second Temple in 516 AD. The Temple is the focal point of all Jewish prayer and it’s eventual rebuilding is the ultimate desire of all Jews. Today the only remaining part of the original Temple is the Wailing Wall which is on the western side of the Temple Mount. The Jews also believe that beneath the Dome of the Rock lies the Foundation Stone, which was used by G-d to create the world.

Significance of Temple Mount to the Muslims

Dome of the rock - Temple mount JerusalemThe Muslims refer to the Temple Mount as the Noble Sanctuary or Biat-ul-Muqaddas and they believe it is the place where Muhammad arrived after being brought in the “Night Journey” to the “farthest Mosque” which is mentioned in the Quran. Muslims believe the Mount is where Muhammad ascended to heaven. Today there are two Islamic holy sites on the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock with it’s recognizable golden dome is situated exactly where the Jews claim the Temple should stand and the al-Aqsa-Mosque is on the southern side of the Temple Mount. The Mount is also where the Islamic prophet Sulayman built a now destroyed Temple. The site is considered the third holiest site in the Islamic world.

Jewish and Islamic Temple Mount

The Temple Mount, although today commonly identified with the Muslim religion also holds deep significance to Jews and herein lies the territorial dispute between the two faiths. Today the Temple Mount is in the Arab Quarter and non-Muslims are forbidden from praying there. The Muslim residents use the Temple Mount as a religious place of worship but both the Israeli and Palestinian nations lay claim to the site. This has brought peace negotiations to an impasse.

What to see at the Temple Mount

It s advisable to visit the Temple Mount only with a guide as there are accepted ways of behavior within this holy site which must be abided to as well as strict security protocols. A tour of the Temple Mount will show you the major landmarks including the Dome of the Rock, the al-Aqsa Mosque, the decorative Dome of the Chain and the Temple Mount Plaza. Some of the sites may only be entered by Muslims at this time but this could change.

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