The majority of Palestinians are Sunni Muslims. A steady Islamization has been going on since the spread of Islam reached the area in the 6th century. The Christians are divided into many different communities. The Palestinian Constitution states that Islam is an official religion but also that other faiths should be respected.
The place most important to Muslims is the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which is associated with a story that Prophet Muhammad made an ascension. Next to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the site is the third holiest in Islam. In Arabic, Jerusalem is called al-Quds, “the Holy One.” In the early history of Islam, it was against Jerusalem the Muslims turned in prayer; later the prayer direction was changed, towards Mecca.
The call to prayer from the minarets begins with the lines: “God is greater (Allahu akbar). I testify that no god exists except God. I testify that Muhammad is God’s messenger. Come to prayer! ” The Friday prayer at al-Aqsa is well attended. A devout Muslim prays five times a day, every day, but it is at the congregational prayer that takes place at lunchtime on Friday, when the sermon is held, that most prayers are gathered. In times of turmoil, Israeli authorities are preventing young men from participating in the prayer at al-Aqsa.
Islamic timescale follows the lunar year which is shorter than the solar year. Holidays occur eleven days earlier each year, compared to Christian times. Therefore, seen over a longer period, for example, the fixed month of Ramadan can be celebrated during any season.
Jordan’s King Abdullah, who claims to be related to Prophet Muhammad, is the supreme protector of the holy places. For the administration itself stands a foundation, waqf, which corresponds to the parish administration of a church.
There are nearly 55,000 Christians in Palestine, according to the Lutheran, ecumenically-oriented institute Diyar in Bethlehem. Among them, many different churches are represented. The Greek Orthodox Church is the largest, followed by the two largest in the Catholic tradition: the Latin Church (Roman Catholics) and the Melchitic Church (Greek Catholic). Protestant churches have less than 2,000 members each. The Armenian Church is believed to have around 3,000 followers. Only a few percent of Christians live in the Gaza Strip.
In Israel, there are more Christian Palestinians, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the population, than in the Palestinian territories. In Palestine, the proportion of Christians in the population decreases as a result of lower birth rates and because many choose to emigrate, and today they constitute only one or a few percent of the population. In recent years, the contradictions between the Gaza-based Islamist movement Hamas and the secular organization Fatah, which dominate the Palestinian Authority with its seat on the West Bank, have put Gaza Christians in a vulnerable position.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem are the most well-known Christian sites, traditionally associated with the birth of Jesus and the crucifixion and resurrection respectively. Large crowds, not least foreign pilgrims, visit the churches especially at Christmas and Easter. Six different communities participate in the administration of the Grave Church, not always in the best of their minds. The keys to the church have been entrusted with Muslim Jerusalem emperors for centuries, but at the turn of the millennium in 2000, a complementary gate was opened that the churches have taken care of themselves.
There are several monasteries in Palestine, a state located in Asia continent defined by a2zgov. The Franciscans have been in place since the 1300s. Monks and nuns, both Catholic and Orthodox, are, like priests, a common feature of street sweeping.
The Old City of Jerusalem also has old Jewish Quarters. There are religious seminars, yeshivas, among others. The Western Wall (the Wailing Wall), where Jews gather for prayer, is perceived as a remnant of Jewish temples in ancient times. Archaeological finds indicate that al-Aqsa Mosque and the architecturally more striking Rock Cathedral are built on the remains of Jewish temples. It forms the basis for Jewish claims to Jerusalem in general and the Temple site in particular.
The Israeli occupation in 1967 gave Jews access to the Western Wall, but the Israeli government banned Jewish prayer upstairs in the mosque area, as it risks raising concerns among Palestinians and other Muslims.
Jerusalem has a strong appeal to people who profess the three major monotheistic religions, ie Judaism, Christianity or Islam. In 1969, a bewildered Australian Christian tried to burn down the al-Aqsa Mosque, and it appears that religious sentiments are so strongly impacted on visitors that they are taken care of by the medical system. It is a phenomenon that is particularly telling at Easter, when some pilgrims identify with the Messiah so strongly that they feel selected for tasks with higher religious purposes.
From Nås in the Dalarna, a group of revival Christians emigrated to Jerusalem in 1896 and remained in the city. They lived with American Christians on the American Colony property in East Jerusalem, which was later converted into a hotel. An image archive has been preserved from the life of the nasal expatriates in Jerusalem. The emigration of the peoples from Sweden inspired the author Selma Lagerlöf to the book Jerusalem.
The Swedish Church has a permanent representation, the Swedish Theological Institute, with premises in West Jerusalem, just northwest of the Old City.
The landscape between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean – both Palestinian and Israeli – is full of places linked to biblical events and people. Many of these figures are revered in all three religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, although the stories may differ in detail. Groups that want to visit pilgrimage sites in sensitive areas sometimes receive police protection. Such journeys have not ceased completely despite recent frosty relations between Palestinian and Israeli rule.