In The Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In his response to the question, Dr. Muhammad Abu Laylah, Professor of the Islamic Studies & Comparative Religions at Al-Azhar University, states:
Jerusalem is an important holy place to Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. Many Prophets, including Ibrahim (peace be upon them) visited the area. The Sacred Mosque (i.e. Al-Aqsa Mosque) was built forty years after the construction of the Sacred House in Makkah.
All Prophets were gathered in Al-Aqsa Mosque in the night of Al-Israa’, where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) led them in Prayer. This incident is dealt with comprehensively in Surat Al-Israa’ (i.e. Sura No. 17).
The history of Jews in Palestine is very old. The Jews think that their synagogue was built there, and the king Solomon took this place as his presidential court. They assert that the Wailing Wall is there. So, in this sense, they venerate the place.
For both Muslims and Christians, the place is also a sacred one that is held in high esteem. The Christians, because Jesus was born in it, and they have many Churches built there.
Since Islam entered Palestine after the conquest of Jerusalem at the hands of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), it has become a Muslim land.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is mentioned in the Sunnah immediately after the two Holy Mosques of Makkah and Madinah. Muslims are urged to visit Jerusalem and to give out charity for its construction and cleanliness.
Many of the Prophet’s Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) resided in the city of Jerusalem and were buried there.
Jerusalem became a heaven for Muslim scholars. In fact, Muslims used to pass by Jerusalem on their way to Makkah to perform Hajj. Many Muslims rulers used to go clean the Al-Aqsa Mosque by their own hands.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.