Avi Melamed ~ Inside The Middle East
Al-Quds is the name in Arabic for Jerusalem. The word is taken from the Hebrew word for holy which is kadosh. Al-Quds and means “The Holy.” On Al-Quds Day there are rallies, demonstrations, and programs in which Muslims express their commitment to liberate Al-Quds from Israeli rule.
Mecca and Al-Medina in the Arabian Peninsula are the holiest places for Islam. Al-Quds is the third holiest place for Sunni Muslims (over eighty percent of Muslims are Sunni). Although in Islam, the sacredness of Al-Quds is not comparable to that of Mecca and Al-Medina, Islam describes Al-Quds as “the first to direct prayer and the third to religious sanctity.” Here is a brief explanation of the phrase “First Direction of Prayer.” During the first year of Islam, the first direction Muslims prayed towards was Jerusalem because Prophet Muhammad – the founder of Islam, wanted to win the support of the Jewish tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. But the Jews rejected Muhammad’s offer. When Muslims pray, they face Mecca.