The city of Jerusalem is known in Arabic as Al-Quds
or Baitul-Maqdis ("The Noble, Sacred Place").
Jerusalem is perhaps the only city in the world that
is considered historically and spiritually
significant to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.
Perhaps you are wondering why Jerusalem is
considered a holy city in Islam? Why is this place
so important to Muslims?
Jerusalem is known as the land of many prophets,
peace be upon them all. Muslims revere all of the
"Biblical" prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, David,
Solomon, and Jesus - peace be upon them all. They
all taught the Oneness of God.
Qiblah for Muslims
Jerusalem was the first Qiblah for Muslims - the
place toward which Muslims turn in prayer. It was
many years into the Islamic mission (16 months after
the Hijrah), that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was
instructed to change the Qibla from Jerusalem to
Mecca (Qur'an 2:142-144). It is reported that the
Prophet Muhammad said, "There are only three mosques
to which you should embark on a journey: the sacred
mosque (Mecca, Saudi Arabia), this mosque of mine (Madinah,
Saudi Arabia), and the mosque of Al-Aqsa
Site of Night Journey and Ascension
is Jerusalem that Muhammad (peace be upon him)
visited during his night journey and ascension
(called Isra' and Mi'raj). In one evening, the angel
Gabriel miraculously took the Prophet from the
Sacred Mosque in Mecca to the Furthest Mosque (Al-Aqsa)
in Jerusalem. He was then taken up to the heavens to
be shown the signs of God. The Prophet met with
previous prophets and led them in prayer. He was
then taken back to Mecca. The whole experience
(which Muslim commentators take literally and
Muslims believe as a miracle) lasted a few hours of
a night. The event of Isra' and Mi'raj is mentioned
in the Qur’an, in the first verse of Chapter 17
entitled 'The Children of Israel.’
Glory to Allah, Who did take His servant for a
journey by night, from the Sacred Mosque to the
Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless - in
order that We might show him some of Our signs. For
He is the One who hears and knows all things."
This night journey further reinforced the link
between Mecca and Jerusalem as holy cities, and
serves as an example of every Muslim's deep devotion
and spiritual connection with Jerusalem.
is the hope of every Muslim that the Holy Land will
be restored to a land of peace.
Timeline of significant events for Al-Quds
5th millennium BC: The "Canaanites" (or Yevusites,
Jebusites) conquer the site. Who Are the Jebusites?
Historical mention of Jerusalem predates the city's
appearance in Jewish history. Ancient texts such as
the Egyptian execration texts (2000-1900 B.C.E.)
refer to the city as Rushalimum. The word Jerusalem
becomes more recognizable in a series of letters
from around 1400 B.C.E. attributed to scribes acting
on behalf of King Abdi-Hepa of Urusalim. The
Jebusites inhabited the ancient site of Jerusalem,
perhaps as early as 3200 B.C.E., but there is
reference to Yabusu, an old form of Jebus, on a
contract tablet that dates from 2200 B.C.E.
15th century BC: The area is conquered by Egypt.
About 990 BC: The Hebrew king David conquers Yevus,
including Zion and renames it Jerusalem,
Yerushalayim or city of peace. He makes it his
capital, and the Ark of the Covenant is brought to
10th century BC: King Solomon builds the temple and
has a wall built around the city
c.920 BC: Jerusalem is sacked by the army of
Egyptian pharaoh Sheshonk 1.
c.785 BC: Joash, king of Israel sacks Jerusalem.
c.701 BC: Unsuccessful siege of Senacharib, king of
Assyria. According to some sources, Jerusalem is
nonetheless forced to pay tribute.
c.612 BC: Assyria yields its supremacy over Judea
c.604 BC: Jerusalem is pillaged by the Babylonians,
and the king Jehoiakim and his court are captured
and transferred to Babylon.
c.587 BC: The Temple of Jerusalem is destroyed by
Nebuchadnezzar. Many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem
are deported to Babylonia.
c.538 BC: The Persians defeat Babylon, and allow
the Jews to return to Judea.
c.515 BC: Second temple is built under the
patronage of Cyrus, king of Persia.
333 BC: Jerusalem is part of Alexander's empire or
sphere of influence.
320's BC: Jerusalem comes under control of
Hellenistic Egypt, ruled by Ptolemy 1 Soter.
198 BC: Jerusalem is transferred to Seleucus 1
Nicator, of Antioch.
167 BC: Repressive measures spark a rebellion led
by the family known as the Maccabees. They manage to
drive the Selucids out of Jerusalem and Judea. Roman
Senate recognizes Judah Maccabee as a "friend of the
Roman people and senate, and places Judea under its
BC: Jerusalem conquered by Pompey of Rome, after he
was invited to adjudicate a dispute regarding the
70 BC: Vespasian lays siege to Jerusalem; his son
Titus conquers Jerusalem and razes the city,
destroying the Jewish temple.
BC: Herod the Edomite becomes king of the Roman
province of Judea.
c.132 AD: After Romans under Caesar Hadrianus
outlaw circumcision, a Jewish rebellion is staged by
Simon Bar Kochba. The rebellion is crushed by 135
and large numbers of Jews are killed or exiled. With
the advent of Christianity, Jerusalem becomes the
center of that religion for a time, under the Church
of St. James.
336AD: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built
over the ground where Jesus was buried according to
Mid 4th century AD: Large immigration of Christians
to Jerusalem, and Christian pilgrimage becomes
popular. The relatively small city of Jerusalem was
soon turned into a Christian city.
6th century AD: The Armenian church establishes its
patriarchate in Jerusalem.
614 AD: Jerusalem was briefly conquered by the
Sassanid Persian king Khosrau 2. Many of Jerusalem's
inhabitants are massacred, and the churches
628 AD: Jerusalem is reconquered by the
c.637 AD: Jerusalem is conquered by the Arab
c.688 AD: Caliph Abd al Malik builds the holy Al
Aqsa Mosque. After completion of the Dome of the
Rock, construction began at the site of the original
timber mosque built in the time of 'Umar. A vast
congregational mosque rose up, accommodating more
than five thousand worshippers. Originally
commissioned by 'Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, it was
apparently completed by his son Al-Walid in 705AD.
It is the place where the Muslims claim that Prophet
Muhammad had ascended to heaven. The building became
known as Masjid al-Aqsa, Al-Aqsa Mosque, although in
reality the whole area of the Noble Sanctuary is
considered Al-Aqsa Mosque, the entire precincts
inviolable according to Islamic law. Every Friday
prayer, the Al-Aqsa Mosque building overflows, with
thousands of worshippers who must make their prayers
outside in the courtyards of the vast open expanse
of the Noble Sanctuary, which includes the Dome of
10th century: The current al-Aqsa mosque is built
next to the Dome of the Rock.
969: Jerusalem comes under the rule of the Fatimids
11th century: New city walls are erected.
1071: Seljuq Turks conquer Jerusalem.
1098: Jerusalem is recaptured by the Egyptians.
1099: European crusaders conquer Jerusalem,
murdering about 70,000 and expelling all the Jews.
The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem is established.
1149: The new Church of the Holy Sepulchre is
1187: Jerusalem is reconquered by the Muslims under
Salah-eddin (Saladin). The "Kingdom of Jerusalem"
continues to exist as a small state limited to the
coast of Palestine.
1192: Richard the Lion hearted fails to retake
1229: The crusaders resume control of Jerusalem
under a treaty between German Emperor Frederick II
and the Egyptian Sultan al-Kamil.
1244: Jerusalem is conquered by the Tatars.
1247: Jerusalem conquered by Egyptian Mameluks. The
only Christians remaining in town were Greek
Orthodox and some eastern churches. Jews were
allowed to return.
1259: Jerusalem is sacked by the Mongols.
1517: Jerusalem conquered by Ottoman Empire under
1535-8: Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds city
ramparts and wall around Jerusalem.
1556: Earthquake in Jerusalem.
1831: Jerusalem is conquered by Egyptian troops of
1840: The Ottomans conquer Jerusalem.
1847: The Latin Patriarchate (Roman Catholic
Church) is reestablished in Jerusalem.
1887: A municipality is established for Jerusalem.
1917: British troops take control of Jerusalem,
following the defeat of the Ottomans in the World
1920: Arab riots against the growing wave of Jewish
immigration from Eastern Europe.
1921: Arab riots continue
1922: Jerusalem becomes part of the British Mandate
1920s: Hajj Amin Al Husseini, Grand Mufti, solicits
funds from Arab countries to renovate Muslim holy
1929: Arabs riot in Jerusalem and Hebron.
1936: Arabs riot in Jerusalem as part of the "Great
Arab Revolt”. British authorities lose control of
the city for a while, but regain it.
November 29, 1947: UN General Assembly Resolution
181 designates Jerusalem as an international enclave
following the partition of Palestine into Jewish and
Palestinian states. Arab states refuse to recognize
December 1948: Arab riots break out in Jerusalem
immediately following the partition resolution.
April 9, 1948: Irgun and Lehi raid the Arab village
of Deir Yassin, at the entrance to Jerusalem, and
massacred over 250 civilians.
1948: Israeli forces take control of western
Jerusalem, as well as a corridor from the coastal
regions. Arabs are expelled. Jordan legion conquers
the old city of Jerusalem and eastern areas,
ensuring that Palestinians would not be relocated,
or massacred as what happened in the western part of
1950: West Jerusalem is declared capital of Israel.
East Jerusalem becomes part of Jordan, when the West
Bank is annexed by Jordan.
June 5-77, 1967: Israel occupies all of Jerusalem
as well as all land on the western side of Jordan
River in the Six day war.
1980: United Jerusalem is declared the eternal
capital of Israel. This is received with protests
from much of international community.
1981: The Old City of Jerusalem is designated a
UNESCO World Heritage site
1996: Palestinians protest against the construction
of an illegal pedestrian tunnel from the Via
Dolorosa to the Western Wall. They feared that it
would undermine the Muslim sanctuaries Dome of the
Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque. More than 70 people die
in the riots.
2000: Ariel Sharon visits the area of the temple
mount, and the 2nd Intifada erupts.