Masjid al-Aqsa: An Iconic and Sacred Place for Muslims and Jews
Masjid Al-Aqsa is situated in Jerusalem, Palestine recent part of headlines across the globe. Palestine is the only country that is considered sacred for people believing in all three divine religions. The Muslims, the Jews, and the Christians all have sacred sentiments for both Palestine and Masjid Al-Aqsa.
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Prophet Dawood AS decided to construct a temple, but he was told that Prophet Sulayman AS would construct the temple. This temple was called Solomon’s temple. This was the sacred place of worship for Jews, throughout history.
This temple was destroyed by Biblions. They took away with them the Ark of the Covenant. Solomon’s temple is the Qibla for Jewish prayers. But after many reconstructions and destructions by different rulers throughout history. It has now almost vanished. There is only a remaining wall, which was once a part of the Solomon’s temple. The “wailing wall” is the sacred wall for the Jews to date. They came to visit this wall to pray to God.
A Brief History of Masjid e Aqsa:
Masjid e Aqsa is the Qibla e Awwal (the first direction of prayer) for Muslims. It was the direction towards which the Muslims used to pray in the early seventeen months of Islam. After that Allah Almighty changed the direction of prayers toward Ka’aba. It is the third most sacred place of worship for Muslims after Haramain Ash’Shareefain (The Ka’ba and the Masjid e Nabwi SAW).
This mosque was first sited by Ameer Muawiya, the Governor of Islamic caliph Hazrat Umar May Allah be pleased with him. But they built only a small prayer house on its site. The mosque was first built by 5th Ummayyad Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan in 66 AH and after his demise, his son Waleed bin Abdul Malik completed its construction. Abbasid caliph Al-Mansoor rebuilt the mosque, after its destruction in an earthquake. Abbasid caliph Al-Mahdi expanded the mosque. But unfortunately, once again, the Jordan Rift earthquake caused its destruction. Fatimid caliph Al-Zahir reconstructed it once again, in 1021–1036.
The Dome of Rock:
Dome of Rock or Qubat us Sakhra is a part of Masjid e Aqsa. It is a significant historical monument built by a Muslim ruler in memory of an important event in Islamic history. Umayyad caliph Waleed bin Abdul Malik built this monument in memory of Miraj, a unique incident in the history of Islam. When Allah Almighty took Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him from Makkah to Masjid Al Aqsa and then to Arsh e Muall’a to meet Allah SWT.
It is believed by Muslims that the Dome of Rock was the place from where Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon Him was taken towards the skies. Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan constructed the Dome of Rock to commemorate the incident of Miraj. Both Masjid Al Aqsa and the Dome of Rock are part of a single Haram Al Sharif.
Significance of Masjid Al-Aqsa for the Muslims:
Masjid Al Aqsa is valuable for both the Muslims and the Jews. It is a place sacred for both the nations owing to their reasons. Let’s have a look at the rationales behind its sanctity for the Muslims.
· First Qibla (Qibla e Awwal) for the Muslims:
Masjid Al Aqsa was the direction for praying for both the Jews and the Christians before Islam. In the beginning, Muslims also used to pray in its direction. But Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him wished to have a separate Qibla for the Muslims. Then Allah Almighty changed the Qibla for the Muslims after almost seventeen months. The foremost reason behind the emotional attachment of Muslims to Masjid Al Aqsa is its being the first Qibla of the Muslims. Muslims prayed towards its direction for almost seventeen months. That is why all Muslims have a special passionate attachment to Masjid Al Aqsa.
· A Monument of Incident of Miraj:
The Dome of Rock or Qubat us Sakhra is a monument built in memory of the incident of Miraj. The incident of Miraj has a special significance in Islamic history. So is the specific place for the Dome of Rock in the hearts of believers. One reason for the significance of the Masjid Al Aqsa is the Dome of Rock.
· Tombs of Many Prophets:
Masjid Al Aqsa is quite significant for believers all over the world as many Prophets of Bani-Israel are buried in Palestine. It is believed by us that Prophet Ibrahim AS, Prophet Musa AS, Prophet Dawood AS, Prophet Sulayman AS, and many other prophets are buried in Palestine.
Cultural and Historical Importance:
Masjid Al Aqsa has a specific historical and cultural importance for the Muslims. It is a symbol of Muslim cultural heritage. It has always been a center of learning and worship for Muslims around the globe.
Significance of Masjid Al Aqsa for the Jews:
Masjid Al Aqsa and Palestine are equally significant for both the Muslims and the Jews.
We have mentioned the reasons behind the importance of Masjid Al Aqsa for Muslims in the above paragraph. Now we will discuss its significance for the Jews.
· Wailing Wall of Jerusalem:
Wailing Wall of Jerusalem (Deewar e Girya) is the holiest place in Jewish traditions. It is the sacred place of worship for the Jews. It is believed to be a part of Solomon’s Temple, which is the worship temple built by Prophet Sulayman AS almost 3000 years ago. This is the main reason for its sanctity for the Jews.
· Temple Mount:
Temple Mount is the second temple built after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by Biblions. This second temple was located at the same place where Masjid Al Aqsa is situated.
· Qubbat us Sakhra:
The Dome of the Rock or Qubbat us Sakhra is sacred for the Jews as well. It is believed by the Jews and the Christians that the rock beneath the Dome of the Rock is the place where Prophet Abraham AS tied Prophet Issac AS for the great sacrifice. So the rock held a sacred place for the Jews.
· Hope for Reconstruction of Temple Mount:
Jews are hopeful that one day they will reconstruct the Temple Mount. This optimistic prospect binds them with Jerusalem and Masjid Al Aqsa through their hearts.
· Historical and Religious Significance:
Masjid Al Aqsa and Jerusalem have historical and religious importance for the Jews. The Jewish history revolves around Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Solomon’s Temple. So the places have religious importance for the Jews. Many prophets of Bani Israel are buried in Palestine, so it becomes a sacred place for the Jews.
Current Situation of Gaza Strip:
It’s been more than a month since Israeli troops have been bombarding innocent citizens of Palestine. It all begins with the offensive attack of HAMMAS, a Palestinian military organization.
The offensive attack of HAMMAS was a brief action, but the Israeli reaction has crossed all the limits. Thousands of innocent Palestinian citizens, including kids and women, have martyred to date. A complete hospital has changed to rubble with heavy bombardment, along with 500 peaceful doctors and helpless victims of Israeli bombing.
Masjid Al Aqsa has an iconic significance for both the Muslims and the Jews. There are reasons behind this significance. Masjid Al Aqsa is in the spotlight of the international media nowadays because of the Israel-Palestine war. Innocent citizens are suffering in this war. It is the moral duty of the international powers to intervene in the situation and bring peace to the entire region. The UNO and OIC should play a vital role in bringing peace back to Middle East.