Intriguingly, only when non-Muslims are in control of Jerusalem do Muslims seem to remember the city. Otherwise, as history shows, Muslims have never attached real significance to it. They never claimed Jerusalem as the capital of any country or empire. In fact, Muhammad instructed his people not to pray toward Jerusalem, as they had done previously, but to Mecca:
“And We did not make the qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith.” — Quran 2:143, Sahih International.
Certain Quranic verses, moreover, emphasize Jerusalem’s connection to the Jews and contradict its Islamization. The Quran does not promise Muslims to enter or rule Jerusalem. In fact, one of its verses quotes the Prophet Moses instructing the Jews to enter the Holy Land (al-ard al-muqaddesa) that God has given to them — including Jerusalem. This is a verse, however, that the majority of Arabs and Muslims choose to ignore:
“O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah ‘s cause] and [thus] become losers.” — Quran 5:21, Sahih International.