After promising an American Jewish group that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel, Barack Obama told another group that the future of Jerusalem should be negotiated with Palestinians. Since Jerusalem is the third most holy city in Islam (after Mecca and Medina) it might be helpful to know why Jerusalem is so holy to Palestinian Muslims.
The following citations come from The Life of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq. This is the very earliest biography of Muhammad in existence, written by a devout Muslim.
Ibn Ishaq says that according to Muhammad, Muhammad was sleeping in a mosque one night when “Gabriel came and stirred me with his foot” (182). Muhammad said that Gabriel then:
“brought me out to the door of the mosque and there was a white animal, half mule, half donkey, with wings on its sides with which it propelled its feet, putting down each forefoot at the limit of its sight and he mounted me on it (182).
They then went to Jerusalem and there Muhammad “found Abraham the friend of God, Moses, and Jesus assembled with a company of the prophets, and he prayed with them.” Muhammad then returned to Mecca, a roughly 1,500 mile round trip, all in one night.
Although Muhammad claimed to be in a mosque when Gabriel came with his winged half-mule, a woman named Umm Hani (not one of his wives) told a different story. She said that Muhammad
“went on no night journey except while he was in my house. He slept that night in my house. He prayed the final night prayer, then he slept and we slept” (184).
The next morning Muhammad told her how he had gone to Jerusalem overnight. She begged him not to tell anyone else because she knew they would mock him. When he refused to listen, she sent her black slave-girl to follow Muhammad to hear what he was saying.
When Muhammad told the people of his trip to Jerusalem, he was apparently saying that it was something that really happened and not just a vision, because many of the people said, “By God, this is a plain absurdity” (182). In fact, they considered the story so absurd that “Many Muslims gave up their faith” (183).
Some of them went to Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s closest associate, and asked what he thought of Muhammad now. Abu Bakr said, “If he says to then it is true” (183). One of Muhammad’s wives, A’isha, said that Muhammad’s “body remained where it was but God removed his spirit by night” (183).
So there you have it. That is the Muslim claim on Jerusalem as their third most holy city. So although the Jews had already lived in Jerusalem for a thousand years before Jesus was even born (And Jews were still living there 600 years later in the time of Muhammad),