Sunday, September 18, 2005

The "Islamic Republic News Agency", based in Iran, quotes from Iranian newspapers about various topics. One recent article quotes a "Kayhan International" editorial with the usual blather about Zionists usurping etenal Muslim lands and how disgusting it is for any Muslim to even think of having cordial relationships with "the Zionist entity."

But then comes this interesting paragraph, referring to Jerusalem:
Press blast Sharon for irrelevant words at UN on Beit ul-Moqaddas - Irna: "The daily concluded its editorial by stressing that 'It is an irony that those heads of Muslim states who shamelessly shook hands at the UN with the head of the usurper Zionist entity that lacks any legitimacy to exist on the map of the Middle East, felt no concern of either the Palestinian cause or the issue of Bait ul-Moqaddas which houses Islam's first qibla of Muslims, and which Sharon insolently referred to as the 'Temple Mount.''

Anyone witrh a passing knowledge of Hebrew would see an amazing resemblance between the word "Bait ul-Moqaddas" and the Hebrew words "Beit ha-Mikdash", which use the exact same Semitic root letters. The Beit ha-Mikdash is the Jewish Holy Temple, and the term pre-dates Islam by many centuries. Clearly Islam took the term, translated it (or possibly transliterated it) to Arabic, and now refers to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount by a variant of the Hebrew term.

Which means that in the early history of Islam (and, in fact, much more recently), Muslims freely admitted that the Jewish Holy Temple stood at the site of the Temple Mount, even though they absurdly try so hard nowadays to deny any Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

The term seems only to be used by Iranians; Arabs all seem to refer to the Temple Mount as "Haram al-Sharif" and to Jerusalem usually as Jerusalem, sometimes as Al-Quds (notice also the similarity of roots between Quds and the Hebrew Qodesh, "Holy." Jerusalem was known in antiquity as "Ir haQodesh", the Holy City, by Jews.)

It would be fun to ask an Iranian the etymology of "Bait ul-Moqaddas" and watch them try to spin it as an original Arabic or Persian term. Yet every time they use it, they are reinforcing the Jewish claim to the city that they try so hard to minimize.

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