Jerusalem : Political and Religious Status Of Jerusalem Among Muslims
Political and Religious Status
Of Jerusalem Among Muslims
The Royal Committee For
Status of Jerusalem
Jerusalem has enjoyed an important status in the Islamic faith. This is evidenced by the Quranic verses and Prophet Muhammad’s hadiths (sayings) that stress the religious position of Jerusalem and its importance for Muslims.
In this context, Allah, be He glorified and exalted, says: Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless in order that We might show him some of Our Signs, for He is the One Who hears and sees (all things).
This holy Quranic verse has inextricably linked the cities of Makkah and Jerusalem with each other and has highlighted the religious position of Jerusalem and its geographical surroundings by denoting it as the blessed land.
– The Prophetic hadith has also emphasized the religious importance of Jerusalem and its bond with Makkah. It is narrated that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him asked Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him – “Which was the first mosque ever established on earth?" The Prophet replied, “The Sacred Mosque (of Makkah)". “And which was next after it?" asked Abu Hurayrah. “The Aqsa Mosque?" answered the Prophet. “How long was the time span separating them?" Abu Hurayrah inquired. “Forty years, and if the time of ritual prayer comes, pray wherever you happen to be."
– Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was quoted to have said, “A party of my Ummah (community) will continue bringing about victory to religion and inflicting defeat on their enemies. They will suffer no harm from any misfortune that may befall them until the command of Allah comes while they are like that." The Sahabah (Prophet Muhammad’s Companions) asked, “Where are they, O Apostle of Allah?" The Prophet answered: “In Jerusalem and the precincts of Jerusalem."
The following are the reasons that made the Isra (miraculous nocturnal journey) to Jerusalem so important:
1- Jerusalem was the first qiblah (prayer direction) for the Muslims. The Prophet, peace be upon him, turned towards Jerusalem for prayer for eighteen months after his migration to Madinah. Then Allah commanded him to turn towards the Ka’bah as a qiblah.
2- Many prophets lived in Jerusalem and had ties with it, particularly Ibrahim (Abraham), Ya’qub (Jacob), Ishaq (Isaac), Jesus, Zakariyyah and Salih – peace be upon them. Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab was quoted to have said, “As for Jerusalem, it was built and developed by prophets, peace be upon them. There is no foot of its land but had an angel lay in prostration therein".
3- Muqatil ibn Suleiman (80-150 AH), one of the Tabi’in (followers and pupils of Prophet Muhammad’s Sahabah) scholars said: “There is no foot or hand-span of Jerusalem’s land but had a prophet sent by Allah prayed thereon or a favorite Angel sojourn therein."
4- In his Khutbah (sermon), which he delivered on the first Friday midday prayer in the Aqsa Mosque after Jerusalem was liberated by Salah al-Din in the year 583 A.H. / 1187 A.D., al-Qadi(judge) Muhyi al-Din ibn al-Zaki, the Qadi of Damascus and Aleppo, outlined the merits of Jerusalem as follows:
“It (Jerusalem) is the home of your father Ibrahim, the Mi’raj (place of ascension to heaven) of your Prophet, peace be upon him, and your first qiblah towards which you prayed at the beginning of Islam. It is the abode and destination of prophets, the burial place of apostles and the place where revelation came down as well as where Allah’s command and prohibition were sent down. It is the land where people will be gathered and resurrected on the Day of Judgement. It is situated in the Holy Land, which Allah, be He exalted, mentioned in His clarifying Book. It is the place where lies the Aqsa Mosque in which Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, led the prayer he performed together with the favored angels. It is the City to which Allah has sent His Servant, Apostle and Word that he sent down to Maryam (The Virgin Mary) and His Spirit Jesus whom Allah has honored with His message and privileged with prophethood. It is the first of the two (Muslim) Qiblas, the second mosque ever and the third that comes next to the two Sacred Mosques of Makkah and Madinah. Mounts are not harnessed, after these two Mosques, except to it."
It is for all these reasons that Allah, be He glorified and exalted, has chosen Jerusalem to be the place of Prophet Muhammad’s Mi’raj (ascension) to the highest heaven. Because of this status and importance bestowed upon it, Jerusalem has enjoyed the welfare and patronage of the Muslim rulers throughout history.
After the death of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in the year 11 A.H., his successor Caliph Abu Bakr ordered the Muslim armies to march towards Iraq and Belad al-Sham (Greater Syria). However, Abu Bakr died before witnessing the liberation of Jerusalem, which was achieved by the Muslim armies during the reign of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab in the year 17 A.H.. The importance and high status of Jerusalem in Islam is evidenced by its being the only city that was visited by Umar ibn al-Khattab, although many cities were liberated by the Muslims during his time. In that city, Caliph Umar took several important measures such as :
1- He composed the document of the city’s surrender to him known as the Umariyyah Uhdah (Covenant).
2- He appointed Ubadah ibn al-Samit as judge and teacher to the Muslims in the city.
3- He ordered the mosque known as the Jerusalem mosque or Umari Mosque to be built there.
Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, Umar’s successor, paid special attention to Jerusalem and its Muslim inhabitants. This clearly appears from his order that the village of Silwan be endowed for the upkeep of the needy people of Jerusalem.
Since the time of Umar’s opening of the city, a process of what may be called re-Arabization of Jerusalem was started. Thus, a large number of the Sahabah (Companions) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and Arab tribesmen headed to that city. There are nine of these Sahabah buried in Jerusalem. Ever since there has been an incessant stream of Sahabah,Tabi’in (followers and pupils of Sahabah), worshippers and Sufis who have kept coming to Jerusalem during all Muslim eras.
Caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty paid special attention to Jerusalem, which they accorded a high degree of respect and sanctification, as can be seen from the following:
1- It was visited by the Umayyad caliphs Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufian, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik and Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz.
2- A number of Umayyad caliphs received bay’ah (oath and pledge of allegiance) in Jerusalem where Mu’awiyah had his public bay’ah in the year 41 A.H. The same was done by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and his son Suleiman when they assumed power.
3- The greatest deeds accomplished by the Umayyads in Jerusalem was the Dome of the Rock, which was built by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan in the year 72 A.H. / 691 A.D., and the Aqsa Mosque that was built by his son Caliph al-Walid in the year 90 A.H. / 780 A.D.
In the year 132 A.H. / 750 A.D., the caliphate passed from the Umayyads in Damascus to the Abbasid dynasty in Baghdad. Yet, the outstanding attention paid to Jerusalem and its status continued unabated throughout the Abbasid period as can be deduced from the following events:
1- The Abbasid caliph Abu Ja’far al-Mans?r paid two visits to Jerusalem. The first was in the year 140 A.H. / 758 A.H. when he ordered that the Aqsa Mosque be rebuilt after the collapse of its eastern and western walls as a result of an earthquake, which had struck the city in the year 130 A.H. / 748 A.D. His second visit was in the year 154 A.H./772 A.D. The second visit to Jerusalem by an Abbasid caliph took place in the year 163 A.H. / 780 A.D. by Caliph al-Mahdi who ordered that the Aqsa Mosque be reconstructed after an earthquake, which caused some parts of the mosque to collapse.
2- The Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun, during his visit to Greater Syria in the year 215 A.H. / 830 A.D., ordered that the Dome of the Rock be restored.
3- Caliph al-Muqtadir Billah’s mother ordered (in the year 310 A.H. / 913 A.D.) that the four doors of the Dome of the Rock be made of high quality fir tree.
The Fatimid dynasty, on their part, accorded full attention to Jerusalem and to the Aqsa Mosque as well as to the Dome of the Rock, as evidenced by the following acts :
1- Caliph al-Zahir li ‘Izaz Din Allah visited Jerusalem in the year 407 A.H. / 1016 A.D. and ordered that the Dome of the Rock be rebuilt and issued a similar order with regard to al-Aqsa Mosque in the year 420 A.H. / 1030 A.D.
2- Caliph al-Muntasir bi Allah ordered that the northern facade of the Aqsa Mosque be renewed in 458 A.H. / 1066 A.D.
3- The Fatimids built schools and hospitals in Jerusalem, the most significant of which was the Fatimid Hospital and the Fatimid Dar al-Ilm (house of learning).
Immediately after their recovery of Jerusalem from the Franks (Crusaders) in the year 583 A.H. / 1187 A.D., Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin) and other Ayyubid Sultans embarked upon the restoration of the Arab Islamic character of the city. The following are some of their achievements in this arena:
1- Salah al-Din restored the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque to their former status. He ordered that the altar, the figures and the statues be removed from inside the Dome of the Rock, and he appointed an imam (prayer leader) for the place and dedicated waqfs (endowments) for its upkeep. He also ordered tiling with marble the chambers of the Aqsa Mosque and placed in the Mosque the minbar (pulpit) made by Nur al-Din Zangi.
2- The Ayyubids erected numerous buildings, domes, minarets and arches in the area of Jerusalem’s Holy Haram (Sacred Mosque).
3- The Ayyubids established ten schools in Jerusalem, including al-Salahiyyah and al-Khatniyyah schools. They also founded hospitals such as al-Bimaristan (hospital) al-Salahi. Expenses for these institutions were met by the many waqfs (endowments) dedicated for them inside and outside Jerusalem.
4- Salah al-Din, and the Ayyubid sultans who succeeded him, devoted much attention to the development of the city. Salah al-Din dug a deep trench and erected war turrets from Bab al-Am?d (Damascus Gate) to Bab al-Khalil (Jaffa Gate) and spent a lot of funds for strengthening the city’s defences against any Crusaders, attempts to reoccupy it.
The development witnessed by Jerusalem in the Ayyubid era followed an unswerving upward trend during the Maml?k period. For this period, which lasted for over 260 years, was a remarkable one whether in the architectural upsurge witnessed by the city or in the rise of the religious and academic institutions as well as the numerous endowments that had been dedicated thereto. The city enjoyed all types of veneration by virtue of its being the third city in Islam.
The care devoted by Maml?k rulers to Jerusalem assumed numerous aspects with the most significant of which were:
1- Development of the city and its religious foundations. It can be said that most of the surviving monuments of Jerusalem which give the city its historical image date back to the Maml?k period. From the 153 monuments listed in the catalog prepared by the British Archeological School in Jerusalem there are 81 that date back to the Maml?k era. This is apart from the numerous restoration processes of holy religious places, especially for the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque.
2- The Maml?ks were keen on providing Jerusalem with water sources. In this respect, they constructed the Sabil water duct to Jerusalem (to the Sacred Mosque or Holy Haram) from al-Arr?b Spring.
3- They constructed pools and public fountains, khans (caravansaries) ribats (hospices), zawiyas (prayer rooms), and khanqahs (dervish monasteries). These numbered more than twenty khans, twelve ribats, forty zawiyas and six khanqahs.
4- Al-Malik al-Nasir Muhammad constructed the Castle of Jerusalem in the year 710 A.H. / 1310 A.D.
5- The Maml?ks built many schools in Jerusalem. The schools that existed in Jerusalem during their rule amounted to about 57 schools including 10 schools that were established by the Ayyubids, which means that the Mamluks established about 47 schools that included al-Dwadariyyah, al-Tankiziyyah, al-Jawhariyyah and al-Ashrafiyyah al-Sultaniyyah schools. This made Jerusalem in the Maml?k period a mecca for scholars who came from various parts of the Muslim world. It was frequented by scholars who hailed from al-Maghrib (North Africa), al-Andalus, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and Greater Syria. Many of them settled in the city of Jerusalem, which was one of the important cultural and scientific centers in the Muslim countries during the Maml?k era.
The Maml?ks dedicated waqfs (endowments) inside and outside Palestine for the upkeep of these places. Al-Zahir Baybars, for example, assigned the village of al-Awja for meeting the expenses of the Sacred Haram (Holy Sanctuary) of Jerusalem.
6- The Maml?k sultans were keen on visiting Jerusalem. For example, Baybars visited it four times while similar visits were made by al-Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad, Barquq, Al-Nasir Faraj ibn Barquq and others.
The Ottoman Turks accorded Jerusalem much attention and care as is manifested by the following:
1- Sultan Selim the First visited Jerusalem in the year 1516 and received the keys of the Aqsa and the Holy Rock Mosques. He made donations, gave presents and money to its people and exempted them from tax payment.
2- Sultan Suleiman al-Qanuni (the law-giver, also called the Magnificent) paid special attention to Jerusalem after he designated himself “the King of Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem". He constructed several architectural monuments in Jerusalem, for example:
– He rebuilt the Dome of the Holy Rock.
– He built Jerusalem Walls between the years 934 and 947 A.H. /1527- 1540 A.D.
– He repaired the Castle of Jerusalem.
– He built the Khaski Sultan Takiya (hospice) which is a ribat and a khan (a mosque and a huge kitchen) for feeding the poor and needy people.
– He built al-Qaymari and al-T?r mosques, al-Arw?h and al-Khadr Domes, two public baths, al-Nabi Daw?d Maqam (shrine of Prophet David) and the minaret of the Castle Mosque.
Successive Ottoman sultans followed in the steps of their early predecessors in being deeply concerned with building many architectural monuments and religious places in Jerusalem. They erected schools, hospitals, ribats, zawiyas and khans.
The Hashemite Contribution to
Jerusalem Prosperity and the Development of Sharif Hussein ibn Ali:
Since the outbreak of the Great Arab Revolt in the year 1916, the Hashemites, led by al-Sharif Hussein ibn Ali, have constantly opposed the demands and designs of the Zionist movement to establish the Jewish national home in Palestine. In his messages to the people of Palestine and his cables to the members of the Arab Executive Committee, Sharif Hussein stressed the Arab character of Palestine and regarded it to be a part of the Arab kingdom whose establishment was agreed upon with Britain. That position was stated in the declaration proclaimed by the Hashemite Arab government in Hejaz (Saudi Arabia) on the occasion of Emir Abdullah’s travel to London in the year 1922 in which it says that “it would not digress for even a hair-breadth from the basic plan, which is the complete independence and absolute unity of all the Arab countries."
Furthermore, in the discussions which were carried out between him and Britain to sign what was known as the Hejazi – British Treaty, Sharif Hussein insisted that the treaty should provide for the recognition of the independence of Palestine as a part of the Arab countries. In this context, Abbas Ali al-Maliki, Sharif Hussein’s envoy who was sent to Palestine in the year 1923, said that “The treaty has been presented to my Lord by His Britannic Majesty’s Government. Some of its articles contained certain provisions which were disconcerting for my Lord the Sharif. So he made a major amendment that provided for complete independence of the Palestinian territories, which authorized their people to run their own affairs as an independent people and to choose for themselves the type of self – government they found convenient. This amendment has rendered the Balfour Declaration as if it had not existed or as if it had been sentenced to death. His Majesty my Lord the King assures you that if the English government did not accept the amendment as part and parcel of the treaty and if it did not accept the proposals he made to the British side, he would not sign the treaty and would reject it outright. He also emphasizes that not a single inch of Palestinian land would be lost to anybody as long as he and any of his sons lived. In fact, they have pledged themselves to protect and defend the smallest village in Palestine as if it were the Holy Ka’bah itself, and they would fight to the last drop of their blood for that goal."
These stands show Sharif Hussein’s insistence that Palestine should remain purely Arab within the Arab state which he wanted to establish and to show the same insistance as they do on the protection of the Holy Ka’bah and Holy Jerusalem.
The First Hashemite Reconstruction:
To translate this concern into practice and because of Jerusalem’s status in the eyes of the Hashemites, Sharif Hussein was the first to financially contribute to the reconstruction of the Aqsa Mosque when he paid twenty – four thousand golden pounds from his own purse for this purpose.
Sharif Hussein stuck to this firm stand of keeping Jerusalem and Palestine Arab and Islamic in its character. This can be evidenced from the fact that he willed to be buried within the precincts of the Holy Haram (Mosque) of Jerusalem and his wish was fulfilled and executed when he died in the year 1931.
King Abdullah I ibn al-Hussein:
King Abdullah I ibn al-Hussein followed his father’s policy regarding the Palestinian cause. He opposed the Zionist movement and its claims in Palestine. In this context, Abdullah says that “Palestine is an Arab country and must remain so forever. The Zionists have no right whatsoever in it". “Emir" Abdullah also called on the Arabs not to sell, lease or mortgage any lands to the Jews owing to the disastrous effects on the Arabs as a result of that. He also was against Jewish immigration to Arab countries for the same reason. Thus, we find that he stressed the necessity of preventing any loss of the Arab land.Towards this end, he supported the Palestinian Ummah (Nation) Fund. In 1945 “His Highness" contributed one thousand Palestinian pounds to this Fund. He says in this context: “Our encouragement of such a weighty project would lead to keeping the Palestinian land in Arab hands and to prove to foreigners that we are people who do not compromise their Arabism and unity."
King Abdullah I extended great support to the Palestinians’ cause in its various political and economic aspects. This was demonstrated on many occasions. A Jordanian delegation participated in the General Islamic Conference, which was held in Jerusalem in the year 1931. King Abdullah I welcomed all the members of the conference and invited them to visit him in Shunah and exchanged views with them about the Palestine Question as well as the various problems facing the Muslim world. In 1933, King Abdullah I visited the Arab Exhibition held in Jerusalem to promote Arab industries. He also urged the Jordanian Chamber of Commerce to buy national products and commodities.
When the British proposals for the partition of Palestine between Arabs and Jews started to surface, “Emir" Abdullah rejected these plans that call for such a partition. He stressed the Arab character of Palestine and rejected any solutions that prejudiced the rights of Palestinians.
“Emir" Abdullah’s interest in Palestine and his concern for its events were demonstrated through the continuous visits he made to the Palestinian cities. Jerusalem had the lion’s share in this respect. For out of 93 visits he paid to the Palestinian cities during the period 1922 – 1950, Jerusalem received 41 visits of these. This shows the great attention he paid to Jerusalem. He used to say in this respect: “Jerusalem houses the grave of my father. Its inhabitants are my fellow – Arabs. It is the first of the two (Muslim) qiblas (prayer direction) and houses the Third Holiest Mosque in Islam." King Abdullah I, as we all know, was martyred at the gate of the Aqsa Mosque when he was about to perform Friday midday prayer in the city, which he struggled to keep as an Arab Muslim one. During his visits to Jerusalem, King Abdullah I was keen to visit the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and to pray in both. He kept abreast of the needs of the holy places in Jerusalem in terms of reconstruction and restoration. In 1950, he patronized a project for the repair of the Aqsa Mosque windows, and in the same year he patronized a project for reconstruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
In May 1948, Britain ended its Mandate on Palestine. In the same year, the Jews proclaimed the establishment of the state of Israel. The Palestinians and the rest of the Arabs rejected this resolution. In the meantime, Jewish attacks against the Arabs began. King Abdullah I provided military assistance to the Palestinians. In 1948 the King ordered that fifty young men be recruited as National Guards to defend Bersheba Bedouin tribes. He also ordered commander Hikmat Mihyar to appoint fifty youths to keep order and to defend al – Khalil (Hebron) against Jewish attacks.
Owing to the intensive attacks launched by the Zionist forces against the Palestinians, the neighboring Arab countries dispatched military forces to Palestine in an attempt to stem these attacks. The Jordanian Army (then called the Arab Legion) fought several fierce battles in Palestine and Jerusalem as well as its environs like Latrun and Bab al-Wad and was able to achieve the following objectives:
– The Jordanians kept East Jerusalem for its Arab people and managed to ward off the threats of its occupation by the Zionist.
– The Jordanian troops were able to evict the Jewish residents from al-Sharaf Arab Quarter in the Old City.
– They preserved what was called later the West Bank for its Arab inhabitants and prevented its fall into Israeli hands.
The Two Banks Unity :
On April 24, 1950 and following the Palestinian Conference in Jericho as well as subsequent to the resolution passed by the Jordanian Parliament that represented the two Banks of the River Jordan, it was agreed to unite both Banks within one state. As it was expected, King Abdullah’s care for Jerusalem grew even greater than before. He insisted on keeping it an Arab Muslim city, which made him reject Israeli demands to have a passageway to the Buraq wall. He rejected Britain’s demands to allow Jewish immigration to East Jerusalem. He also did not agree to the Vatican demands of internationalization of the Holy Places. He used to say that his being able to keep the Arab and Islamic character of Jerusalem was his best consolation for all the injustices he had suffered.
King Talal and Jerusalem:
Although he ruled for a very short time, King Talal, the eldest son and successor of King Abdullah I, showed wholehearted and dedicated attention to Jerusalem after he assumed the throne. He visited Jerusalem and voiced his happiness for the fact that the east (Old City) of Jerusalem retained its Arab/Islamic character. In one of his speeches in 1951, he said to the people of Jerusalem: “I have come to see you and visit your city which, with the help of God, I will safeguard and spare no effort to reassure the world about its holy places and reassure the Arabs that they keep in their hands the holiest sites and places in this Holy City."
The Second Hashemite Reconstruction
During the Reign of His Late
Majesty King Hussein ibn Talal
After assuming his constitutional powers in the year 1953, His Late Majesty King Hussein ibn Talal devoted his utmost attention and care towards Jerusalem and its religious holy places. In 1954, he ordered that a committee, under Hashemite auspices, be set up pursuant to a special law for the reconstruction of the Islamic holy places at the Holy Haram of Jerusalem. The law was known as Law No. 32 for the Year 1954 A.D. for the Reconstruction of the Holy Aqsa Mosque and the Honored Dome of the Rock.
The Second Hashemite Reconstruction included the following:
1- Restoration of the Holy Aqsa Mosque, restoration of its outside stone walls, installing marble columns for four colonnades in the eastern part, setting colored glass windows in addition to repairing the roofs and the internal and external walls .
2- Reconstruction of the Holy Dome of the Rock and installation of an outside dome made of gold colored aluminium and fitting marble to the inner and outer walls, repair of the mosaic and engraving of Quranic verses.
On the 28th of the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal of the year 1384 A.H. / July 6, 1964 A.D. H. M. King Hussein graciously patronized the great celebration held at Holy Haram of Jerusalem to celebrate the completion of the Second Hashemite Reconstruction.
On this occasion, H. M. King Hussein delivered a speech in which he showed the high esteem enjoyed by Jerusalem in the Hashemite eyes and stressed the necessity of Muslim mutual solidarity to recover it from the Zionists. In this address he said, “While we feel happy today when we extend our sight through you and see millions of Arabs and Muslims in Asia and Africa rally around Palestine at this moment, we would like to state that if the reconstruction of the Holy Dome of the Rock starts over the Mosque ground and within its narrow boundaries, the recovery of the Rock, safeguarding its Mosque and protecting its dome, all eventually end there in the usurped land and beloved Arab territory and with the complete recovery of our rights therein." His Majesty added: “From this firm belief in Allah, the Most High and Most Capable, and from the resolution of the truthful and benevolent people, we have derived our steadfastness. Yes, from the blood of our martyrs rose the light, which illuminates our road to the beloved city of Jerusalem. This dear city is the symbol of firm stands and the jewel of peace. To the Hashemites it is a trust which they have held since the Covenant given by Umar ibn al-Khattab, through Jordanian blood and through pan-Arab national struggle. Our relationship with Jerusalem rises high above all trivialities of politics. Because this relation is based upon religion, prophethood, history and martyrdom. We will uphold our pledge for defending the right of our Nation in Jerusalem and warding off all threats so that it shall return an Arab Muslim city. This will be a real implementation of international legitimacy in an endeavor to make sovereignty over its holy places the prerogative of Allah alone – be He glorified. In His Name, the Nation shall have the religious jurisdiction in the way manifested and chosen by its consensus.
The Third Hashemite Reconstruction:
On August 21, 1969 a fanatic Jew was able to enter the Aqsa Mosque and set fire thereto, which led to the destruction of most parts of the Mosque as listed below:
– Salah al-Din’s Minbar (pulpit).
– The Mosque of Umar which is situated in the south eastern corner of the Aqsa Mosque.
– The Mihrab (prayer niche) of Zakariyyah.
– The Shrine of the Forty.
– The main Mihrab of the Mosque.
– The inner wooden dome.
– The mosque windows.
– The Southern Wall.
– The carpets that cover the mosque floor.
Subsequent to that H.M. King Hussein issued his immediate order to the effect that the Aqsa Mosque be restored to his previous condition before the fire and that the same be done to the Dome of the Rock. The old aluminium plates of the Dome were replaced by gilted copper closely knit-sheets. Reconstruction also covered other areas and places in the Holy Haram and in the city which comprised:
– The Silsilah (chain) Dome
– Bab al-Rahmah (mercy gate)
– The Aragoniyyah School Mosque
– The Aqsa Mosque Library
– The Nahawiyyah Dome
– The Quattanin Market
– The Muslim Museum
– Qaitbay Public Fount
After the completion of the Aqsa Mosque reconstruction, it was found that the Committee suffered from a large financial deficit. Accordingly H.M. King Hussein stated his readiness to contribute, cash to the Reconstruction Committee to enable it to continue its work. In his message to the chairman of the Committee dated February 11, 1992, His Majesty clearly stated that “What has been accomplished so far towards restoration and reconstruction is a source of satisfaction and pride for all of us. But in order to complete studies and invite tenders related to this operation, we are glad to convey to you our personal contribution to this great work on behalf of my Hashemite family which is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad’s Household and a carrier of his message. Having known that the sum available to you is 1,200,000 J.D. (equal to one million, seven hundred and fifty – one thousand and eight hundred and twenty-five dollars), I do add to that the sum of eight million and two hundred and forty – nine thousand dollars on my own behalf and on behalf of my Hashemite family."
The costs of the Hashemite reconstruction of the Jerusalem and the West Bank waqfs (religious endowments) during the period 1952 – 1994 can be broken down as follows:
1952 – 1987: 385.875 million dollars.
1987 – 1994: 49.613 million dollars.
– Hashemite Reconstruction from 1956 – 1966: 46 million dollars.
– Aqsa Mosque Reconstruction after the 1969 fire: 9 million dollars.
– Dome of the Rock Reconstruction: 10 million dollars.
Total 500.488 million dollars.
Administrative and Legal Disengagement with the West Bank:
On July 7, 1988 H.M. the King issued a decree providing for administrative and legal disengagement with the West Bank (which was known as the by-law of the abrogation of the Governmental Apparti in the West Bank) which provides, inter alia, for :
– abolishment of all the directorates, divisions, sub-divisions and branches in the West Bank that belong to ministries; and public bodies; departments and institutions or those attached thereto.
– Directorates, divisions, sub-divisions and branches attached to the Ministry of Waqf and Islamic Affairs and Holy Places and the Chief Sharia Qadi (judge) Departments shall be exemptal from the provisions of this by-law.
The exclusion of the Waqf, Islamic Affairs and Holy Places and Sharia courts from this decree was intended to ensure the continuation of the Hashemite care for them and as a measure to protect them against falling directly under the authority of Israeli occupation and control.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan stated its position regarding the issue of Jerusalem and the Muslim holy places in the city in the statement issued by the Government of Jordan in the aftermath of the administrative and legal disengagement with the West Bank on July 31, 1988 which stated :
– Jerusalem is an Arab Muslim territory, which was occupied in the year 1967 as a part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s territories, and it is subject to what is applicable to the occupied Arab territories covered by the Security Council’s resolutions No. 242 and 338.
– To enable the Palestinian Arab people to establish its independent state on its national territory, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has taken its decision in 1988 that provides for legal and administrative disengagement within the West Bank. The Islamic waqfs, affairs and holy places, and Sharia courts have been excepted from this decision as manifestation of the continued Hashemite role of patronage and care for these holy places and to protect them from directly falling under foreign occupation and control.
Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty :
The Washington Declaration and the Jordanian – Israeli treaty known as Wadi Arabah Treaty of 1994 included a clause that provides for the Jordanian role in Jerusalem which states : “Israel respects the current role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem. When the negotiations related to the final status of the city of Jerusalem takes place, Israel shall accord a high priority to the historical role of Jordan in these holy places. In addition, both Parties have agreed to work together to foster relations between the three monotheistic religions".
What was stated in the Washington Declaration and Wadi Arabah Treaty is certainly a recognition and confirmation of the role played by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Hashemites throughout their long history in serving the Arab Islamic interests, including those of the Palestinians. Consequently, the Washington Declaration fully acknowledges the Hashemites’ entitlement to their patronage of the holy places and is not a creator of this entitlement. This was patently manifested in the various stages of the Hashemite reconstruction of the Holy Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Holy Rock in the years 1924, 1944, 1952 and 1994.
After the signature of the Jordanian – Israeli Treaty, known as Wadi Arabah Treaty, the Jordanian Government took a decision on July 28, 1994 providing for disengagement with the Awqaf Directorates in the West Bank with the exception of that of Jerusalem. In the following paragraph we find a clarification, which explains the Jordanian stand: “Owing to the special position of eternal Jerusalem and the coercive circumstances surrounding it and to demonstrate the continuity of the Hashemite role in its patronage and protection of its holy places from any danger or mishandling as well as out of fear lest any vacuum should arise, the Government of Jordan, by virtue of the Hashemite religious and historical tutelage over the holy places, decides that Jordanian legal and administrative responsibility for the awqaf and Muslim holy places and Shari’a judicature in Holy Jerusalem shall be continued.
The Hashemite care for Jerusalem was not limited to the reconstruction of Muslim sacred places, but extended further to include the establishment of religious colleges and schools and centers of heritage protection following the gracious directives and instructions of H.M. King Hussein.
These included, inter alia, the following :
– Da’wah and Usul al-Din (preaching and foundations of religion) College in Jerusalem, which was established in the year 1978.
– Islamic Sciences College in Jerusalem, which was established in 1975.
– Islamic Sciences College in Qalqiliyah that was established in 1978.
– Al-Aqsa Shar’ia Secondary School founded in 1958.
– Shari’a School of Jenin founded in 1975.
– Shari’a School of al-Khalil (Hebron), founded in 1962.
– Shari’a School of Nablus, founded in 1962.
– Islamic Antiquities Division in Jerusalem, founded in 1977.
– Revival of Islamic Heritage Division in Jerusalem, established in 1978.
The Hashemites’ interest in Jerusalem is not a matter of personal gains or interests. In fact, it is dictated by historical and religious considerations as manifested in their vigilant care for the Holy City and its religious Muslim and Christian Holy Places so that the city with its religious monuments remain in Arab/ Muslim hands. It is a measure to prevent their falling under Israeli control. Needless to say, they will revert back to the Palestinians after the latter establish their independent state, on Palestinian national soil, with Jerusalem as its capital.