This might hurt. But once it's over, we'll all feel better.
Jerusalem, the blessed city, the witness to heaven's miracles, the center of faith, hope and despair, is not just important to Jews and Christians.
It is significant to Muslims as well.
Muslims just celebrated the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey and Ascension from Mecca to Jerusalem to heaven on June 17, which this year was the 27th day of the Islamic lunar calendar month, Rajab.
You almost don't want to believe it. I mean, how could you go from Mecca in Saudi Arabia, to Jerusalem to the seventh heaven and back to Mecca in one night?
But like the miraculous crossing of the sea by Moses and the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary, this story was also one of the first I learned about as a child.
The prophet had just lost his most beloved wife, Khadija, and his uncle, Abu Talib, who raised him and protected him, and had been enduring the cruelty and physical attacks of those who didn't believe him when God took him on the journey of the Isra and Mi'raj.
He led a prayer with the prophets of Islam, where the Dome of the Rock mosque, inside Haram al Sharif (or the Noble Sanctuary) in the Old City, now stands. Jerusalem is repeatedly referred to in the Koran as the sacred and blessed land. It is also the direction in which early Muslims used to pray.
That changed later when Muslims were instructed to pray toward Mecca, the same direction we believe Abraham used to pray.
After leading the prayer in Jerusalem during the Night Journey and Ascension, the prophet ascended from that point to heaven and came back with instructions for Muslims to pray five times a day. He couldn't have gotten to heaven from anywhere else.
With him at almost every step of the way was the angel Gabriel.
In the first heaven, the prophet met Adam.
In the second, he met Jesus and John the Baptist.
In the third, he met Joseph
In the fourth, he met Idris (Enoch).
In the fifth, he saw Aaron.
In the sixth, he saw Moses.
And in the seventh, he met our patriarch, Abraham.
The prophet was welcomed by Adam, Jesus, John the Baptist, Joseph, Idris, Aaron and Moses as their brother, and by Abraham as his son, and a deputy of God. (It's right about here in the story when I get goosebumps all over.)
This is where it becomes clear that our religion's root doesn't start with Muhammad, but begins with Adam and goes on from Abraham to Jesus and beyond. Dishonoring or disrespecting one of them is like disrespecting all of them.