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Main Jerusalem Timeline > Bayt al-maqdis > Conquest

The Islamic history of Jerusalem begins with the conquest of the city by Caliph Umar in 635 (or 638). Umar had been one of the prophet Muhammad's closest companions and served as his second successor (khalifa) after Abu Bakr.

Umar's conquest of the city, which even the Arabs continued to refer to by its Roman name 'Iliya (i.e., Aelia), is remembered as a relatively peaceful one. The city is not actually conquered but surrenders after negotiations, following a prolonged siege. Muslim rule over the city left the Orthodox Christian community and their buildings intact. Jews and heterodox Christians are subsequently readmitted to the city.

There is no evidence that, at this early point in Muslim history, the city was already identified as the "distant sanctuary" (al masjid al-aqsa) referred to in the story of the Prophet Muhammad's ascent (al miraj).