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Healing Jerusalem: Find Inclusivity in Exclusivity through Rationality


There is a hill in the desert where the eyes of the world never sleep. Even if the world tries, the hill keeps the world awake. What is so special about this small hill in the middle of nowhere; that caused the blood of 1000 generations to wash its sands over and over again? The small hill called Moriah is the epicenter of what makes us human. Of course, materialistically; it is no different to the millions of hills in the world. Yet spiritually; it is everything. This hill represents humanity, our complexities. 


Today, the Jewish people have suffered. Traumatic memories from the Holocaust, the pogroms, the persecutions, made the Jewish people absolutely resolute to find a safe haven through the Jewish State of Israel. Golda Meir, in her autobiography, told stories of pogroms, evil men who would go to Jewish Ghettos and kill the Jews with zero consequences, while the government just watched. Israel represents a fighting chance for the Jewish people, that they can be free. However, some argued, “how can we be free if we could not practice our faith?” Moriah, now known as the Temple Mount (הַר הַבַּיִת), is the core aspect of the Jewish faith. All sins need to be cleansed through ritual sacrifice in the Temple. All sins. For those alive and those who have passed. The Jewish people, thousands of years on, still believed the prophecies of the Torah. The Messiah will come, He who will reclaim Moriah, build the Third Temple and restore their  relationship to God. Imagine that your ancestors could not reconcile with God because their sins are yet to be redeemed. Their fate rests on your shoulders, but what could you do? The Temple could not be built, the Muslims have Moriah. 


Today, the Muslims have suffered. The sands of Arabia made the Muslims understand the world is a harsh place, and that there surely is something out there worth fighting for. The Prophet Muhammad shows the way. He who has risen up to the heavens and understood the will of God. Such an incredible moment, a night where the heavens kissed the earth. The Muslims saw the grounds as holy and for a thousand of years, they revered and maintained Moriah, calling it Al-Aqsa (بيت المقدس). One day, the Jews came and kicked the Muslims out in a war. Jerusalem used to be British, now it is Jewish. What a catastrophe! A nakba (النكبة). Suddenly, the Muslims are reminded of the Hadith (حديث). Some will say, “The Dajjal (ٱلْمَسِيحُ ٱلدَّجَّالُ) has appeared, the ultimate test in Islam. The end times have come near. Look at the moral decline of the world. The Dajjal will destroy Al-Aqsa and we have to destroy them before they do.” Imagine seeing what you own taken, your children killed and all while the world just watched the oppressors take more and more. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders, what can you do?  We have to fight, even if it is a losing one.


Understanding the concept of religious freedom is to understand that two religions could be mutually exclusive in their teachings, but could co-exist in interfaith harmony. Both sides have a good reason to believe what they believe in and instead of using subjective force to impose one will over the other,  religious freedom returns the idea of faith into the hands of the individual and how the individual could choose and practice without fear. As seen from the story above, religious freedom is fragile and in a world of intertwining colors, one could imagine whether we can find inclusivity in exclusivity, through rationality. Here are some thoughts:


Having interfaith dialogue and actively learning about other religions in a rational manner leads to tolerance (Singh, 2020). One could argue that education in social media plays a huge role in bringing the world together, but some studies from the Pew Research Center (2020) argues that social media is driving polarization. Therefore, a new breed of online influencers could be trained to espouse rationality and pluralism. 


The traditional education sector could be a source of solution but it requires reform. By implementing introduction classes on world religions and interfaith discussions, one could understand and be tolerant of the traditions of others. This idea is not entirely without precedent. The roots of the modern secular educational system lies in their spiritualist roots. The understanding that wisdom and knowledge takes more precedence to subjectivity allows for respectful discussion which played a key role in the golden age of the Islam (KhanAcademy, 2020). The core tenet of all three Abrahamic Religions lies in faith and accepting God’s will. Therefore, it is perhaps not our place to decide when God decides to fulfill which prophecies. This solution can be implemented in a diverse pluralist country with a high degree of tolerance or objective culture, such as Indonesia and the United States, respectively. 


I would like to end this essay with a little reflection. We return to the quiet starry nights of the Middle East. Before the world is populated, before the lights and the cities. When Abraham saw his two sons; Isaac and Ishmael, playing as a child, could he imagine that the descendants of his two sons would become mortal enemies? Just like what a Hezbollah fighter-turned Christian missionary, Afshin Javid said, “We can only pray that the sons of Ishak and Ismail remember that they were once and still are, brothers.


Bibliography


Mier, G. (2022). My Life



Michael Dimock and Richard Wike, “America is exceptional in the nature of its political divide,” NY Times, November 13, 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/11/13/america-is-exceptional-in-the-nature-of-its-political-divide/.


Singh (2020). Interfaith dialogue from a Sikh perspective. PhilArchive. Retrieved from https://philarchive.org/archive/SINIDA-3


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