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Masjid-ul-Aqsa & The Dome of the Rock

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Masjid-ul-Aqsa & the Dome of the Rock

 

 

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Masjid-ul-Aqsa: Its virtues and significance

Masjid ul Aqsa is:The first Qiblah of the Muslims

The station of Isra and Miraj

The second house of Allah Ta’ala built on earth

The place where hundreds of Messengers of Allah Ta’alaare buried

The place where many Companions (RA) are buried

The place where miracles were shown by Allah Ta’ala’s Will

A place which Allah Ta’ala himself calls a ‘blessed place’

Referred to directly and indirectly, seventy times in the Noble Quran

The place where angels have descended with Allah Ta’ala’s message

The only place on earth where all the Messengers of Allah prayed at the same time, led by the
Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

 

The only Masjid mentioned by name in the Noble Quran, apart from the Kabah

 

Musjid ul Aqsa- The second house of Allah:

Abu Dhar (RA) reported that he asked the Prophet (SAW)
“O Prophet of Allah (SAW), Which Masjid was built 1st on earth¨?
The Prophet (SAW) replied, “The Sacred Masjid of Makkah¨.
Abu Dhar (RA) again asked, “Which was next¨ ?
The Prophet (SAW) said, “The Masjid Aqsa¨.
Masjid-ul-Aqsa: Its virtues and significance
Abu Dharr (RA) further asked “How long was the period between the building of two Masajid¨?
The Prophet (SAW) said, “40 years. Apart from these, offer your prayers anywhere when it is time to pray, although excellence is in praying in these Masajid¨. Sahih al Bukhari

 

The importance of visiting Masjid al-Aqsa:

Abu Hurairah (RA)relates that the Prophet (SAW)said,
“You should not undertake a special journey to visit any place other than the following three Masajid, with the expectation of getting greater reward : the Sacred Masjid of Makkah, this Musjid of mine (SAW), and Masjid al-Aqsa (of Jerusalem)¨.
In another narration the words are, “For three Masajid, a special journey may be undertaken:
The Sacred Masjid (Ka’bah), my Masjid (SAW), and the Masjid of al-Quds (Jerusalem)¨.
Sahih al Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and Sunan Abu Dawd

 

Greater virtue of praying in Masjid al-Aqsa:

Anas ibn Malik (RA) relates that the Prophet (SAW)said,
“The prayer of a person in his house is a single prayer; his prayer in the masjid of his tribe has the reward of 25 prayers; his prayer in the Masjid in which the Friday prayer is observed has the reward of 500; his prayer in Masjid al-Aqsa (i.e al-Aqsa Sanctuary) has a reward of 5,000 prayers; his prayer in my Masjid (SAW)(Madinah) has a reward of 50,000 prayers; and the prayer in the Sacred Masjid (Ka’bah) at Makkah has a reward of 100,000 prayers¨.
Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah

 

The importance of donating to Masjid al-Aqsa:

Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) relates, I asked the Prophet (SAW),”Apostle of Allah, tell us the legal injunction about (visiting) Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem).¨
The Apostle of Allah (SAW)said, “Go and pray there. If you cannot visit it and pray there,then send some oil to be used in the lamps¨. Sahih al Bukhari

 

The virtues of wearing Ihram from Masjid al-Aqsa:

Umm al-Mu’minin, Umm Salmah (RA), relates that the Prophet (SAW) said,
“If anyone puts ihram for Haj or Umrah from Masjid al-Aqsa and then proceeds to the sacred Masjid, his former and latter sins will be forgiven or he will be guaranteed Paradise¨.
The narrator Abdullah (RA) was not certain which of these words were said
Sunan Abu Dawud

 

The blessed land of Masjid al-Aqsa:

Zaid ibn Thabit (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said,
“How blessed is Sham¨!
The companions (RA) around asked: “Why is that¨?
The Messenger (SAW) replied, “I see the angels of Allah Ta’ala spreading their wings over Sham¨.
Ibn Abbas (RA) added. “And the Prophets of Allah (AS) lived there. There is not a single inch in al-Quds (Jerusalem) where a prophet (AS)has not prayed or an angel not stood¨.
Tirmidhi and Imaam Ahmed

 

Masjid al-Aqsa – The 1st Qibla:

Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) narrates, “We prayed with the Prophet (SAW)facing al-Quds (Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months. Then Allah Ta’alaordered him to turn his face towards the Ka’bah (in Makkah)¨.
Sahih al Bukhari,

 
 

Masjid al-Aqsa – The place for major events near Qiyamah:

 

1. Mujamma ibn al-Harith (RA)narrates that the Prophet (SAW)said,
“Ibn Maryam (Isa) (AS) will kill Dajjal (the Anti-Christ) at the door of Ludd (a town inPalestine)¨.
Tirmidhi and Imaam Ahmed

 

2. Nahik ibn Suraym al-Sakuni (RA) relates that the Prophet (SAW)said,
“You will fight the Pagans until the remnant of you fights on the River Jordan, you to the east of it (present day Jordan) and they to the west of it (occupied Palestine)¨.
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani

 

3. Maymunah bint Sa’ad (RA) reports that she asked the Prophet (SAW) ,
“Oh Messenger of Allah (SAW), give us a pronouncement about al-Quds (Jerusalem)¨.
The Prophet (SAW) replied, “It is the land were they (mankind) will be raised (Hashar) and gathered (Mahshar)¨.
Imaam Ahmed and al-Tabarani

 

4. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) stated regarding the inhabitants of the blessed land,
“they and their wives, children, and slaves (men and women) are in Ribat (guardians,literally a
fort) in the cause of Allah Ta’ala¨.Al-Tabrani

 

Masjid al-Aqsa – The place of Mujahidin:

1.Ummamah al-Bahil (RA)reports that the Prophet (SAW)said,
“A group of my community will remain on truth,they will vanquish their enemy and those with
them will not be able to harm them until Allah Ta’ala commands¨.
“Where are these people¡¨? The companions (RA) asked.
The Prophet (SAW)replied, ¡§In and around al-Quds (Jerusalem)¨.
Immam Ahmed

 

2.Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (RA)relates that the Prophet (SAW) said,
“There is a group among my followers who will continue to be openly on the truth. No one who
opposes them will harm them, until the coming of the Hour¨.
The companions (RA) asked, “Where will they be¨?
The Prophet (SAW) replied, ” They will be in and around Bayt al-Maqdis¨.
Immam Ahmed

 

3.Abu Hurairah (RA)relates that the Prophet (SAW)said,
“A group of my community will not cease to fight at the gates of Damascus and at the gates of al-Quds (Jerusalem) and its surroundings. The betrayal of whoever deserts them will not harm them in the least. They will remain victorious,standing for truth, until the Final Hour rises¨.
Al-Tabrani

 

Masjid al-Aqsa – The best place of residence:

Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW)said,
“There will be migration upon migration. The best of the inhabitants of the earth will reside where Prophet Ibrahim (AS) migrated ( ie. Jerusalem)¨.
Sunan Abu Dawud

 

Masjid al-Aqsa – Liberation of Masjid al-Aqsa Prophesied:

Shaddad ibn Aws (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said,
“Al-Sham will be conquered and al-Quds (Jerusalem) will be conquered and you or your sons will be Imaams there, if Allah Ta’alawills¨.
Al-Tabrani

 

Masjid al-Aqsa – The site for the future Caliphate:

Abdullah ibn Hawwala al Azdi (RA)reported,
The Prophet (SAW)put his hand on my head and said, ” Ibn Hawwala (RA), if you see that the Caliphate has taken abode in the Holy Land, then earthquakes, tribulations and great events are at hand. The last hour on that day will be closer to people than my hand is to your head¨.
Imaam Ahmed and Sunan Abu Dawud

 

Abd al-Rahman ibn abi Umayra al-Muzani (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said,
“There will be an oath of allegiance according to guidance in al-Quds (Jerusalem)¨.
Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim

 

Masjid al-Aqsa – Mention by name in the Holy Qur’an:

A’isha (RA)reports that the Prophet (SAW)used to recite Surah Isra every night in his prayer

 

Glory be to Allah, who did take his servant on a journey by night, from the Sacred Masjid (in Makkah) to the Masjid of al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), whose precincts we did bless, that we may show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Hanbal

 

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Masjid al-Aqsa (Bayt al-Maqdis)

 

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Masjid al-Aqsa is not only the Qibly mosque (with the silver/black dome) or the Dome of the Rock. It is in fact the whole region highlighted above and is also known as Bayt al-Maqdis or Bayt al-Muqaddas (House of the Holiness). The name ‘Masjid al-Aqsa’ translates as ‘the farthest mosque’ and is the third most holy place in Islam. It was here that in around 621 CE the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) came on the night journey from Makkah riding on the Buraq.

 

Masjid al-Aqsa is no ordinary masjid. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) dedicated a great deal of his life nurturing the Sahabah (Companions) to appreciate the excellent qualities of Masjid al-Aqsa. Some of the reasons why Masjid al-Aqsa should form an important aspect of a believer’s dedication is that it is:

 

  • The first qiblah for Muslims;
  • The station of al-Isra and al-Mi’raj;
  • The second house of Allah built on earth;
  • The place where hundreds of Messengers of Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) are buried;
  • The place where many Sahabah are buried;
  • A place where miracles were shown by Allah’s will;
  • A place which Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) Himself calls a ‘blessed place’;
  • Referred to directly and indirectly, 70 times in the Quran;
  • The place where angels have descended with Allah’s message;
  • The only place on earth where all the Messengers of Allah prayed at the same time led by the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)
  • The only Masjid mentioned by name in the Quran apart from the Ka’bah
  • Most religious Jews regard entry into the al-Aqsa compound (which they call the Temple Mount) as a violation of Jewish law. This restriction is based on the belief that even though the Temple (of Solomon) was destroyed centuries ago, the precise location of the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary that was once entered by the High Priest, is not known. Hence the restriction is applied to the entire compound. They believe that the Temple should only be built after the coming of their Messiah, and it is their belief that it would be presumptuous of people to force God’s hand. However, there are several Jewish groups who differ from this opinion. Many Evangelical Christians consider it to be a prerequisite to Armageddon and the Second Coming (of Jesus), and both are actively encouraging the rebuilding of the Temple on the Aqsa ground.

Islamic Landmarks

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Front view of Masjid al-Aqsa

 

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The structure with the silver/grey dome at the front of Masjid al-Aqsa is known as the ‘Qibly’ masjid (mosque) as it is located nearest to the Qiblah, the direction of prayer. The front of Masjid al-Aqsa is aligned directly towards the Ka’bah in Makkah.

 

  • The event of the night journey to Jerusalem is mentioned in Surah al-Isra (also known as Surah Bani-Israeel) in the Quran: “Glory be to the One who took His Slave for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the furthest Mosque, whose precincts we have blessed.“ [17:1]

 

  • When Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) entered the al-Aqsa sanctuary in 638 CE he was shocked to find it covered with rubbish as the Romans had been using the area as a rubbish tip. The Caliph knelt down immediately and with his own hands began to clear the area. When the Muslims saw what he was doing, they followed suit and soon the whole area was cleansed. They then walked further, near to the niche of Dawud (upon him be peace), and offered two rak’ah prayers in the first of which Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) recited Surah Sa’d (38) and in the second of which he recited Surat al-Isra (17), containing reference to the Isra’ and Mi’raj.

 

  • Then he asked Ka’b al-Ahbar (a former Jewish rabbi who had embraced Islam), “Where should I build the mihrab (prayer niche)?”, “Behind the Rock,” replied Ka’b, “so that you will offer it behind the two qiblahs,” i.e. the qiblah of Musa and the qiblah of Muhammed. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said to Ka’b, “You speak like the Jews. We will build the niche in front of the Rock. The entire site is part of the mosque. Therefore, our niche should be in the best part, which is in the front portion.”

 

  • Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) thereafter commissioned the construction of a wooden mosque (which could accommodate 3,000 worshippers) on the southern end of the compound where the present Qibly masjid stands. By doing so he returned the sanctuary to the purity of its past worship, which had been abandoned both by Christianity and Judaism.

 

Great virtue of praying in Masjid al-Aqsa:

  • Abu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, “ A prayer in Makkah is worth 100,000 times, a prayer in my Masjid (Madina) is worth 1,000 times, and a prayer in al-Aqsa is worth 500 times more than anywhere else”. [Al-Tabarani, al-Bayhaqi and al-Suyuti]

 

References:   Palestine: Beginner’s guide – Ismail Adam Patel, Forty Ahadith concerning Masjid al-Aqsa – Ismail Adam Patel, Al-Quds – Mohammed Abdul Hameed Al-Khateeb

 

Islamiclandmarks

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Mihrab of Masjid al-Aqsa

 

mihrab_of_masjid_al-aqsa.jpg

 

 

This marble structure is the mihrab of the Qibly mosque which is at the front of Masjid al-Aqsa. The mimbar (pulpit) on the right was donated by the Jordanian government after the original (which was a gift from Salahuddin Ayyubi) was destroyed in a fire started by a fanatical zionist in 1967.

 

  • Masjid al-Aqsa is the second house of Allah created on earth: Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), “O Prophet of Allah, which Masjid was built first on earth?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) replied, “The Sacred Masjid of Makkah”. Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) again asked, “Which was next?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, “The Masjid al-Aqsa”. Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) further asked “How long was the period between the building of the two Masajid?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, “Forty years. Apart from these, offer your prayers anywhere when it is time to pray, although excellence is in praying in these Masajid”. [sahih al-Bhukari]

 

  • When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 CE, Masjid al-Aqsa was desecrated. Pigs were installed in the mihrab and a church was erected in place of one of it’s oratories. Imad Eddin (Salahuddin’s biographer) speaks of the mihrab of the mosque being full of pigs and excrement.

 

  • In around 1119 CE, King Baldwin II of Jerusalem granted one wing to the newly formed Knights Templar order and the building became their headquarters.

 

  • The original mimbar, considered one of the most beautiful in the world, was made of over 10,000 interlocking pieces of Cedar and other wood, ivory and mother of pearl affixed without a drop of glue or a single nail. After the reconquest of Jerusalem Masjid al-Aqsa was filled for Jumma prayers for the first time in 88 years, people wept with emotion as the Qadi of Jerusalem, Muhyi ad-Din al-Qurashi mounted the new pulpit.

 

 

Marwan-e-masjid

 

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This praying area, which is underground and on the south-east side of the al-Aqsa compound is the Marwan-e-Masjid and has recently been restored. When the Crusaders had control of the mosque they used to use this area as stables for their horses and it became known as Solomon’s stables.

 

  • Although known traditionally as ‘Solomon’s stables’, the original building is unlikely to date as far back as Prophet Sulaiman (upon him be peace) and can more plausibly be attributed to Herod the Great who substantially extended the Temple Mount platform during his reign.

 

  • Holes can be seen on the base of many of the columns which were made by the Crusaders to thread rope to tie their horses. It is estimated that 400 horses were kept here at one time.

 

  • Islamic tradition credits a caliph named Marwan I with transforming this area of the vaults into a series of usable rooms, rather than just going down to the bedrock directly, and regards the location as having originally been intended as a mosque (which is thus known as the Marwani mosque). In 1996, the Palestinian Waqf converted the area (which had from crusader times been mostly empty) into a modern mosque, capable of housing 7,000 people. Islamiclandmarks

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Basement of Masjid al-Aqsa

 

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The stone pillars on the right are believed by some to have been erected by jinnat in the time of Prophet Sulaiman (upon him be peace). The small mihrab is regarded to be the place where Maryam (upon him be peace) used to receive out of season fruits when she was pregnant with Prophet Isa (upon him be peace).

 

  • In Surah Saba’ of the Quran Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) mentions: “There were jinn that worked under his supervision by the leave of his Lord, and if any of them deviated from Our command, We made him taste of the Penalty of Blazing Fire. They worked for him as he desired, (making) arches, statues, basins as large as reservoirs, and (cooking) cauldrons fived (in their places): ‘Work , family of Dawud, with thanks! But few of My slaves are grateful!” [34:12-13]

 

  • There is an adjacent room which contains a grille (shown inset) through which you can see the floor below where oil was burnt to heat the mosque. Maymunah bint Sa’d (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that she asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), “O Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)! Inform us about Bayt al-Maqdis”. He said, “Visit it for prayer”. She further asked, “If one of us cannot visit it, what shall we do?” He (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, “If you cannot go for prayer then send some oil to be used in its lamps; whosoever gives oil for its lamps, it will be as if he has prayed in it”. [imam Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Sunan Abu Dawud and al-Tabarani]

 

  • Jewish tradition holds that the site upon which Masjid al-Aqsa was constructed originally housed the Temple of Jerusalem. The destruction of the First Temple, known as the Temple of Solomon, is attributed to the Babylonians in 587 BCE., and there are no physical remains attesting to its presence or structure. Building of the Second Temple began during the rule of the Persian king Cyrus the Great, but this temple was destroyed by the Roman Emperor (then General) Titus in 70 CE. All that remains of it is the Western Wall, which is thought to be a remnant of this second temple’s platform.

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Buraq masjid

 

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This small structure, on the south-west corner of the al-Aqsa compound is believed to be the place where the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) tied the Buraq, the winged riding animal upon which he rode during the Night of Ascension. The wall on the right is the other side of what the Jews call the Wailing Wall.

 

  • It is narrated on the authority of Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, “I was brought al-Buraq who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of vision. I mounted it and came to Bayt al-Maqdis. I tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I entered the mosque and prayed two rak’ahs in it, and then came out and Jibraeel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Jibraeel said: You have chosen the natural thing. Then he took me to heaven. Jibraeel then asked the (gate of heaven) to be opened and he was asked who he was. He replied: Jibraeel. He was again asked: Who is with you? He (Jibraeel) said: Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It was said: Has he been sent for? Jibraeel replied: He has indeed been sent for. And (the door of the heaven) was opened for us and lo! we saw Adam (upon him be peace). He welcomed me and prayed for my good. Then we ascended to the second heaven. Jibraeel asked for the door of heaven to be opened, and he was asked who he was. He answered: Jibraeel; and was again asked: Who is with you? He replied: Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened. When I entered ‘Isa bin Maryam and Yahya bin Zakarriyah (upon him be peace), cousins from the maternal side, welcomed me and prayed for my good Then I was taken to the third heaven and Jibraeel asked for the opening (of the door). He was asked: Who are you? He replied: Jibraeel. He was (again) asked: Who is with you? He replied Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and I saw Yusuf (upon him be peace) who had been given half of (world) beauty. He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being. Then he ascended with us to the fourth heaven. Jibraeel asked for the (gate) to be opened, and it was said: Who is he? He replied: Jibraeel. It was (again) said: Who is with you? He said: Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The (gate) was opened for us, and lo! Idris (upon him be peace) was there. He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being (About him) Allah, the Exalted and the Glorious, has said:” We elevated him (Idris) to the exalted position” [19: 57]. Then he ascended with us to the fifth heaven and Jibraeel asked for the (gate) to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He replied Jibraeel. It was (again) said: Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It was said Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and then I was with Harun (upon him be peace). He welcomed me prayed for my well-being. Then I was taken to the sixth heaven. Jibraeel asked for the door to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He replied: Jibraeel. It was said: Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and there I was with Musa (upon him be peace) He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being. Then I was taken up to the seventh heaven. Jibraeel asked the (gate) to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He said: Jibraeel. It was said. Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and there I found Ebrahim (upon him be peace) reclining against the Bait-ul-Ma’mur and there enter into it 70,000 angels every day, never to visit (this place) again. Then I was taken to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha whose leaves were like elephant ears and its fruit like big earthenware vessels. And when it was covered by the Command of Allah, it underwent such a change that none amongst the creation has the power to praise its beauty. Then Allah revealed to me a revelation and He made obligatory for me fifty prayers every day and night. Then I went down to Musa (upon him be peace) and he said: What has your Lord enjoined upon your Ummah? I said: Fifty prayers. He said: Return to thy Lord and beg for reduction (in the number of prayers), for your community shall not be able to bear this burden as I have put to test the Children of Israel and tried them (and found them too weak to bear such a heavy burden). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: I went back to my Lord and said: My Lord, make things lighter for my Ummah. (The Lord) reduced five prayers for me. I went down to Musa (upon him be peace) and said. (The Lord) reduced five (prayers) for me, He said: Verily thy Ummah shall not be able to bear this burden; return to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. I then kept going back and forth between my Lord, Blessed and Exalted and Musa (upon him be peace), till He said: There are five prayers every day and night. O Muhammed, each being credited as ten, so that makes fifty prayers. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him; and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten; whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and does not do, it will not be recorded for him; and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded. I then came down and when I came to Musa (upon him be peace) and informed him, he said: Go back to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) remarked: I returned to my Lord until I felt ashamed before Him.”

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Buraq wall (Western/Wailing wall)

 

buraq_wall_western_wailing_wall.jpg

 

This wall, formerly referred to as the ‘Wailing Wall’ and now more commonly known as the ‘Western Wall’ is the most sacred place for Jews who believe it to be the only surviving structure of the Herodian temple. For Muslims it is known as the Buraq Wall, for on the other side is where the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) tied the Buraq, the winged riding animal upon which he rode during the Night of Ascension.

 

  • The area which the current plaza occupies used to be residential housing called the Maghribi (Moroccan) Quarter. It was endowed by Al-Afdal, the brother of Salahuddin so that aid and services could be provided for North African pilgrims and the poor; he also built a madrasah where the fiqh (jurisprudence) of the Maliki school of thought could be taught and studied. During the Mamluk period, madaris (seminaries) had been built all along this wall, except for a stretch of about 22 meters between the Street of the Chain (Tariq al-Silsila) and the Maghribi Gate.

 

  • Jews had never previously shown any particular interest in this portion of the wall. Though they consider it to be the only surviving remnant of the Second Temple, the Wall was never actually part of the Temple as such, but rather the western wall of a retaining structure built under Herod to support the plaza above. In the section that is openly visible there are in fact another nineteen courses of stones beneath the modern-day ground level. In Herod’s day, the place had been a part of a shopping centre and had no religious significance.

 

  • When the Romans destroyed Herod’s Temple after the Jewish War in 70 CE, only the western wall of the Temple’s inner sanctum was left standing, but over the centuries that followed, Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem gathered for prayer on Temple Mount where possible, or on the Mount of Olives when not. The Western Wall became a permanent feature in Jewish tradition in around 1520 as the idea spread that Jewish people should not enter the Temple sanctuary itself because they were no longer able to attain the necessary degree of ritual purity. Jews began instead to gather in front of this wall to pray, and gradually traditions which had been associated with the western wall of the Temple’s inner sanctum transferred themselves to this wall.

 

  • The old city was given its definitive shape in the 16th century by Sulayman the Magnificent, who built the present day massive stone walls of the old city in 1537. It is said that he had a dream in which the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) commanded him to organize the defence of Jerusalem.

 

  • During the construction of the city wall, Sulayman issued an official edict permitting the Jews to have a place of prayer at the Western Wall. The famous Turkish architect Koca Sinan (who designed the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul) is said to have designed the site, excavating downward to give the wall added height and building a wall parallel to it to separate it from the Maghribi Quarter, creating an alley about 3.5 metres wide. In Jewish legend Sulayman was said to have helped clear the site himself and to have washed the wall with rose water to purify it, as Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and Salahuddin had done when they reconsecrated the Sanctuary.

 

  • Under the terms of the Status Quo on holy sites, a decree fixed by decree of the Ottoman Sultan in 1757 and codified in more detail by a British government Commission in 1922, the Wall is technically Muslim property, belonging to the Waqf, who also own the synagogue area in front of it. Jews however, have the right to stand on the pavement in front of it and pray.

 

  • One of the first acts of the Israelis, upon taking over East Jerusalem during the 1967 war was to give the 619 Palestinian inhabitants of the Maghribi Quarter just three hours to evacuate their homes. Then the bulldozers came in and destroyed this historic district. This act, in contravention of the Geneva Convention was done in order to create a plaza big enough to accommodate the thousands of pilgrims who were expected to flock to the Western Wall.

 

  • Close up, the Wall resembles an enormous message board from the Jews to the Almighty; every nook and cranny in its massive ancient stones is stuffed with slips of paper bearing personal prayers. Ancient it may be but the Wall is bang up to date with modern communications; through a commercial website Jews can have an Orthodox Jew pray for them at the Wall for forty days – the price varies between US$90 and US$1800 depending on whether they want a standard,exclusive or premier prayer.  

 

References:  Al-Quds – Mohammed Abdul Hameed Al-Khateeb, A history of Jerusalem – Karen Armstrong, Western Wall – Ben Dov, The Rough Guide to Jerusalem

 

Courtesy of Islamiclandmarks.com

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The Dome of the Rock

 

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The Dome of the Rock (Qubbatus Saqqara) is often mistakenly referred to as the al-Aqsa mosque. This structure was built by Caliph Abd al-Malik from 688 to 691 CE and houses the sacred rock from which the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) ascended to heaven (Mi’raj) after the night journey to Jerusalem (Isra’).

 

  • When the Crusaders took over Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock mosque was re-named Templum Domini and had a cross placed on top of the golden dome. The Qibly mosque was re-named Templum Solomonis. This Kingdom was to last 87 years, during which time neither Jew nor Muslim was allowed to dwell within the walls of the city.

 

  • Ibn Kathir (Allah show mercy on him) writes in his book Kamil at-Tawarikh (The Perfect History) of the scene when the Muslims recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders:“…At the top of the cupola of the Dome of the Rock there was a great gilded cross. When the Muslims entered the city on the Friday, some of them climbed the top of the cupola to take down the cross……a great cry went up from the city and from outside the walls, the Muslims crying ‘Allahu-akbar’ in their joy, the Franks groaning in consternation and grief. So loud and piercing was the cry that the earth shook. …Salahuddin ordered that the shrines should be restored to their original state. The Templars had built their living quarters against al-Aqsa, with storerooms and latrines…This was all restored to its former state. The Sultan ordered that the Dome of the Rock should be cleansed of all pollution, and this was done…”

 

  • The beautiful external tile work which can be seen today was commissioned by Sulayman II Qanuni (the Lawgiver), known throughout Europe as Sulayman the Magnificent. With the incomparable skills of Persian master ceramicists, 40,000 tiles were fired and put into place, crowned by the inscription of Surah Yasin, the 36th chapter and regarded as the heart of the Quran.

 

  • Orthodox Jews believe the Dome of the Rock to be the centre of the world.

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Interior of The Dome of the Rock

 

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This rock is believed to be the place from where the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) ascended to heaven (mi’raj) during his night journey to Jerusalem. It is the opinion of some scholars that the angel Israfeel (upon him be peace) will blow the soor (trumpet) from this place to herald the Day of Judgement.

 

  • When the Crusaders took over the site they covered the Rock with a marble facing to make an alter and choir, and the interior Quranic inscriptions were covered with Latin texts, all aimed to blot out Muslim presence. Salahuddin Ayyubi had the building restored after the Muslims reconquered it.

 

  • Jews and Christians believe this is the place where the Prophet Ebrahim (upon him be peace) was prepared to sacrifice his son Ishaq (upon him be peace) after seeing a dream indicating for him to do so. This is a fundamental difference to the Muslim belief that it was actually his elder son Ismail (upon him be peace) who he was prepared to sacrifice and that this happened in Mina, Saudi Arabia. Inside the Dome, the major Quranic inscription over the arches of the inner arcade is addressed to the “Followers of the Gospel”, i.e. Christians, denying the shocking notion that God had sired a son. It warns them against inaccurate and dangerous statements about God (in Surah An-Nisa):“O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.” [4:171]

 

 

 

Underneath the Dome of the Rock

 

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The main picture above shows the stairways leading down to the small cave underneath the Dome of the Rock. The picture inset shows an internal view.

 

  • This cave has been called ‘The Well of Souls’ (Arabic: Bir el-Arweh) as some believe this is where the souls of the dead gather to wait for the event of Judgement Day. However, this is a myth as is the notion that the rock above it is floating without any support. Islamiclandmarks

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