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The Holy City

To Muslims Jerusalem houses one of the holiest Mosques, the Masjid al Aqsa and represents a place of greatest religious significance. This needs to be appreciated by the West before a sincere bridge of mutual friendship, is built.

Muslims’ call to rule over Jerusalem is not driven by colonist, nationalist or material motives. The love of every grain in the Holy City is sacred to Muslims. As Muslims’ respect all the Prophets revered by Judaism and Christianity and their venerated places are also central to the ethos of Islam.

It is only by entrusting the custody of the Holy City to the Muslims can the present Judaisation of Jerusalem come to a halt and morally open the city to all the three faiths.

To quote a few Qur’anic verses and sayings of Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] with regard to Jerusalem will indicate the importance Masjid al Aqsa and therefore Jerusalem has assumed upon the Muslims hearts.

1. The miraculous journey of the holy Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] from Makkah to Masjid al Aqsa (al Isra) and his ascension through the heavens (al Ma’araj) has linked Jerusalem to the Muslims hearts and minds. The Holy Qur’an states:

Glory to Allah who did take His Servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) to the Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem) whose precincts We did bless (al-Isra 17: 1)

- The Lord Almighty had at in His power to have taken the Prophet Muhammad e from Makkah straight up to the heavens. However, to impress the importance of Jerusalem upon Muslims the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] was first taken to Masjid al Aqsa in Jerusalem.

- When in Masjid al Aqsa the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] led Salaah and was followed by all the previous Prophets peace be upon him. Hence the whole of Masjid al Aqsa precincts are unique in that this is the only place on earth where all the Prophets peace be upon him performed Salaah in congregation.



 Qubah Al-Sakhrah Mosque

 

- The Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) peace be upon him central to all the three faiths migrated to the land of Canaanite around 1805 BC. The Qur’an states:

We said, O Fire! Be thou cool and safety for Ibrahim. Then they planned against him, but We made them the greater losers. But We delivered him and (his nephew) Lot (and directed them) to the land which We have blessed for the nations (Al-Anbiyaa 21: 69-71)


2. The sacredness of Jerusalem is emphasised on numerous places in the Holy Qur’an. The Apostles of Allah, Muhammad [peace be upon him] and also Prophet Musa (Mosses) [peace be upon him] alluded to it. The Holy Qur’an reports Prophet Musa [peace be upon him] telling his people:

O my people! Enter the holy land…
(Al-Maida 5: 21)

3.Further the Holy Qur’an states:

(It was Our power that made) the violent (unruly) Wind flow (tamely) for Sulaman. To his order, to the land Which We had blessed…
(Al-Anbiyaa 21: 81)

4. Masjid al Aqsa and therefore Jerusalem’s importance was further emphasised by the sayings of Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]:

(a) According to Islamic teachings there are only three places to which it is desirable to undertake a journey for the purpose of Salaah.

Abu Huraira [ra] is quoted as saying that Allah’s Messenger [peace be upon him] said, ‘set out deliberately on a journey only to three mosques: this mosque of mine (in Medina), the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) and the Masjid al Aqsa (in Jerusalem) (Bukhari & Muslim)

(b) The virtues of praying in Masjid al Aqsa are exalted:

Abu Darda [ra] is quoted as saying that the Prophet of Allah Muhammad [peace be upon him] said, a prayer in the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) is worth 100, 000 prayers, a prayer in my mosque (in Medina) is worth 1, 000 and a prayer in Jerusalem is worth 500 prayers more than in an any other mosque. (Bukhari)

As part of another tradition, on the authority of Maimunah bint Sa’d, it is reported that, upon being asked about a person who is unable to travel to the Masjid al Aqsa, the Messenger of Allah [peace be upon him] said, ‘He should make a gift of oil to be burnt therein, for He who gives a gift to the Masjid al Aqsa will be like one who has prayed Salaah therein.’ (Ahmad & Ibn Majah)

(c) The Masjid al Aqsa is the second house of prayer established on earth:

Abu Dhar [ra] is quoted as saying, I asked the beloved Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] which was the first mosque on earth? ‘The Sacred Mosque (in Makkah),’ he said. And then which, I asked? ‘Masjid al Aqsa,’ he said. I further asked, what was the time span between the two? ‘Forty years,’ the Prophet [peace be upon him] replied. (Muslim)

(d) Abu Umamah al Bahili [ra] reports that the Prophet of Allah [peace be upon him] as saying, ‘A group of my ummah will remain firm upon the truth, dominating their enemies. They will not be harmed by their opponents until Allah’s decree arrives upon them. They asked, ‘Oh Prophet of Allah [peace be upon him]! Where will they be?’ He replied, ‘In Bait al Maqdis and its surrounding areas. (Ahmad)

5. The Masjid al Aqsa was the First Qibla (the direction to which Muslims faced when praying Salaah):

The centrality, historical and cultural significance of Masjid al Aqsa is further emphasised by the fact that Muslims used to turn towards Jerusalem when they prayed. This was practised until 16 to 17 months after hijra, when Allah I commanded in His wisdom, for the Muslims to face Makkah. The importance of Masjid al Aqsa remained and all the worship performed facing Masjid al Aqsa was good and valid.

6. The resting place of Prophets [peace be upon him] and Prophet’s companions [ra]:

The land of Palestine has in it some of the noblest souls the earth has seen. The graves of many Prophet’s are in Palestine. Including Ibrahim peace be upon him, Yakub peace be upon him, Ishaq [peace be upon them] and according to some commentators there are over 100 Prophets buried in Palestine.

Palestine also has the bodies of some of the closest companions of the Prophet e and thus the first generation Muslims. Included in these are the graves of Ubada ibn al Samit, Shaddad ibn Aws ibn Thabit al Ansari and Tamim al Dari [ra].

7. Merits of Performing Haj or Umrah from Masjid al Aqsa:

Umm Salamah [ra] narrates that she heard the Prophet [peace be upon him] saying, ‘whosoever starts his Umrah or Haj from Masjid al Aqsa his wrong actions will be forgiven, both past and future.’ In another version, he is reported to have said that Paradise would be his reward. (Targheb)

8. Freedom of the Holy City.

After the battle of Yarmuk the Muslim forces under the command of Abu Ubaydahr alay siege to Jerusalem. The inhabitants consented to surrender on condition the Khalifa, Umar ibn al Khattabr acame in person. Umar [ra] travelled to Palestine and formally received the keys to the city in 637 AC. On his arrival, he concluded the famous peace treaty with the people of Holy City. This opened the doors to the Jews, who were denied access for thousands of years and for the first time Jerusalem under Muslim rule became truly an OPEN CITY to all the three faiths. Throughout Muslim rule of over one thousand two hundred years of Jerusalem, members of Jewish, Christianity and Islam found a heaven to prosper from. Muslim rule enabled the city to live up to its rightful title of ‘The Holy City’ as it encompassed all the believers in One God to go about their business without hindrance.

 



 Qubah Al-Sakhrah Mosque

Jerusalem: Al-Quds

The city of Jerusalem is known in Arabic as "Al-Quds" or "Baitul-Maqdis" ("The Noble, Sacred Place").  Jerusalem is perhaps the only city in the world that is considered historically and spiritually significant to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.  Perhaps you are wondering why Jerusalem is considered a holy city in Islam?  Why is this place so important to Muslims?

Jerusalem is known as the land of many prophets, peace be upon them all.   Muslims revere all of the "Biblical" prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus - peace be upon them all.  They all taught the Oneness of God.  One writer describes that "the sanctification of the connection between Mecca and Jerusalem is like a blessed tree, watered by the strivings and yearnings and self-sacrifice of Prophets, saints, soldiers, artisans, women, and people of all walks of life and nationalities who revered Jerusalem as the Holy City of God and as a symbol of human submission to the One Creator" (Nusseibeh, "Monotheism in Two Sacred Sanctuaries").

Jerusalem was the first "Qibla" for Muslims - the place toward which Muslims turned in prayer.  It was many years into the Islamic mission (16 months after the Hijrah), that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was instructed to change the Qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca (Qur'an 2:142-144).  It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad said, "There are only three mosques to which you should embark on a journey: the sacred mosque (Mecca, Saudi Arabia), this mosque of mine (Madinah, Saudi Arabia), and the mosque of Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem)."

It is Jerusalem that Muhammad (peace be upon him) visited during his night journey and ascension (called "Israa and Miraaj").  In one evening, the angel Gabriel miraculously took the Prophet from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to the Furthest Mosque (Al-Aqsa) in Jerusalem.  He was then taken up to the heavens to be shown the signs of God.  The Prophet met with previous prophets and led them in prayer.  He was then taken back to Mecca.  The whole experience (which Muslim commentators take literally and Muslims believe as a miracle) lasted a few hours of a night.  The event of Israa and Miraaj is mentioned in the Qur’an, in the first verse of Chapter 17 entitled 'The Children of Israel.’

"Glory to Allah, Who did take His servant for a journey by night, from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless - in order that We might show him some of Our signs.  For He is the One who hears and knows all things." (17:1)

This night journey further reinforced the link between Mecca and Jerusalem as holy cities, and serves as an example of every Muslim's deep devotion and spiritual connection with Jerusalem.

It is the hope of every Muslim that the Holy Land will be restored to a land of peace.
 



Qibli Mosque, not Al-Aqsa Mosque
 

 


 

 

 









جميع الحقوق محفوظة لموقع الشيخ أحمد ياسين - القاهرة 2006