Dr. Qanta Ahmed
Leaving the Dome of the Rock, my guide, Ibrahim Ghazzawi, and I, an American Muslim tourist, walked south to the Al Aqsa Mosque. Inside, we approached a vestibule and were confronted with enormous columns. Their diameter deeper than the height of a tall man, they were disproportionate to the low roof and looked much older. They didn't belong to Al Aqsa.
Ibrahim explained: "This was the entrance to the Second Jewish Temple that was here before Al Aqsa. You can see it is absolutely distinct." And without doubt, it was easy to see, this had been a place of worship for Jews centuries before. Somehow, these massive pillars had escaped even the Romans' determined destruction of the Second Temple.
Before this place was made ours, it had clearly been theirs. We were on borrowed ground.
The writer is Associate Professor of Medicine at State University of New York (Stony Brook).