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    Introduction About Al Aqsa Mosque

    Masjid Al-Aqsa is located in thesouth-eastpart of thewalledcity of al-Quds (which is calledtodaytheoldtown). Al-Aqsa is a name toeverythingsurroundedbythewall of Al-Aqsa andcomprises of allmosques musalla inside such as Al-Qiblimosque (located on thesouthside) andtheDome of theRock (located in theMasjid’scenter) in additiontoabout 200 othersitesandbuildingslocatedwithinitsborders (walls), such as mosques (musallas), buildings, domes, sabils (publicwaterfountains), terraces (Mastabas), corridors, schools, niches, pulpits, minarets, gates, wellsandlibraries.

    Al-Masjid wasbuilt on a highhillcalled Al-Aqsa Mount, andit’scalledby Western sources (Moriah Mount). Themountsharesitseasternandsouthernborderswiththeeasternandsouthernborders of theoldcity of al-Quds, and it occupies an area of approximately 144000 squaremetersandthus Masjid al-Aqsa constitutesaboutthesixth of theoldcity’sarea. It is wellknownthattheboundariesandthearea of al-Masjid haven’tchangedoverthecenturies, anditswallsareformingtheshape of an irregular semi-rectanglewiththefollowinglengths:

    Southernside: 281 m

    Northernside: 310 m

    Easternside: 462 m

    Western side: 491 m

    Remarks on thenaming:

    Masjid al-Aqsa wasmentioned as Beit al-Maqdis in sometraditionaltextsandhadith, such as thehadith of theProphet (peace be uponhim) when he said: “WhenQurayshdisclaimed me, I wenttoHejr [Ismail] and Allah manifestedBeit al-Maqdisfor me, and I startedtellingthemaboutitssignswhile I looked at it.” (Agreedupon) but this name has laterbecome a referencetothewholecity of al-Quds, where al-Aqsa is located, especially in theIslamiceras.

     

     

    Somebookscall Masjid al-Aqsa as Haram al-Sharif (theNobleSanctuary). However, Shariahscholarssee it as a misnomerbecauseit’s not a Haram withtheactualconceptwherehuntingorcuttingtreesareforbidden as in Masjid al-Haram (Mecca’s Haram), and Masjid al-Nabawi (Medina’s Haram).

    Somepeopleusethe name of Masjid Al-Aqsa on al-QibliChapel in thesouthernside of the Masjid, andthis is also a misnomer, because al-Qiblichapel is part of al-Aqsa but it’s not Masjid al-Aqsa itself. Thechapelserves as a main roofedprayerhall. However, thismisnomer is intentionallyandprimarilypropagatedbytheZionistoccupationtodeludetheworldthattheviolationsandincursionsthattakeplace in theyards of Masjid al-Aqsa areoccurring in adjacentareastothe Masjid and not in the Masjid itself, which is aimedtomake it easierfortheoccupationtothenseizepartsandareas of al-Aqsa, andforthat, theoccupationMunicipality of al-Quds has issued a decisionthatdeemedtheyards of Masjid al-Aqsa as “publicsquares,” whichallowstheoccupationtoextenditscontrolover al-Aqsa’syards since it’s a publicpropertylyingwithintheMunicipality’sarea.

    TheZionistoccupationseeksstronglytoblur on the name of Masjid al-Aqsa in manydifferentways. For instance, theoccupationcurrentlyimposesthe name of the “Temple Mount” on the Masjid throughitsmedia, issuedpublicationsandwebsites, and, unfortunately, untilthe moment (19/02/2017) Google Mapshows in its English versionthe name of “Temple Mount” on the of place of the Masjid, andthat’s a deliberatefalsificationthatneedsto be corrected.

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    Al Aqsa Mosque in the Holy Quran

    Dr. Sharif Abu Shammala: CEO of al-Quds Foundation Malaysia

    Al-Aqsa Mosque holds a uniquelevel of sanctity in IslamaftertheTwoHolyMosques; the Masjid al-Haram in MeccaandtheProphet Mosque [Masjid an-Nabawi] in Medina; it is thethirdholiest site andthefirstqiblaforMuslims.

    Al-Aqsa Mosque wasmentioned in theholyQuran in conjunctionwiththeholiest spot on earth, namelythe Grand Mosque; says Allah theAlmighty

    سُبْحٰنَالَّذِيْأَسْرٰىبِعَبْدِهِلَيْلاًمِنَالْـمَسْجِدِالحَرَامِإِلىالْـمَسْجِدِالأقصىالذيبَارَكْنَاحَوْلَهُ (الإسراء:1)

    {Exalted is Hewhotook His Servantbynightfromthe Masjid al-Haram tothe al-Aqsa Mosque, whosesurroundingsWehaveblessed, toshowhim of Oursigns. Indeed, He is theHearing, theSeeing}

    [Al-Isra: 1].

    The verse wasrevealedto mark themiraculousnightjourney of Isra andMi'raj, andtoemphasize on thesignificance of Al-Aqsa Mosque. ItwastheplacethatwelcomedtheProphetMuhammad (pbuh) andthestartingpoint of theAscension of theProphet (pbuh) toheaven. ThentheProphet (pbuh) returnedto Al-Aqsa where he ledotherProphets in prayerbeforereturningtoMecca.

    In the verse mentionedbefore, themosqueanditssurroundingsweredescribed as “blessed”. Theword “blessed” carriesthemeaning of consistencyandtranquillity, alsosustainabilityandcontinuity. Therefore, “blessed” here – as stated in thewords of mufassir[1]– is theevidence of thedivinegoodness in it andthesustainability of thatgoodness.

    Thisimpliesthatthedivinegoodnesswhich Al-Aqsa anditssurroundings in theHoly Land areblessedwith, is toremainuntiltheDay of Resurrection. Thisblessing is manifested in theholiness of thearea, beingcleansed of evil, andfalsehood can never be rooted in.

    Theblessing of Al-Aqsa Mosque is spiritualandincorporeal. It is feltbyallwhohaveprayedthere, caredabout, orworkedfor it. However, theblessing is not contingentonly on one’sphysical presence in themosque. In our time, millions of Palestinianswhoarelivingnear Al-Aqsa, orMuslims in allparts of theworldaredeprivedfromvisitingthemosqueandprayingtherebecause of theIsraelioccupation. Yet manypeoplecouldfeeltheblessingbyworkingandsupportingfor Al-Aqsa causeandprotectingitssanctity.

    ThereareseveralQuranicversesemphasizingtheblessing of thecountriessurrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque. Thespecificmention of themosque in theHolyQuran is theevidencethat it is thecentre of blessingandgoodnessthatencompasses Al-Sham [2] generally, andPalestine in particular. Some of theseversesare:

    In thestory of Ibrahimand Lot [peace be uponthem] says Allah,

    "وَنَجَّيْنَاهُوَلُوطًاإِلَىالْأَرْضِالَّتِيبَارَكْنَافِيهَالِلْعَالَمِينَ  "الأنبياء: 71

    {And Werescuedhimand Lot tothelandwhichWehaveblessedforthewholeuniverse} [Al-Anbiyaa: 71]

    And says Allah,

    "وَلِسُلَيْمَانَالرِّيحَعَاصِفَةًتَجْرِيبِأَمْرِهِإِلَىالْأَرْضِالَّتِيبَارَكْنَافِيهَاۚوَكُنَّابِكُلِّشَيْءٍعَالِمِينَ ) " الأنبياء: 81)

    {And to Solomon (Wesubjected) thewindstronglyraging, runningby his commandtowardsthelandwhichWe had blessed. And of everythingWearetheAll-Knower)} 

    [Al-Anbiyaa: 81]

    And Allah describes it as theHoly Land in thewords of Moses [peace be uponhim] in the verse:

    "يَاقَوْمِادْخُلُواالأَرْضَالمُقَدَّسَةَالَّتِيكَتَبَاللّهُلَكُمْوَلاَتَرْتَدُّواعَلَىأَدْبَارِكُمْفَتَنقَلِبُواخَاسِرِينَ" (المائدة: 21)

    {O mypeople, entertheHoly Land which Allah has assignedtoyouand do not turnback [fromfighting in Allah‘scause] and [thus] becomelosers)}

    [Al-Maidah: 21]

    "وَجَعَلْنَابَيْنَهُمْوَبَيْنَالْقُرَىالَّتِيبَارَكْنَافِيهَاقُرًىظَاهِرَةً" (سبأ: 18)

    {And WeplacedbetweenthemandthecitieswhichWe had blessed [many] visiblecities)} [Saba: 21]

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    The Blessings (Baraka) of Al-Aqsa Mosque

    One can never talk about al-Aqsa Mosque withoutfirstpointingto, andstopping at theconcept “blessed” that Allah alwaysdescribesthemosquewith. Thistermandsome of itsderivativeswererepeated in manyversesthatmentioned al-Aqsa, andPalestine as part of theLevant, in differentcontexts. Of whichwere:

    The verse on thesurvival of Abraham (Ibrahim); (Wedeliveredhimand Lot tothelandwhichWehaveblessedforallnations) [21:71].

    And the verse on what Allah subjectedto Solomon (Solaiman);

    (And to Solomon [Wesubjected] thewind, blowingforcefully, proceedingby his commandtowardthelandwhichWe had blessed. And Weare ever, of allthings, Knowing) [21:81].

    And when Allah toldabouttheblessingthat He bestoweduponthosewhowrongedthemselves, He said;

    (BetweenthemandtheCities on whichWe had pouredourblessings, We had placedCities in prominentpositions, andbetweenthemWe had appointedstages of journey in dueproportion: "Travel therein, secure, bynightandbyday") [34:18].

    And in the verse aboutAllah’sworshiperswhowereoppressed;

    (And Wemade a people, consideredweak, inheritors of lands in botheastandwest, - landswhereonWe sent downOurblessings) [7:137].

    Therefore, what is thenature of thisblessing, whatarethereasonsbehind it, and how is it achieved?

    First, theterm “blessing” indicates "abundanceandgrowth in allgood." Hencewhen Allah Almightysaid: (Exalted is He whotook His Servantbynightfrom al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whosesurroundingsWehaveblessed, toshowhim of Oursigns. Indeed, He is theHearing, theSeeing.) [17:1], al-Aqsa Mosque wasmadethecenter of theblessingandthesource of goodfromwhichtheblessings spread tothecorners of theearth. No blessing is bestoweduponsomeplacewithout al-Aqsa beingpart of it.

    Interpreters of theQuransuggestthatthisblessingreferstotwothings:

    First, a blessing in religion: explainedby how mostprophets (peace be uponthem) emergedfrom it, andpreachedtheircanonsandreligiousteachingsfrom it.

    Second, a blessing in life: bymakingitsland a land of water, fruitsandgoodliving.

    Thus, Allah Almightydescribed al-Aqsa Mosque as "whosesurroundingsWehaveblessed" with a strongconnectivity; toacclaimthedescribedthroughitsconnectiontothebestowedblessing, meaningtheblessing is inherentlyinseparablefromthemosque.

    As ImamIbnAshourmentioned, theblessingsurroundingthe al-Aqsa mosque is a metaphorfortheblessingfirststemmingfromthemosqueitself; becauseif it occursaround it, then it essentiallypassesthrough it first. Therefore, the verse has threeimplications:

    First, theinclusion of conjugation. “Theblessing is inseparablefrom al-Aqsa Mosque, andit’sone of themosque’scharacteristics.”

    Second, theinclusion of tenor andcentrality. “It’stheoccurrence of blessing in themosquefirst, withallthemorereason.”

    Third, theinclusion of aggrandizement in “Wehaveblessed.”

    Thisblessing is represented in a number of imagesandforms, including:

    Doubling of therewardforprayers in it: thefirstfeature of theblessings of al-Aqsa Mosque is theAllah’spreference of it overotherplacesbydoublingthereward of thosewhopraythere. It is one of threemosquesworthtaking a specialjourneyto. Theprayerreward in it is doubledtofivehundredprayers as stated in thehadith: “and a prayer in al-Aqsa Mosque is worth 500 timesmorerewardthananywhere else” [Bayhaqi in Al-Sunan al-Sughraa (No. 1821)].

    In a differentnarrative, theprayerreward can reachquarter of a prayerreward in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi. WhentheProphet (pbuh) wasaskedabouttheprayer at al-Aqsa Mosque or his Masjid he answered: “Oneprayer in my Masjid equalsfourprayersofferedthere [in Bayt al-Maqdis], andwhat a blessedplace of prayer it is. It is theland of resurrectionandgathering. Soontherewillcome a time when, if a man has a piece of landthe size of a horse’sropefromwhich he can see Bayt al-Maqdis, thatwill be betterforhimthanthewholeworld.” [Narratedby Al-Bayhaqiandclassed as saheehby Al-Albani in thesaheeh of Awareness&Apprehension].

    Theland of prophets: One of al-Aqsa’sblessings is that a number of prophetswerebornaround it, andthat Allah guided a number of prophetstoresidenear it, andlive in itsvicinity. Hence, it becametheland of Prophets, andthemosque’sblessingincreasedbytheirs; theywereblessed as Allah said in thewords of Jesus Issa (pbuh): “And He made me blessedwheresoever I be,” andwiththeirblessingsmerciesandmiracleswerebestowedupontheplace.

    Land of Salvationandpeace: It’s a blessing of al-Aqsa mosquethat Allah made it a land of securityandsafety, peaceandtranquility. As theAlmightydescribedtheblessing he bestowed on His ProphetIbrahim: (Wedeliveredhimand Lot tothelandwhichWehaveblessedforallnations).

    On itslandshall be theend of tyrants: Where it is a blessing of theplacethatevery on itslandtyrant is doomedtoperish. Allah said, tellingthestory of theChildren of IsraelwithMosesMousa (pbuh): (Theysaid, "O Moses, indeedwithin it is a people of tyrannicalstrength, andindeed, wewillneverenter it untiltheyleave it; but iftheyleave it, thenwewillenter." Said two men fromthosewhofeared [todisobey] uponwhom Allah had bestowedfavor, "Enteruponthemthroughthegate, forwhenyouhaveentered it, youwill be predominant. And upon Allah rely, ifyoushould be believers”) [22,23:5]. Therefore, victory is alwaysforthepeople of Allah, and his obedientworshipers.

    On itslands, empiresaredestroyedandarmies of oppressionandcorruptionarecrushed: withtheblessing of al-Aqsa, thecrusadersweredefeatedaftertheywent far deepwiththeirinjusticeandcorruption, andthe Tatar armywascrushedaftertheyfilledthelandwithtyranny, crimeandmisery. Hence, thislandbecame a burialgroundforallcovetousinvaders, andsoon, inshallah, weshallwitnessthedefeat of theZionistoccupation, after it reachedwithitscorruptionandinjusticetheunprecedented.

    Center of thevictorioussect: theblessing of al-Aqsa Mosque is profoundbythefactthat Allah has made it thecenterandplace of thevictorioussectthatnoharm can deter it, andnobetrayal can dissuadeitspeople. TheProphet (pbuh) said: “Therewillalways be a groupfrommyUmmahtriumphantuponthetruth, victoriousovertheirenemies, therewill be noharmfromthosewhoopposethemandtheywill not be harmeduntiltheorder of Allah comesandtheywillremaintriumphant.” Theysaid, “O RasulAllah, wherearethey?” He said, “In Bayt al-Maqdisandtheprecincts of Bayt al-Maqdis.” [Mosnad al-ImamAhmad].

    Itsblessingsdistinguishthepeople of truthfromthepeople of falsehood: Thehistory of al-Aqsa mosqueanditspresentindicateits role in thedifferentiation of classes. Through it, thepeople of honesty, steadfastnessandfaithfulnessaredistinguishedfromthepeople of hypocrisyandabandonment. Therefore, basedon theposition of nations, states, peoplesandindividuals on thislandshowtheirrighteousnessandfaithfulness, ortheirevilnessandcorruption. Thepeople of trutharethesupporters of thisland, andthepeople of falsehoodareitsenemy. Manyfactsandevidencessignifyandmanifesttheblessing of al-Aqsa mosque. A blessingthat is realizedandknownbyallwhoworkfor al-Aqsa mosque, andallwhoexert time, effortandmoneyforitssake. A blessingthat is realizedthroughheartily, practicalorphysicalproximityto al-Aqsa, andMuslimsshould be keentorealizethisblessing.

    This is manifested in thehadith of thecompanion Maymuna Bint Saad, thatshowsthekeenness of thecompanionstorealizetheblessing of al-Aqsa mosqueeveniftheycouldn’tvisitorweredistancedfrom it. TheProphet (pbuh) guidedthemtosupport al-Aqsa. In thehadith of Maymuna Bint Saad, sheaskedtheProphet: “O Messenger of Allah, give us a pronouncementabout Bayt al-Maqdis.” TheProphet (pbuh) replied, “It is theland of resurrectionandgathering. Visit it forprayer. Aprayer in it is rewarded as a thousandprayerelsewhere.” Shefurtherasked, “Ifone of us cannotvisit it, whatshouldwe do”? He said, “Thensendsomeoilto be usedforitslamps, whomeverdedicatesomethingfor it will be as if he has prayed in it.” [Mosnad al-ImamAhmad].

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    Juristic Rulings Unique to al-Masjid al-Aqsa

    Dr. Abdul Karim Miqdad

    Special juristicrulingsareassociatedwith al-Masjid al-Aqṣāthatareuniqueto it. This is because it wasthefirstqiblah (direction of prayer) fortheMuslims, thesecondhouse of Allah thatwasbuiltforpeople on theearth, andthethirdmosquethatMuslims can undertake a journeytovisit. Furthermore, it wasmentioned in theverses of theQur᾿ānandtheSunnah of theProphet (peace be uponhim). A number of scholarshaveundertakentohighlightthesespecialrulingswhethertheyarespecificto al-Masjid al-Aqṣāortocertainothermosques as well, such as al-Masjid al-Ḥarāmand al-Masjid al-Nabawī. Thisarticle is an attempttobrieflyshedlight on some of theserulings.

    First:TheBoundaries of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā

    Theboundaries of al-Masjid al-Aqṣāare not limitedtothe Mosque of theQiblahorthe Mosque of theDome of theRock; rather, theyencompasstheentireareathat is containedwithinitswalls. Theauthor of thebook al-Uns al-JalīlbiTarīkh al-Quds wa al-Khalīlsaid: “It is commonlyunderstoodthat al-Aqṣāfromthedirection of theqiblah is thestructurebuilt in thefrontsection of themosque, whichincludesthepulpitandthegrandmihrāb. However, thefact of thematter is that al-Aqṣā is a name denotedtotheentirevicinitysurroundedbythewalls. Thestructurepresent in thefrontsection of themosqueandotherstructuressuch as theDome of theRock, corridorsandotherstructuresareextraneous. In otherwords, what is meantby al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is theentireareasurroundedbythewalls.

    Thisarea is estimatedto be 144,000 squaremeters; thelength of itswalls is 491 metersfromthewest, 462 metersfromtheeast, 310 metersfromthenorth, and 281 metersfromthesouth. 

    Second:TheMerits of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā

    Al-Masjid al-Aqṣā has a number of meritsthat can be highlighted in thecontext of explainingthejuristicrulingsuniqueto it. Thesemeritsinclude: 

    A.  Allah willforgivewhoevertravelledto it forthepurpose of praying in it:

    AnyMuslimwhotravelledto al-Masjid al-Aqṣāwiththe sole intention of prayingtherewillhaveall his sinsforgiven; he will be as on theday his mothergavebirthtohim. Theevidenceforthis is what is narrated in theMusnad of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal in whichtheProphet (peace be uponhim) said: “Sulaimān ibn Dāwūdasked Allah forthreethings. He wasgiventwo, andwehopethatthethirdwill be granted as well. He asked Allah forjudgment in harmonywith his judgment, and he wasgiventhat. He asked Allah for a dominionthatnooneafterhimwouldhave, and he wasgiventhat, and he asked Allah thatnoonewouldcometo it, intendingonly to praythere, but that he wouldemerge as freefrom sin as theday his motherborehim. Wehopethat Allah, theMightyandSublime, has grantedhimthat as well” MusnadAḥmad (11/220).

    B.  Prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is equalto 500 prayers:

    Amongtheblessingsbestoweduponthismosque is thatAlmighty Allah madetherewardforpraying a singleprayer in it equivalentto 500 prayers in anyotherplace. Theevidenceforthis is theḥadīthcollectedby al-Ṭabarānī in whichAbū al-Dardā’ quotedtheProphet (peaceandblessings be uponhim) as saying, “A prayer in al-Masjid al-Ḥarām is equalto 100,000 prayers, a prayer in mymosque is equalto 1,000 prayers, and a prayer in Al-AqṣāSanctuary is equalto 500 prayers” Majmaʻ al-Zawā’idwaManbaʻ al-Fawā’id (4/7).

    C.Therecommendationtoundertake a journeytovisit it:

    Muslimscholarshaverecommendedjourneyingtotheblessed Masjid al-Aqṣātovisit it. This is based on thenarration in Ṣaḥīḥ al-BukhārīandṢaḥīḥMuslimthattheProphet (peaceandblessings be uponhim) said, “No journeyshould be undertakentovisitanymosqueotherthanthefollowingthree: al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, the Mosque of theProphet (peaceandblessingsuponhim) and al-Masjid al-Aqṣā.” Thescholarsalsorecommendedcompletingtherecitation of theQur᾿ān in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. In thisregard, Al-JarāʻītransmittedthatSaʻīd ibn Manṣūrnarrated in his Sunan thatAbūMajlazsaid, “Thescholarsrecommendedthatanyonewhovisitsany of thethreemosquescompletetherecitation of theQur᾿ānbeforeleavingthem.”

    D.It is recommendedtogiftoilforitslamps: 

    TheProphet’sencouragement in recommendingtheprovision of oilto al-Masjid al-Aqṣāwasveryclear. Oil can be regarded as a metaphorforthevariousforms of supportthatarerecommendedto be providedbytheMuslims in everyagetotheblessed al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. Suchsupportwillbecomemandatoryif it is provided in ordertoprotect al-Masjid al-AqṣāfromitsjudaizationandcontrolbytheZionistoccupation. ImāmAḥmadnarratedthatMaymunahreported: I said, “Messenger of Allah, tell us aboutBait al-Maqdis.” He said, “It is theland of theresurrectionandthegathering. Comeandpray in it, foroneprayer in it is likeonethousandprayerselsewhere.” “Whatifonecannotgothere?” I asked. He replied, “Sendoilforitslamps; forwhoeverdoesso, it is as ifthey had gonethere” MusnadImāmAḥmad, (45/597).

    E.It is recommendedto start talibyahforhajjorumrahfrom al-Masjid al-Aqṣāto al-Masjid al-Ḥarām:

    TheShafiʻīandḤanbalī Schools are of theopinionthat it is recommendedto start talibyahforHajjandumrahfrom al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. Theiropinion is based on thenarration of UmmSalamah, thewife of theProphet, thatthe Messenger of Allah said: “WhoeverbeginsthetalbiyahforumrahfromBait al-Maqdis, thatwill be an expiationforall his previoussins” Sunan IbnMājah (2/999). In anothernarrationbyAbūDāwūd, “Ifanyoneputs on iḥrāmforḥajjorumrahfrom al-Masjid al-AqṣāandthenproceedstotheSacred Masjid, his pastandfuturesinswill be forgiven,” or “he will be guaranteedParadise” Sunan AbūDāwūd (2/144).

     

    In thisregard, it is importanttomentionsomethingthat has becomewidespreadamongpeoplethat can be termed as “taqdīs al-ḥajj”, whereby a pilgrimwillsanctify his ḥajjbyvisiting al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, which is somethingthat has nobasis. However, as mentionedearlier, some of thescholars of thesalafrecommendedvisitingthethreemosques in a singlejourneybased on theevidenceconcerningthecommencement of talbiyahforḥajjorumrahfrom al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. 

    F.Multiplyingthereward of thosewhostaysteadfast in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā:

    Theprotection of Muslimlandsandtheirdefenseagainstaggressors is one of thegreatestdeedslovedby Allah, andtherearemanyḥadīthsthatmentionthevirtues of guardingtheborders. Amongthem is what is reportedbyMuslim in his Ṣaḥiḥ in whichtheProphetpeace be uponhimsaid, “Keepingwatchfor a dayandnight is betterthanfastingandperformingnight-prayerfor a month. And ifonedieswhiledoingso, he willgo on receiving his rewardfor his deedsperpetually, he willreceive his provision, and he will be savedfromthetribulation [of thegrave]” [ṢaḥiḥMuslim, 3/1520]. 

    Rewardswill be multiplieddepending on thevirtue of theplaceoneguards. Therefore, standingguard in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is one of thegreatestdeedsthroughwhichthepleasure of Allah is sought in light of therepeatedattemptsbytheZionistoccupationtocontrolandjudaize it.

    Third: What Is DislikedorProhibited in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā

    Thescholarsidentifiedcertainactionsordeedsthataredisliked in regardsto al-Masjid al-Aqṣā

    A.  Itsdustandsoilshould not be takenaway:

    TheShafiʻīsandotherscholarswhoagreedwiththemare of theopinionthat it is prohibitedtotakeanyamount of soilorpebblesorstonesfrom al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. Al-Suyūtīsaid, “It is prohibitedtotakeany of itsparts, includingitspebbles, stones, soil, oilandcandles” al-Ashbāhwa al-Naẓāʾir (p. 421).

    In addition, otherthingsthatareprohibited in othermosquesarealsoprohibited in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, such as theprohibition of menstruatingwomenfromstaying in it. However, contemporaryscholarshavemade an exceptiontothisruling, takingintoaccountthespecificity of al-Masjid al-Aqṣāandtheneedforpeopleto be present in it at alltimesprovidedthatnoimpuritywilltaint it (ContemporaryFatāwāConcerningtheBlessed al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, p. 41). 

    B.  Al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is not a sanctuary in theterminological sense:

    Ḥaramfromtheterminologicalperspective is a placewhere it is prohibitedtohuntorcuttreesorplants, in additiontoseveralotherrulingsspecialto it and not toothermosques. This is thecaseforthesanctuaries of MeccaandMadinah. Fromthisperspective, it would be prohibitedtousesuchterminologywhenreferringtotheblessed al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, since lostitemsfound in itspremisesare not prohibitediftheyareproperlyidentifiedandnoownerclaimsthem in accordancewiththerulings of lostitems. Furthermore, it is not prohibitedtohuntanimalsorcutplantswithinitspremises. However, based on thelinguisticmeaning of what a sanctuary is, whichreferstoanythingthat is not allowedto be violatedordesecratedandmust be defendedandprotected, which is alsocommonlyusedtoreferto a wifeor a sisteror a universityandotherthings, thensuch a usagewill not raise an issue. 

    Afatwāissuedbythe general directorate of Islamicaffairs in the UAE states, “A sanctuary (ḥaram) in thejuristic sense has specialrulingsthatareapplicabletothesanctuaries of MeccaandMadinahandnootherplace. In recenttimes, theterm (al-ḥaram al-qudsī) wasusedtorefertothearea of al-Masjid al-AqṣāandtheDome of theRock. There is nothingwrong in makingsuch a referencefrom a metaphoricalperspective, since al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is thesecondmasjidbuilt on earth, thefirstqiblahfortheMuslimsandthethirdmasjidtowhich a journey can be undertaken; and Allah knowsbest.” 

    C.It is not permissibletorubitswallsandcirclearound it:

    It is not permissibleforthevisitor of al-Masjid al-Aqṣātorub, kissorcirclearounditsbuildings. What has beenreported in regardstotheacts of somepeoplewhocircle it orstand in thecourtyard of al-Aqṣā in theday of ʻArafaharedeviationsthatareimpermissible. This is becauseṭawāf can only be performedaroundtheKaʻbah. Based on this, Imām Malik dislikedjourneyingtoBait al-Maqdistoarrive in a specific time such as theseason of pilgrimage, duringwhichsomepeoplegotheretostand in itscourtyard on theday of ʻArafahtoimitatestanding at ʻArafah, andtheyslaughtersacrificestoimitatetheslaughtering of sacrificesbythepilgrims in Mina. TheProphet (peaceandblessings be uponhim) did not do such a thing in anyplaceormosqueduring his life. 

    D.Lack of evidenceforglorifyingtherockforbeingthefirstqiblahfortheMuslims:

    TherearenonarrationsattributedtotheProphet (maypeace be uponhim) orone of his companionsconcerningtheglorification of therock. However, someJewishandChristiansdidglorify it. As fortheclaimsthattheimprint of theProphet’sfeet, traces of his turban orotherthings can be found in theDome of theRock, thesearepureliesandfabrications.

    Theabovewas a collection of thejuristicrulingsconcerningtheblessed Masjid al-Aqṣā. Weimplore Allah toliberate it fromthehands of itsusurpers, return it tothepeople of Islam, andenable us topray in it.

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    Al Aqsa Mosque in the Prophet's Era

    WhentheProphet, peaceandblessings be uponhim, was sent (610 AD), theblessed Al-Aqsa Mosque andthecity of Jerusalem, whichwasknownbyits Roman name AeliaCapitolina, werewithintheterritories of thefirstprovince of Palestine, PalaestinaPrima, accordingtotheadministrativedivisions of theByzantineEmpirethatextendedfrom (390 AD untiltheIslamicconquest 16 AH / 637 AD) Exceptfortheshortperiod in whichthePersianscontrolledthecity (fromthefifthyear of themission (614 AD) untilHerculesregainedthecity in (7 AH / 628 AD))

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    Al-Aqsa Mosque During the Prophets Era

    Dr. Sharif Abu Shammala
    Theestablishment of al-Aqsa goesbacktoprophetAdam`sera (pbuh). It is confirmedthattheprophetswhocameafterhim had glorifiedtheholymosqueespeciallytheoneswholivedorvisited Bait al-Maqdis followingtheirfather Adam (pbuh) whobuilt Bait al-Maqdis andtook it as a hermit.

    Thealmightly Allah chose Bait al-Maqdis to be thenewhomefor his prophet Abraham Ibrahim (pbuh) after he faced oppressionandhardshipfrom his people in Iraq. Allah says: “ThenWebroughthimand Lot safelytotheland, whichWehavemadeblessedforallthepeople of theworld”. Thehistoricalandreligiousresourcesindicatethat Abraham visitedMeccawhen he was in Bait al-Maqdis and he rebuilttheholy Kaaba duringone of his visitstoMecca. Hence, theavailableresources do not showif Abraham had rebuilt al-Aqsa Mosque as he did in Masjed Al-Haram. Itshould be notedthat IbnTaimia mentionedthat “Al-Aqsa mosque has beenestablished since the time of Abraham (pbuh). He alsomentionedthat al-Aqsa mosquewastheprayerplace since Abraham, he says “Theprophets had prayed in al-Aqsa mosquewhichwasbuilt at the time of Abraham (pbuh)”[1]

    Prophet Lot (pbuh) had accompanied Abraham (pbuh) in his migrationto Bait al-Maqdis andtheysettledtherewhereIshmael (pbuh) Ismael and Isaac (pbuh) Ishaq wereborn. Then, Jacob (pbuh) Yaqup wasbornto Isaac and he lived in Bait al-Maqdis where he had Joseph (pbuh) Yousof and his otherchildren in whichtheirprogenywascalledlater as children of Israel. Afterthefamousstory of Joseph and his brotherswhen he recognizedthem in Egyptduringtheyears of drought, JacobmovedtoEgypttill he diedthere but his body was sent to Bait al-Maqdis to be buriedtherenextto his father Isaac andgrandfather Abraham -peace be uponthem- following his will. 

    Fromtheoffspring of Jacob (Children of Israel), Moses (pbuh) Mousa was sent in Egyptwhere his famousstorywith Pharaoh tookplaceandthen he wasorderedtoleaveEgyptwith his followerstothe ‘holyland’. In defiancetothedivinelyorder, theyrefusedtofollowMosesso Allah punishedthemto be lost in theSinaidesertforfortyyears. ProphetHaroon (pbuh) Haroon waswith his brotherMosses but he died in Sinai on his waytotheholylandbeforeMoses. AccordingtoprophetMohammed (pbuh) whenMoseswasabouttodie, says; “He asked Allah thatHebringhimneartheSacred Land at a distance of a stone'sthrow”, andthen he said; “Were I there I wouldshowyouthegrave of Mosesbythewayneartheredsandhill"[2]. Thisshows his eagernessto be closetotheholyandblessedland of al-Aqsa Mosque.

    Afterthedeath of prophetMoses (pbuh) andtheend of thefortyyears of lost in whichthemajorityorallthepeoplewhorefusedtocrosstotheholylanddied, Joshua (pbuh) Yousha’a guidedthenewgenerationandcrossedwiththemtotheholyland. ProphetMohammed (pbuh) says “The sun stoopedfromsettingfornightsonlyforJoshuawhowalkedto Bait al-Maqdis”.[3] AlthoughJoshua (pbuh) is one of theprophetsthathave not beenmentioned in theholyQuran, ProphetMohammed (pbuh) tellsabout his Prophecy, "A prophetamongsttheprophetscarriedout a holymilitaryexpedition. He said, 'O sun! YouareunderAllah'sOrderand I am underAllah'sOrder O Allah! Stop it fromsetting' Itwasstoppedtill Allah madehimvictorious”[4]. Thus, Bait al-Maqdis returnedtothebelieverswhofollowedtheirmessengers in theworshiptotheonlyAlmighty Allah.

    ProphetSolomon`sEra (pbuh)

    After Joshua (pbuh), theholyQurantells us abouttwoprophetsfromtheIsrael`speopleoffspring: David Dawoad and his son Solomon Solaiman (peace be uponthem). Duringthat time, al-Aqsa mosqueneededto be renovatedandrenewed, soprophet Solomon renewed it as it mentionedbythehadith narratedby Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) thatprophet (pbuh) said: "When Solomon the son of David [peace be uponthem] finishedbuilding Jerusalem (Bait al-Maqdis), 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”[5]

    Distinctly, Solomon`sestablishment of al-Aqsa mosquewas not newestablishment, it wasjust a renewal as thesameway it wasrenewedbeforeby Abraham (pbuh). al-qurtbi elaboratedthispoint in his explanation of Abu Horaira’s hadithwhichwasmentionedearlier: “whichmosquewasbuiltfirst ...” Thatmaycausemisunderstandingthat Masjed al-Haram wasbuiltbyIbrahim as it is mentioned in Quran, andthe al-Aqsa Mosque wasbuiltby Solomon (pbuh) as in hadith, whilethere is a verylong time between Abraham and Solomon erasreachesmorethan a thousandyears. But themisunderstanding can be clearedbecausetheQuranictextandthehadithmeansthatSolomon`sandAbraham’sestablishment of al-Aqsa mosquewas not newestablishment, it wasjust a renewal. 

    There is nosufficientinformationabout al-Aqsa mosquethatwasrenewedby Solomon (pbuh) andtheavailableinformationmostlyrelied on Toarah resourcesand Israiliyat (referstoexplanationsderivedfromnon-MuslimsourcesandespeciallyfromtheJewishtradition) that do not haveabsolutetruth. Webelievethattherenewalwaslinewiththeabilitiesandpossibilitiesgivento Solomon (pbuh) by Allah. Allah says:

    "وَلِسُلَيْمَانَالرِّيحَغُدُوُّهَاشَهْرٌوَرَوَاحُهَاشَهْرٌ ۖ وَأَسَلْنَالَهُعَيْنَالْقِطْرِ ۖ وَمِنَالْجِنِّمَنيَعْمَلُبَيْنَيَدَيْهِبِإِذْنِرَبِّهِ ۖ وَمَنيَزِغْمِنْهُمْعَنْأَمْرِنَانُذِقْهُمِنْعَذَابِالسَّعِيرِ (12) يَعْمَلُونَلَهُمَايَشَاءُمِنمَّحَارِيبَوَتَمَاثِيلَوَجِفَانٍكَالْجَوَابِوَقُدُورٍرَّاسِيَاتٍ ۚ اعْمَلُواآلَدَاوُودَشُكْرًا ۚ وَقَلِيلٌمِّنْعِبَادِيَالشَّكُورُ" [سبأ: 12- 13]

    {And to Solomon (Wemade) theWind (obedient): Itsearlymorning (stride) was a month's (journey), anditsevening (stride) was a month's (journey); andWemade a Font of moltenbrasstoflowforhim; andtherewereJinnsthatworked in front of him, bytheleave of his Lord, andifany of themturned aside fromourcommand, wemadehimtaste of thePenalty of theBlazing Fire} [Saba: 12]

    Zachariah, Joan, andJesus`sEra  

    Manyprophetshavefollowed Solomon (pbuh) to Bait al-Maqdis but theholyQurantells us aboutthreeprophetsonlycame at thesame time whoarestronglyattachedtotheholylandand al-Aqsa mosque. Theyare, Zachariah Zakaria, Joan Yahya, andJesus Issa (peace be uponthem).  Al-Aqsa Mosque had a significant role in their life andtheirguidance of peopletoworship Allah as well as theirpersistentattemptstoguideand reform theirpeople. In addition, al-Aqsa wastheirregularplaceformeetingsandworship. 

    As it was a commonthingamongtherighteouspeoplefromthechildren of Israeloffspring, Omran`swife (Mariam’smother) vowed her comingchildfor service in al-Aqsa mosque. AftershegavebirthtoMariam, Zachariah (pbuh) became her guardianandbestow her honorableplace in al-Aqsa mosqueforworshipand service. Thenafterthat, her famousmiracle of her pregnancy of Jesus (pbuh), thelastprophetto be sent in Bait al-Maqdis andthelastonebeforeMohammed (pbuh)[6]

    ProphetZachariah’ wife (pbuh) gavebirthtoJoan (pbuh) duringJesus (pbuh) time andtogethertheyrelentlesslytriedtoguidetheChildren of Israeltotherightpath. There is a sign in hadiththattheydidso in al-Aqsa Mosque. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: (Indeed Allah commanded Yahya bin Zakariyyawithfivecommandmentsto abide by, andtocommandtheChildren of Isra'ilto abide bythem. But he wasslow in doingso. So 'Eisasaid: 'Indeed Allah commandedyouwithfivecommandmentsto abide byandtocommandtheChildren of Isra'ilto abide by. Eitheryoucommandthem, or I shallcommandthem.' So, Yahya said: 'I fearthatifyouprecede me in this, thentheearthmayswallow me, or I shall be punished.' So, he gatheredthepeople in Bait al-Maqdis, andtheyfilled [the Masjid] and sat uponitsbalconies. So, he said: 'Indeed Allah has commanded me withfivecommandmentsto abide by, andtocommandyouto abide by ...). [7] Thehadithindicatestheexistence of al-Aqsa Mosque at the time of Jesus (pbuh), whichwaspopulatedandwide, andthebuilding has highbalconies.

    It is importanttomentionthatsendingprophets has beenstoppedafterJesusuntil his Almighty sent Mohammed (pbuh) tocompletethejourney of his predecessor of prophetswith al-Aqsa. Accordingly, we can seethat al-Aqsa mosque is architecturally, historicallyandreligiouslyattachedto Masjed al Haram. Thus, his significant has beenmagnified as it wasbuiltby a prophetandrenewedby a prophetormore. It is wherealltheprophets had prayedandwheretheyfoughtandraised Allah`swill. It is theplacewhereprophets had settled, livedanddied.

     

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    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."[1]

    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".[2]

    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.”[3]

    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.” [4] -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”.[5]

    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)”[6]

    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”[7]

    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".[8]

    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.”[9]

    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".[10]

    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.

     

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    The significance of Al-Aqsa to the Sahabah

    Dr. Sharif Abu Shammala


    To investigate the importance of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Islam, we need to clarify how the Prophet’s companions (Sahaba) perceived the reputability of Al-Aqsa Mosque based on their eternal biography and their practical perception of its significance. There are many narratives and evidences that illustrate the companion’s attentiveness and interest towards Al-Aqsa: some of them travelled there when they had the opportunities; few of them chose to reside in its vicinity and even took care of it. In this article, we will discuss some examples of their affinity towards Al-Aqsa. Undeniably, this is a very wide subject, so this article will only attempt to shed some light on them.

    Abu Dzarr asks for guidance and follows it

    Abu Dzarr Al-Ghifari, who was one of the first men (fourth or fifth) among the great companions to embrace Islam, asked the Prophet (pbuh): “O Messenger of Allah, which Masjid was first built on earth"? The Prophet (pbuh) replied, "Masjid Al-Haram". Abu Dzarr again asked, "Which was next"? The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Masjid Al-Aqsa". Abu Dzarr further asked, "How long was the period between the building of the two Masjids"? The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Forty years. but the whole earth is a mosque for you, so pray wherever you are when the time for prayer comes"[1]

    Years later – after they have migrated to Madinah – Abu Dzarr brought up the topic again. He said “We were discussing when we were with the Prophet (pbuh), which is better, al-Masjid al-Nabawi or Bait al-Maqdis (Al-Aqsa Mosque). The Prophet (pbuh) said: “One prayer in my mosque is better than four prayers offered there -in Al-Aqsa-, and what a good place of prayer it is. Soon there will come a time when, if a man has a piece of land the size of a horse’s rope from which he can see Bait al-Maqdis, that will be better for him than the entire world.”[2]

    Abu Dzarr further showed his affinity towards Al-Aqsa when he narrated, “The prophet came to me while I was sleeping in Masjid Al-Nabawi. He woke me up and said, “You are sleeping in the mosque. aren’t you?”, means (You should not sleep in the mosque again). I said, “My eyes overwhelmed me to sleep.” Then he said, “What would you do if they send you out of the mosque one day?” I said, “I'll go to Sham[3] (Levant), the holy land. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “If they exiled you from it?” I said, “Heaven forbid!”[4]

    These conversations are evidences of his love and passion towards Al-Aqsa, thus putting it very high in his priority. His feeling was later translated into action when he took part in the conquest of Al-Quds under the reign of Caliph Omar bin al-Khattab in 15AH/637AD.

    The companions and the Rashidun Caliphs liberate Al-Aqsa.

    Historical narratives indicate the high attention given by the Rashidun Caliphs to al-Aqsa mosque and al-Quds. For instance, Abu Bakr hastened to send armies to conquer the Levant area (Sham). Perhaps, his care for al-Aqsa is manifested in his message to Khaled ibn al-Walid in the year of 13AH/634AD, while Khalid was in Iraq to join the army conquest in Levant. He wrote to him: "Hasten to your brothers in Sham. By Allah, a village in the land of al-Quds that Allah conquests for us is more precious to me than a great county (Rostaq) in Iraq.”[5]

    Then, the conquest was continued by the second Caliph, Omar ibn al-Khattab, who responded to Abu Ubaida bin al-Jarrah’s invitation to receive the keys of Al-Quds by himself. After the victory, he prepared Al-Aqsa mosque and then built the first Musalla-an open space outside the mosque- in the front part of the mosque. (For further details about Al-Aqsa Mosque in the era of the Caliphs click here)The companions put on Ihram for the pilgrimage (Hajj) or the minor pilgrimage (Umrah) from Al-Aqsa Mosque.

    Ihlal: Reciting Talbiah or putting on Ihram, the pilgrim raises his voice while reciting Talbiah.

    The companions showed high interest to put on ihram from Al-Aqsa Mosque to get the blessing of the prayer and the visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque and Masjid Al-Haram within one journey, and to get the promised reward from the Prophet (pbuh) by following his sunnah (mustahab).

    In the hadeeth narrated by Umm Salamah -the Prophet’s (pbuh) wife- said, “I heard the messenger of Allah (pbuh) says,” “If anyone puts on ihram for hajj or umrah from Al-Aqsa mosque to Masjid Al-Haram, his former and latter sins will be forgiven”.[6] Therefore, many of the companions followed the same way such as Ibn Umar (ra), who was put on to hajj from Al-Aqsa mosque and Saad ibn Abi Waqqas - commander of Al-Qdisiyyah army- who pot on to Umrah from there. The companion Abdullah bin Abi Ammar said, “We put on for Umrah from Bait al-Maqdis (Al-Aqsa Mosque) together with Kaab (ra) and Mu‘adh ibn Jabal (ra) who was our leader (Ameer)”[7]. This indicates that, Ihram from Al-Aqsa Mosque was agreed Fiqh among all the companions. This later was followed by a number of Islamic scholars (fuqaha) and followers (tabi'een) such as; Wakih ibn al-Jarrah, who started ihram from Bait al-Maqdis to Mecca. Even the women put on ihram from Al-Aqsa Mosque like Umo Hakim binti Umayyah ibn al Akhnas who traveled to Bait al-Maqdis just to put on ihram for Umrah after she heard Umm Salamah’s hadeeth.

    Companions in the yards of Al-Aqsa

    As for the two great companions, Ubada ibn as-Samit and Shaddad ibn Aws, their association to al-Aqsa is very well known; their graves near the Golden Gate graveyard at the east of al-Aqsa were the witness of their undying love. The former was appointed as a judge in Palestine and lived in al-Quds with his family. He was a frequent in al-Aqsa, where he spent the rest of his life as a worshiper, a scholar, and a teacher, until he passed away.

    Shaddad ibn Aws also spend the rest of his life residing close to Al-Aqsa mosque in al-Quds, as foretold by Prophet (pbuh). Shaddad used to complain to the Prophet that “The earth is closing in on me.” Prophet (pbuh) said, “Don’t worry. Sham will be conquered and al-Quds will be conquered and you and your sons will be Imams there, if Allah will.”[8] Indeed, Shaddad lived in al-Quds and al-Aqsa as an imam until he passed away, leaving behind a considerable number of progenies there.

    Shaddad was not the only companion who was encouraged by the Prophet to live in al-Quds. For instance, the companion Thi al-Asabi was inspired by the Prophet’s words and moved to live near to al-Aqsa. He said “I asked the Prophet (pbuh), “O Messenger of Allah, if we were to stay somewhere after you, were do you command us?” The Prophet said, “Stay in Bait al-Maqdis so that if you have progenies, they’d go to the mosque”[9]

    The great companion Abdullah bin Omar (ra), his relation and pertinence to Al-Aqsa mosque was very strong and unique. He used to come from Hijaz to Al-Quds to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque, and then go back to Hijaz and do not even drink water hoped to be awarded by Sulaiman bin Dawud prayer in the following hadeeth. “When Sulaiman bin Dawud finished building Baitil-Maqdis, he asked Allah for three things: judgment that was in harmony with His judgment, a dominion that no one after him would have, and that no one should come to this mosque, intending only to pray there, but he would emerge free of sin as the day his mother bore him.” The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Two prayers were granted, and I hope that the third was also granted”[10] “The companions then the followers used to travel to Al-Aqsa mosque only to visit and pray without any other intentions”[11]

    In addition, there were many other companions who were attached to al-Aqsa with their hearts and souls: Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, Safiyya bint Huyayy, Muaz bin Jabal, Bilal ibn Rabah, Ayad bin Ghanam, Abdullah bin Omar, Khalid ibn al-Walid, Abu Dzarr al-Ghiffari, Abu al-Darda ‘Uwaymar, Ubadda ibn al-Samit, Salman al-Farisi, Abu Masud al-Ansari, Tamim al-Dari, Amr ibn al-Aas, Abdullah bin Salam, Saeed bin Zaid, Abu Huraira, Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas, Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, Auf bin Malik and Abu Jumaa al-Ansari (May Allah bless them all).

    Female companions and Al-Aqsa Mosque

    There are also famous narratives of the female companions’ attention towards Masjid Al-Aqsa. One of them, as reported by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, is the story of Maymunah Bint Sa'd. She asked the Prophet (pbuh), "O Messenger of Allah, give us a pronouncement about Bait al-Maqdis". The Prophet (pbuh) replied, "It is the land where people will be raised (Al-Hashr) and gathered (Al-Mahshar). Visit it for prayer as a prayer in it equals to a thousand elsewhere." She further asked, "if one of us cannot visit it, what should we do?" He said, "if you cannot go for prayer then send some oil to be used for its lamps. [It] will be as if he has prayed in it"[12].

    Therefore, we could see that a lot of the companions gave an exceptional care to Masjid al-Aqsa; they asked about it and some moved to live there. These actions reflect their deep understanding of the sanctity of this place. Muslims are able to earn rewards by visiting Al-Aqsa. Residing close to Al-Aqsa, working on its liberation, learning the Islamic jurisprudence and knowledge related to it, and reviving it with prayers are some of the actions that we need today in our fight to liberate the mosque and restore it to the Muslim rule. So that, Al-Aqsa regains its freedom, significance, and position in the Muslim Ummah.

     

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    The Isra and Mi’raj Journey

    Dr. Sharif AminAbushammala

    Al-Isra wa Al-Mi’raj (TheNightJourney) was a milestone in thePropheticbiographyandthehistory of Islam. Thejourney has takenplace on thetwenty-seventh of Rajab in theyearbeforetheHijrah[1]. Thejourneywasone of God’smiraclesbestowedupontheProphet (PBUH[2])

    Isra referstotheProphetMuhammad’s (PBUH) miraculousnighttravelfrom Masjid Al-Haram in Meccato Masjid Al-Aqsa in Al-Quds. ThejourneywasaccompaniedbyGabriel on a steedknown as Buraqwhichtraveledthedistancebetweenthetwomasjids in a verybrief time. On theotherhand, Mi’rajreferstotheeventfollowingthe Isra wheretheProphet (PBUH), stillaccompaniedbyGabriel, ascendedtotheheavensuntil “Sidrat al-Muntaha.”

    Thejourney is one of themetaphysicalphenomenathatMuslimsshouldbelieve in based on theevidencesfromtheQuranandprophetictradition.

    Priortothe Isra andMi’raj, theProphet (PBUH) had had severe grievesandsaddays. His uncleandprotector, Abu Talib had died; shortlyafter, his belovedwife, KhadijahbintiKhuwaylidalsopassedaway. WithProphet’suncleout of theirway, Quraysh had increasedtheirinsultsandatrocitiesagainstProphet (PBUH). Therefore, Prophet (PBUH) sought a newrefuge in al-Taif, but thelocalsrespondedbyhurtinghim, which had intensifiedProphet’sdistress. Thatyearwaslaterknown as the “Year of grief.” So, Allah thealmightyrelievedhim of his painbygrantinghimthemiracle of Isra andMi’raj. Thismiracle has increased his determinationandstrengthtoendurethehardshipsandtocontinuepreaching His message.

    ThejourneystartedwithGabrielwakingupProphet (PBUH) whowasasleep at the Stone of Ismail in Masjid al-Haram. Gabrieltookhim in the Isra journeyto Masjid al-Aqsa on al-Buraq, whichprophet (PBUH) described as “a longwhitebeast, slightlybiggerthan a donkey but smallerthan a mule…Whentrotting, [it] wouldplaceitsnext step as far as itseyesightcouldsee. I mounted it until I reached al-Quds. There I tied it uptothesame ring usedbytheProphets.”

    There, theProphet (PBUH) met withthepreviousprophetsandledthem in a congregationalprayer. Afterthat, Gabrielbroughthim a vessel of wineand a vessel of milk; he chosethelatter. Gabrielsaid, “Youhavechosenyournaturaldisposition, guidedyourpeople, andforbadewine.”

    Fromthis, we can concludethat Al-Aqsa is a witnesstoone of themostmomentousevents in thehistory of Islamfor a couple of reasons: theprayersbecameobliged on thatday, andProphet (PBUH) ledthecongregationalprayer of allthepreviousprophets, symbolizingtheirpledgetoProphet (PBUH). Afterthat, theprophetascendedfrom al-Aqsa totheheaven, where he (PBUH) receivedthecommandmentfortheMuslimstopray. TheMi’rajjourneywasfull of othereventsanddetailswhichwereillustrated in theliteratures of propheticnarrations.

    Thewholejourneytooklessthan a night. TheProphetreturnedtobed in thesamenightand, in themorning, he recounted his experienceto his peoplewhom, as a result, weresplitintobelieversanddeniers. Therefore, theProphet PBUH describedthedetails of al-Aqsa toprovethevalidity of his journeytothe Masjid.

    Dr. Mustafa Sibaisaidthattherearemanysecrets in the Isra andMi’raj, some of them in regardto Masjid al-Aqsa. He said, "Itassociatesandrelatestheissue of al-Aqsa anditssurrounding [Palestine] totheIslamicworld. Palestine, aftertheera of Prophet (PBUH), becamethecenter of Muslimworld, itsunity, anditsgoals. DefendingPalestine is synonymoustodefendingIslamitself. It is theduty of everyMuslimaroundtheglobe. Giving it up is likegivinguppart of theIslam. It is a crimethatwillincurthepunishmentfromGodiftheygiveup on liberatinganddefending it."

    Emphasizingtherelationshipbetween Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid Al-Aqsa

    Thejourney of Isra andMi’rajhaveassertedtheassociationbetween Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid Al-Aqsa. However, therelationshipbetweenthesetwomasjids is as old as Adam and his children. This is manifested in theHadith of Abu Dzar Al-Ghafari: “O Messenger of Allah, which Masjid wasbuiltfirst on earth"? TheProphet (saw) replied, "Al-Masjid Al-Haram". Abu Dzaragainasked, "Whichwasnext"? TheProphet (saw) said, "Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa". Abu Dzarfurtherasked, "How longwastheperiodbetweenthebuilding of thetwoMasjids"? TheProphet (saw) said, “Fortyyears.”” [NarratedbyBukhari]

    Thisassociationwasagainasserted in theQuran, where Allah theAlmightysays,

    سُبْحَانَالَّذِيأَسْرَىبِعَبْدِهِلَيْلاًمِنَالْمَسْجِدِالْحَرَامِإِلَىالْمَسْجِدِالْأَقْصَىالَّذِيبَارَكْنَاحَوْلَهُلِنُرِيَهُمِنْآيَاتِنَاإِنَّهُهُوَالسَّمِيعُالْبَصِيرُالإسراء: 1

    “Exalted is Hewhotook His Servantbynightfrom al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whosesurroundingsWehaveblessed, toshowhim of Oursigns. Indeed, He is theHearing, theSeeing” [Al-Isra: 1]

    TheassociationbetweenthetwoMasjids in Islam is not confinedwithintheJourney of Isra only; it wasalsomanifested in thegreatestworship in Islam – theprayer –when Allah commandedtheProphet (PBUH) tomake al-Aqsa as theqiblah. Itcontinuedforsixteenmonthsuntil Allah commandedtochangetheqiblahto Masjid al-Haram as mentioned in theQuran, “Wehavecertainlyseentheturning of yourfacetowardtheheaven, andWewillsurelyturnyouto a qiblahwithwhichyouwill be pleased. So, turnyourfacetoward al-Masjid al-Haram. And whereveryouare, turnyourfacestoward it [in prayer]” [Al-Baqara: 144]

    ThescholarshavesaidthattheassociationbetweenthetwomasjidsshouldmaketheMuslimsfeeltheirresponsibilitytowardstheliberation of Masjid al-Aqsa. TheyelaboratedthatthisassociationmustalsocausetheMuslimstofeelthatthethreattowards al-Aqsa is a threattowards Masjid al-Haram andthesubjugation of al-Aqsa is a step towardssubjugation of Masjid al-Haram, since al-Aqsa is thegatetotheSacred Mosque. If al-Aqsa fallsfromthehands of theMuslimsintotheJewishhands, it willbecome a threattothe Grand mosqueandtheland of Hijaz.

    Thesignificance of Mi’rajto Masjid al-Aqsa

    ProphetMuhammad’sMi’rajtotheheavensfromtheland of al-Aqsa and his returnto it indicatesthat Masjid al-Aqsa is thegatebetweenheavenandearth. Thisassertsthesignificance of the Masjid as a responsibility of everyMuslim. Previously, it has beensmearedbytheinvaders’ greedtoconquered Al-Aqsa because it is theMuslims’ gatethatprotectsthenation, maintainsitsidentity, andpreventtheraids of crusadersandtheirlikes on Masjid al-Haram.

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    1969 Al-Aqsa Arson

    Dr Sharif AbuShammala

    Since 1967, the Israeli Occupation has deliberately attacked al-Quds and purposely attempted to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque, and instead of it, Israel proposes to rebuild a Jewish temple. Since then, Israeli Forces have subsequently adopted the policy of transgressive actions and violent attacks. One of the most prominent oppressive aggressions that the history should immortalise, was on the 21st of August 1969, when the Israeli authorities have chosen to stage an unprecedented escalation in al-Quds to damage and burn down intentionally al-Aqsa Mosque.

    Setting the Fire

    In the early of the 21 August, 1969, an extremist Zionist emigrated from Australia and lived in an Israeli settlement, attempted to set fire in al-Aqsa Mosque. The fire had swept some of the oldest parts of the mosque, most notably destroyed the areological things particularly the old wood and ivory pulpit gifted by Salahuddin Al-Ayubi and made significantly by Nour-Aldeen Zenki, as well as mosaic panels on the ceilings and walls; many areas within the mosque especially the Eastern parts were left burnt and blackened.

    The Israeli Attitudes

    The events exposed necessarily the criminal behaviours of the Israeli Authorities regarding the action. The Israeli Authorities switched off internationally the sources of the water supply inside the Mosque and neighbourhood close to the Mosque to prevent any rescue to the Holy place, al-Aqsa Mosque. In addition, the Israeli Occupation Forces also prevented the fire trucks, or any other extinguishers to reach the scene, claiming that it is the al-Quds Municipality’s responsibility to handle the situation, which motivated the fire to sweep and burn everything within the mosque including the old-archaeological parts of it. The Muslim worshipers consequently used all possible things to extinguish the fire; they tried to use their home blankets and other small containers to bring water to extinguish the fire and to stop the spread of burning.

    Moreover, the professional investigation proves that the set of fire was executed from two different sources within the Mosque, which means that the set of fire was purposely planned and proceeded not individually but collectively. It enhances the suspicion that the Israeli Authorities were actively involved in the planning and facilitate the arson attempt have never been disapproved.

    The Cultural and Architectural Losses

     

      Consequently, the human civilisation in general and al-Quds in particular have lost a number of archaeological sites and cultural monuments. For example;

    ·  The fire had swept notably the 900-year-old wood and ivory pulpit gifted by Salahuddin Al-Ayubi, which is regarded as a unique architectural masterpiece since it was made by an interlock manner without functioning any nail. Then, it was moved by Salahuddin after opening al-Quds and releasing al-Aqsa from the Crusaders.

    ·  Masjed “Omar” which was made of muddy materials especially its roof made with clay and wooden bridges.

    ·  Mihrab “Zachariah” which locates mainly on the Eastern side of the Mosque.

    ·  Maqam AlArbai’een (The 40th Place)

    ·  Three out of seven distinguished galleries were destroyed, from which the Mosque was constructed as well as a big part of the ceiling fell down on the flour as a result of the huge damage and wildfire.

     

    ·  The mosaic panels that include the inscription of Surat “Al-Isra’a” that was carved with the golden mosaic over the Mihrab. The inscription is located on the Eastern side with a length of 23m.

    ·  The wooden bridges which spectacularly carry the candles.

    ·  48 windows which are uniquely made with wood, gypsum and coloured glass, as well as these windows were impressively designed to prevent the direct sunrays to enter the Mosque.

    ·  The “Ajami” carpet which was sensationally made from peculiar materials.

    The Political Reactions

    ·  The arson was internationally condemned. The Security Council held an urgent summit, issuing the resolution “271” of 1969, which significantly denounced the Israeli actions and asked it to conceal the proposals that might change the situation of Jerusalem.

     

    The U.N resolution reported “The Security Council express the deep sorrow for the attacking actions and the damage that the Israeli Military Occupation had caused to al-Aqsa Mosque on the 21 Aug,1969. Additionally, the Security Council well understand the effects of the damage specially on the Human-Cultural Civilization”

    ·  All Muslims and Arab Countries were full of anger, calling for an Arab Summit, issuing an urgent appeal to all Muslim leaders and their nations to participate for the sake of Jerusalem, and they called the day of burning, 21 Aug, 1969 as a “Black Day”. In addition, the Arab and Muslim leaders urgently arranged an Islamic Summit in Rabat on the 25th Sep,1969. The summit called to arrange for the foundation of a permanent secretariat to coordinate cooperation among Muslim countries. This could later lead to the establishment of; The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which interestingly became the largest official platform for cooperation among Muslim countries in the world.

    ·  The Israeli Officials had expected that such action could threat their existence and the Islamic-Arab anger and protestations might become a sharp threat to its existence in Palestine particularly in Jerusalem. However, the reactions included merely some protestations and statements of condemnation as well as the establishment of (OIC).

     

    The Judgement of the Criminals!

    ·  The extremist who set the fire had been arrested by the Israeli Authorities and introduced to a fake court claiming that he is a “psychopath man”, and then he was deported to Australia till he died in 1995; however, his action surely had the apparent blessing of the Israeli Occupation Forces.

    ·  The Israeli Occupation Authorities; the big criminal has been attacking al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli Authorities have attacked and corrupted the Mosque many times aiming to destroy the whole Mosque and gradually attempt to implement their proposal and plans over al-Aqsa.

    Then,,,,,What’s Next?!

    All Israeli actions and procedures reveal that the fire is still burning the Mosque as well as the crimes

    How can we animate this action as an anniversary and resist such criminal activities?!

    Of course, this sorrowful anniversary is important since it exposes the “Zionist Hatred” to al-Aqsa and reveals the malicious conspiracy on Jerusalem. Therefore, we as constitutions and individuals should;

     

    ·  Cooperate with each other’s and keep the cause of al-Aqsa as our first Issue as well as save it in our hearts and show its importance and holy in all our occasions.

    ·  Save al-Aqsa through providing the political, financial and moral support for the Murabteen in al-Aqsa.

    ·  Make all possible actions to stop the Israeli aggression against al-Aqsa and ask for an international resolution obliging Israeli to stop imposing greater control over al-Aqsa.

    ·  Show the situation of al-Aqsa off, and make presentations exposing the suffering of al-Quds in general and al-Aqsa in particular.

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