Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount

The First Runway

Israel has frozen co-operation with the UN's cultural agency, accusing it of denying Judaism's connections to the religion's holiest sites. Its education minister said a Unesco draft decision concerning Jerusalem "denies history and encourages terror".

It comes after the body approved a text which repeatedly used only the Islamic name for a hilltop complex which is also the holiest site in Judaism.

The site is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Haram al-Sharif to Muslims.

The draft decision, submitted by seven Arab countries, criticises Israel's activities at holy places in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

While acknowledging the "importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions", the document refers to the sacred hilltop only by the name "al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).

It is the location of two Biblical Jewish temples and is joined by the Western Wall, venerated by Jews as part of the original supporting wall of the temple compound.

Haram al-Sharif is also the place where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven, and is the third holiest site in Islam.

BBC News Oct 13, 2016

Haram al-Sharif is dominated by the Dome of the Rock which shelters the second most important rock on earth. The boulder, or rather its expansive face, served as what could be considered the first runway where a landing and a takeoff took place.

Without the retaining wall which was built by the people who first occupied the vicinity of the first airport, no flying contraption – mechanical or animal with a human at the controls – could have landed and taken off in complete safety, especially in the middle of the night.

Some have disputed that there was an actual landing and takeoff in 621 AD which consecrated the hilltop as the first airport. Their skepticism fueled by the pilot's reputation for what they consider ethereal flights of fancy and the fact that there was no reported sighting of the arrival of the flight from Mecca and its departure for Paradise from people who lived near and on the hilltop in the midst of a bustling city.

In this argument about UNESCO giving credit where credit is due, what about the Byzantines who were the legal owners of the hilltop when all this activity reminiscent of Kitty Hawk took place.

And should they ignore the contribution of the Romans who, when they obliterated the temple on top, left the retaining wall intact, perhaps anticipating a less controversial use of the place such as an airport which could be of used by people of all faiths in peace and harmony.

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

Regarding the Statement of Allah" "And We granted the vision (Ascension to the heavens) which We made you see (as an actual eye witness) was only made as a trial for the people." (17.60)

Ibn Abbas added: The sights which Allah's Apostle was shown on the Night Journey when he was taken to Bait-ulMaqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) were actual sights, (not dreams). And the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Quran is the tree of Zaqqum (itself).

Bukhari 58.228

Islam is the most threatening of thin-skinned religions when it comes to dealing with skeptics who would venture to make less than laudatory observations about outlandish claims pertaining to the Faith.

Cartoon protest

Islam as a religion is special in other ways: peace through violence, forced conversions, rape as a husband's God-given right... But, it is a lack of details about the circumstances and paraphernalia surrounding the consecration of its holiest places in its holy book which makes it uniquely unique.

For example, the only reference in the Koran to this alleged flight to heaven on a winged steed is a reference to a visit to the farthest mosque. The rest is all hearsay evidence, such as that found in the hadiths about how the five prayers were negotiated, filling in the details God left out, perhaps for good reason.

Just like the Greek who first climb Mount Olympus and discovered that it was not the residence of the Gods, Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon should have raised serious doubts about a man on horse flying high enough and surviving the rigours of space to reach Paradise, assuming it is somewhere high above.

Bernard Payeur, October 29, 2016