Jerusalem : Religion: Judaism, Islam and Christianity
Jerusalem is the Holy City of three different religions, Christian, Jews and Moslems and is sometimes referred to as Bibleland.
Jerusalem plays an important role in the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The 2000 Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem lists 1204 synagogues, 158 churches, and 73 mosques within the city. Despite efforts to maintain peaceful religious coexistence, some sites, such as the Temple Mount, have been a continuous source of friction and controversy.
Jerusalem has been sacred to the Jews since the 10th century BCE, as the site of Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple. It is mentioned in the Bible 632 times. Today, the Western Wall, a remnant of the Second Temple, is a holy site for Jews, second only to the Temple Mount itself. Synagogues around the world are traditionally built with the Holy Ark facing Jerusalem, and Arks within Jerusalem face the "Holy of Holies". As prescribed in the Mishna and codified in the Shulchan Aruch, daily prayers are recited while facing east, towards Jerusalem. Many Jews have "Mizrach" plaques hung on a wall of their homes to indicate the direction of prayer.
Christianity reveres Jerusalem not only for its role in the Old Testament but also for its significance in the life of Jesus. According to Biblical accounts, Jesus was brought to the city of Jerusalem not long after his birth and later in his life cleansed the Second Temple. The Cenacle, believed to be the site of Jesus' Last Supper, is located on Mount Zion in the same building that houses the Tomb of King David . Another prominent Christian site in Jerusalem is Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion. The Gospel of John describes it as being located outside Jerusalem, but recent archaeological evidence suggests Golgotha is a short distance from the Old City walls, within the present-day confines of the city. The land currently occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered one of the top candidates for Golgotha and thus has been a Christian pilgrimage site for the past two thousand years.
According to tradition, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city in Islam. Before it was permanently switched to the Kabaa in Mecca, the qibla for Muslims was Jerusalem. The city's lasting place in Islam, however, is primarily due to Muhammad's Night of Ascension (c. 620 CE). Muslims believe Muhammad was miraculously transported one night from Mecca to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, whereupon he ascended to Heaven to meet previous prophets of Islam. The first verse in the Qur'an's Surat al-Isra notes the destination of Muhammad's journey as al-Aqsa (the farthest) mosque, in reference to the location in Jerusalem. Today, the Temple Mount is topped by two Islamic landmarks intended to commemorate the event - al-Aqsa Mosque, derived from the name mentioned in the Qur'an, and the Dome of the Rock, which stands over the Foundation Stone, from which Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to Heaven.
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