Jerusalem is a Sacred Place for Christians, Jews, and Muslims
There are many religiously hallowed places throughout the world—Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Great Mosque of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, The Golden Temple in Amritsar, and the Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya in India, the Ise Grand Shrine, Ise, Japan—all intangible cultural treasures. Jerusalem, however, stands alone as a sacred place for Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
The ancient, mountainous walled city is considered a holy site by three of the world’s largest religions, which means it’s sacred to more than a third of the world’s population. The holy city is a major pilgrimage site for all three great monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
To Christians, it is the site of Christ’s death and resurrection; for Jews, Jerusalem is the Temple site (now in ruins except for the Western Wall), and for Muslims, it’s the site of the Prophet’s night journey to heaven.
Jerusalem’s Significance to Christianity
Although Bethlehem is recognized as the birthplace of Jesus, Jerusalem is irretrievably linked to Jesus. It’s the site of meaningful Christian events that took place. It was there that Christ preached, ate the Last Supper with his disciples before his death, was crucified, and resurrected. Through the resurrection, Jerusalem became the core of the Christian faith and religion; in essence, Christianity’s birthplace. For Christians, Jerusalem represents deep sorrow but also hope and redemption.
Biblical teachings say that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem shortly after his birth and was raised there. Consequently, Jerusalem hosts some of the Christian world’s most sacred sites. Jerusalem is home to the Cenacle, also known as the “Upper Room,” where the Last Supper is said to have taken place. The Cenacle is located on Mount Zion, just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is also home to Golgotha, the historic site of Christ’s crucifixion. The Golgotha is presumed to be located at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the location of Christ’s death and the place where he is said to be buried. The compound that houses Golgotha and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of Christianity’s most sacred sites.
Jerusalem’s Significance to Islam
Jerusalem is considered the third-holiest city in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Its religious prominence is derived from being the first Qibla, the initial direction toward which the Prophet Muhammad and the early Muslim community turned their faces in prayer. The direction was changed a year and a half later to Mecca by “divine command.”
It’s also significant due to its association with Prophet Muhammad’s miraculous nocturnal journey to the city and his ascension to Heaven. This event is mentioned in the Koran in the first verse of chapter 17. According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad was transported one night on a winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he led Abraham, Moses, and Jesus in prayer.
Jerusalem’s Significance to Judaism
For 3,000 years, Jews have turned towards Jerusalem for spiritual, cultural, and national inspiration. After the Romans first destroyed the city almost 2,000 years ago, a succession of conquerors ruled Jerusalem—Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Arabian, Crusader, Egyptian, Turkish, British, and Jordanian.
Jews face Jerusalem when they pray three times daily, and Jewish prayers contain numerous references to Jerusalem and Zion. Jerusalem became the spiritual and national capital for the Jews in the 10th century BCE when King David made it his seat of judgment and brought the Ark of the Covenant to rest there. Jerusalem hosts two of the most important sites for Jews: the Temple and its Western Wall (“the Kotel,” in Hebrew).
The Temple’s central role traces back to the Old Testament as it housed the sacrificial system by which Jews kept the laws of the Torah and the covenant. In the Jewish worldview, the Temple Mount was the site of the Garden of Eden. Melchizedek, the king of Salem—which Jews suppose to be Jerusalem—worshiped the God there and blessed Abram.
Join Us to Support Religious Freedom & Accessibility in Jerusalem
The holy land of Jerusalem has been historically at the center of many conflicts, often hampering the opportunity for religious freedoms centered around the city’s sacred sites. Churches for Middle East Peace recognizes Jesursalem’s religious importance to Christians, Jews, and Muslims and focus on protecting religious freedom for all people.