Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al Habtoor Information & Research

At the heart of Jerusalem is the Noble Sanctuary, Al-Haram al-Sharif, over 35 acres, most of it is open areas. It comprises large square of fountains, gardens, buildings and domes. At one end of the place is the main mosque, Al Masjid Al Qibli, with its lead plated dome while at its centre the golden Dome of the Rock. The entire area is surrounded with Al Aqsa wall, over it Al Aqsas four minarets rise.

Al Aqsa name is used to describe the whole area surrounded by the wall at the southern-eastern end of walled old Jerusalem. The place encompasses more than 200 buildings, domes, schools, wells, etc. Then it is not only the mosque with the golden dome, the Dome of the Rock, nor the mosque with lead dome, Al Masjid Al Qibli. Both of them are part of the walled Al Aqsa mosque.

Adam (PBUH) was the first to build Al Aqsa, the area enclosed by the wall which has not changed since then. Before that there was no other building. The place was reconstructed by Abraham (PBUH) 2000 BC. Constructions were done after that by his progeny- Isaac, Jacob. Solomon renovated it in 1000 BC.

In Islamic era, Umayyad caliphs were the first to build Al Aqsa Mosque according to its current configuration. They built the Dome of the Rock and Al Masjid Al Qibli. Construction works lasted for 30 years. Renovations and additional structures were made later on by Abbasid, Ayyobian, Ayoubi, Mamluke, and Ottoman caliphs.

According to Islam teachings, a prayer in Al Masjid Al Aqsa- whether inside the Dome of the Rock, Al Masjid Al Qibli, underneath any of its trees, or underneath any of its domes- is equivalent to many prayers elsewhere. That is because all the walled area is actually Al Masjid Al Aqsa, not like what Israeli Media alleges saying the Al Masjid Al Aqsa is only the Dome of the Rock or Al Masjid Al Qibli. Israel wants Islamic to forget that all the walled area is Al Aqsa, the third most holy land for Muslims.

Al Aqsa has five closed gates and 10 open gates. The latter are: Asbat, Hitta, Prophets (Faisal), Ghawaima (Al Khalil), Al Nazir, Hadeed, Qattaneen, Mutawadaa (Mutahara), Silsila, and Magharibah.

Al Magharibah Gate

Al Magharibah gate is located at the western side of Al Aqsas wall. A rump was constructed over sand hill to make a single unit with the wall. Therefore, the rump and the hill are indispensable part of Al Aqsa. The gate and the road reaching is has been used by Muslims to reach Al Aqsa for prayers for centuries. The gate was named after the neighborhood to the west of the wall, Al Magharibah, which was inhabited by migrants from North Africa (Al Magrib) who came to Jerusalem after being liberated from Crusaders by Salahuldin.

In 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem and seized Al Magharibah neighborhood on the pretext that it overlooked Al Buraq Wall (Wailing Wall as it is called by Israelis). Israel claimed that Al Buraq was a part of their alleged temple. They leveled the entire place regardless the many Islamic historical buildings exiting there and named the place as wailing square. It was one of the early steps taken by the Israelis to impost Jewish identity on the entire Jerusalem old city.

Israelis seized the keys of Al Magharibah Gate and prevented Muslims from using it since 1967. Only Jews and foreign tourists are permitted to use the gate. It has been used also by Israeli military to enter Al Aqsa.

Not only this, since 1967 Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa has been the target of several attempts by the Israelis to destroy or burn it, including several attempts to bring about its collapse through underground excavations on the pretext of searching for the alleged temple.

The excavation destabilized the hill upon which Al Magharibah Gate is located. On 15 February 2004, a 100 meters long part of the wall collapsed. Last year Israelis said they would remove the entire historical road. This would constitute a mass abuse of Al Aqsa Mosque. Apart from being integral part of Al Aqsa, the hill and the road support the wall. Demolishing them will inevitably destabilize the foundations of Al Aqsa.

Al Aqsa was the first qibla for Muslims; they used to turn towards it when they prayed. It is the second house of God after Kaabah in Mecca, and the third holiest site in Islam.

It was the place at which Prophet Mohammad, PBUH, made his Miraj- ascending to skies- during Al Isra and Miraj (Night Journey). There he led prophets in congregation prayers. Prophet Mohammed, PBUH, took the journey in a single night from the Sacred Mosque to Al Masjid Al Aqsa. From the Rock there, Prophet Mohammad, PBUH, ascended to heaven where he received the commandment of the five daily prayers, before returning to Earth and back to Mecca to communicate them to the faithful.

Allah wanted Al Aqsa to receive Mohammad, PBUH, in his Isra, because Jerusalem was a common ground for Jewish and Christian faiths. It is a gesture that Islam has been a universal massage for all faiths and peoples.


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