Prior to embarking on a voyage for Hajj or Umrah, we typically would attend Hajj classes and expose ourselves to all the relevant educational material in order to acquaint ourselves with the significance of the lands we will be visiting.
Masjid al Aqsa is the 3rd holiest Masjid in our Deen, and a site of immense spiritual and historical significance. Yet, notwithstanding this, the Ummah remains largely ignorant of its importance, and there are very few formal programmes available to shed light on this subject.
The following series of articles is an attempt to fill this void, and entrench a deeper appreciation for Masjid al Aqsa in the consciousness of its readers.
Allah willing, we will voyage through time, presenting the centrality of Masjid al Aqsa from the inception of creation, through the eras of successive Ambiyaa – culminating with Nabi Muhammad SAW, and then extending to the end of time. The current challenges facing Masjid al Aqsa will be sketched and the reader will then be empowered with vital suggestions on how to effectively assist the cause of the Masjid.
May Allah SWT accept this effort and allow it to be a means for us getting to better know and love Masjid al Aqsa.
What is Masjid al Aqsa?
As we will recurrently be making mention of Masjid al Aqsa in this series, it is critical for us to correctly grasp what ‘Masjid al Aqsa’ actually entails, right from the inception.
A significant amount of confusion exists regarding this matter, with messages purporting to clarify in fact only serving to befuddle the understanding even further.
Is Masjid al Aqsa the black domed structure or the gold domed structure? Does one hold a greater significance than the other?
In the most authentic Islamic understanding of these questions, it is neither the black domed building(Musalla al Qibli), nor the gold domed building(the Qubbat as Sakhra/Dome of the Rock), that exclusively accounts for Masjid al Aqsa.
Allah SWT reminds us in the Holy Qur’an that He has blessed the land of Masjid al Aqsa for us and, hence, according to Islamic teachings, ALL the buildings within the walled al-Aqsa Sanctuary and the entirety of its land are sacred right down to every single grain of sand contained therein. Therefore, when we refer to ‘Masjid al-Aqsa’ it is not to any of the specific buildings found upon the land, but rather, the land itself upon which both the Dome of the Rock and the black/grey domed masjid(and other structures) stand.
References to the al-Aqsa Sanctuary/Masjid al-Aqsa are interchangeable terms, and neither of these names refer exclusively to the black domed building. Many have routinely referred to this Salaah facility as Masjid al-Aqsa, whereas, in fact, it should be called Musallah Qibly, which is simply a part of the wider Masjid al Aqsa compound. It is this common misuse of terms that has confused people.
The Masjid al Aqsa compound covers a walled off area of approximately 144 000 m2 on the south-east of al Quds(Jerusalem). There are 44 buildings within the al-Aqsa Sanctuary, including the black domed masjid and the Dome of the Rock. Other structures on the site include the underground Musalla al Marwani, other buildings on site, smaller domes, minarets, schools, fountains, clearings with olive trees and other plants, and monuments.
Many of these structures hold interesting historical significance. However, it should be emphasized that it is the land of the entire compound that is holy and blessed, and not the bricks and mortar of individual structures established on the land.
The entire area is a waqf(endowment) and the spiritual benefits associated with al Aqsa apply equally throughout the site.
This understanding of what constitutes Masjid al Aqsa is especially critical in light of Zionist attempts to divide the Masjid and limit Muslim access to parts of this sacred site.
The accompanying pictures depict the Musalla al Qibli, the Dome of the Rock as well as Masjid al Aqsa in its totality.