by Harun Yahya
Last week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board approved the decision taken by the external relations commission regarding “Al-Aqsa region having no affiliation with Judaism”. The decision, which met with negative reactions from the Israeli government and all the Jews around the world, passed after 24 out of 58 member countries voted in favor of the measure. Regarding the issue, the executive board spokesperson Michael Worbs said the following: “The result shows it is a very divisive issue. And the origin of this division is not from inside UNESCO, it’s from the real world.”
Prepared and proposed as a draft by seven countries including Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon and Qatar, the resolution aimed to “preserve the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinct character of East Jerusalem.” The historical city center of Jerusalem, wherein the Islamic holy sites Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located, was also addressed within this scope. The decision taken ruled that the region in question only belonged to the Muslims.
There are some conspicuous factors regarding the aforementioned vote held by UNESCO, which undertakes a cultural mission within the United Nations. The first one is that the countries voting in favor of the decision are those who have had a problematic past with Israel. The point in question shows that the assessment has more of a political ground rather than “cultural heritage”. The fact that 26 countries abstained from voting is another factor that supports this opinion. Twenty-six countries refraining from announcing any decisions regarding a cultural assessment clearly indicates some political reservations on their part. Upon reactions, the decision is expected to be voted once again in the upcoming days.
However, the main problem lies in questioning via an international vote “which religion the Temple Mount, wherein Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock is located, belongs to.”
The location and significance of the Temple Mount along with all the religious symbols within was relayed to us through Sacred Books. While the Torah deems the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside it holy for the Jews, the Quran places importance on Al-Aqsa as the place of our Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad’s Ascension [Mi’raj]. Al-Aqsa Mosque is also the first qibla [the direction that should be faced during prayers] for Muslims. Christians also consider this region important as the place of the ascension of the Prophet Jesus (pbuh).
The claim that the site is only holy for Muslims is, first and foremost, in contradiction with the Quran. Because, the Quran explicitly expresses that the Jews have the right to live on the Holy Land, which includes Jerusalem as well.
In the Quran, God informs about the Prophet Moses’ call for his tribe, saying; “My people! Enter the Holy Land which God has ordained for you. Do not turn back in your tracks and so become transformed into losers.”(5/21) God rendered the Holy Land a sacred location for the tribe of Israel to settle and live according to the Torah of the Prophet Moses (pbuh).
Likewise, in another verse of the Quran, God says, “We settled the tribe of Israel in a noble place and gave them good things as provision” (10/93), stating that He chose these lands exclusively for the Jews.
In the 58th verse of the Surah al-Baqara, saying, “Remember when We said, ‘Go into this town and eat from it wherever you like, freely. Enter the gate prostrating and say, Relieve us of our burdens!” Your mistakes will be forgiven. We will grant increase to all good-doers,’” our Lord grants Jerusalem to the Jews as their homeland and points out to the fact that the region is a sacred location for them.
Through the aforementioned verses of the Quran, our Lord enunciates to the Muslims that the Jews have the right to live on the Holy Land, and that these lands are considered sacred for them as well. If a Muslim claims that this land is not sacred for the Jews, he is either acting in contradiction with the Quran, or he is oblivious to this major fact that is stated in the Quran.
When the Torah and the Quran deem these lands sacred for the Jews, certain Islamic countries coming together and trying to render this commandment invalid via an international cultural organization is objectionable both in logical and religious sense. Trying to invalidate a fact specified by our Almighty Lord through Sacred Books is clearly an exercise in futility. The status and sacredness of the region has been defined by Almighty God. Trying to deny and annul it might have major consequences in the Sight of God.
The decision in question also has other objectionable points.
The organization’s spokesperson, Worbs, says that the achieved result originates from the issue being “divisive.” However, the decision taken by UNESCO is the actual factor that paves the way for a very harmful division.
The fact that location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered holy by all three Abrahamic religions is quite significant for the unity and solidarity among religions. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why our Almighty Lord deems this blessed city sacred for all three religions. Members of the three religions worshiping and praying at the same locations is a beauty and a blessing. However, claiming via a vote that this city is only sacred for the Muslims is a potential danger, which might give rise to discrimination among nescient individuals, paving the way for polarization and possible dissension. Making such a radical claim for an exceedingly fragile region beset with major problems caused by superstitious religious conception will result in nothing but escalated tension in the region.
It should be known that a location sacred for Muslims is also considered sacred for the Jews, and should be considered a blessing for the entire Islamic world. As Muslims, the Prophet Moses is our prophet as well. Sharing the beauty of these lands his followers lived should be seen as a merit and beauty.
What is expected from Islamic countries is to stand for this obvious and beautiful fact that is in complete conformance with the Quran, not to cover it up. What is expected from an organization protecting historical and cultural values such as UNESCO is to take the Holy Books into consideration rather than individual and governmental political interests and views when addressing religious and spiritual values. And what is needed for all these to happen is for the Islamic community to make rationalistic decisions based on the Quran by abandoning superstitious, traditional orthodox and bigoted conceptions, and for international organizations to cast the political priorities of certain “masterminds” aside and become conscientious institutions.
In the meantime, there is no reason for sincere Jews and sincere Muslims to worry. If God is willing, the Temple Mount is the site where King Moshiach will soon open the Ark of the Covenant along with Muslims and Jews. Then, those who are currently in denial will unquestionably witness that the region is a holy site for both the Jews and the Muslims. No one has the power to obstruct a truth destined by God.