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Friday, 2 November 2007

Masjid Al-Aqsa - "The Farthest Mosque"

The Aqsa Mosque
(extracted from convertingtoislam.com)

The Aqsa Mosque, in Arabic: Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, literally means "the Farthest Mosque". The sacred mosque is mentioned by name in the Holy Qur'an. It was the first Qibla (the direction to which Muslims faced when offering prayers) before the revelation from God of the new Qibla for prayers: toward the Ka'bah in the sacred City of Makkah.

The Aqsa Mosque is also called the Farthest Mosque because it was place of worship in the farthest west known to Arabs in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and was sacred to both Jews and Christians. Historically, the Mosque was originally built by Prophet Adam (peace be upon him). Prophet Ibraheem (peace be upon him) rebuilt it. Prophet Daud (David - peace be upon him) began the reconstruction which was completed by Sulayman (Solomon -peace be upon him). The City of Jerusalem is Holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims world-wide as it has their sacred sites.

Today the Aqsa Mosque is part of a large complex of religious buildings in Jerusalem's old city known to the Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to the Jews as the Temple Mount. For the Jews, the Temple Mount is the place where, according to the Jewish belief, redemption will take place when the promised Messiah arrives. There are also Christian sacred sites in Jerusalem including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - believed to be - the site of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Church of John the Baptist and other religious sites.

Why is Jerusalem (Al-Quds) and the Aqsa Mosque Sacred to Muslims?
The City of Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque is sacred to all Muslims because its significance is related directly to God, God's Holy Book: the Qur'an and God's Final Messenger: Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is more than sufficient reason for every Muslim to consider the City of Jerusalem and it's Holy sites to be sacred, particularly the Aqsa Mosque.

Further more, according to the basic Muslim belief the Holy Qur'an is the final Word of God. Every word and every verse of the Qur'an is from the True God - Allah, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. Therefore people who appreciate and follow truth in their daily lives believe that the Qur'an is the highest authority and the clearest guidance for mankind.

Muslims take guidance from the Holy Qur'an, and God has verified clearly the significance of Mi'raj (the Night Journey) of the final Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Qur'an.

The Night Journey - one of the most important events in the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him) - took place from the Ka'bah in Makkah to the Farthest Mosque (Al-Aqsa) in Jerusalem.

The Aqsa Mosque is the only site in the world where all the Prophets performed Salah prayer at one given time. It was here that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) led the prophets in that very prayer during the night journey of al Isra and al Mi'raj referred to in the Qur'an and hadith.

It was from the Aqsa Mosque that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ascended through the heavens visiting the prophets again on his way to the Sidrat al-Muntaha (the Lote Tree) of the furthest limit.

We learn from the Holy Qur'an:"Glory be to Allah who did take His Servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) to the Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) the precincts of which We have blessed, so that we might show hm some of our signs. Indeed Allah is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing."

The Hadith books and literature provides details of the Night Journey of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

The Blessed Land
The land around the Aqsa Mosque is referred to as the Blessed Land in the Holy Quran. [The Holy Qur'an, Surah 17:1]

Jerusalem is the holiest Islamic city after Makkah and Madina. Located in East of this great city is Al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). The entire complex is regarded as a mosque. In the middle is the Dome of the Rock, and glorious Al-Aqsa Mosque is situated at its southernmost end. The Dome of the Rock was built in 687 AD by Caliph Abd al-Malik. The first wooden Al-Aqsa Mosque was constructed by the Umayyads which completed in 710. The last major reconstruction was during 1035. Al-Aqsa is the largest mosque in Jerusalem where approximately five thousand people can worship in and around the mosque.

Al-Haram al-Sharif has been a very important place of worship for the Muslims. Also a great religious and educational centre throughout Islamic history for the Muslims, the Jews and the Christians, attracting great teachers from all over the world. The Islamic Waqf Foundation is in charge of the Aqsa Mosque, along with most of the major mosques.The Haram al-Sharif is of very important religious and political significance to Palestinians and to the Muslims around the world. Having the capital in East Jerusalem is a fundamental element of Palestine.

Prophet Ibraheem (peace be upon him) is buried near Aqsa Mosque in the city of Khalil, now called Hebron and many other Prophets' bodies (may peace be upon them) and some of the closest companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are buried in the vicinity of the Aqsa Mosque.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave the area of Khalil (Hebron) as waqf (charitable trust) to the companion Tamim al Dari.

The last prophet of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him), while in Medina prophesied that the Aqsa Mosque will be in the hands of Muslims.

Visiting and Donating towards the Aqsa Mosque
Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged Muslims to visit the Aqsa Mosque and pray therein. Abu Hurairah is quoted as saying that the Prophet said:"Set out deliberately on a journey to three mosques: the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah), this mosque of mine (in Medina) and the Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem)." [Bukhari and Muslim]

Maimunah bint Sa'd is reported as saying that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) being asked about a person who is unable to travel to the Aqsa Mosque. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, "He should make a gift of oil to be burnt therein, for he who gives a gift to the Aqsa Mosque will be like the on who has prayed Salah therein." [Ahmad and Ibn Majah]

Abu Umamah al Bahili reported that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: "A group of my ummah will remain firm upon the truth, dominating their enemies. They will not be harmed by their opponents until Allah’s decree arrives upon them." They asked: "Oh Prophet of Allah! Where will they be?" He replied: "In Bait al-Maqdis and its surrounding areas." [Ahmad]

Quick info about the al-Aqsa complex
Extracted from ouraqsa.com

Al-Aqsa mosque (or Al-Aqsa sanctuary/ complex) is the name for the whole area enclosed by the wall southeast Old Jerusalem. It houses nearly 200 ancient monuments, foremost among which are the Dome of the Rock (with the golden dome) at the heart of Al- Aqsa, and the Qibly mosque (commonly known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the one with the lead dome) - is the main Prayer Hall in the southern part of Al-Aqsa compoud.



The other monuments are minor prayer halls, domes, mihrabs (=chambers for prayer), schools, corridors, mastabas (=slightly raised grounds constructed for several uses including education), fountains, trees, pulpits, gates, wells, libraries, and other buildings.

The whole compound is a semi rectangle of 144 donums (=144,000 square meters); that is about 1/6 of the walled city of Jerusalem. Its western wall is 491 meters long, its eastern wall is 462m, its northern wall is 310m, and its southern wall is 281m. These boundaries have not changed since the area was first made a place for prayer, unlike those of the Sacred Mosque in Mecca and Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque in Medina , which underwent several changes over history.

Some pictures of of Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock
Taken from Flickr: computerguru and other Flickr publishers.

Al-Aqsa (Qibly Mosalla)


This is the entrance to the underground (basement) of old Masjid Al-Aqsa

Dome Of The Rock


For more Pictures of Al-Aqsa and the rest of Palestine Click Here!
The link will take you photographs by Nadia El-Awady (IslamOnline.net’s deputy editor-in-chief and managing science editor) titled "A Journey Through the Holy Lands". These beautiful pictures with written text was taken in 2006 - a must see for everyone!


Quick Facts
Taken from Friends of Al-Aqsa (aqsa.org.uk)

1. That Masjid Al Aqsa was the second Masjid on earth.
2. That it was built 40 years after the Kaba in Makkah.
3. That most scholars are of the opinion that Masjid Al Aqsa was first built by Prophet Adam [as].
4. That Ibrahim [as] rebuilt the Masjid Al Aqsa in Jerusalem with his son Ishaq [as] as he and Ismail [as] rebuilt the Kaba in Makkah.
5. That Prophet Daud [as] began the rebuilding of Masjid Al Aqsa.
6. That it was Prophet Sulayman [as] who finally completed the building of Masjid Al Aqsa.
7. That the Masjid Al Aqsa built by Sulayman [as] was destroyed in 587 BC by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon.
8. That the Jewish people call this same Masjid Al Aqsa built by Sulayman [as] their Temple.
9. That the Jewish people re-built their Temple on the same site in 167 BC but this was destroyed in 70 AD and Jews were banished from Jerusalem at the same time.
10. That the site of Masjid Al Aqsa remained barren and was used as a rubbish tip for nearly 600 years until the Great Khalifah Umar bin al-Khattab liberated Jerusalem in 637/8 AD.
11. That the caliph Umar bin Khattab ordered the foundations of Masjid Al Aqsa to be laid and a timber mosque was built on the site.
12. That the Umayyad caliph, Abdal Malik ibn Marwan in 691/2 [72/73 AH] began the construction of the Dome of the Rock (the Golden Domed Mosque).
13. That the al Buraq wall or Western Wall where Prophet Muhammad [saas] tied al-Buraq on the night journey of al Isra is what the Jewish people call the wailing wall.
14. That Muslims consider the land or the Haram Sharif area to be sacred and holy, not the Masjid buildings that exist there -although these do have historical significances.
15. That the land of the Masjid Al Aqsa contains tow main buildings called Al-Aqsa [Black Domed Mosque] and the Dome of the Rock [the Golden Domed Mosque].
16. That Israel occupied Masjid Al Aqsa in 1967.
17. That fundamentalist Jews have made 100’s of attempts to destroy Al Aqsa since 1967 when they occupied it. A fire in 1967 destroyed the 900 year old Mimbar installed by Salah'ideen Ayubi, the Great Muslim Hero.
18. That many fundamentalist Jews want to re-build their Temple within Masjid Al Aqsa and destroy what exists there now.


Click on the picture below (Macromedia Flash presentation) to find out about past and future plans by the Zionists to divide al-Aqsa


May Allah (S.W.T) liberate our beloved al-Aqsa Mosque and save it from the occupation - Ameen.

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Although this blog was designed to share Islamic knowledge rather than advocate political views, it is important to understand the sufferings of our Palestinian brothers and sisters and the importance of this beautiful city. It is also important to note that Zionist regime should not be confused with Jews in general. Zionists can be anyone - Jews, Christians, even atheist as it is not a religious concept. Many people of Jewish, Christian and non religious background protest profoundly against the occupation of Palestine and against the Zionist regime. One such Jewish group is the Neturei Karta, another is Jews Against the Occupation. There are even Christian groups such as Challenging Christian Zionism & We Hold These Truths that try to correct the wrongdoings of the Christain Zionists. There are also pro-Israeli human rights group that monitor and speak against what the discrimination that is taking place e.g. B'Tselem , machsomwatch, gisha, peacenow, gush-shalom even the Israeli Soldiers that occupy Palestine have reported their shameful behaviour in breakingthesilence. Here are some more organisations.

Dr Ilan Pappe, a Jewish historian believes that the majority of Jews in Israel are not religious. He estimates that only 15-20 % of the Jews in Israel are observing their religion. It is a very small portion of the society, and it became smaller because of immigration from the ex Soviet Union, whom a vast majority are secular.

Whilst that may be true (with all these good people and pressure groups highlighting the Palestinian cause) it is unfortunate to note that little is being done to help the Palestinians against the Zionist regime and that history of how these Terrorists took over Palestine (here's some quotes) is slowly being wiped off our history records. Palestine is the only country to be wiped off the map!
It is also unfortunate that the very media we rely upon receiving news is also deceiving us of the truth. Organisations such as AIPAC & CAMERA in the United States use pressure to promote Israel in a good way and try to dictate America's foreign policies.
Then there are organisations such as MEMRI and DEBK that falsify information and try and put Arabs in a bad light. You can read more about these groups here! - It is also important to note that the Zionist wouldn't have done all this by themselves without the support firstly from the Governments of Great Britain and now The United States of America who feeds Israel to keep the Middle East under control so they have a foothold in the Middle East. There have been many UN resolutions against the Zionist State of Israel but they all have been ignored and nothing has been done about it, to make it worse any new resolutions criticising Israel seem to be vetoed by the United States.
A documentary was produce dto highlight this issue "Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land: Media & the Israel-Palestine Conflict" - Click here for video!

There are many books by Muslims detailing the Massacres by Zionist when they physically took over the land (using force) but the book I would recommend you read would be "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" by Dr Pappe, a Jewish person not afraid to write the truth.

The book tries to show that in 1948, the Zionist movement waged a war against the Palestinain people in order to implement its long term plans of ethnic cleansing (whereas Israeli historians, including 'new historians', claimed that the war was waged by the Arab world against the state of Israel in order to eliminate it and it resulted in expulsions of Palestinians). And since that ethnic cleansing was successfully implemented in almost 80% of Palestine without any global or regional repercussions - the ethnic cleansing policy continues ever since 1967 in the remaining 20% of the country. Creating a Jewish state in historical Palestine cleansed of Palestinians is still the ideolgoical infrastructure on which the state of Israel is based. How to achieve this goal is a divisive issue between Left Zionists - hoping to negotiate a settlement that would leave a small number of Palestinains in a greater Israel and the Right Zionsts willing to implement a more direct cleasning policy from the same area even today. Here is a link to this website http://www.ilanpappe.org/.

Palestine was a place where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in peace (until the Zionist took control). So my second reading of choice Blessed are the Peacemakers: The story of a Palestinian Christian, has the story of Father Audeh Rantisi a Palestinian Christian Click here for book details.

Here are some extracts: The horror began when Zionist soldiers deceived us into leaving our homes, then would not let us go back, driving us through a small gate just outside Lydda. I remember the scene well: thousands of frightened people being herded like cattle through the narrow opening by armed soldiers firing overhead. In front of me a cart wobbled toward the gate. Alongside, a lady struggled, carrying her baby, pressed by the crowd. Suddenly, in the jostling of the throngs, the child fell. The mother shrieked in agony as the cart's metal-rimmed wheel ran over her baby's neck. That infant's death was the most awful sight I had ever seen. Outside the gate the soldiers stopped us and ordered everyone to throw all valuables onto a blanket. One young man and his wife of six weeks, friends of our family, stood near me. He refused to give up his money. Almost casually, the soldier pulled up his rifle and shot the man.

The last book again from a Jewish point of view to read would be "Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience" by Alice Rothchild - Click here for extracts of the book.
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Useful Links & Further Reading:
RELIGIOUS
1. Al-Aqsa to Muslims: A Lost Tie? - islamonline.net

2. Significance of Al-Israa' and Al-Mi`raj - readingislam.com

3. Did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) see his Lord on the night of the Mi’raaj? - Answer from islam-qa.com

4. The reason why the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led the other Prophets in prayer during the Isra’ (Night Journey) - Answer from islam-qa.com

5. The importance of al-Quds for the Muslims – and do the Jews have any right to it? - Answer from islam-qa.com

POLITICAL
1. Friends of Al-Aqsa - http://www.aqsa.org.uk/ (probably the the best resource available on the net - please spend some time on this website)
2. Did you Know?.. Facts - Palestinian/Israeli conflict
3. Jerusalem: Crossroad of the World - An Islamic Perspective by Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway
4. Checkpoint Watch - Photographs of what Palestinians have to go through every day