The Holy Land is an area roughly located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that also includes the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River. Traditionally, it is synonymous with both the biblical Land of Israel and historical Palestine. The term usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern State of Israel, the Palestinian territories, western Jordan, and parts of southern Lebanon and southwestern Syria. It is considered holy by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Part of the significance of the land stems from the religious significance of Jerusalem, the holiest city to Judaism, the historical region of Jesus’ ministry, and the site of the Isra and Mi’raj event in Islam.
The holiness of the land to Christianity was part of the motivation for the Crusades, as European Christians sought to win back the Holy Land from the Muslims, who had conquered it from the Christian Byzantine Empire.
Many sites in the Holy Land have long been pilgrimage destinations for adherents of the Abrahamic religions, including Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Bahá’ís. Pilgrims visit the Holy Land to touch and see physical manifestations of their faith, confirm their beliefs in the holy context with collective excitation, and connect personally to the Holy Land.
Jews do not commonly refer to the Land of Israel as “Holy Land” . The Tanakh explicitly refers to it as “holy land” in only one passage, in Zechariah 2:16. The holiness of the Land of Israel is generally implied in the Tanakh by the Land being given to the Israelites by God, that is, it is the “promised land”, an integral part of God’s covenant……………………………………………………….
For Christians, the Land of Israel is considered holy because of its association with the birth, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, whom Christians regard as the Savior or Messiah, and because it is the land of his people, the Jews (according to the Bible). Christian books, including editions of the Bible, often had maps of the Holy Land (considered to be Galilee, Samaria, Judea). For instance, the Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae (Travel book through Holy Scripture) of Heinrich Bünting (1545-1606), a German Protestant pastor, featured such a map. His book was very popular, and it provided “the most complete available summary of biblical geography and described the geography of the Holy Land by tracing the travels of major figures from the Old and New testaments.”
In the Qur’an, the term Arabic: الأرض المقدسة (Al-Ard Al-Muqaddasah, English: “Holy Land”) is used in a passage about Musa (Moses) proclaiming to the Children of Israel: “O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.” (Surah 5:21) The Qur’an also refers to the land as being ‘Blessed’.
The exact region referred to as being ‘blessed’ in the Qur’an, in Verses like [21:71],has been interpreted differently by various scholars: ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali likens it to a wide land range including, Syria, and Lebanon, especially the cities of Tyre and Sidon; Az-Zujaj describes it as, “Damascus, Palestine, and a bit of Jordan”; Mu‘adh ibn Jabal as, “the area between al-Arish and the Euphrates”; and Ibn Abbas as, “the land of Jericho”. The overall region of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, which can be called “The Levant” in the English language,is referred to as “Ash-Sham” (Arabic: الـشَّـام) in the Arabic language.
Bahá’ís consider Acre and Haifa sacred as Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, was exiled to the prison of Acre from 1868 and spent his life in its surroundings till his death in 1892. In his writings he set the slope of Mount Carmel to host the Shrine of the Báb which his appointed successor `Abdu’l-Bahá erected in 1909 as a beginning of the terraced gardens there. The Head of the religion after him, Shoghi Effendi, began building other structures and the Universal House of Justice continued the work until the Bahá’í World Centre was brought to its current state as the spiritual and administrative centre of the religion. Its gardens are highly popular places to visit and Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 2012 film The Gardener featured them. The holiest places currently for Bahá’í pilgrimage are the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in Acre and the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.