Throughout all of history, Jerusalem has been the capital of only one nation: Israel. From the time of Kings David and Solomon, late 11th – 10th centuries BCE, to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, almost 1,100 years, Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish nation.

From the onset of Islamic rule in 638 CE to its end 1917, except for Crusader rule from 1099 to 1187, Jerusalem was never the capital of any Muslim state, nor even a provincial capital, until late Ottoman times (19th c. CE) when it became a special provincial religious site (vilayet) separate from its larger provincial area [sanjak].

Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Qur’an. “The Night Journey,” in chapter 17:1, recounts Mohammed’s magical flight on the back of the winged horse, el-Buraq, and his landing in “al-Aqsa” (literally, the faraway mosque), which is interpreted by later Muslim scholars to be the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; but Jerusalem is not mentioned in the text.

Islamic post-Qur’anic texts recount that originally Muhammed prayed toward Jerusalem (and not Mecca), making Jerusalem Islam’s first Qibla (direction toward which Muslims should pray). This tradition is based upon the account on the Qur’an’s chapter 2, verses 144 &149-150, where we read that Mohammed changed the direction of prayer to Mecca. The Qur’an does not state where the first Qibla was, and Jerusalem is not mentioned in the text; but later tradition preserved in biographies of Mohammed and in some Hadith collections (especially Sahih al-Bukhari) indicates that the original direction was toward Jerusalem. However, today there is some rather acrimonious debate among Muslim scholars of Islamic history about when and why the change came about, and if it came about at all; but what is important for this study is that the change, if it did happen, effectively nullified any religious significance that Jerusalem might have had for Islam. If it did not happen, then Jerusalem had no religious significance for Islam, ever.“palestine”/