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The Israeli government does not allow Jews to pray on the Temple-Mount, out of respect to the Muslim faith. This is enforced by Israeli police.

So I was wondering, is it because it's against Islamic law for Jews to pray in a mosque? (They are praying to the same god, after all). Or is this a political issue? (i.e. the Waqf being worried that Jews praying there could lead to other issues).

I hope that someone here can explain.

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    The prohibition appears to be political, not religious in nature, at least from the Islamic side. I have read also that orthodox Jews prohibit Jews from going and praying there for fear of desecrating the holy sanctuary. – Ansari Jan 6 '15 at 20:19
  • very closely linked to this question Can non-Muslims enter a Mosque or prayer room? – servant-of-Wiser May 1 '15 at 14:59
  • Non Muslims can enter into Masjids but can't worship in it. The same reasoning I mentioned here apply: islam.stackexchange.com/a/25515/12537 – user12537 Jul 30 '15 at 18:01
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I don't know the Israeli reasoning, but the Temple Mount is a sanctuary that's considered blessed as it's part of the surroundings of masjid al-aqsa. Allah said:

Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (17:1)

so it's considered as "holy" but particularly masjid al-aqsa is considered a sanctuary. But there's nothing in Islamic law on prohibiting non-Muslims from praying there.

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First, Temple-mount is not equivalent to Masjid-al-Aqsa, the latter only happens to be located on the former. A mosque in general and Sharia in particular is therefore not a factor in the calculation of restrictions.

Secondly, the question in the title is from the Muslims point of view, whereas the contents of the question are about Jewish - rather Israeli - policies.

Muslim Perspective

It is narrated that a delegation of Christians from Najran visited the Prophet (puh) and prayed in the mosque facing eastward. The Prophet (puh) witnessed them praying and ordered his companions to let them pray. This sets the precedent for people of the book to pray in the holy mosque of Medina. This incident is reported by the historian Ibn Ishaq, and included in Tafsir-ibn-Katheer, in exegesis of 3:61.

قال ابن إسحاق: وحدثني محمد بن جعفر بن الزبير، قال: قدموا على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم المدينة، فدخلوا عليه مسجده حين صلى العصر، عليهم ثياب الحبرات؛ جبب وأردية في جمال رجال بني الحارث بن كعب، قال: يقول من رآهم من أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ما رأينا بعدهم وفداً مثلهم، وقد حانت صلاتهم، فقاموا في مسجد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يصلون، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم " دعوهم " ، فصلوا إلى المشرق

Ibn Ishaq said, "Muhammad bin Jafar bin Az-Zubayr said that, The (Najran) delegation came to the Messenger of Allah in Al-Madinah, entered his Masjid wearing robes and garments, after the Prophet had prayed the 'Asr prayer. They accompanied a caravan of camels led by Bani Al-Harith bin Ka'b. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah who saw them said that they never saw a delegation like them after that. When their worship time came, they stood up to perform their worship in the Prophet’s Masjid. Messenger of Allah said: “Let them (worship)” and they prayed towards east.

Consequently, the juridical discussion by jurists have revolved mostly around the status of polytheists rather. Notably, Abu Hanifa, even allowed the polytheists to enter the holy Meccan mosque.

The Islamic law permits the Jews and as for politics, Muslims in Palestine are in no position to determine, let alone enforce visitation policies for the Jews.

Jewish Perspective

Jews are internally divided on legality of praying inside a mosque. The most influential Rabbi Maimonides allowed praying inside the mosques, possibly himself prayed in a mosque. It is therefore hardly a matter of Shariah or Halacha. There are three main motivations for their self-imposition of restrictions to praying on temple-mount.

  1. That the Jews are impure (corpse impurity) and therefore prohibited by Halacha to enter the holy Temple mount. Purification can only be accomplished by sprinkling water with ashes of a red heifer.

  2. That because the exact location of the temple on mount is unknown, someone may inadvertently step inside the holy place.

  3. The risk of situation going out of hand in case of a head on confrontation inside an already charged environment and the consequent reaction of over a billion and a half Muslims around the world.

Personally, I think neither one of these factors alone is the basis of restrictions; they all work in tandem. The risk of blow-back is there but since its not worthwhile anyway because of the religious restrictions (its not time yet!) theres no need to experiment. On the other hand, not all Jews respect Halachic restrictions, some actually demand for the right to pray and in that case the security and political risk calculations of the Israeli government are holding back the horses.

  • Interesting points. +1 for a thorough treatment. About the "Jewish Perspective" I think point #3 is the most relevant. 1 and 2 are true according to many halachic authorities, but those opinions are not accepted universally. Most of the Jews who are demanding the right to pray on the Temple Mount are indeed religious Jews who do care about halacha; they simply do not see points 1 and 2 as relevant halachic issues (for technical reasons). Point #3 holds in all cases, though, and I believe it is the primary reason for prohibiting non-Muslim prayer. – Daniel Oct 26 '15 at 19:36
  • Although I am a bit unclear on the "Muslim Perspective" as I do not understand Arabic. Was the Prophet allowing the Christians to perform Christian prayers inside the mosque or were they performing Muslim prayers? – Daniel Oct 26 '15 at 19:39
  • @Daniel Thanks for the clarification about the Jews who are demanding right to pray - yours is what I actually meant to say. For the other perspective, I've added English translation of the Arabic part, which clarifies that they were indeed performing Christian prayers. – user549 Oct 27 '15 at 11:20
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There is nothing in the Qur’an that prohibits a Jew from worshiping in a mosque—and most certainly not verse 9:17, which only prohibits the mushrikin (Arab pagans) from worshipping there. Jews are not disbelievers in Islam. The Qur’an makes clear in the subsequent verse:

“The only people to frequent GOD's masjids are those who believe in GOD and the Last Day, and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and do not fear except GOD. These will surely be among the guided ones.”

Jews are people who believe in God and the last day. Echoing verse 9:18, the Qur’an in verses 2:62, 2:111-113, 2:177, 3:113-115, 5:69 and elsewhere promises salvation to all Christians and Jews who believe in God, the Last Day and live virtuous lives, and verses 2:253, 5:48, 11:118-119, 22:67-70, that that God has sent many different messengers to many different communities, that they should compete in righteousness and good deeds, and that their differences and disputes will be settled by God on Judgment Day.

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    Salaams and welcome to Islam Stack Exchange. We expect answers here to be unbiassed and comprehensive, and to directly answer the question asked, not respond to other posts. We are a pluralistic site: No matter how much you may agree or disagree with anyone else, arguing that any particular interpretation of Islam is "bigoted" and "full of attacks on Jews and Christians" is wholly inappropriate here. – goldPseudo Apr 26 '16 at 17:39
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The Quran, at 9:17, specifically prohibits Jews, who are defined as non-believers to enter, pray or even clean a Mosque:-

"It is not for the Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), to maintain the Mosques of Allah (i.e. to pray and worship Allah therein, to look after their cleanliness and their building, etc.), while they witness against their ownselves of disbelief. The works of such are in vain and in Fire shall they abide."

And see p. 74 in this book

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    Sorry but (9:17) is all about polytheists and this Verse is quoting the Masjid al-Haram (in Mekka) which makes a big difference and a clear exception! And most scholar say what's quoted as (maintain يعمروا ) is the pilgrimage! – Medi1Saif Oct 23 '15 at 9:58

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