Monday, 26 October 2015. The foremost legal scholar of Islam in Jerusalem is the Grand Mufti, Muhammad Hussein. He recently asserted that the first man, Adam, perhaps with the help of angels, built today’s Dome of the Rock, the 1,300-year-old Islamic shrine that sits atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. Accordingly, he said, the site has been an Islamic mosque “3,000 years ago and 30,000 years ago.”

Hussein made the assertions during an Arabic interview on Israel’s News Channel 2. As he has before, he vehemently denied that the site was ever the place of Judaism’s Temples, not the first, built by Solomon, nor the second, refurbished by Herod the Great. Indeed, according to Hussein, it exclusively has been an Islamic holy site “since the creation of the world.”

This is not the first time that Israel’s foremost legal scholar of Islam has asserted that Israel’s biblical Temples never existed. About four years ago, on January 5, 2012, he did the same on a broadcast by Palestinian Authority TV News.

“They [Jews] want to say or suggest that this place [Temple Mount] was once, according to their claim, a Temple,” he said. “However, in truth there never was a Temple in any period, nor was there, at any time, any place of worship for the Jews or others at the Aksa Mosque site [built on the Temple Mount in 705 CE].”

In light of his own Sunni heritage and written history, the Grand Mufti’s claims are puzzling at best.

According to Islamic history, the Dome of the Rock was completed near the end of the 7th century, just over 1,300 years ago. It was commissioned by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, head of the Islamic empire known as the Umayyad Caliphate. Al-Malik is regarded by the Sunni branch of Islam as the political and religious successor to Islam’s founder, Muhammad.

Abu Bakr al-Wasiti is a Sunni historian who died about 932 CE. He described the historical process by which the caliph undertook to build the Dome of the Rock: how his subjects would react, craftsmen he hired and money that he spent.

In more recent history, Islamic scholars have been unambiguous.

In 1924, the “Supreme Moslem Council” published A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif Jerusalem. Haram al-Sharif, “Noble sanctuary,” is Islam’s Arabic name for the Temple Mount. The Guide’s official English version is available online. It begins with a “Historical Sketch”: “The site is one of the oldest in the world,” it says. “Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times.

“Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute."

“This too,” it continues, “is the spot, according to universal belief, on which ‘David built an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.’ “But this Guide,” it clarifies, “confines itself to the Moslem period, the starting [point of which] is the year 637 A.D.” It goes on to describe construction of the Dome of the Rock completed “691 A.D.” and the Aksa Mosque two years later.

In stark contrast with his own religion’s historical affirmations, not to mention archaeological evidence and biblical references, today’s Grand Mufti of Jerusalem disputes what his own have said is “beyond dispute” and denies what his own historians affirm.

How can he? Why does he? One possible answer is the Islamic doctrine that allows lying when a devotee is in mortal danger. It is called “taqiyya.” An Islamic commentator on the Koran explains: “If any one is compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue, while his heart contradicts him, in order to escape his enemies, no blame falls on him, because God takes his servants as their hearts believe.”

In essence, then, lying under duress is morally acceptable.

If this is the Grand Mufti’s motivation, one extrapolation of taqiyya might be that he lies in order to protect Islamic devotees from the “mortal danger” that Temple Mount history, and its archaeological evidence, present to Islamic faith.

Another related answer lies in the Islamic doctrine of “tahrif,” which means distortion or alteration. According to this belief, the Bible contains truth but has been corrupted by Jews – and Christians too. The Koran, it is believed, was Allah’s intended remedy for that corruption.

In light of this belief, the Grand Mufti may be rationalizing that temporal evidence, like archaeology, is an incomplete and often misleading perspective on the greater truth which, according to him, is Islam. Assuming that the Bible is corrupt and that Islam is the greater truth to which all else is subject, he concludes that today’s archaeological and historical evidence is misleading.

Instead of addressing the evidence that indicts Islam, he lies about it. Even evidence from his own religious heritage.

Inasmuch as either explanation, or both, are viable, they suggest that Islam is profoundly threatened by Judaism’s history. That threat is exponentially amplified by the resurrection of Israel as Jewish state in the land of its birth. In short, if Judaism’s Bible is true – as Israel’s existence and archaeological evidence suggests it must be – then Islam and Allah are not.

If this analysis is even remotely accurate, then today’s bloody conflict, bad as it is, has only just begun.

Follow him on Twitter @BrianSchrauger.

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