Since our childhood, we have heard of Masjid Al-Aqsa in stories regarding Islam, and now on the news. Do you know the significance of this Masjid to Muslims and Islam?
Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, in Israel, Masjid Al-Aqsa also known as Bayt Al-Muqaddas, is the third holiest site on earth in Islam. The sanctitity of the mosque is so important in Islam, it is mentioned by name in the Holy Quran.
Here is a list of some of the most important reasons why this holy mosque means so much to Muslims.
1. Masjid Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam. The most sacred mosque is Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah, and the second holiest sanctuary is Masjid an-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Madinah.
2. Masjid Al-Aqsa was built 40 years after the Holy Ka'bah in Makkah, and was the second Mosque established on earth.
"I asked the beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 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 [Alayhis salaam] replied. (Muslim)
3. Masjid Al-Aqsa was the first Qiblah (direction for Muslim prayer), until a revelation of Allah (SWT) changed the direction of the Qiblah to the Ka'bah in Makkah.
"We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do." (2:144)
4. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was transported from the Ka'bah to Masjid Al-Aqsa on the miraculous night journey (Al Israa), and ascension through the heavens (Wa-Miraaj)
“Glorified be He [Allah] Who did take His servant for a journey by night from Al Masjid Al Haram to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of our Signs. Verily He is the All Hearing, All Seeing.” Surah Isra (17:1)
5. Masjid Al-Aqsa is the location for the most extraordinary gathering that took place, in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led prayer in congregation with all the previous Prophets (peace be upon them).
6. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) unambiguously advised Muslims to visit Masjid Al-Aqsa and offer prayer in the holy mosque.
“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)
7. Worshippers will receive 500x the reward of prayer when performed at Masjid Al-Aqsa.
Anas Ibn Malik (ra) relates that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
” The prayer of a person in his house is a single prayer; his prayer in the Masjid of his people has the reward of 27 prayers; his prayer in the Masjid in which the Friday prayer is observed has the reward of 500; his prayer in Masjid Al-Aqsa (i.e. Al-Aqsa Sanctuary) has a reward of 5,000 prayers; his prayer in my Masjid (the Prophet’s Masjid in Madinah) has a reward of 50,000 prayers, and the prayer in the Sacred Masjid (Ka’bah) has the reward of 100,000 prayers”.
(Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)
8. Muslims believe the land of Old City in Jerusalem is the final resting place of many Prophets and their companions, including Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Yaqub, Prophet Ishaq, may peace be upon them. As well as some companions of Prophet Muhammah (PBUH).
Masjid Al-Aqsa is often confused with the golden domed site nearby referred to as 'Dome of The Rock.' Please see the picture below for clarification.