No Authentic Theological Reason
Why Moslems Should Not Recognize Jerusalem
As The Capital Of The Jewish State Of Israel

From an Islamic point of view, is there any fundamental reason which prohibits Moslems from recognizing Jerusalem both as an Islamic Holy Place and as the capital of the State of Israel?

I realize that a negative answer to the above question is taken for granted by popular opinion. My approach, however, is not based on popular opinion or the current political situation, but on a theological analysis of authentic Islamic sources.

Jerusalem In The Koran

The most common argument against Moslem acknowledgment of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is that, since al-Quds [Jerusalem] (1) is a Holy Place for Moslems, Moslems cannot accept that it is ruled by non-Moslems, because such acceptance amounts to a betrayal of Islam.

Before expressing our point of view on this question, we must reflect upon the reason for which Jerusalem and Masjid al-Aqsa [the Al Aksa mosque] hold such a sacred position in Islamic faith.

As is well known, the inclusion of Jerusalem among Islamic holy places derives from al-Mi'raj, the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad to heaven. The Ascension began at the Rock, usually identified by Moslem scholars as the Foundation Stone of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem referred to in Jewish sources.

Recalling this link requires us to admit that there is no connection between al-Miraj [the Ascension] and Moslem sovereign rights over Jerusalem since, in the time that al-Miraj took place, the City was not under Islamic, but under Byzantine administration. Moreover, the Koran expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays for Jews the same role that Mecca does for Moslems.

We read:

"...They would not follow thy direction of prayer (qiblah), nor art thou to follow their direction of prayer; nor indeed will they follow each other's direction of prayer..." (2)

All Koranic commentators explain that "thy qiblah" [direction of prayer for Moslems] is clearly the Ka'bah of Mecca, while "their qiblah" [direction of prayer for Jews] refers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

To quote only one of the most important Moslem commentators, we read in Qadn Baydawn's Commentary:

"Verily, in their prayers Jews orientate themselves toward the Rock (sakhrah), while Christians orientate themselves eastwards..." (3)

In complete opposition to what "Islamic" fundamentalists continuously claim, the Book of Islam [the Koran] - as we have just now seen - recognizes Jerusalem as the Jewish direction of prayer.

Some Moslem commentators also quote the Book of Daniel (4) as a proof for this.

After reviewing the relevant Koranic passages concerning this matter, I conclude that, as no one denies Moslems complete sovereignty over Mecca, from an Islamic point of view - despite opposing, groundless claims - there is no reason for Moslems to deny the State of Israel - which is a JEWISH state - complete sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom,

Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi Rome, Italy


  1. Arabic name of Jerusalem, from the root q-d-s, meaning "holiness." It is an abridged form of Bayt al-maqdis, "the sanctified House" or "the House of the Sanctuary", an exact equivalent of the Hebrew Beth ha-mikdash. The name originally referred only to the Temple Mount, and was afterward extended to the City as a whole. This extension of meaning became common among Arabs from the tenth century C.E. onwards. Earlier Islamic sources use the name Iliyia, an adaptation to Arabic pronunciation of the Roman name Aelia.

  2. Koran 2:145.

  3. M. Shaykh Zadeh Hashiyyah 'ali Tafsir al-Qadn al-Baydawn (Istanbul 1979), Vol. 1, p. 456.

  4. Daniel 6:10