Muslims and Jews Once Prayed Together on the Temple Mount – Khaled Diab
There is historic evidence that Muslims and Jews once prayed together on the Temple Mount. Following the surrender of Jerusalem to the Arab armies in the 7th century, Omar Ibn al-Khattab allowed Jews, who had been expelled by the Christian Byzantines, back into Jerusalem.
“There is strong evidence to suggest that the Jews were not only permitted to return to Jerusalem, but that the Muslims allowed them to worship at their side on the Temple Mount,” wrote Francis E. Peters, a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. “We know that Omar welcomed the Jews back in Jerusalem, that he and the early caliphs allowed Jewish worship on the Temple Mount,” Simon Sebag Montefiore noted.
It is even possible that the caliph allowed the Jews to construct a synagogue on the mount and appointed a Jew as the first governor of Jerusalem, according to the 7th century Armenian historian Sebeos. For a century, Jews had full access to this holiest of sites, until the reign of the dogmatic Umar Ibn Abdel-Aziz.
History can teach us that Jews and Muslims were, for many centuries, friends and allies and that they once stood side by side as brothers in faith on Jerusalem’s most hallowed ground. The writer is a Jerusalem-based Egyptian-Belgian journalist. (Ha’aretz)