Whose Jerusalem is it? Essay

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Whose Jerusalem is it?

Evan Serfaty
JEH1D – 01
Mr. J. Bitton
December 20, 2011
Christians, Muslims and Jews have been fighting over the city of Jerusalem for centuries because of its significance in each respective religion. Jerusalem is populated by 15,476 Christians, 278,568 Muslims, and 479,756 Jews which leads to the question of which religion it belongs to (Jerusalem's Population). Jerusalem should be in the possession of whichever religion has the strongest ties to it. Today the Christian population of Jerusalem is 15,476, which is two percent of the city’s population (Jerusalem's Population). Although this is a relatively small percentage, it does not reflect the significance of Jerusalem in Christianity. The Christians are drawn to Jerusalem because it is where their religion started and where their leader was crucified. Jerusalem became the birthplace of early Christianity in the fist century CE. According to the New Testament, it is the location of the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus (History of Jerusalem). The Byzantine Emperor, Constantine, rebuilt Jerusalem as a Christian center of worship, building the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335 (History of Jerusalem). In 33 C.E., Jesus was arrested in Jerusalem on the eve of Passover at the instigation of religious authorities and crucified on a Roman cross (Sheler). The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also known as Church of the Resurrection, stands in Jerusalem. Inside is a rocky outcropping which is the traditional place where the cross was placed and is also where Jesus is said to be buried (Bolen). Christians view the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as the holiest site in their religion and it is for this reason that they do not want to abandon Jerusalem. The Siege of Jerusalem took place in 637, following the decisive defeat of the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Yarmouk, when the Caliph Umar the Great, a Muslim, conquered Jerusalem and entered the city on foot (Timeline of Jerusalem). To this day, Muslims are one of the three religions that inhabit Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem has 278,568 Muslims, which constitutes thirty percent of the city’s population (Jerusalem's Population). Jerusalem is significant in Islam because it was the site of their prophet Muhammad's departure to heaven on the back of a winged horse, as well as the place from which he ascended to heaven to pray with G-d (Bowden). The Dome of the Rock surrounds the rock from which Muhammad ascended to heaven. The Muslims built one other great shrine in Jerusalem - the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The mosque was completed in 705 CE and it is a great place of worship. Every Friday thousands of worshipers come for prayer and it has become a centre of worship and learning, attracting great teachers from all over the world (The Noble Sanctuary). The Dome of the Rock is the third most holy site in the Islamic culture, but the Muslims still face the Kaaba in Mecca when they pray, the holiest place in Islam.
Although Muslims and Christians both claim Jerusalem is their city, the Jews have the most significant ties to it. According to the Torah, when G-d made the covenant with Abraham, he said that his children will inherit the land of Israel. Abraham then asks how he will be sure to get the land. There was an issue addressed on why Abraham questioned G-d because we know Abraham as a strong believer in G-d. Rashbam, a commentator on the Torah, answers this question and says that Abraham was not questioning G-d, but…