At the heart of the battle between the Palestinians and the Zionist occupation, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after the Sacred Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.
In one of our previous articles, we've discussed about the enigma of the black stone, in today's article we'll about Al-Masjid Al Aqsa which was to this mosque that the Messenger of Islam, Muhammad (prayers and greetings be upon him) undertook his night journey (Isra) from Mecca in the year 2 of the Hegira (620 AD), and in this mosque that he led the prayer in the presence of Ibrahim (Abraham), Moussa (Moses) and Issa (Jesus) before ascending to heaven in the company of the archangel Jibril (Gabriel), peace be upon them all. An event mentioned at the beginning of the 17th sura of the Quran, the Night Journey:
[Glory and Purity to the One who made His servant [Muhammad] travel by night, from the Mosque al-Haram to the Mosque al-Aqsa whose surroundings We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our marvels. It is He, truly, who is the Hearer, the Seer.]
It was the first Qibla (direction of prayer) of the first Muslims before the Koran ordered to change this direction in the year 2 of the Hegira. Al-Aqsa Mosque is often depicted in news articles or on social media as the Dome of the Rock Mosque (golden dome). In reality, the latter is part of the al-Aqsa Mosque just like the al-Qibli mosque (grey dome). Accessible by 15 doors, it extends over an area of 144,000 m² and is composed among others; the Dome of the Rock, the al-Qibli Mosque, the al-Marwani Mosque, the al-Bouraq Mosque, the Masjid al-Aqsa al-Qadim as well as a set of other elements (archs, fountains, schools, minbars, …)
DOME OF THE ROCK MOSQUE
There is within this mosque the rock from which the Prophet is said to have ascended to heaven during his ascension. It was erected by order of the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan in the year 72 of the Hegira (691 AD). During the occupation of the crosses, it was transformed into a church. A hotel had been erected above the rock and a cross had hung from the dome until the arrival of the Muslims in 1187. The dome was originally the same color as the cupola above the mosque al -Qibli.
In 1982, a Zionist soldier entered the mosque, walked towards the Dome of the Rock and fired on Muslim worshippers. The bullet holes are still present on the facade of this mosque and testify to this massacre which caused several deaths and injuries.
THE AL-QIBLI MOSQUE
It is located in the direction of the Qibla, that is why it is called the al-Qibli mosque. It would be Omar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) who would be at the origin of this mosque. It was then enlarged, notably under the reigns of the caliphs Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and his son al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik. It is in this mosque that the imam delivers the sermon and leads the Friday prayer.
Inside is a copy of the minbar (sermon pulpit) of Salaheddine al-Ayyubi. The original minbar was burned by a Jewish extremist in 1969.
THE AL-MARWANI MOSQUE
Among these other mosques, the al-Marwani mosque located below the southeastern esplanade. This mosque was also built by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan from which it takes its name. The purpose of this construction was to support the huge platform of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and reduce the pressure of the retaining walls. It is a structure composed of 88 pillars resting on massive blocks, divided into 12 rows of galleries with a total area of approximately 4,500 square meters.
During the Crusades (1099), this place was transformed into a stable by the Templars. After the liberation of Jerusalem by Salaheddine al-Ayyubi in 1187, the mosque was cleaned up but remained closed until 1995. During that year, secret documents leaked mentioning an Israeli plan to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque in two parts: an underground part for the Jews and one on the surface for the Muslims. The al-Marwani mosque, which is the largest underground structure, finds itself threatened.
Thus, in 1996, a mosque that could accommodate 7,000 people was built after restoration and cleaning work. In 1999, the Waqf, in order to install additional security exits, had an access ramp dug leading to the floor of the mosque, twelve meters below the esplanade.
You may also want to read : 10 untold secrets about the Kaaba
THE AL-BOURAQ MOSQUE
This is where the Prophet (prayers and greetings be upon him) is said to have attached his mount Al-Bouraq on which he made his night journey. In a hadith narrated by Muslim, according to Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
[There was brought to me al-Bouraq, a white mount larger than a donkey and smaller than a mule, who leaped where his gaze stopped, so I mounted him and was carried to Jerusalem ( Bayt al-Maqdis). There, I attached it to the ring intended for the use of the Prophets. I entered the mosque where I prayed two Rak'as (units of prayer). When I left, the angel Jibril (Gabriel) offered me two containers: one containing wine, the other milk. I choose milk, and Jibril then told me that I had chosen the path of Fitra (original nature). Then, carried by him, I rose to the celestial regions]. A ring is symbolically attached to the wall of the mosque.
This mosque, also called the Maghariba mosque, is located at the door of the Moroccans. This name given by Salahdin Al Ayyubi represented the door which gave on the district of the Moroccans built by this last. It was a neighborhood where pilgrims from the Maghreb lived.
The door of the Moroccans gave directly on the western wall of the Al-Aqsa mosque called "the wall al-Bouraq" (wailing wall among the Jews). On June 12, 1967, 400 families were evacuated from the neighborhood after three hours' notice.
Further read: The Masjid Nabawi and its history