During the 7th century AD when Islam was rising in Arab, Muslims set out on a series of conquests led by Prophet Muhammad SAW. Born in Makkah, Muhammad SAW delivered the message of one God and unity, spiritual and social nourishment that was much needed in that western part of the Arabian Peninsula. In 622, he succeeded in his mission of establishing a strong foothold for Muslims in Medina. The weaknesses by which the Sasanian and Byzantine empires saw a fall were confronted by Muslims through the popular message that they received and it led to a series of some immensely successful conquests. In twenty years time after Muhammad SAW’s death in 632 AD, a territory spanning from Egypt to Iran was under the rule of Muslim Arabs.
It was during this period that Muslim Arab armies entered Palestine and took over the land, capturing Jerusalem in 638 AD. Arabs ruled for 1300 years over ‘Filastin’ – the Arab rendition of the name Palestine – which was originally derived from the Roman term Palaestina. Muhammad SAW originally asked his followers to pray facing Jerusalem but later designated Makkah to be the place following the “divine command.”
In 715 AD, Prophet Muhammad SAW made a journey to Heaven from the Dome of Rock, the site built by Caliph Abd al-Malik in 687 AD. Muslims all over the world could now associate with the place even more and al-Aqsa Mosque was built on the same site. Based on this, Jerusalem became the third most sacred city for Muslims after Makkah and Medina. Dropping the Roman name, it was given a Muslim name ‘Bait al-Muqaddas’ in line with al-Bait al-Haram in Makkah.
Muslims consider all the Christian and Jewish prophets their own as well and believe in their holy scriptures. In fact, the Muslim legacy takes some basic portions from the Christian and Jewish legacies. Muslims provided Jews and Christians with the most peaceful and secure period where all had the right to practice their religion and live freely unlike under the Crusaders rule.
The thirteen century rule of Muslims in Palestine was punctured for a period of 103 years alone where Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders. The war, where all non-Christian population was wiped out brutally from the land, changed the outlook of Muslims towards the western world. Jerusalem as recovered from the clutches of Crusaders in 1187 by Saladdin, a remarkable Muslim leader, whose success was written down in the pages of history as phenomenal.
The Israeli occupation of Palestine going on since 1967 is viewed by Muslims and Palestinians as equal to the Crusader inquisition and they hold a hope in their hearts to have another Saladdin free them from these modern Crusaders.