In the past few years, Palestinian leaders have added to their familiar, scurrilous claim that Israel plans to seize or destroy the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock the assertion that there never was a Jewish Temple there, and that the site had no significance to Jews before modern times. Nadav Shragai argues that, to counteract this effort to rewrite history, it is not sufficient to turn to the wealth of archaeological evidence, which might not prove persuasive to a Muslim audience. Instead, he urges Israel and its defenders to build their case on Islamic sources:
More and more academic studies are showing that the Muslims, from the first time they visited the Mount, used Jews to find their way around and that the Jews were the ones who taught Muslims about the Mount and where its borders lie, as well as the boundaries of the “foundation stone” [the traditional Jewish name for the sacred rock around which the eponymous dome was built], and that the first Muslim ceremonies at the Dome of the Rock bore a striking resemblance to Jewish ceremonies at the very Temple whose existence Muslims now deny.
These studies demonstrate that the original reason why the Temple Mount was sacred to Islam and why the mosques were built there in the first place was to return to the place where the Temple had stood with the goal of replacing Judaism and Christianity with Islam. . . . Mohammad, it turns out, was influenced by his Jewish neighbors in Medina more than we thought. The similarity between Islamic customs and the customs of Judaism, which directly inspired Islam in its early days, is not coincidental at all.
The most convincing sources that argue for the existence of the Temple and the Mount having belonged to the Jews first are Islamic texts from the period in which the Dome of the Rock was constructed. These indicate that the Jews sort of mentored the Muslims, helping them get to know the holy compound, shortly after their joint enemy—the Byzantines—were defeated.