An Exercise in Empathy Regarding Al Haram Ash Sharif / the Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Considering the pain many of the inhabitants of today’s Holy Land are experiencing I would like to present the following questions to representatives of the three Abrahamic faiths as a form of exercise in empathy. An exercise that demands, however, that, before we even approach it, we realize that we are getting back to the very basics of our existence as human beings, God's children, and so divest ourselves of all pride and approach these issues humbly and even in a spirit of penitence. In this light I would even like to ask the highly respected “Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land” to recommend this exercise for the members of their communities.
In the year 2007 a group of Muslim scholars sent an open letter to the Pope and to leaders of other Christian Churches entitled “A Common Word between us and you”. In this letter they proposed to make “love”, which is in both religions is regarded as the basis of all virtues, also the basis for inter-religious dialogue – and for all attempts to resolve inter-religious conflicts on that basis.
Al Haram ash-Sharif / the Temple Mount has become an object of conflict. Could it, in this view, be turned into the token for peace?
What would you say: do Jews have a right to a New Temple?
What might be the right place to build it?
Would you agree that the Muslim sanctuaries are endangered by the Jewish claim to the Temple Mount? What would you suggest, to prevent such a danger?
Since it seems impossible to answer these questions without hurting either Jews or Muslims, I suggest the following empathic procedure – always bearing in mind that healing is often preceded and accompanied by pain.
Would you agree that empathy is the key element of the solution?
God asked Abraham to sacrifice what was dearest to him, his son.
If God were to ask Jews to sacrifice what is dearest to them, would they be willing to relinquish their claim to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Could they consider leaving the entire site to the Muslims and finding some other appropriate place for building their Temple?
If God were to ask Muslims to sacrifice what is dearest to them, would they be willing to relinquish their claim to al Haram ash Sharif in Jerusalem? Could they consider leaving the site to the Jews – for example, by moving the Dome of the Rock to some other location (while Al Aqsa could remain where it is)?
Bearing in mind Sura 5,48, in which competition in virtue is demanded, what do you think the proper reaction of the Muslims should be, if the Jews were in fact to surrender their claim to the Temple Mount? What would Muslims be ready to sacrifice?
Once we have accepted, that God could ask Jews and Muslims alike to surrender their claim to al Haram ash Sharif / The Temple Mount in Jerusalem, both parties could get together on equal terms and discuss their willingness to compromise. What, in your view, might such a compromise look like?
How would, in your view, an orthodox Rabbi / a representative of the Islamic Waqf of today see as such a compromise?
What would you tell them?
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