The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, which regards it as the place where God’s divine presence is manifested more than in any other place. The Temple Mount is located on a hill in the Old City of Jerusalem that for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike. The present site is a flat plaza surrounded by retaining walls (including the Western Wall) that were built during the reign of Herod the Great for an expansion of the temple.
The First Temple was built by King Solomon, the son of King David, in 957 BCE, and was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE.
The Second Temple was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE, and was destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. Orthodox Jewish tradition maintains it is here that the third and final Temple will be built when the Messiah comes.
Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest extant Islamic structures in the world. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Holy Temple previously stood. However, despite claims to the contrary, neither the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount or Jerusalem (Al Quds) is mentioned anywhere by name in the Quran, which was written between the years 610 and 632. The mosque did not exist at the time of Mohammed. Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament) which predates the Quran by over 1,000 years.
The Temple Mount is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Since the Crusades, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site through the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. The Temple Mount is within the Old City, which has been controlled by Israel since 1967. After the Six-Day War, Israel handed administration of the Temple Mount back to the Waqf under Jordanian custodianship, while maintaining Israeli security control. The Temple Mount remains a major focal point of the Arab–Israeli conflict. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslims. Many Orthodox Jews refuse to recognize the Israeli government’s rule takes precedence over the authority of God and they occasionally visit the contested holy site for the purpose of peaceful prayer, which has oftentimes sparked outrage amongst the local Muslims.« Back to Glossary Index