April 16, 2009 at 12:11 am (1)
Tags: Al Aqsa, Masjid al aqsa, History of Masjidul Aqsa,
Third holiest Masjid, Third Haram, First Qibla, Jerusalam,
For more than fourteen hundred years, Al Aqsa has been venerated throughout the Muslim world as the third holiest site of Islam. It was to this place that the prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, made his night journey from the Masjid al-haram in Makkah. It was from this site that he, Muhammad, may Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, ascended on the Miraj, his journey through the heavens to his Lord.
In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most kind
Glory be unto Him who carried his servant by night, from the Holy Mosque to the Furthest Mosque, the precinct of which We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs. He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing
For fourteen hundred years, Al Aqsa has dominated the
skyline and the life of
In 638 CE Jerusalem’s thousand years of recurrent religious
persecution, intolerance and oppression were brought to an abrupt halt; ‘Umar
ibn al-Khattab, the second Khalif of Islam, entered al-Quds. ‘Umar entered
It is related that ‘Umar asked Sophronius, the city patriarch, to take him to the sanctuary of David, as soon as he was through writing the terms of the surrender. They were joined by four thousand of the Companions of the Prophet. When they reached the area of the Noble Sanctuary, they found it covered in rubbish. ‘Umar proceeded to the west of the Sanctuary and unfurled his cloak, filling it with debris. His companions did likewise. They disposed of it and returned again and again, until the whole area where the Masjid Al Aqsa now stands, was cleared. The entire area of the Haram ash Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, was over thirty-five acres. The great rock, the site of the Prophet Muhammad’s, may Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, ascension to the heavens on the Miraj and the direction of the first qibla, lay in the centre. A huge timber mosque, which held three thousand worshippers, was erected on the site, the site of the present Al Aqsa mosque.
Fifty years later, near the end of the seventh century, it was given to the Ummayah Khalif, Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, to construct one of the worlds most beautiful and enduring shrines over the rock itself (and it is truly a tribute to the Muslims love and respect of this site). Thabit al-Bunani reported on the authority of Anas that the prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, said:
“I was brought by al-Buraq, an animal white and long, larger
than a donkey but smaller than a mule, whose stride was a distance equal to the
range of its vision. I mounted it and came to
After the completion of the Dome of the Rock, construction began at the site of the original timber mosque at the south end of the sanctuary. A vast congregational mosque, accommodating over five thousand worshippers, was constructed. It became known as Masjid Al Aqsa, although in reality the entire Haram ash-Sharif is considered to be the Al Aqsa mosque with its entire precincts inviolable.
The next five centuries of Muslim rule were characterised by peace, justice and prosperity for all. The Noble sanctuary became a great centre for learning; scholars came from all over the world to worship al Al Aqsa, to study and to teach within its precincts. The people of the book (Jews and Christians) were respected throughout this period.
In 1078, bands of Seljud Turks took
In 1096, Pope Urban called the first crusade. Christians
were mobilised to defend their faith. After three years of marching mayhem, the
remnants of the crusade reached the gates of
Muslim soldiers were slaughtered in Al Aqsa mosque, even
after being guaranteed amnesty there. The cities Jews were burned alive in
their main Synagogue, where they had huddled together for refuge. Al Aqsa and
the Dome of the Rock were looted. A golden cross was placed on top of the Dome
of the Rock. It was renamed
In the Dome of the Rock Quaranic inscriptions were plastered over. Steps were carved into the Rock and an altar placed on top of it. Chips of the Rock were sold for their weight in gold. The Al Aqsa mosque was sub-divided in to a royal palace as well as headquarters and barracks of the Knights Templar. The east of Al Aqsa became a stable for four hundred horses.
In 1146, Nuradeen Zangi, ruler of
The cross on the Dome of the Rock was taken down. Al Aqsa
was purified with rose water and reinstated as a mosque. The magnificent
member, commissioned by Nuradeen forty years before, was installed. The jummah
prayer was held once again in the Furthest Mosque. The right of Jews and
Christians to worship at their holy sites was guaranteed and Salahudeen’s
authority in all but the coastal areas of
By the early sixteenth century, Ottoman Turks displaced them
and in the process established a vast empire, which encompassed Constantinople,
In the nineteenth century, Consular offices representing the
European powers were set up in the old city to begin exerting influence from
abroad, while a new political movement was being cultivated that could exercise
power from within Palestine. Secular Zionism denied the prophetic message
whilst at the same time used it for the basis of their claim for a Jewish state
When British forces entered
In 1967, they got their opportunity. On 7th June, the
Israelis took Al Quds. Israeli tanks and soldiers entered the Noble Sanctuary.
Fearing retribution from the Muslim world, the Attorney
General banned such acts in the spring of 1969. Four months later the entire
south wing of the Al Aqsa mosque was destroyed by fire. When the fire was
finally extinguished, the Qibla wall, mihrab and dome were destroyed and with
them the member commissioned by Nuradeen over seven hundred years earlier;
installed by Salahudeen when the crusaders were driven out in the twelfth
century. An Australian visitor was arrested that night for starting the blaze.
An Israeli court ruled that the Australian could not be held responsible for
his actions due to mental imbalance. After treatment in
Two decades later work on the restoration of the damage caused by this fire continued with the support of Muslims from around the world. And although the work has won numerous international awards for excellence, the restoration has, nonetheless, disrupted worship in Al Aqsa since 1969. Attempts to establish Jewish prayer ceremonies within the sanctuary continued. In 1976, Israeli centre courts passed a law permitting them to do so. In September 1979, fifteen Jewish extremists blocked the way to one of the Sanctuaries gates on the day of the Friday congregational prayer.
In May of 1981, the Adhan was prohibited from the minaret of
the west wall because of Jewish celebrations. The following month, the Hakam of
the Wailing Wall petitioned the minister of religious affairs in
Excavations beneath Al Aqsa continued with Israeli archaeologists claiming the discovery of Jewish ruins under the mosque. In 1982, a parcel with a fake bomb and threats signed by Jewish extremists was discovered at one of the gates leading to the Sanctuary. Two days later Muslims mobilised a demonstration in Al Aqsa to protest attacks on holy places. The following day an ex-Israeli army regular opened fire, killing two Muslims and filling the exterior interior of the Dome of the Rock with bullet holes.
Less than a month later shots were fired into the sanctuary by a sniper on the rooftop of the Madrassa Amriyya and a group of Israelis tried to enter the Sanctuary with leaflets inciting Jews to take over the mosque.
In March 1983, Muslim security guards discovered explosives in the entrance to the Sanctuary on the day of the Friday prayer. Four armed Israelis were discovered attempting to enter the Sanctuary through Solomon’s Stables. The same month a group of Jewish fanatics armed with Uzi’s and M-16’s and carrying a cache of explosives were caught attempting to enter the Sanctuary.
In January of 1984, a group of Jewish terrorist carrying
ladders and explosives were stopped in the Sanctuary by Muslim security guards
in the middle of the night. Four days later time bombs were discovered at one
of its gates. By the spring of 1984, armed Israeli guards were patrolling the
Sanctuary twenty-four hours a day, their presence and behaviour inimical to the
sanctity of the mosque. The Supreme Muslim Council petitioned the Israeli Prime
Minister repeatedly to withdraw the soldiers but to no effect. With no response
forthcoming from the Israelis, The Supreme Muslim Council petitioned the UN in
May 1984 to pressurise
On June 15th 1988, Israeli troops stormed Al Aqsa mosque, firing tear gas into groups of worshippers. A month later, the discovery of new excavations adjacent to the Sanctuary led to more civil disorder. Harassment and acts of terrorism against Muslims living adjacent to the Sanctuary are part of an ongoing policy to drive them out of the area.
In another desperate attempt, a Jewish group attacked worshippers on 8th October 1991. Twenty-one young Muslims gave their lives in protecting the Noble Sanctuary, and lighting for us candles showing the way to Al Aqsa – the Furthest Mosque. Not to the idol that the temple became, where prophets were slaughtered and the pure religion of Ibrahim al-Islam were rejected – but to the site where from the messenger of Allah, Muhammad, may Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, ascended through the heavens to his Lord.
Shahbaz Husain, 1995
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