by Latheef Farook :
Masjid Al Aqsa, the first qibla of the Muslims, second oldest masjid after Makkah and the third most important holy place in Islam after Makka and Madina is located in the city of Jerusalem known to Muslims worldwide as Al Quds (The Holy) or Baitul Muqaddis (The House of Holiness).
The historical significance of the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Islam lies in the fact that the early Muslims turned towards it in prayer for a period of around seventeen months after the hijra or migration to Medina in 624 AC.
Thus it became the qibla (direction) that Muslims faced for prayer.
According to Allame Tabatabayee, Allah prepared Muslims for the change of the qibla, first by revealing the story of Ibrahim and his son Ishmael, and their prayers for Makkah, their construction of the House of Allah (Ka’aba) and the order to cleanse it of idols for the worship of the One True God-Allah. Then Quranic verses were revealed which ordered Muslims to turn towards Masjid al-Haram, the Holy Mosque in Makkah in their prayers.[Qur’an 2:142–151]
Masjid Al Aqsa is the place where Prophet Ibrahim, the patriarch of all the three great monotheistic faiths Judaism, Christianity and Islam prayed. It was in this very same Masjid that Allah resurrected and assembled all the prophets and messengers for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to lead the prayer with them during his divine night journey to the heavens. Allah chose the Masjid of Jerusalem for this greatest prayer, for the first time in history, because of its purity, nobility, distinction and highest standing.
The ascension of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), from the rock beneath the Qubbat Al Sakhra Mosque known as Dome of the Rock to heaven remains the loftiest spiritual event in the history of Islam and highlights the importance of Jerusalem for Muslims. The direct ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from Makkah to heaven would have been possible for Allah, but He wanted it to take place from Jerusalem. That miraculous journey drew attention of Muslims to the specificity of Jerusalem and its extraordinary divine claim.
However, despite all this religious significance of Jerusalem for Muslims, the Zionist Jews who occupied East Jerusalem in their war of aggression in June 1967 have been repeatedly conspiring to destroy Masjid Al Aqsa and build in its place a new Solomon’s Temple, the older temple having been destroyed by the Romans in 70 AC, the remnants of which are only seen today as a wall known to Jews as the Wailing Wall. As part of this conspiracy they commenced a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing the Palestinians who had been living there for generations.rock
Close up of the rock from where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ascended to heaven.
In this move the Zionists have been, directly and indirectly, backed by the United States, United Kingdom, France and Russia for long. Now they are being backed by US President Barack Obama, known for his longstanding avid support to Israel and described by Jeffery Goldberg, the most influential journalist on matters related to Israel, as more pro Israeli than either Ehud Olmert or Ehud Barak ( J Goldberg.New York Times,18 May 2009).In fact Obama told an American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee-AIPAC- audience in clear and bold diction that;
“Let me be clear, Israel’s security is sacrosanct. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided”.
In other words Obama openly assured the Zionist lobby that, on being elected as president of the United States, he would recognize Israel’s unfounded claim over Masjid Al Aqsa.
In doing so Obama was very well aware that East Jerusalem is a city occupied by Israel in its war of aggression. The irony is that a Presidential candidate of the United States, the most powerful country on earth, needs to please Jewish lobbies to enter the White House and also serve the Zionists despite their criminal records of which there are many such as the infamous massacre at Deir Yessin, a village inhabited by innocent Muslim and Christian Palestinians and now the recent genocide in Gaza.
Obama made this statement with no respect at all for international law, moral principles or the religious sentiments of Muslims worldwide, America’s trade and other relations with the Muslim countries, the economic impact on America and on top of all worldwide Muslim anger.
What can Muslims now expect from President Obama and his Zionist and neo con dominated administration hell bent on protecting Israel? Already the US Congress, more a Zionist Congress, voted in 1995 to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem in clear violation of international laws. In June 2009 President Obama postponed the move by a further six months. He would perhaps love to hand over full control of Masjid Al Aqsa to the Israelis and hence ensure Jewish support for a second presidential bid for the White House. Perhaps a little bit of wisdom had dawned on him about the consequences of doing so, especially in the light of the attachment of Muslims to Masjid Al Aqsa through the explicit words of Holy Quran ( Al Israa 17;1).
Thus the seriousness of the threat to Jerusalem and Masjid Al Aqsa.
The question is what has around one and half billion Muslims worldwide done to save Masjid Al Aqsa from the designs of Zionist Jews and their supporters in the US led West. There was a time when the Arab rulers, most of them lackeys of the Judeo-Christian West, met at glittering conference halls and issued statements emphasizing the need to protect Jerusalem. They dispersed asking the international community to deal with the Israeli conspiracy .However they never took, individually or jointly, any substantial step to protect Masjid Al Aqsa, let alone liberating.
The al Buraq wall or Western Wall where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) tied his animal, the Buraq, on the night journey of al Isra is what the Jews call the Wailing Wall. To Muslims it is the land of the Haram Sharif area which is most holy and important. The Haram area of Al Aqsa of about 144,000 square meters has within it the Masjid Al Aqsa [Black Domed Mosque] and Dome of the Rock [the Golden Domed Mosque].
Over the years Jerusalem came to be known as Al-Quds-The Holy. Many of the Prophet’s Companions traveled to worship at the blessed spot from where the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ascended to the heavens. According to the authentic tradition of the Prophet, travel for the sake of worship is undertaken to only three mosques; the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina and the Furthest Mosque-Masjid Al Aqsa- in Jerusalem.
Muslims’ respect all the Prophets revered by Judaism and Christianity and thus their venerated places are also central to the ethos of Islam. The land of Palestine has in it some of the noblest souls the earth has seen. The graves of many Prophets such as Ibrahim, Yakub and Ishaq are in Palestine 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 (pbuh) and thus the first generation of Muslims. These include the graves of Ubada ibn al Samit, Shaddad ibn Aws ibn Thabit al Ansari and Tamim al Dari [ra].
The Prophet Ibrahim migrated to the land of Canaan around 2900 BC. The Holy 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). The Holy Qur’an reports Prophet Musa telling his people: O my people! Enter the holy land… (Al-Maida 5: 21) ).
Umm Salamah [ra] narrates that she heard the Prophet [ pbuh] 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. (Targheeb).
How Umar Captured
There is no historic record or evidence showing when the land of Palestine was inhabited. However archaeological discoveries point to the first known settlements of Canaanites and Amorites around 10th Century BC.
According to ancient tradition, Jerusalem was first a small village known as Salem inhabited by Canaanites, the ancestors of the Palestinians. A great and righteous Canaanite king Melchizedek, a contemporary of the Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) who lived around 2900 BC, turned this village into a city and called it Ursalem (The City of Peace) which the Jews turned into Yerushalayim which eventually became Jerusalem.
Most scholars are of the opinion that Masjidul Al Aqsa, first built by Prophet Adam, was the second Masjid on earth built 40 years after building the Ka’ba in Makkah.
It was rebuilt several times. For example Prophet Ibrahim rebuilt Masjid Al Aqsa as he and his son Ismail rebuilt the Ka’ba in Makkah followed by Prophet Daud. It was Prophet Sulayman who finally completed the building of Masjid Al Aqsa which was later destroyed in 587 BC by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.
The Jews regard this same Masjid Al Aqsa built by Prophet Sulayman as their Temple. They re-built their Temple on the same site in 167 BC but it was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans when the Jews were banished from Jerusalem. Since then the site of Masjid Al Aqsa remained barren and was used as a rubbish heap for nearly 600 years until the Caliph Umar Ibn Khattab liberated Jerusalem in 637/8 AD.
Caliph Umar, as stated earlier, began the foundation of Masjidul Al Aqsa and built a timber mosque. The Umayyad Khalifah, Abd’ al Malik ibn Marwan in 691/2 began the construction of the Dome of the Rock called Qubbat Al Sakhra Masjid. This is one of the world’s most beautiful and enduring architectural treasures to date. The gold dome stretches 20 meters across the Noble Rock, rising to an apex more than 35 meters above it. The Qur’anic verse ‘Ya Sin’ inscribed across the top in the dazzling tile work was commissioned in the 16th century by Turkey’s Ottoman Ruler Suleiman the Magnificent.