An excellent historical review, published by Daniel Pipes in 2001, has even more relevance today. The following are very brief excerpts only. Follow the link to the full review.
...An historical survey shows that the stature of the city, and the emotions surrounding it, inevitably rises for Muslims when Jerusalem has political significance. Conversely, when the utility of Jerusalem expires, so does its status and the passions about it. This pattern first emerged during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century. Since then, it has been repeated on five occasions:
- in the late seventh century,
- in the twelfth-century Countercrusade,
- in the thirteenth-century Crusades,
- during the era of British rule (1917-48), and
- since Israel took the city in 1967.
Politics, not religious sensibility, has fueled the Muslim attachment to Jerusalem for nearly fourteen centuries; what the historian Bernard Wasserstein has written about the growth of Muslim feeling in the course of the Countercrusade applies through the centuries:
"often in the history of Jerusalem, heightened religious fervour may be explained in large part by political necessity."
This pattern has three main implications.
First, Jerusalem will never be more than a secondary city for Muslims;
"belief in the sanctity of Jerusalem ... cannot be said to have been widely diffused nor deeply rooted in Islam."
Second, the Muslim interest lies not so much in controlling Jerusalem as it does in denying control over the city to anyone else.
Third, the Islamic connection to the city is weaker than the Jewish one because it arises as much from transitory and mundane considerations as from the immutable claims of faith.