Understanding the Importance of the Holy Land to the Three Abrahamic Religions
The Holy Land and Jerusalem and Their Significance to the Three Abrahamic Religions
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and has made a huge impact on on global history, culture and religion. The city is the religious center for the three Abrahamic religions, and has a lot of political, historical and religious significance. However, its religious position has frequently caused conflict, which has often lead to the destruction of important places. The followers of the Abrahamic religions make up over half the world’s population. While all three faiths have their differences, they are very similar in their beliefs, in the sense that they are all monotheistic and believe in the word of God written in their respective holy books. In this article, the Abrahamic religions will be presented and discussed relating to their connection and significance to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Judaism is the first Abrahamic religion, founded by Abraham himself in Modern day Israel. Jerusalem has always been significant to Judaism, but it was only considered the Jewish capital after the First Temple was built. King David (second King of Israel) captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites in 1500BCE, and established it as the capital of Israel and Judaism. His son, Solomon built the first Temple around 1000BCE. This was when Jerusalem was getting recognized by Jews as the Temple was the presence of their one god, and as a result many pilgrims would visit the Temple to offer sacrifices and pray. Because the Temple was located in Jerusalem, it was considered the center of the faith. The Temple was destroyed in 586BCE by the Babylonians during the siege of Jerusalem. A Second Temple was built in 516BCE, which also got destroyed in 50CE by conquering Romans. In modern day, the only remnants of the Temple is a wall on the western side of the Temple Mount known as the Western Wall. It is seen as the holiest site in Judaism today, and has been a site of Jewish pilgrimage, prayer and sacrifice for centuries. After the First Temple was built, and Jerusalem was established as a major Jewish and Israeli city, it became one, of four Holy Cities. The other three are Hebron, Safed and Tiberias, and each are very unique and significant for their own reasons. Hebron is the burial place of many Jewish patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their significant others. Each of the cities have been significant sometime during Jewish history, however although they are still holy, some are not as significant as they used to be. Unlike other Jewish patriarchs, King David was not buried in Hebron. King David’s tomb is located on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem. He’s not buried in Hebron, out of respect for what he did for the city and for the country.
Christianity is the second Abrahamic religion and was founded after the ascendance to heaven of the Messiah and Prophet Jesus of Nazareth around 100CE. Jesus Christ was born in a small farm shed in Bethlehem, Palestine under what is now The Church of Nativity to the Virgin Mary. The Church of Nativity is the oldest continuing operating Christian Church in the world, and is one of the holiest sites in Christianity today. Jesus was born and raised as a Jewish Essene in Israel, but throughout his life his views and beliefs on Jewish tradition, belief and teachings started to develop and change. He shared his new ideas with other people he met, and over time he gained a devoted following of people. His most trusted and closest followers were the 12 Apostles, who he sent around the Middle Eastern area, to spread his teachings and beliefs. This was how the foundation of Christianity started, but it was not till after Jesus’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascendance that his teachings were properly taken into account to form a religion in itself. Jesus of Nazareth died by crucifixion, on a site known as Golgotha, over which the Church of The Holy Sepulchre was later built. Roman invaders chose to kill him because they disagreed with his main beliefs and teachings, and because his large and devoted following was somewhat intimidating and intrusive to their capture of Jerusalem. After his crucifixion, he was buried in a tomb. He resurrected three days later, and ascended to heaven. In modern times, the Church is arguably the holiest site in Christianity, because Jesus’s resurrection has a paramount significance to Christianity, and is a large part of some important main Christian beliefs. After he died, many of his followers took his teachings a lot more seriously and his ascendance caused many to believe he was The Messiah, sent from heaven as the Son of God, to forgive all from Sin, by his teachings and by spreading the word of God. This idea spread, and it was quickly established as the base belief of what was to become Christianity. The idea of Jesus being the Messiah, is one key difference between Christianity, and the other Abrahamic religions.
Islam is the third Abrahamic religion, founded by the Prophet Muhammad in modern day Saudi Arabia. Muhammad was born on the site of Ka’aba, Mecca in 570CE. When he was forty, Muhammad started receiving messages from God, passed on by The Angel Gabriel. He continued receiving messages (known as revelations) for twenty three years, and after his death this developed into the Holy Quran. Throughout his time of receiving messages, Muhammad left Mecca, and Saudi Arabia and traveled around the Middle East. During his journey, he shared the revelations with the people around him, preaching like Jesus did, and gained a following. His beliefs, ideas and revelations spread very quickly at this time because there was no concrete religion in the Middle East, and there were more forms of folk religion where they worshipped more than one God. Muhammad’s idea of monotheism was unheard of, and this revolutionized religion in the Middle East, at that time. One of the most significant events during his journey, was his Night Journey. He traveled to Jerusalem and settled at the top of the Temple Mount where he prayed, ate and slept that night. This site is where the Al Aqsa Mosque is built in modern day. It is the third holiest site in Islam because of it’s location in Jerusalem, and because it is the exact location of where Muhammad went. After twenty three years when the revelations stopped coming to him, Muhammad shared it all with his son in law Ali, and three of his closest friends. When Muhammad died, it was these four that put together the first form of the Quran, however over time it was changed and edited a lot. Muhammad died naturally of old age in Medina, Saudi Arabia. He was buried in a tomb in the exact same location of his death, and a mosque was built there as well, to house and protect it. This mosque is called Al Masjid Al Nabawi and is the second holiest site in Islam, after Ka’aba. It has been a location of pilgrimage for centuries, and many pilgrims performing the Hajj also visit Medina, to pray and pay homage to Muhammad. After Muhammad’s death, he ascended to heaven accompanied by the Angel Gabriel. The location of this event was in Jerusalem, and in modern times, the Dome of The Rock houses the exact spot of his ascendance. This spot is known as the Foundation Stone, and this makes the Dome of The Rock hugely significant to Islam, and is arguably one of the holiest sites in all of Islam. Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam is more of a way of life. This is indicated by the five pillars of Islam. The five pillars of Islam are: Hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca, Salah – Praying five times a day, Zakat – Donation (2.5% of monthly income), Sawm – Fasting during Ramadan and Shahada – Profession of faith and Islamic creed. Muslims follow these pillars as a way of life, in order to live healthily and successfully.
In conclusion, all three religions have many reasons as to why Jerusalem and the Holy Land are significant to them. Jerusalem and the Holy Land have been a significant place for centuries, and many important events have occurred there. However, it’s position has always been controversial, and has caused countless conflicts, ultimately leading to the destruction of parts of the city, and of important sites and monuments. It’s the only place on Earth, where people from all Three Abrahamic religions come together, and the only place that has such a significance in religion. Although all three religions have their distinct differences, and own uniqueness, they will always be similar and connected to each other. They evolved off one another, and their main beliefs are the same, yet unique in their own way. Jerusalem and the Holy Land has and will always be sacred to these religions.
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