Allen S. Maller

The Kaab’a And The Temple Mount Are Linked By Holiness

The United Nations General Assembly on October 20, 2010 proclaimed the first week of February of each year as an Interfaith Harmony Week for all religions, faiths and beliefs; recognizing ”the imperative need for dialogue among faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony, and cooperation among people.” So I offer this article on the Holy Link between the Muslim Kaab’a and the Jewish Temple.

The famous temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest religious monument in the world, sprawling over 400 square kilometers just outside Siem Reap. Constructed in the early 12th Century as the capital of the Khmer empire, the site was originally a major Hindu temple, but was converted into a Buddhist temple by the end of the 12th century, and is now one of the world’s most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. The Angkor Complex includes more than 70 temples and around 1,000 buildings.

But shamefully, politicalized religious leaders on both sides have turned sacred sites in both India and Israel into battlegrounds for their brand of religious exclusivity. Yet an ancient Jewish legend predicts that when the Messiah comes and resurrection day occurs; the Kaab’a in holy Mecca, will go to join the Temple Mount’s Foundation Stone in holy Jerusalem, bringing with it the inhabitants of Mecca, and they shall be joined together. When the Foundation Stone sees the Kaab’a approaching, it shall cry out, “Peace be to the great guest”. ( Zev Vilnay, Legends of Jerusalem)

The Muslim Kaab’a in Mecca was a very ancient ruined holy site that was rebuilt under God’s direction by Prophets Abraham and his oldest son Ishmael. The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was built on a natural site God chose for an offering of Prophet Abraham’s youngest son, and built by Prophet Solomon the son of King David, more than four centuries after Prophet Abraham.

There is a wonderful legend that explains what linked these two sacred sites that had become holy to the descendants of the two sons of Prophet Abraham.

“Two brothers who inherited a valley to hilltop farm from their father, divided the land in half so each one could farm his own section. Over time, the older brother married and had four children, while the younger brother was still not married.

One year there was very little rain, and the crop was very meager. The younger brother lay awake one night praying and thought. “My brother has a wife and four children to feed and I have no children. He needs more grain than I do; especially now when grain is scarce.”

So that night the younger brother went to his barn, gathered a large sack of wheat, and left his wheat in his brother’s barn. Then he returned home.

Earlier that very same night, the older brother was also lying awake praying for rain when he thought: “In my old age my wife and I will have our grown children to take care of us, as well as grandchildren to enjoy, while my brother may have no children. He should at least sell more grain from his fields now, so he can provide for himself in his old age.”

So that night, the older brother also gathered a large sack of wheat, and left it in his brother’s barn, and returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

The next morning, the younger brother, surprised to see the amount of grain in his barn seemed unchanged said “I did not take as much wheat as I thought. Tonight I’ll take more.”

That same morning, the older brother standing in his barn, was thinking the same thoughts.

After night fell, each brother gathered a greater amount of wheat from his barn and in the dark, secretly delivered it to his brother’s barn.

The next morning, the brothers were again puzzled and perplexed. “How can I be mistaken?” each one thought. “There’s the same amount of grain here as there was before. This is impossible! Tonight I’ll make no mistake – I’ll take two large sacks.”

The third night, more determined than ever, each brother gathered two large sacks of wheat from his barn, loaded them onto a cart, and slowly pulled his cart toward his brother’s barn. In the moonlight, each brother noticed a figure in the distance. When the two brothers got closer, each recognized the form of the other and the load he was pulling, and they both realized what had happened.

Without a word, they dropped the ropes of their carts, ran to each other and embraced.”

God looked down at the two brothers thinking “Their love and concern for each other has made these two places worthy of becoming a linked holy sanctuary. Someday their descendants will each build and rebuild a holy House in this valley and on this hill.

Very few Jews realize that for more than 1.000 years, while Jerusalem’s First and Second Temple–Bait ul Muqaddas/Beit HaMiqdash stood, the Jewish festival of Hag Sukkot was celebrated as a Hajj, a pilgrimage festival. The Hebrew word Hag comes from hagag to circle; and the Arabic word Hajj literally means ‘to set out for a special place’.

For Muslims, the Furthest Sanctuary is located in Jerusalem. “Glory to He Who carried His servant by night, from the Holy Sanctuary to the Furthest Sanctuary, the precincts of which We have blessed. so that We might show him some of Our signs. Surely He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (Qur’an 17:1)

It is significant that the ruins of the Jerusalem Temple was the site of Prophet Muhammad’s ascension—miraj up to the heavens.

The Kaa’ba built by Abraham and Ishmael, was some centuries later polluted by the introduction of idols. Some centuries later King Solomon built a Temple on the site where Prophet Abraham bound Isaac as an offering. Then four and a half centuries later the Temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians. It was then rebuilt only to again be destroyed some centuries later by the Romans (in 70 CE), who would later pollute the whole site with a Roman city whose buildings and streets were filled with idols.

One might say the destruction of the Furthest Sanctuary center of monotheistic pilgrimage in Jerusalem by the pagan Romans, was five and a half centuries afterward overcome by Prophet Muhammad’s ascension-miraj up to the heavens, and the soon to be realized removal by Prophet Muhammad of the 360 idols around the paganized Kaa’ba (Holy Sanctuary) in Makkah.

The Prophet Zechariah envisions a future time when God helps humans establish worldwide peace. All the nations in the world then may travel to Makkah and Jerusalem to worship God in peace. It is important for Muslims to realize that during this prophesied future Hajj Sukkot, the future city of Jerusalem (without a physically rebuilt Temple) will welcome both Jews and non-Jews, just a it did in the days when Prophet David (before King Solomon built the Temple) wrote in his Zabur:

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go up to the house of the LORD…There the (12) tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as it was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1-4) Orthodox Jews still pray for the ancient Temple to be rebuilt.

But Reform Jews stopped doing that two centuries ago. The place is holy; not the building. This is the feeling of the great majority of Jews today who are not Orthodox Jews.

And Prophet Zechariah even includes those who were previously Israel’s enemies: “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem, will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate Hajj Sukkot.” (Zechariah 14:16)

Just as the Kaa’ba has always welcomed all Muslims who answer the call: “Call upon the people for Hajj. They will come to you on their bare feet, or riding any weak camel, and they come to you from every far desert. (Qur’an 22:27).

When all those, both near and far, who revere this place as a standard, share it in love with everyone else who reveres it, then I will do as Abraham requested, and “Make this a land of Peace, and provide its people with the produce of of the land”. (Qur’an 2:126). Then will all the children of Adam and Abraham live in Holiness, Peace and Prosperity.

This narration, transmitted orally in both Arabic and Hebrew for many centuries, was finally written down in several versions in the 19th century. Jews believe the hill is Jerusalem. Muslims believe the valley is Mecca. I believe, God willing, someday we all will see both beliefs as correct. The Qur’an refers to Prophet Abraham the Hebrew (Genesis 14:13) as a community or a nation: “Abraham was a nation/community [Ummah]; dutiful to God, a monotheist [hanif], not one of the polytheists.” (Qur’an 16:120) If Prophet Abraham is an Ummah then fighting between the descendants of Prophets Ishmael and Isaac is a civil war and should always be avoided.

If all Arabs and Jews can live up to the ideal that ‘the descendants of Abraham’s sons should never make war against each other’ is the will of God; we can help fulfill the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel  will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 850 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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