Al Aqsa Mosque in the Sunnah
Dr. Sharif Abu Shammala
The Sunnah has an abundance of hadithsandeventsthatindicatethegreat sanctity of Masjid Al-Aqsa anditssignificanceandholiness, as well as theProphet’s (pbuh) and his companions’ attentiontothe Masjid. Nothing is moreindicative of thisthantheirprayerstowards Masjid al-Aqsa, taking it as their Qibla throughouttheMeccanperiodandnearlyoneand a halfyear in theMedinanperiod.
Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra) narratedthat “TheProphet (pbuh) prayedwhile he was in Meccatowards Bait al-Maqdis, and Kaaba in between his hands, and [he didthesame] forsixteenmonthsaftertheyemigratedto Medina, then he changed his directionto Kaaba."
In anotherhadith, Abu Dzar (ra) reportedthat he askedtheProphet (pbuh), "O Messenger of Allah, which Masjid wasfirstbuilt on earth"? TheProphet (pbuh) replied, "Masjid Al-Haram". Abu Dzar (ra) againasked, "Whichwasnext"? TheProphet (pbuh) said, "Masjid Al-Aqsa". Abu Dzar (ra) furtherasked, "How longwastheperiodbetweenthebuilding of thetwoMasjids"? TheProphet (pbuh) said, "Fortyyears".
Thishadithsignifiesthemanifestation of Masjid Al-Aqsa’sgreatholiness, which has beenassociatedwith Masjid Al-Haram to be thesecond Masjid on earthwhere Allah is worshiped. As such, the Masjid has thehonor of theprecedenceandtheassociationwith Masjid Al-Haram.
Furthermore, theProphet (pbuh) mentionedthat Al-Aqsa mosque is one of thethreemosqueswhich is specificallyprescribedthehardship of traveltopray in, in search of theirblessingsand a greatreward. He (pbuh) said “For threeMasjids a specialjourneymay be undertaken: The Masjid Al-Haram, my Masjid and Masjid Al-Aqsa.”
Whenwe talk aboutthe Isra andMi’rajjourney it is inevitabletomention Al-Aqsa mosqueand how theyareassociated. The Sunnah has a plenty of hadithsandeventsthatdescribethejourney in detailssuch as; traveling on a steedknown as (al-Buraq) betweenthetwomasjids in a verybrief time, thegathering of alltheprophets (peace be uponthem) there, thentheProphet (pbuh) ledthem in a congregationalprayer. Afterthat, theprophet ascended from al-Aqsa totheheaven, where he (pbuh) receivedthe commandment fortheMuslimstopray. Prophet (pbuh) described (al-Buraq) as “a longwhitebeast, slightlybiggerthan a donkey but smallerthan a mule… [W]hentrotting, [it] wouldplaceitsnext step as far as itseyesightcouldsee. I mounted it until I reachedBeit al-Maqdis [al-Aqsa]. There I tied it uptothesame ring usedbytheProphets, then I enteredthemosqueandprayedtwoprayers. Afterthat, Gabrielbrought me a vessel of wineand a vessel of milk; I chosethelatter. Gabrielsaid, “Youhavechosenyournaturaldisposition, thenweascendedtotheheaven.”  -It’s a partfrom a longhadith narrated in Sahih Muslim.
Thejourney of Isra andMi’rajhaveassertedtheassociationbetween Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid Al-Aqsa andthesignificance of Al-Aqsa. However, prophet (pbuh) said in thehadithnarratedbyUmmSalamah -theProphet’s (pbuh) wife- said, “I heardthemessenger of Allah (pbuh) says,” “Ifanyoneputs on ihram for hajj or umrah from Al-Aqsa mosqueto Masjid Al-Haram, his formerandlattersinswill be forgiven”.
Ihram means: Reciting Talbiah orputting on Ihram wearingtheprescribed attire, thepilgrimraises his voicewhilereciting Talbiah.
Al-Aqsa mosque is one of fourmosquesthat Dajjal willneverenter as mentioned in the authentic hadith. Thisclearlyindicatesthesignificanceandholiness of thesefourmosques. Prophet (pbuh) saidabout Dajjal, “He’llgoverntheearthfor 40 mornings [days], his powerwillreacheverywhere but he will not enterfourmosques; Ka’aba, Al-Nabawimosque, Al-Aqsa mosqueand At-Tur (Mount Sinai)”
In addition, thereare a multitude of hadithsthat set forththevirtue of praying in Masjid Al-Aqsa. Abdullah bin Umar (ra) narratedthattheprophet (pbuh) said: "When Solomon the son of David [peace be uponthem] finishedbuilding Bait al-Maqdis [Al-Aqsa Mousque], he asked Allah theAlmightyforthreethings: togivehim a rulethataccordswithGod’swill, a kingdomneverto be attainedbyanyoneafterhim, andwhomevercomestothis Masjid onlytoprayshall be removedfrom his sins as theday he wasborn." Thentheprophet (pbuh) said “He wasgiventwo of thesethings, and I hopethat he has beengiventhethird”
In thisparticularhadith, there is an implicationtowardthesignificance of Masjid Al-Aqsa andthevirtue of prayingthere. ByAllah’spermissiontheProphet’s (pbuh) hopeshall be fulfilled, similarto how Allah had answeredtheinvocations of Solomon (pbuh).
One of themanyblessings of Masjid Al-Aqsa is thedoubling of therewardsforprayersestablishedthere. Abu Darda’ (ra) narratedthattheProphet (pbuh) said, "A prayer in Masjid Al-Haram is worth 100,000 prayersoffered in otherplaces, and a prayer in my Masjid (in Medina) is worth 1,000 timesand a prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque is worth 500 timesmorethananywhere else".
In anotherhadith, it wasmentionedthat a prayer in Masjid Al-Aqsa equalsto a quarter of a prayer in Masjid Al-Nabawi. Abu Dzar (ra) narrated:“He askedtheProphet (pbuh) pertainingwhichprayer is better; in Bait al-Maqdis [al-Aqsa] or in Masjid Al-Nabawi?” TheProphet (pbuh) said: “Oneprayer in my Masjid is betterthanfourprayersofferedthere (in al-Aqsa), andwhat a goodplace of prayer it is. Soontherewillcome a time when, if a man has a piece of landthe size of a horse’sropefromwhich he can seeBait al-Maqdis, thatwill be betterforhimthantheentireworld.”
Thishadithindicatesthattherewardforoneprayer in Masjid Al-Aqsa amountstotwohundredandfiftyprayers, because a prayer in Masjid al-Nabawi is equalto a thousandprayersanywhere else otherthan in Masjid Al-Haram. This is knownfromthehadithwhentheProphet (pbuh) said, “a prayer in mymosque is worth a thousandprayersmorerewardthanelsewhere, except in Masjid Al-Haram".
It is alsoworthnotingthattheProphet (pbuh) paidtributeto Al-Aqsa mosquebysaying, “what a goodplace of prayer it is”, andthenrevealingthatBait al-Maqdiswill be theland of gathering on theDay of Resurrection. Fromthishadithandnumerousothers, we can deducetheimportanceandsignificance of Al-Aqsa mosqueanditssituation, such as:
- Thecompanions’ [may Allah blessthem] interestandconcern in askingabout Masjid Al-Aqsa andtherewardforprayingthere.
- Themagnitude of theresponsibilityentrusteduponMuslimspertaining Masjid Al-Aqsa.
- Thespecialsignificance of Masjid Al-Aqsa in thehearts of Muslimsanditsgreatstature in the Sharia.
- Theissue of Masjid Al-Aqsa willremainalive in thehearts of Muslimswhoareworkingforthe Masjid.
- Thecurrentplight of Al-Aqsa, whichwillgetmoredifficulttothepointthatMuslimswill not be abletoresidearoundthe Masjid.
Note: therewereothernarrativesthatamountedthereward of praying in al-Aqsa to 50,000 prayers, but it’sincorrectaccordingtoscholars of hadith.