A Millennium-Old Arabic Inscription Acknowledging the Presence of a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem

While it has become a mainstay of Muslim anti-Israel propaganda to deny the historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and the very existence of the two Temples there, an obscure Arabic inscription serves as a reminder that it was not always thus, as Ilan Ben Zion writes:

The previously overlooked dedicatory inscription from the mosque of Umar in Nuba, a village some sixteen miles southwest of Jerusalem, mentions the village as an endowment for the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. But what’s striking is that the Dome of the Rock is referred to in the text as “the rock of the Bayt al-Maqdis”—literally, “the Holy Temple”—a verbatim translation of the Hebrew term for the Jerusalem Temple that early Muslims employed to refer to Jerusalem as a whole and to the gold-domed shrine in particular. . . .

Israeli researchers, who presented their findings during a conference on Jerusalem archaeology last week, dated it to the 9th or 10th centuries CE, based on the Arabic writing’s orthography and formulation comparable to dedicatory inscriptions from mosques in Ramleh and Bani Naim. . . .

Further, medieval Muslim traditions surrounding the Dome of the Rock cited by the authors “identified the mount again and again with King David and with King Solomon’s Temple” and “understood the mount to be the ancient Temple rebuilt, the Quran the true faith, and the Muslims the true children of Israel.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: First Temple, History & Ideas, Islam, Jewish history, Temple Mount


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount