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A Tour of Three Religions in Jerusalem

Despite the differences presented by the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, one of their singularly shared concepts is their regard for Jerusalem as a holy site, and their antiquated regard of Jerusalem as the center of the world. Among the holiest of locations within this site is the Temple Mount, which commands great reverence from all three religions. As such, proves to be a popular attraction to Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike. Regardless of preferences, Jerusalem provides the opportunity to explore these religions both broadly and in-depth. However, the most intriguing exploration to be done would be the search as to why Jerusalem remains sacred to these three religions.

To gather why Jerusalem has such prominence in Christianity, we have to understand the significance of events that occurred here. The locale of those events are by and large churches. For example, the Church of Pater Noster—where the Lord’s Prayer was taught, the Dominus Flevit Church—where Jesus wept, and the Church of All Nations—where Jesus was arrested before crucifixion. Other than that, there are the Via Dolorosa which is a route leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. These locales mark the most significance events of the Bible: the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion and the final site of such. Last but not least, there also lay the Room of the Last Supper and the Church of Ascension, the site where Jesus returned to God.

Jerusalem, also known as Zion in the Old Testament, has been regarded as the holy city since the 10th century BC. It is the setting of many events in the Jewish Torah. In chronological order, the First Temple was built in the 10th century BC and was subsequently rampaged by Nebuchadnezzar. The Second Temple was erected in its stead, but it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Excavations in Jerusalem have found evidence of such occurrences, solidifying Jerusalem’s regard as the focal point of Judaism. Everyday proof of such can be found in the fact that Jews from every corner of the earth pray facing Jerusalem. All that is left of the Temple is the Western Wall. It is taught that when the Temple has been rebuilt, the Messiah will arrive.

In Islam, Jerusalem is held as a sacred site alongside the Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Although never explicitly mentioned in the Koran, Jerusalem still holds great significance due to its connection to the nocturnal journey. It is said that “the farthest mosque” reached by the Prophet Muhammad is the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Similar to that of Judaism, Muslims would pray in the direction of Jerusalem. However, it has since 625 become a dated practice as Muslims now pray towards the Mecca. Other similarities shared by Islam and the other two religions are its aforementioned reverence of the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock, where Muhammad ascended to heaven, an event analogous to that of the Church of Ascension’s. Jerusalem was also governed by Muslims rulers throughout several historic periods.

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