Sometimes I’m struck by things that just make me go wow, you know? Some years ago I’d been staying at a motel and was flipping through available channels loving me some cable when I came across a fabulous documentary about some archeologists in Alexandria (I think). The city had been ripping out some stuff to make room for a new road to go through and the road crew was completely surprised when their machinery tore off the top of a catacomb. Standard procedure, obviously, was to call in some officials to take a look. But, this was the kicker. The road was going through and work had to continue. The team sent in only had a few weeks to study the discovery. They mapped what they could, dived when they had to (much was under water) and lucked out when a local boy knew of another way into the same group of tunnels.
It was really interesting to watch. Some areas of the world have been built on and built over for centuries, millennia even. As a Canadian, it’s hard to wrap my head around that sometimes. Sure there were First Nations all over Canada before Europeans came, but there’s little to show for it beyond art and arrowheads and unmarked graves. No big monuments aside from Totem poles, I suppose. But not every group made those. Yet Wanuskewin has a history going back 6000 years.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park hugs the west bank of the South Saskatchewan River, just five kilometres north of Saskatoon. Within its 760 acres there are 19 pre-contact sites that represent the active society of Northern Plains Peoples. Here you will find summer and winter camp sites, bison kill sites, tipi rings, an arrangement of boulders called a medicine wheel, and artifacts such as pottery fragments, plant seeds, projectile points, egg shells and animal bones, all within a compact area.
Yesterday World Net Daily reported on something surprisingly newsworthy – Palestinians in Jerusalem are claiming that Jewish temples never existed there. Ahmed Qurei, the Palestinian Authority official, claims they were invented by the Jewish people to give them the idea that they one belonged there.
Qurei said “Israeli occupation authorities are trying to find a so-called Jewish historical connection” between Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, “but all these attempts will fail. The [Temple Mount] is 100 percent Muslim.”
“The world must be mobilized against all these Israeli attempts to change the symbols and signs of Jerusalem,” he said. “There is nothing Jewish about the Al Aqsa Mosque. There was no so-called Jewish Temple. It’s imaginary. Jerusalem is 100 percent Muslim.”
Continued Qurei: “The Arab world is called to interfere to stop the Israeli plans in Jerusalem, to stop the Israeli attempts to create a Jewish character to Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa mosque. Also to the Old City, which is the first step in the war to defend Jerusalem and Al Aqsa.
“They are competing against time in order to create facts on ground in the surrounding the imaginary Temple,” Qurei added.
The chief Palestinian negotiator was reacting to the reopening last month of a long-closed synagogue just 100 meters from the Temple Mount. The holy structure, located in what is now known as the Muslim Quarter, was abandoned in 1938 in the wake of extreme Arab violence targeting Jews. At the time, thousands of Jews lived in the Quarter. The synagogue is closer than any other Jewish house of prayer to the Temple Mount.
What I find so interesting about this is the age of Jerusalem. Three different religions credit the place as The Place their faiths were born. Judaism can claim it all the way back to King David if the biblical history books are taken as fact. There still is the City of David in part of Jerusalem.
Throughout all notorious Jewish exiles, thorough documentation shows the Jews never gave up their hope of returning to Jerusalem and re-establishing their Temple. To this day, Jews worldwide pray facing the Western Wall, while Muslims turn their backs away from the Temple Mount and pray toward Mecca.
The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed around A.D. 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph.
About 100 years ago, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem became associated with the place Muslims came to believe Muhammad ascended to heaven. Jerusalem, however, is not mentioned in the Quran.
Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night from “a sacred mosque” – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to “the farthest mosque,” and from a rock there ascended to heaven to receive revelations from Allah that became part of the Quran.
This selfish hoarding of the ancient city is a fairly recent idea for Muslims in the area.
As late as the 14th century, Islamic scholar Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya, whose writings influenced the Wahhabi movement in Arabia, ruled that sacred Islamic sites are to be found only in the Arabian Peninsula and that “in Jerusalem, there is not a place one calls sacred, and the same holds true for the tombs of Hebron.”
It wasn’t until the late 19th century – incidentally when Jews started immigrating to Palestine – that some Muslim scholars began claiming Muhammad tied his horse to the Western Wall and associated Muhammad’s purported night journey with the Temple Mount.
Isn’t that interesting. It must be a fascinating to make a serious study of the history of the area. I’ll leave off on the topic now, but point the interested to www.salaam.co.uk for more detailed information about the place.