THE NOBLE SANCTUARY OF AL-AQSA IN JERUSALEM myth: AL AQSA MOSQUE AND AL-QUDS (JERUSALEM) HAVE NO SIGNIFICANCE FOR MUSLIMS, UNLIKE THE MOSQUES AND CITIES OF MAKKAH AND MADINAH.
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. ‘Holy is He Who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque [in Makkah] to the Furthest Mosque [in Jerusalem] whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our Signs. Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.’ (The Qur’an 17:1)
‘Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is part of my religion and belief, and whoever says to me to give it up, it is as if he tells me to delete Surah Al-Isra from the Qur’an.’ (Ramadan
Shallah, a Palestinian resistance icon of the Islamic Jihad movement)
Al-Aqsa Mosque is intimately linked with numerous prophets. It was built forty years after the original Kaaba was built as the first house for the worship of the One God. Those who submit to the Will of God (the meaning of the word “Muslims”) have always been its true guardians.
Al-Aqsa was the first qibla of Muslims at the time of Prophet Muhammad, the direction towards which they face when praying. It is the third holiest site in Islam. It is the place where the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) led all of God’s prophets in prayer during the miraculous night journey and ascension.
All of God’s prophets, Muslims believe, were “Muslims” in the sense that they too submitted to the will of God. When a temple was built at Al-Aqsa, it was a place of prostration before God. In other words, a “masjid”. The mosques on the site today were built after the temples were destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, and again by the Romans in 70 CE. Today, some Zionists seek to destroy the mosques and build another temple. Many now walk across the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa and seek to drive the Muslims out. However, rabbinical law prohibits Jews from setting foot in the sanctuary for fear of desecrating the “Holy of Holies” where, in Jewish religious tradition, only purified priests may go. The location of this spot is unknown, hence the blanket ban.
Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War, Jordan’s Ministry of Islamic Endowments retained the custodianship of the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank. Despite this, Israel controls access to the sanctuary and protects settlers’ incursions. This is intended to tell the world that Israel has sovereignty over the site, which it hasn’t. Palestinians are frequently denied access to Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israel.
The occupation state plans to divide the mosque temporally and spatially between Muslims and Jews, as it has done at Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Attacks by Jewish extremists on the mosque and worshippers are growing more frequent, aided and abetted by Israeli security forces. In 2007, Israel began excavating a pathway from the Western Wall to the compound, sparking Muslim outrage. The al- Buraq/Western (“Wailing”) Wall is a part of the boundary wall of the Al-Aqsa sanctuary.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Restoration Committee, established in 1956 to restore it and other Jerusalem holy sites, warned that further excavations by the Israelis would imperil the sanctuary’s structural integrity. Israel has continued to dig ‘archaeological’ tunnels under the site ever since.
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Moosa, E., 2021. Masjid al-Aqsa: A Journey Through Time Book – Palestine Information Network.
Ṣāliḥ, M., 2001. Basic facts on the Palestinian issue. London: Palestinian Return Centre. https://prc.org.uk