ON HOLY GROUND
Arriving in Jerusalem, took me back to the origins of a people of three faiths; Christianity, Judaism and Islam. To see and experience the livening presence of the three faiths and how they are interconnected through this historical, middle- eastern Arab town named Jerusalem to the faith of three historic peoples opens my mind and heart to listen and hear fully. In the call for prayer as it awoke me each morning, I heard the voice of the Islamic transformation that began in 632 when Jerusalem was established as Al Quds Al Sharif (the noble sacred place). The call gave me a welcome song to my spirit that served as a spiritual and physical alarm clock and reminded me that the day and task ahead must begin with a sacredness; that this work is bigger than what I know myself to be; and that I am, as religious grad, called to the work of justice and liberation.
The morning call to worship gave me a geo-physical foundation for the interconnectedness that Islam honors in Christianity and Judaism through the prophets that are important to the collective religious narrative represented in King David, Solomon and Jesus. Jerusalem is just as sacred to Muslims, as it is to us who are Christians and our brothers and sisters who are Jewish. Islam is a part of our collective tradition as an historic people of faith. Islam sees Jerusalem as a continuation of the same spiritual and ethical dimensions that begun with earlier prophets and calls us to being bigger than bigotry of Trump and the Israeli government combined. I learned in my studies that historically, when Muslims lost Jerusalem during the Crusade of 1187, they reclaimed Jerusalem through peaceful negotiations.
The people of Islam hold Jerusalem to be so important, because it is where Mohammad (Blessings upon him) was taken to Heaven. Thus, they began building the Dome of the Rock as one of their temples celebrating the prophet Mohammad (Blessings upon him). I saw a unifying presence among Jewish and Muslims people when walking the streets, just as I see it in the pages of church history books that I have read while attending New York Theological Seminary. However, when I walked in The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and saw the place where they laid Jesus, it took my very breath away because it solidified the call within me to be a champion for radical reconciliation. Jesus’s tomb became a tangible proof to the political and social risk that he took for the oppressed because it also demands that I take the same risk. The Israeli occupation is a sin against the people of Palestine but it is also a sin against humanity and the God who created us.
This occupation has forced itself upon Holy Ground and ignores the historic voices of those ancients who champion justice. Zionism both Christian and Israeli is not of God because it finds its identity in the kind of nationalism that seeks to leave out its Palestinian cousins. Historically in Jerusalem, Muslims have been in community together with Jews because that is the identity of Palestine itself. Christians, Muslims, and Jews have joined together many times on the Sacred Land called Jerusalem and found their way home throughout centuries. History is important for understanding context. As people of faith, we must draw from the past to move toward the future. And what bigotry ignores the truth of this narrative is that Palestinian are Jewish, Christian and Islamic.
The Character of Jerusalem is a reminder the she is that city on a hill who represents one city and three faiths calling us toward a place of collective integrity. Jerusalem located in a place called Palestine the land that we know as Israel is holy ground. Therefore, the ideology of Zionism has no place there!