Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock: Jewels of Jerusalem

Travel Contributor
Today's Focus
© Ram Das |

During the time of the Prophet (saw) or shortly after his death, Jerusalem was a distant holy place of pilgrimage for Muslims. After 630 AD, when Syria and Iraq came under Muslim rule, Jerusalem became a Muslim city. At the same time, the Al-Aqsa Mosque became an important structure of the Muslim Empire. This mosque is revered by the three Abrahamic religions.

Al-Aqsa as the first Qibla of the Muslims

When the Prophet (SAW) was instructed to perform the obligatory five daily prayers for the Muslims, he was instructed to perform the prayers facing the city of Jerusalem. This means that the first Qibla of the Muslims was towards Jerusalem. In addition, the city of Jerusalem has been considered as a highly revered holy place of pilgrimage for Muslims due to the arrival of many prophets.

During Miraj

On the night of Miraj, the Prophet (saw) first went from Makkah to the city of Jerusalem and prayed there with all the Prophets. After performing the prayers, he went on the rest of the journey to Miraj and went to see Allah.

The time before and after the Prophet (saw)

According to Muslims, Islam is not a new religion, which the Prophet (saw) started preaching in Makkah in 610 AD. Rather, this religion is the religion preached by all the prophets and messengers who came before. The Prophet (saw) was originally sent to fulfill this religion, which became distorted in the course of time. Muslims consider all previous prophets as their own prophets. In that context, the mosque and shrine built by Sulayman (AS) in Jerusalem has been considered by Muslims as part of their own history.

In 636 AD, Jerusalem came under the control of Muslims during the time of Umar (R). They then tried to build Jerusalem as a holy place of pilgrimage. The old shrine built by Sulayman (AS) has been rebuilt many times in different times of history.

The ruins of the old shrine were reduced to rubble over the next few hundred years. When Umar (R) entered the city of Jerusalem, when he wanted to see the old shrine built by Sulayman (AS) (where the Prophet (saw) prayed with all the Prophets on the night of Miraj), he was shown this rubbish heap. Umar (R) then cleared the place and built a mosque here. The mosque built by Umar (R) was a wooden structure with a capacity of three thousand people. This mosque and the land associated with it have been known to Muslims as Haram Al-Sharif ever since.

Installation of Qubbatus Sakhrah’ or Dome of the Rock

The Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan rebuilt the Al-Aqsa mosque in 690 AD. The present shape of the mosque was built at that time.

From the place where the Prophet (saw) ascended to heaven, Caliph Abdul Malik built a structure called ‘Qubbatus Sakhrah’ (Dome of the Rock). The installation is not a separate installation but part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This installation later became an important example of seventh-century Islamic architecture.

The Dome of the Rock installation is built on a high place in the mosque complex. It is one of the most interesting and significant building structure in the city. The calligraphy of various verses of the Quran is painted on the inner and outer walls of the installation. Inside the installation are some ancient calligraphy paintings done on the dome. According to some, Caliph Abdul Malik wanted to build the structure in imitation of the Kaaba in Makkah. But no historical facts have been found to support this saying.

After the fall of the Umayyads in 650 AD, Jerusalem came under Abbasid rule. The Abbasid Dynasty established their capital in Baghdad, Iraq. Being far from the capital, the Abbasids, unlike the Umayyads, could not pay attention to Al-Aqsa and provided the necessary funds for its development. But even then, it was considered an important pilgrimage site for Muslims.

Al-Aqsa has influenced a large part of the Muslim consciousness. Although this mosque, the first mosque of the Muslims, is now occupied by the aggressive Zionists. The Muslim world dreams that one Muslims will be able to pray freely and without restrictions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in independent Palestine.

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