Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Merits of Jerusalem

One of the things that I find quite astonishing about the current denial by some Muslims that the first and second Temples stood on the Temple Mount is that Muslim sources from the early centuries of Islam clearly recognize that a Jewish Temple used to be there. There is a genre of Muslim religious writing on the merits of cities, including the merits of Jerusalem. The earliest example is Fada'il Bayt al-Maqdis by al-Walid b. Hammad al-Ramli (died 912 CE). (I have learned about this genre of Muslim literature from Suleiman Mourad, who wrote an article on it for Jerusalem: Idea and Reality). This genre contains traditions that clearly go back to earlier Jewish and Christian traditions about Jerusalem, including evidence that Solomon's Temple stood on the Temple Mount. Why do contemporary Muslim religious leaders in Palestine deny the evidence of their own tradition? (Or do they just not know about these texts?)

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