Similarities between Masjid al-Haram and the Jewish Temple

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There are a number of interesting similarities between the two holiest sites in Islam and Judaism. Masjid al-Haram is the Great Mosque in Mecca, while the Jewish Temple once stood in Jerusalem where the al-Aqsa complex stands today.

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How the Second Jewish Temple may have looked during Hag.

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Masjid al-Haram during Hajj, the building in the centre is the Kaaba.

About the Mosque and Temple

  • Al-Masjid al-Haram: The Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram) is in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is the largest mosque in the world and surrounds one of Islam’s holiest places, the Kaaba. Unlike other mosques which are segregated, men and women can worship at Al-Masjid Al-Haram together.
  • Beit ha-Mikdash: The Holy Temple (Beit ha-Mikdash) stood in the city of Jerusalem, Israel. Two successive Temples stood on the Temple Mount, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. It is the holiest place in the world for Jews. The complex was separated into areas where priests, leviim, women and non-Jews could all come to worship the Almighty.
  • Kaaba: The Kaaba is the most sacred point of the most sacred mosque in Islam. It is a square building which according to Islamic tradition, was first built by Abraham AS. Over time the Kaaba became a place of idolatry, until Muhammad SAW commanded that the idols be removed from this holy site.
  • Kodesh Ha-Kodashim: The Holy of Holies (Kodesh HaKodashim) was the most sacred part of the most sacred place in Judaism. It was a sanctuary within the Temple that housed the Covenant of the Ark. Only the High Priest was permitted to enter this area.
  • Al-Masjid al-Haram: The mosque can hold 900,000 people (currently being expanded to 2,000,000)
  • Beit ha-Mikdash: The Second Temple could hold 1,000,000 people (expanded to this capacity by King Herod to allow for the large numbers Jewish and non-Jewish pilgrims during chag)
  • Islam: Wherever a Muslim is in the world, they are obligated to face the Kaaba when praying.
  • Judaism: Wherever a Jew is in the world, they are obligated to face the Kodesh Ha-Kodashim when praying.
  • Al-Hajar Al-Aswad: The Black Stone (Al-Hajar Al-Aswad) is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba. It is a stone that is revered by Muslims and is said to have fallen from Heaven to show Adam and Eve where to build an altar. It was originally set intact into the Kaaba’s wall by Muhammad SAW.
  • Even Ha-Shetiya: The Foundation Stone (Even Ha-Shetiya) is the name of the rock that is believed by many to be the location of Holy of Holies. According to Jewish tradition it is the site where Abraham AS was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac AS, it is the rock from which Earth was formed, it was close to th stone that God gathered the earth that was formed into Adam. It was on this rock that Adam, Cain, Abel, and Noah offered sacrifices to the Almighty. Underneath the Foundation Stone there is a cave. Muslim tradition teaches that Muhammad SAW ascended to heaven from this point. The stone currently lies under the Dome of the Rock. Five hundred years before the birth of Muhammad SAW, Rabbi Yishmael one of Judaism’s most important rabbis was recorded saying: “In the future, the sons of Ishmael (the Arabs) will do fifteen things in the Land of Israel … They will fence in the breaches of the walls of the Temple and construct a building on the site of the sanctuary”.
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The Foundation Stone – Temple Mount / Dome of the Rock
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The Black Stone – the cornerstone of the Kaaba

Pilgrimage – Haj / Hag

  • Muslims: Once a year Muslims are commanded to make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca
  • Jews: Three times a year Jews were commanded to make a pilgrimage (Hag – hag ha-matzot, hag ha-sukkot, hag ha-shavuot) to Jerusalem
  • Muslims: Only those capable of traveling to Mecca are obligated to go
  • Jews: Only those capable of traveling to the Temple were obligated to go
  • Muslims: Purify the body with water before going on Hajj
  • Jews: Purify the body with water before going on Hag
  • Muslims: Circle the Kaaba seven times (Tawaf) anti-clockwise
  • Jews: Circle the Temple seven times anti-clockwise
  • Muslims: During Hajj pilgrims are obligated to offer certain animals as a qurban (sacrifice)
  • Jews: As part of the Hag pilgrims were obligated to offer certain animals as a korban (sacrifice)
  • Muslims: If a woman is in her menses she should refrain from circling the Kaaba
  • Jews: If a woman is in her menses she should refrain from ascending to the Temple Mount and circling the Temple
  • Muslims: It is preferable to enter the al-Haram complex barefoot
  • Jews: It is preferable to enter the Temple complex barefoot

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Similarities between Masjid al-Haram and the Jewish Temple