For the Jews, the significance of Jerusalem is quite clear.
The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is an ancient and powerful one.
Judaism made Jerusalem a holy city over three thousand years ago and through all that time Jews remained steadfast to it. Jews pray in its direction, mention its name constantly in prayers, close the Passover service with the wistful statement “Next year in Jerusalem,” and recall the city in the blessing at the end of each meal.
The destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD looms very large in Jewish consciousness; remembrance takes such forms as a special day of mourning, houses left partially unfinished, a woman’s makeup or jewelry left incomplete, and a glass smashed during the wedding ceremony.
In addition, Jerusalem has had a prominent historical role, as the only capital of a Jewish state, and is the only city with a Jewish majority during the whole of the past century.
The purest expression of all that Jews prayed for, dreamed of, cried for, and died for in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Second Temple.
For Muslims, the role of Jerusalem is more complex, a combination of religious and political aspects, lets start with the most important case:
Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Qur’an even once.
Following the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 636 AD, the new government did not make Jerusalem the political center of the area. This was fixed at Lydda till the year 716, then at Ar-Ramla (Ramleh). But in the Muslim view, too, Jerusalem, the city of David and Christ, became a very holy place, third only after Mecca and Medina, because of political developments.
Confusing? It is truly confusing, dont you think that jews should be asked to pray to the ark of the covenant, in the desert and in jerusalem, when all along God should simply have asked them to pray towards mecca.
What gets even more confusing is that Mohammed originally prayed towards Jerusalem, and then switched the qiblah to mecca. This was clearly because he realized that the jews weren’t buying into his “prophet” claims… so to heck with them, lets create our own qiblah.
The Jewish claim to the Holy Land is much older then that of our Arab cousins. It has been our homeland for 3,000 years, and until the first Arab invaders arrived in the 700s, no descendants of Ishmael ever claimed any part of the land for themselves.
Islam was established only 1300 years ago, more then 1700 years AFTER Jews made Jerusalem their capital!
The Land of Israel is mentioned many hundreds of times in the Torah by its names “Canaan” and/or “Israel”; other names such as Zion are many many times more.
The city of Jerusalem is mentioned 622 times in the Torah by its name Jerusalem and is referred to thousands of times by other names. The land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem are NEVER mentioned in the Quran, the book held holiest by Ishmael’s descendants—not as “Palestine,” not as “Israel” and not by ANY other name!