Early Accounts of the Temple of Jerusalem – Sources     HomeSourcesTopicsViews

How Khalif Omar found the Temple Mount,
from the Muthîr al Ghirâm, by Jamâl ad Din Ahmad, 1351 C.E.

The following is taken from PALESTINE UNDER THE MOSLEMS: A DESCRIPTION OF SYRIA AND THE HOLY LAND, FROM A.D. 650 TO 1500, by Guy Le Strange, 1890, pp. 139-42.

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". . . In the following pages the order of the paragraphs in the Muthîr is not kept to, the narrative in my translation being arranged to suit the sequence of events.

’Omar's Conquest (Muthîr, chapter 5.)

"Al Walîd states on the authority of Sa’id ibn ’Abd al ’Azîz, that the letter of the Prophet had come to the Kaisar (Caesar) while he was sojourning at the Holy City. Now at that time there was over the Rock of the Holy City a great dungheap, which completely masked the Mihrâb of David, and which same the Christians had put here in order to offend the Jews, and further, even, the Christian women were wont to throw here their cloths and clouts, so that it was all heaped up therewith. Now, when Caesar had perused the letter of the Prophet, he cried and said: 'O, ye men of Greece, verily ye are the people who shall be slain on this dungheap, because that ye have desecrated the sanctity of this Mosque. And it shall be with you even as it was with the Children of Israel, who were slain for reason of the blood of Yahyâ ibn Zakariyyâ (John the Baptist).' Then the Caesar commanded them to clear the place, and so they began to do; but when the Muslims invaded Syria, only a third part thereof had been cleared. Now, when ’Omar had come to the Holy City and conquered it, and saw how there was a dungheap over the Rock, he regarded it as horrible, and ordered that it should be entirely cleared. And to accomplish this they forced the Nabathaeans of Palestine to labour without pay. On the authority of Jabîr ibn Nafîr, it is related that when ’Omar first exposed the Rock to view by removing the dungheap, he commanded them not to pray there until three showers of heavy rain should have fallen.
       "It is related as coming from Shadâd ibn Aus, who accompanied ’Omar when he entered the noble Sanctuary of the Holy City on the day when Allah caused it to be reduced by capitulation, that ’Omar entered by the Gate of Muhammad, crawling on his hands and knees, he and all those who were with him, until he came up to the Court (of the Sanctuary). There he looked around to right and to left, and, glorifying Allah, said: 'By Allah, verily this — by Him in whose hand is my soul! — must be the Mosque of David, of which the Apostle spake to us, saying, I was conducted thither in the night journey.' Then ’Omar advanced to the fore (or southern) part of the Haram Area, and to the western side thereof, and he said: 'Let us make this the place for the Mosque.'
       "On the authority of Al Walîd ibn Muslim, it is reported as coming from a Shaikh of the sons of Shadâd ibn Aus, who had heard it from his father, who held it of his grandfather, that ’Omar, as soon as he was at leisure from the writing of the Treaty of Capitulation made between him and the people of the Holy City, said to the Patriarch of Jerusalem: 'Conduct us to the Mosque of David.' And the Patriarch agreed thereto. Then ’Omar went forth girt with his sword, and with him four thousand of the Companions who had come to Jerusalem with him, all begirt likewise with their swords, and a crowd of us Arabs, who had come up to the Holy City, followed them, none of us bearing any weapons except our swords. And the Patriarch walked before ’Omar among the Companions, and we all came behind the Khalif. Thus we entered the Holy City. And the Patriarch took us to the Church which goes by the name of the Kumâmah ['the dunghill'; the Anastasis], and said he: 'This is David's Mosque.' And ’Omar looked around and pondered, then he answered the Patriarch: 'Thou liest, for the Apostle described to me the Mosque of David, and by his description this is not it.' Then the Patriarch went on with us to the Church of Sihyûn (Sion), and again he said: 'This is the Mosque of David.' But the Khalif replied to him: 'Thou liest.' So the Patriarch went on with him till he came to the noble Sanctuary of the Holy City, and reached the gate thereof, called (afterwards) the Gate Muhammad. Now the dung which was then all about the noble Sanctuary, had settled on the steps of this gate, so that it even came out into the street in which the gate opened, and it had accumulated so greatly on the steps as almost to reach up to the ceiling of the gateway. The Patriarch said to ’Omar: 'It is impossible to proceed and enter — except crawling on hands and knees.' Said ’Omar: 'Even on hands and knees be it.' So the Patriarch went down on hands and knees, preceding ’Omar, and we all crawled after him, until he had brought us out into the Court of the Noble Sanctuary of the Holy City. Then we arose off our knees, and stood upright. And ’Omar looked around, pondering for a long time. Then said he: 'By Him in whose hands is my soul! — this is the place described to us by the Apostle of Allah.' "

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