When we talk about the most sacred mosques all around the world, Masjid Al Aqsa comes to our mind after Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabwi. It was the second Masjid built on the earth. After the 40 years when the Ka’ba was built in Makkah, Masjid al Aqsa was constructed.
Masjid Al Maqdis is another name of Masjid Al Aqsa. In the hearts of Muslims, this mosque, i.e., Masjid Al Aqsa has a very special place. The potential reason is that it has a unique as well as rich history. There are lots of things which are associated with this mosque and are discussed later here. The vitality of this mosque can be realized by the fact that our beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) prohibited Muslims from traveling to any other destination for sake of worship except these three: Mosque of mine, Masjid Al Haram, as well as Masjid Al Aqsa.
It is the blessed Masjid as well as the huge one which has the size of approximately 144,000 square meters. This vast masjid covers almost 1/6th of the old city of Jerusalem and can accommodate 500,000 worships at a time in it, with the utmost ease. The name of the masjid translates factually ‘The Farthest Mosque’. The wider masjid compounds include four minarets and seventeen gates, a dome made up of rock, and the local community calls it Al-Haram Ash-Shareef. It means ‘The noble Sanctuary’.
History of Masjid Al Aqsa
When Masjid al Aqsa was constructed, it wasn’t as huge as it is at the present age. There was a small prayer house instead of it initially. In 705 CE, Umayyad Caliph Abd Al-Malik along with his son rebuilt it with the intention to make it bigger. In 746, an earthquake eradicated the mosque. In 1033, it was reconstructed. Several ruling dynasties of the Islamic Caliphate made additions to the masjid and its inside compounds.
Why is Masjid al Aqsa so important to Muslims?
The nightly journey of Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWW)
Every Muslim is well aware of the fact that Allah Almighty once took our beloved prophet Muhammad (SAWW) to the Masjid al Aqsa and a voyage of Heavens one night. Due to this incident, this masjid retains a lot of significance for the Muslims.
The first ever Qiblah for Muslims
In the beginning, the Muslims were not commanded to pray facing towards the Ka’ba; they used to pray facing the Masjid al Aqsa. This practice continued for a very long period, i.e., the almost seventeenth month of Hijra. After that, the Muslims were commanded to pray facing towards Ka’ba. So, this masjid is known to be the first ever Qiblah for Muslims.
Situated in Prophets land
Palestine is known to be the land of Prophets for the reason that it was the home of several Prophets. Palestine is honorable for the Muslims as various Prophets also traveled there for preaching Islam. There are some graves of Prophets which includes Ishaq, Yaqoob, and Ibrahim (Peace Be Upon them). Various close companions of our beloved prophet Muhammad (SAWW) are also buried there.
Built by various prophets
As mentioned earlier, this masjid has been constructed and reconstructed a number of times by a number of Prophets. The prominent names of Prophets who participated in construction and reconstruction of Masjid al Aqsa are Yaqoob, Ibrahim, and Sulayman (A.S).
For the whole Muslim community, this place is of utmost esteem. Many Muslims choose to visit this majid when they go to perform Umrah. At present, it is under Jordanian and Palestinian Islamic Waqf administration.