There has been a lot of talk about Jerusalem in recent days, following President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as the true capital of Israel. This decision has reignited the debate over which major religious faith lays a true claim to the ancient city — Jews, Christians or Muslims.
Obviously those of the Judaic faith hold the longest claim to the city, followed by Christians and then Muslims. Nonetheless, many modern-day Muslims lay claim to the entirety of the city and deny any Jewish or Christian ties to the important holy sites in the area, or their own Islamic faith for that matter.
Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch has argued that the Islamic faith did not arise entirely on its own as a separate entity, but instead began as a sort of amalgamation of the various religions prominent in the Middle East in the 7th and 8th centuries — namely Judaism and Christianity — only assembling their own distinct doctrine later.
A recent archaeological find in Israel may lend some credence to that theory, or at least point to the fact that Muslims and Jews weren’t always the bitter enemies they would seem to be today.
The Jerusalem Post reported on the discovery during an archaeological dig of ancient Islamic coins dated back some 1,300 years, shortly after the dawn of the Islamic faith during the Umayyad dynasty. The coins prominently feature a rather Judaic symbol — the menorah.
“The Jewish symbol which the Muslims were using was the menorah (the gold seven-branch candelabra from the Temple), which appeared on several coins and other early Islamic artifacts,” explained archaeologist Assaf Avraham of Bar-Ilan University, who teamed up with Peretz Reuven of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
“The menorah coins bear the Shahada Arabic inscription on one side: ‘There is no god but Allah,’ while the menorah appears in the center of the coin,” he continued. “The other side bears the inscription: ‘Muhammad (is the) messenger of God.’”
The archaeological duo also discovered early Islamic clay pottery and lead vessels which also bore images of the menorah.
“They are dated to the early days of the Islamic caliphate, and were in use by Muslims,” Avraham stated, and added, “We wish that many Muslims will be exposed to this knowledge, which is part of their own religious and cultural heritage.”
According to The Times of Israel, the pair of archaeologists believe these and other recent discoveries are evidence of a “dialogue” and peaceful co-existence of the Judaic and Islamic faiths in the early days of Islam — one they hope could be resumed today or in the near future.
“At the beginning of the Muslim rule, not only didn’t they object to the Jews, but they saw themselves as the continuation of the Jewish people,” Avraham explained.
As proof of his assertion that Muslims initially viewed themselves as a continuation of the Jewish people, Avraham pointed to an inscription that had been found in a 1,000-year-old mosque in the village of Nuba, which referenced the Temple of Solomon — now known as the Dome of the Rock — and spoke of the need to rebuild it.
To be sure, there are detractors who have dismissed or downplayed the suggestion that Jews and Muslims got along or at least tolerated each other in the early days, but some have admitted that a bit of tolerance was possible in some areas, particularly on the periphery of the growing Islamic caliphate.
That said, ideally these new archaeological discoveries revealing even a brief moment in history when Jews and Muslims co-existed peacefully will give rise to a new era in which peaceful co-existence and “dialogue” can resume — a sentiment President Trump touched on during his historic speech recognizing Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel.
“Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Trump stated. “And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.”
“So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect,” he added. “Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities.”