Disturbances at the Temple Mount: Christians’ historical contribution and the sacrifice required of Muslims to bring about true peace
Gottfried Hutter, Theologian, Psychotherapist, Author of this Peace Initiative, Founder and Chairman of the Temple-Project Association
The recent and still ongoing troubles in Jerusalem point to the heart of the entire conflict, the location that Muslims call “the Noble Sanctuary”, al Haram ash Sharif. For them, it is the place from which their Prophet ascended into Heaven, proving that he is indeed “the Seal of all Prophets”, for there he met with all prophets who had come before him. For Jews this is the site of their former Temple, a place marked by the special presence of God, which was destroyed by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago.
Western politics with its secular approach cannot do justice to this conflict. The deep emotional dimension is missing.
According to international law Jews have no right to that location, because the destruction of their Temple happened too long ago – nor is the fact that Jews are praying three times a day for a New Temple relevant for international law. It supports the Muslims who demand that Jews refrain from praying at that location; in other words, demanding that Jews divest themselves of any claim to the site.
And since Western politicians stand for secular politics, they agree with the Muslims. But is this truly just? They are in effect demanding that Jews forget their Bible, which is not only the basis of Judaism but has also become the basis of the Christian religion and even that of Islam.
If one is to understand what would be the correct approach today, it will be necessary to understand how the present crisis evolved – and the part Christians played in it.
From the reign of Emperor Constantine, the Christians rule over Jerusalem. In particular, Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena, did historical research in the area. She discovered Jesus’ grave and even the cross on which he had died, and she discovered the location of his birth in Bethlehem.
She ordered the construction of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, and she ordered the destruction of the Roman temples which had been built on the site of the former Jewish Temple after the Romans quelled the Jewish uprising in the year 135. But she was not interested in reconstructing the Jewish Temple or in repealing the Edict of Hadrian which banned the Jews from entering their former Holy City or resettling in their former homeland.
She and the Christian authorities seem to have been quite content that the site of the Temple should have been transformed into an expanse of rubble, because this served as a reminder that the Old Covenant, which God had forged with the Jews, was now superseded by the New Covenant between the Son of God and humanity, represented by the Christians.
In consequence, the expanse of rubble came – under Christian rule – to be used as a garbage dump.
That, Jesus surely would not have wanted! He called the Temple “the House of My Father” and his disciples continued to visit the Temple regularly for years after his resurrection – of course with due respect towards that sanctuary! Now this respect was missing.
The fact that the Christians turned this place into a garbage dump some 300 years later, must figure on the account sheet of the Christians, and is continuing to bring forth effects to this day!
If the Christians had displayed the proper respect due to this place, the Muslims would have behaved differently when they conquered Jerusalem! Then it would not have been necessary for Caliph Umar to clean this place up. And if this place had been respected by the Christians the Caliph would not have been able to take possession of it, just as he did not take possession of the Holy Sepulcher. The entire history of the Holy Land would then have developed very differently down to this day! There would probably be no conflict now over the Temple Mount. The three religions whose forefather is Abraham might have shared this place already in the year 638! It would then not have been necessary today to ask this egregious sacrifice of the Muslims – to share their Noble Sanctuary, al Haram ash Sharif, the location of the ascension of their Prophet to Heaven with the Jews who are conscious here of God’s special presence where their Temples once stood.
Yet, if the Muslims were able to make that sacrifice, they would thereby bring peace to the entire Middle East – first peace with Israel, and then peace, too, among themselves, between the different denominations of Islam; for, once the principle of sharing has been introduced, peace will become possible everywhere – just as there is peace in city traffic, because traffic lights rule alternately in favor of one side and then of the other.
(Oct. 20, 2015)
Donations to the non-profit “Temple-Project Association”, IBAN: DE93 7015 0000 1001 2410 31, SWIFT-BIC: SSKMDEMM