The Noble Qur’aan mentions the noble sanctuary of Masjid al Aqsa and the blessed land of Al Quds and the wider Shaam directly and indirectly over 70 times.
Masjid al Aqsa is the only Masjid besides the Ka’bah in Makkah that is mentioned by name in the Qur’an. This mention is contained in the famous opening verse of Surah Isra, Chapter 17 that recounts the miraculous Isra and Mi’raj journey of the Prophet Muhammad SAW:
“Glorified is He Who carried His servant by night from the Holy Masjid[in Makkah] to the farthest Masjid[in Jerusalem] whose surroundings We have blessed that We may show him some of Our Signs. Indeed, He Alone is All Hearing, All Seeing”.
This verse not only makes mention of Masjid al Aqsa, but also empahsizes its surroundings to be blessed.
Likewise, in chronicling the stories of a succession of Prophets of Allah, the Qur’aan refers to the land of Shaam, Palestine and Masjid al Aqsa, as “Holy Land”, “blessed land,” and a land “blessed for the nations”.
The Qur’aan also makes mention of the the land of Shaam in symbolic terms.
Another verse of Surah Al Isra(Qur’aan 17:7) makes direct reference to Masjid al Aqsa:
“And when the promise of your next transgression comes to be fulfilled, they will disgrace you utterly and enter the masjid as they entered it the first time, and utterly destroy whatever they come upon”
In a treatise expounding the merits of the al-Aqsa mosque, Shams al Din al Suyuti( 813-880/1410-1475) provides a summary drawn from earlier Qur’anic commentators on some 10 verses which they linked to the Holy Land of Palestine and its environs.
In addition to Surah Isra, verse one, mentioned above, other verses from his selection include:
(2:58) “And [recall] when We said, “Enter this city and eat from it wherever you will in [ease and] abundance, and enter the gate bowing humbly and say, ‘Relieve us of our burdens.’ We will [then] forgive your sins for you, and We will increase the doers of good [in goodness and reward].”– This verse was addressed to the Bani Israeel
(21:71) “And We delivered him[Ibrahim] and Lut to the land which We had blessed for the worlds”
(23:50) “And We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign and sheltered them within a lofty place of lasting restfulness and unsullied springs”
(5:21) “O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah ‘s cause] and [thus] become losers.” – These are the words of the Prophet Musa AS
(50:41) “And be on alert for a day when the caller shall call from a close quarter” – Some have suggested the Angel Israfeel will blow the Trumpet from the precincts of Masjid al Aqsa
(70: 43) “The Day they will as if they were, racing towards a goalpost, emerge from the graves rapidly” – It has been said that this could refer to Masjid al Aqsa
(10:93) “And We had certainty settled the Children of Israel in a most goodly abode..” – this is said to refers to Shaam and Jerusalem
(95:1) “By the fig and the olive” – The fig, according to the Sahabi, Sayyidina Uqba ibn Amir RA, refers to Damascus, and the olive to Jerusalem
(57:13) “On the [same] Day the hypocrite men and hypocrite women will say to those who believed, “Wait for us that we may acquire some of your light.” It will be said, “Go back behind you and seek light.” And a wall will be placed between them with a door, its interior containing mercy, but on the outside of it is torment.” – Some have said these are the walls of Jerusalem, within the walls are the gates of mercy, and outside, the valley of Hell[And Allah SWT Knows Best]
Other verses of the Qur’an referring to the blessed land of Al Quds and Masjid al Aqsa include:
(7:137) “And We caused the people who had been oppressed to inherit the eastern regions of the land and the western ones, which We had blessed. And the good word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of what they had patiently endured. And We destroyed [all] that Pharaoh and his people were producing and what they had been building” – Allah SWT here informs us of His pouring of Divine Blessings onto the land both to the East and West of al Quds
(21:81) “And to Sulaymaan(Solomon) [We subjected] the wind, blowing forcefully, proceeding by his command toward the land which We had blessed. And We are ever, of all things, Knowing” – The Kingdom of Sulaymaan AS was in present-day Palestine, and had al Quds(Jerusalem) as its capital.
(34: 12-13) “And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind – its morning [journey was that of] a month – and its afternoon [journey was that of] a month, and We made flow for him a spring of [liquid] copper. And among the jinn were those who worked for him by the permission of his Lord. And whoever deviated among them from Our command – We will make him taste of the punishment of the Blaze. They made for him what he willed of elevated chambers, statues, bowls like reservoirs, and stationary kettles. [We said], “Work, O family of David, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful.” – Ibn Ashur writes that the building of Jerusalem by Sulayman AS, is alluded to in these verses.
(34:18) “And We placed between them and the cities which We had blessed [many] visible cities. And We determined between them the [distances of] journey, [saying], “Travel between them by night or day in safety.” – The reference to the blessed cities here refer to the cities of Shaam including al Quds.
(38: 21-22) “And has there come to you the news of the adversaries, when they climbed over the wall of [his] prayer chamber – When they entered upon David and he was alarmed by them? They said, “Fear not. [We are] two adversaries, one of whom has wronged the other, so judge between us with truth and do not exceed [it] and guide us to the sound path” – The Mihrab mentioned above, was situated within the Masjid al Aqsa Compound.
(3:37) “So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zakariyyah(Zechariah). Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mariam(Mary), from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”” – The Mihrab mentioned here was also in the Masjid al Aqsa compound. Here she meditated and prayed to Allah SWT
(3:39) “So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the chamber, “Indeed, Allah gives you good tidings of Yahya(John), confirming a word from Allah and [who will be] honorable, abstaining [from women], and a prophet from among the righteous.” – Sayyidina Zakariyya AS, who was an Imam of Masjid al Aqsa, beseeched Allah SWT to be blessed with a son, despite his advanced age. Allah SWT responded to his fervent Duas, and the glad tidings of his offspring was conveyed to him as he stood at his Mihrab inside Masjid al Aqsa
(106: 1-2) “For the accustomed security of the Quraysh – Their accustomed security [in] the caravan of winter and summer” – Through this expression, Allah SWT refers to the summer trade journeys the Quraish embarked on to Shaam, and the winter expeditions to Yemen.
(5:22) “They said, “O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter.” – Reference here is to the land of Shaam and the City of al Quds
(5:26) “[Allah] said, “Then indeed, it is forbidden to them for forty years [in which] they will wander throughout the land. So do not grieve over the defiantly disobedient people.” – Reference here is to the land of Shaam and the City of al Quds, that the Bani Israeel were prohibited to enter for a duration, due to their iniquity.
(7:161) “And [mention, O Muhammad], when it was said to them, “Dwell in this city and eat from it wherever you will and say, ‘Relieve us of our burdens,’ and enter the gate bowing humbly; We will [then] forgive you your sins. We will increase the doers of good [in goodness and reward].” – Reference here is to the City of al Quds
(17:104) “And We said after Pharaoh to the Children of Israel, “Dwell in the land, and when there comes the promise of the Hereafter, We will bring you forth in [one] gathering.” – Reference here is to the land of Shaam and the City of al Quds
(28:6) “And establish them in the land and show Pharaoh and [his minister] Haman and their soldiers through them that which they had feared.” – Reference here is to the land of Shaam and the City of al Quds
(38:18-20) “Indeed, We subjected the mountains [to praise] with him, exalting [Allah] in the [late] afternoon and [after] sunrise. And the birds were assembled, all with him repeating [praises]. And We strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and discernment in speech” – This awe-inspiring sight was beheld in the environs of Masjid al Aqsa, where Dawood(David) AS had been based. The mountains are none other than the mountains of Jerusalem.
(2:259) “Or [consider such an example] as the one who passed by a township which had fallen into ruin. He said, “How will Allah bring this to life after its death?” So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years; then He revived him. He said, “How long have you remained?” The man said, “I have remained a day or part of a day.” He said, “Rather, you have remained one hundred years. Look at your food and your drink; it has not changed with time. And look at your donkey; and We will make you a sign for the people. And look at the bones [of this donkey] – how We raise them and then We cover them with flesh.” And when it became clear to him, he said, “I know that Allah is over all things competent.” – Imam Baghawi, in his Tafsir of the verse above states that “the township” is most likely alluding to al Quds, and the person mentioned is most likely Prophet Aramiyah AS
(19:16) “Recite in the Book the account of Maryam(Mary), when she withdrew from her people to a place towards the east” – The miraculous conception and birth of Sayyidina Isa(Jesus) AS to Sayyidah Maryam AS took place in the blessed vicinity of Al Quds
(19:22) “So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place.”- The miraculous conception and birth of Sayyidina Isa(Jesus) AS to Sayyidah Maryam AS took place in the blessed vicinity of Al Quds
(17: 160) “And [remember, O Muhammad], when We told you, “Indeed, your Lord has encompassed the people.” And We did not make the sight which We showed you except as a trial for the people, as was the accursed tree [mentioned] in the Qur’an. And We threaten them, but it increases them not except in great transgression.” – Regarding this ayah, Sayyidina Ibn Abbas RA mentioned: “The sights which Allah SWT’s Apostle was shown on the Night Journey when he was taken to Bayt al Maqdis, were actual sights – not dreams” (Bukhari)
(24:36) “[Such niches are] in mosques which Allah has ordered to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings”- The virtues mentioned here are general to all Masaajid. However, some commentators have said this refers, in specific, to the Ka’bah, Masjid Nabawi SAW and Masjid al Aqsa – the three most blessed sites in Islam.