Sunday, June 24, 2012


Our last few days we spent touring the Old City of Jerusalem.  When we first drove into the new part of Jerusalem where our hotel was, I was impressed by how beautiful the city was.  It was very modern as opposed to the Old City.  When we first arrived in the Old City of Jerusalem we went to the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, which is a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage.  The wall is the last remaining wall of the second temple that was destroyed in the year 70 by the Romans and is at the foot of the Temple Mount on the west side.  This wall was present during Jesus's time.  It is one of the most scared sites for the Jewish religion.  I was able to go up to the wall and put a prayer in between the stones.  There was a wall separating the males from the females.
Background on Judaism 
Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world. Followers of Judaism are often referred to as Jews (or Jewish), Hebrews, or Israelites. Judaism traces its origins back to Abraham and his son Isaac. Jews believe themselves to have a special relationship with God, being with Abraham. After revealing Himself to Abraham, God would rescue them from slavery in Egypt and reveal to them the Ten Commandments as well as other laws and guidelines (the Tanakh) that comprise the Jewish faith. There are several movements within Judaism: Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. Orthodox Judaism is characterized by a strict adherence to the Jewish Law, while Reform Judaism regard the Law as more of a guideline than an obligation, with Conservative Judaism occupying the space in between the two movements. Regardless of movement,  the most important aspect of Judaism is the recognition of the oneness and singularity of God. Judaism counts about 13 million people among its followers, with most living in the nation of Israel, the United States, and Europe.

Next, we went to the Temple Mount, one of the most important religious sites in the Old City.  This wasn't a for sure place to visit on our agenda, but I am so glad we were able to go.  It was a beautiful site to see, as well as it having a good view of the Mount of Olives.  The Temple Mount is the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.  The Al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam.  Muslims believe that Muhammad traveled from a mosque in Mecca to Al Aqsa.  The Dome of the Rock is a shrine and the importance is because of the Foundation Stone, which is believed to be the location of the Holy of Holies and where the inside of the temple was.  
Background on Islam
Islam is a monotheistic faith in the same Abrahamic tradition as Judaism and Christianity. Whereas Jews and Christians trace their faith back through Abrahams son Isaac, Islam is believed to follow a lineage back to Abraham’s son Ishmael. Individual adherents of this faith are known as Muslims. In Arabic, the word Islam means ”surrender” while Muslim can be translated as “one who surrenders or submits”, this reflects the followers recognition of the perfection of God (Allah in Arabic) and their love for Him. The holy book of Islam is the Quran, which Muslims believe to be the literal word of God, verbally revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. In Islam, Muhammad is considered to be the last in the line of Prophets of God that includes Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus among others. Keeping with this idea, Muslims believe Islam to be the restoration of the original monotheistic faith of the Prophets discussed above. In practice, Muslims adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam which are: Testimony of faith (Shahada), Daily prayer(Salah), almsgiving(zakat), Fasting during Ramadan(sawm) and the pilgrimage to Mecca(hajj). Much like the other Abrahamic Religions, Islam can be partitioned into different denominations. The two largest of these sects are the Sunni and Shia, with the majority of Muslims following the Sunni traditions. With over one billion followers, Islam is the second largest religion in the world and is also one of the fastest growing faiths. 

Pictures by Chloe Cooper 

No comments:

Post a Comment