Fort Antonio - Roman fortress built on the original site of
Haram as-Syarif where Masjid al-Aqsa is and as has always been
The so called ‘Temple mount’ the jews so passionately refered to the existing Haram as-Shariff turns out to be located at another site, removed from the muslim sanctuary of Al-Aqsa mosque, prominent jewish scholars insist. In their pursue to locate the existing site of the temple built by prophet David, demolished and desecrated by the Romans twice in history, they came to a credible conclusion, the Jewish temple was located to the southeast of Haram as-Syarif. The western wall of the al-Aqsa mosque which the jews have revered as the ‘Kottel’ or the wailing wall has never been the remnants of the second temple, as they claimed. It never was, further giving legitimacy to the claims of muslims as part of the Islamic Waqf (endowment) and verified by the League of Nations in 1929 as indisputable part of the Islamic heritage.
Were these to have come from a muslim, nobody would ever give a thought. But these words came from Jewish academics who have put across their academic arguments based on meticulous research of historical, biblical and geographical evidence.
Dr. Ernest L. Martin, a renown historian on Jerusalem has published his findings in a revealing book ‘The Temples that Jerusalem forgot’. He asserts that the Jewish temple that predates the Roman sacking in 135 AD was never built on ‘Temple mount’. Instead the correct location was in Gihon Spring, less than half a kilometer south of Haram as-Syarif. His thesis was not the first to upset the militant views held by the temple proponent. His views actually concurs with Dr. Benjamin Mazar, the former president of Hebrew University, whom through his excavation works in and around the Haram as-Syarif from 1967 to 1978, have not discovered anything that remotely resembling the Jewish claims.
These discoveries that questions the Jewish temple claims to its core, prompt many scholars to have a relook at the history of the temple. One of the works that offers an eyewitness account of the second sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD was written by Flavius Josephus. He quoted Eleazar, the Jewish rebel commander in his recollections ‘The War of the Jews (VII. 8,6). Eleazar was quoted to have said that the temple has been demolished to its foundation that remnants of it could not be traced. The only structure that stands was the camps of Roman soldiers who came to destroy the temple.
Now Dr Ernest L. Martin said that Haram as-Sharif that supposedly to have sat on the ‘Temple mount’ was actually the remaining camp of the Roman army, they called Fort Antonio, name by Herod (the one who slained Nabi Zakaria AS) after the Roman emperor Anthony (who married Cleopatra of Egypt). The size and dimensions of the Haram as-Shariff is comparable to a standard Roman fortresses built in that era to guard overran cities. The water supply system and conduits were also consistent with Roman fortress arrangement. (What we are saying is the Roman army built a fortress on the site where Prophet Adam AS established the foundation of al-Aqsa mosque and rebuilt by Ibrahim as and his son Ishaq – this is the site where Rasulullah SAW transit on his night journey (ascension) and prayed in congregation with 124,000 prophets in the compound of the walled parimeter of Haram as-Syarif).
Dr Ernest Martin also made reference to the various testimonies made by Christian pilgrims who stated the rock outcropping, (now covered by the Dome of the rock) where Pilate judged Jesus. The temple however had stood on a ‘threshing’ floor (the surface that was used to separate grains from their husk) and rested on a movable platform. (least likely the rock outcropping can be the foundation of the temple – because it was supposed to be level and flat).
Another signature of the temple was the presence of flowing water through it. There is no such ‘living water’ flowing through Haram as-Syarif, only cisterns for collecting water. The geographical reality shows that within 5 km area the only existing spring is in Gihon Spring. The presence of a ‘living water’ (spring) is a must for the Jewish temple for purification purposes. This is stated in the scripture (Psalms 46: 3,4 ; 87: 1 – 2, 7). Martin also cites a personal account of an Egyptian in the year 285 BC who stated that the temple has a flowing water beneath it. Definitely this points to Gihon Spring, the only place in Jerusalem that has a flowing spring, and exclude the possibility of Haram as-Syarif as a possible site.
If we go back to Islamic sources, the jewish residents from the 7th to 11th century in Jerusalem were allowed to live near the temple ruins at Gihon spring but the parameters of Haram as-Syarif is out of bound for them. Based on al-Udha al-Ummuriyah (Umar’s declaration of peaceful coexistence – 638 AD) every community and religious affiliation has their rights to practice their religion and to visit their places of worship without any hindrance. This is the indisputable evidence that Haram as-Syarif and the Jewish temple are located on two different sites.
Dr Ermest Martin findings could defuse the explosive situation in Jerusalem. The jewish claim that Haram as-Syarif is ‘The Temple Mount’ has no locus standi. The implication is muslims, jews, Christians and other religious community can live in peaceful coexistence as has been proven during the Islamic era right from the time of Umar to the crusades and from the Salahuddin’s reign right up to the Balfour declaration of 1917.
Primary reference on the subject matter.
Arabs and Jews: Wounded Spirits In A Promised Land, by David Shipler.
The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount," by Israeli journalist, Gershon Gorenberg
The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot by Ernest Martin
Purchase a copy of The Temple That Jerusalem Forgot from Presence magazine for $25 plus S & H. Call 1-888-757-2703 or visit our web, http://www.livingpresence.org/books
Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor