Sabtu, Desember 08, 2007

Masjidil Aqsa and Dome of the Rock

Blog Entry

In Islam, Al-Aqsa is one of the three most sacred places after Makkah and Madina. But do you know that the Al Aqsa mosque and Al Sakhra mosque (well known as Dome of the Rock) are not the same?

They are completely separate but they are very close each other. Both sit on the most important and contested religious landmark in the world, known as Haram Al Sharif (or the Noble Sanctuary). The jews call it Har HaBayit or the Temple Mount by the westerns.

This is a bird eye view and the layout of the two sites.

Dome of the Rock can be easily identified with the gold dome while Al Aqsa mosque with the lead dome.

However, Al Aqsa mosque which shown here with the lead color dome is not the Al Aqsa mosque referred in Quran. According to Ibn Taymiyah, one of the leading muslim scholar, al-Aqsa is a name that refers to the whole area of the compound that was built by Sulaiman a.s. (Solomon).

The story of Al Aqsa was mentioned in the Qur’an:

"Glory to Allah, Who did take His servant for a journey by night, from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless - in order that We might show him some of Our signs. For He is the One who hears and knows all things." (17:1)

Al Aqsa means the farthest. The literal meaning of masjid (mosque) does not mean a building or any specific place. The word masjid derived from the root word "Saa Jaa Daa" in Arabic which means (to prostrate) (act of worship). Al Aqsa also named as Baitul Maqdis or Baitul Al Muqaddas or Al Quds (the holy house).

As mentioned as well in Quran, Al Aqsa was the place at which Prophet Muhammad PBUH performed the first commanded prayer after Isra and Mi'raj, it became the qibla (direction) that Muslims faced during prayer and continued to be so for sixteen or seventeen months. After a revelation recorded in the Qur'an (2:144-145) the qibla was then turned towards Makkah.

Back in the old time, the place was established originally by Yakub a.s. (Jacob) as the house of worship forty years after his grandfather Ibrahim a.s. (Abraham) established the Kaaba. It was then used by succeeding prophets like Daud a.s. (David), Sulaiman a.s. (Solomon), and Zakariah a.s. (Zacharias).

Imam Muslim quotes Abu Dharr as saying:

"I asked the beloved Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) which was the first "mosque" [i.e. house of prayer] on Earth?"

"The Sacred House of Prayer (Masjid al-Haram), i.e. Kaaba)," he said.

"'And then which', I asked?"

"The Furthest House of Prayer (Masjid al Aqsa)", he said.

"I further asked, 'what was the time span between the two'?"

"Forty years," Muhammad(PBUH) replied.

Based on the biblical history, first temple (the house of worship) built on c. 967 BCE, destroyed c. 586 BCE by the Babylonians under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The Second Temple (rebuilt c. 516 BCE) was destroyed in the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE).

Al Aqsa Mosque:

Al-Aqsa building as seen today is not the Al Aqsa mosque referred in Quran. The building as seen on the picture on the left was originally built 1300+ years ago by Abdul Malik bin Marwan and completed by his son Caliph Al-Walid in 705 AD (the same Al-Walid who occupied Spain and made it Andalusia).

The building suffered from several major earthquakes and was renovated and reconstructed during the Abbasid followed by Fatimid. The form of the present structure has remained essentially the same since it was reconstructed by the Caliph Al Dhahir in 1033 AD. It is said that he did not alter it from the previous architecture except to narrow it on each side.

The building became known as Masjid al-Aqsa or Al-Aqsa Mosque, although in reality the whole area of the Noble Sanctuary is considered Al-Aqsa Mosque

Why the mosque was built in this spot not on the mi’raj rock area? After the conquer of Jerusalem Caliph Umar bin Khattab wanted a place of prayer that did not infringe on nearby Christian and Jewish worship places. He did this also to make clear that the qibla of prayer was south, towards the Kaabah in Mecca and that Muslims never dispute the correct direction of prayer, resulting in them possibly praying towards the rock, as the Jews were doing. He then laid the foundation of the mosque and that's why some people referred it as mosque of Umar. As mentioned above, the building of mosque eventually erected by Caliph Al-Walid.

Al Aqsa mosque view from outsidethe Temple Mount; a south-westerly view.

A portion of the Al-Asqa Mosque outer wall is actually the Western Wall that is a central site of worship for Jews. As a result, there is much friction in this area between Muslims and Jews who contest ownership of the land.

Al Aqsa mosque interior

Muslims listening to the teaching of Islam inside Al Aqsa mosque

You will also see the same activity in Nabawi Mosque Medinah.

The Mihrab

The Dome of the Rock:

It's named Al Sakhra mosque by muslims. It's a building that covers the mi'raj stone located at the Al Aqsa compound.

It was built more than 1300 years ago by the Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan, it was completed in 691 AD, 6 years after building commenced.

In Quran (38:21), there mentioned about the prayer niche (mihrab) of Daud a.s. (David). It was abandoned and abused by the romans and the church at the time. When Caliph Umar bin Khattab conquered Jerusalem, he asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem Sophronius to show him what Umar spelled out as "Masjid Daud" (Mosque of David).

The Patriarch took him to the door of the sanctuary which was almost blocked due to the trash that was placed at the door. Umar looked left and right and said: “Allah is Great, I swear by the one who holds my soul in his hand that this is the Mosque of David which the prophet of Allah described to us after his night journey.” Caliph Umar then started cleaning up the place.

After Caliph Umar cleaned up the mihrab of Daud a.s., he asked Kaab al-Ahbar, a Jewish Rabbi who had converted to Islam and came with Umar from Medina, to guide him to the place of the Rock. Umar again cleaned the place by using his cloths to remove the trash covering the Rock. That's the rock that muslims believe to be the scene of Prophet Muhammad’s ascension into the heavens. In Jewish religion, the rock is the place where Abraham (Ibrahim a.s.) almost sacrificed his son, Isaac (Ishaq a.s). It’s also where Jews believe that Jacob (Yakub a.s.) saw the ladder into Heaven.

This is the rock underneath the golden Dome.

It's referred as Noble Rock or foundation stone and is also referred to be the mi'raj stone

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