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3 Tutorials that teach Holy Places
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Holy Places

Holy Places

Author: Ted Fairchild
Description:

This lesson will discuss the importance of places and spaces seen as holy by a variety of religious traditions.

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Tutorial

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Hello and welcome. Today we're going to be talking mostly about the monotheistic religions and some of the holy places that are associated with them. But to get started, let's look briefly at Hinduism and we'll also be introduced to one of the first key terms. Every religion has a region where it originated. Hinduism emerged in the area that is now called India. And for Hindus, a city of great importance in India is called Benares, the city of Shiva, it's called, one of the great Hindu gods. Many people travel to Benares on pilgrimage as an act of devotion to show their love for Shiva and other gods. The city has over 2,000 temples and often people travel from one pilgrimage site to another for weeks or months, visiting different holy places, cities, buildings, and natural structures.

Jerusalem could be considered the Most Holy Place in the world. All three monotheistic religions have historical claims to the city and countless numbers enter Jerusalem on pilgrimage every year. Temple Mount, also called Mount Moriah, is usually considered the most holy site for Jews and equally significant for Christians. And for many Muslims, it also holds special power in the tradition of Islam.

For followers of Judaism, it is believed to be the site where God gathered the dust to create Adam, the first man. It is the place where Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his first son, Isaac. And it was also the location of the first and the second Jewish temples. Many Christians understand Temple Mount to be the place where Jesus spent much of his ministry. Many pilgrims travel to another holy site nearby called Calvary, also called Golgotha. Followers believe that this was the location of Jesus' condemnation, crucifixion, and burial.

Many pilgrims come to travel this "way of sorrows," it's called. The pilgrim undergoes a symbolic identification and coming to terms with the suffering of Christ. These are also commonly called the stations of the cross. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built in the first centuries after Christ's death and has gone through many transformations. What hasn't changed is the belief that this was, indeed, the site of Jesus' last hours, his burial, and Resurrection. And the Church has always remained on the ground of these holy events.

As we said earlier, Jerusalem has significance for Muslims as well. Because their prophet Muhammad is believed to have traveled there before returning to Mecca, his birthplace and the site of his revelation. For Muslims, it is the most holy city. It is here where the first mosque, the Kaaba or the "noble cube," is believed to have been constructed around 2,100 before the common era by Abraham, patriarch of the three monotheistic faiths and his second son, Ishmael.

During the Hajj, six million pilgrims come to Mecca to Mecca to circumnavigate the Kaaba. The circling of the Kaaba represents the unity of believers and their collective faith in one god. Turning seven times counter clockwise in worship represents this commitment. Performing the pilgrimage of the Hajj is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. If one can afford it and is physically able, one must perform the Hajj before dying.

So let's review. We started out talking about Hinduism and the city of Shiva-- Benares-- as a place where people travel on pilgrimage to show their love and devotion to the Hindu god, Shiva. And then we looked at Jerusalem, noting that it has great significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. For Jews, it represents the spot where God gathered the dust to create the first man, Adam, and it also is the site of the first and second temples. For Christians, it represents the place where Jesus spent much of his youth and ministry and also where he, nearby in Golgotha, where he was condemned to death, crucified, and resurrected. We looked at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a church that was built on top of these areas where the stations of the cross occurred.

We also looked at Islam and the city of Mecca as a holy place because it is the birthplace of Muhammad, the prophet in the Islamic faith and it is also the place where the Kaaba was constructed in approximately 2,100 before the common era. Many people travel on pilgrimage and circumnavigate the Kaaba to show their devotion to Allah and to pay respect to the one god. So that's it for holy places for now. Do continue your journey and we'll see you soon.

Notes on "Holy Places"

Terms to Know

Mecca

A holy city for Muslims; the birthplace of prophet Mohammed and the site where the Koran was revealed. Muslims make pilgrimage, or Hajj, to this city.

Hajj

A pilgrimage, or journey, to the holy city of Mecca taken by Muslims to visit the Kaaba, a sacred shrine.

Pilgrimage

A sacred journey that may be completed physically, seeking out a particular place, such as a shrine or important geographical location, or it could be a metaphorical journey.

Temple Mount

A significant place in Jerusalem for Jews.

Kaaba

In Islam, the most sacred house of worship, or mosque, located in Mecca.

Images:

•(Pierre Dmitrienko, 1954, "Golgotha", oil on canvas, 97x130cm) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dmitrienko-Golgotha-1954-97X130.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Temple_mount.JPG

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1581_Bunting_clover_leaf_map.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jesus_in_Golgotha_by_Theophanes_the_Cretan.jpg

http://wikitravel.org/upload/en/0/06/Via_Dolorosa_Route.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Domes_of_the_Church_of_the_Holy_Sepulchre.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Golgotha_cross-section.svg

•The Kaaba; Author: Al-Fassam (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic) http://www.asiaexplorers.com/saudi-arabia/kaaba.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kaaba_mirror_edit_jj.jpg

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Kaaba

    In Islam, the most sacred house of worship, or mosque, located in Mecca.

  • Temple Mount

    A significant place in Jerusalem for Jews.

  • Pilgrimage

    A sacred journey that may be completed physically, seeking out a particular place, such as a shrine or important geographical location, or it could be a metaphorical journey.

  • Hajj

    A pilgrimage, or journey, to the holy city of Mecca taken by Muslims to visit the Kaaba, a sacred shrine.

  • Mecca

    A holy city for Muslims; the birthplace of prophet Mohammed and the site where the Koran was revealed. Muslims make pilgrimage, or Hajj, to this city.