The Muslim nation is under attack from every direction; weakening and trying to crumble us are the enemies of Islam. We need not be afraid as Allah is the best of planners, He plans and helps the muslims and Islam will rise no matter how much they try to oppress it.
In recent times President Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the muslim nation was bewildered. Do you know why? Is it because Jerusalem is a part of Palestine which is a muslim country? Or is there more to the story? Let us find out.
Jerusalem is not a Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Neither is it an Arab-Israeli conflict. Rather it’s a matter that concerns all muslims. Our history as muslims is intertwined with Masjid-ul Aqsa. It’s therefore a Muslim-Israeli conflict.
There are certain things, places and people that Allah has chosen over other things and places, thereby highlighting that these things and places are important and glorified in the eyes of Allah. So we need to know of these things mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah and attach importance to them and glorify them. One such place that Allah glorifies is Jerusalem for in it is Masjid Al Aqsa. Let us find out about the religious and historic value of this place.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind, blowing forcefully, proceeding by his command toward the land which We had blessed. And We are ever, of all things, Knowing.” (21:81)
The “land which We had blessed” mentioned in the verse is Bayt Al Maqdas or Masjid Al Aqsa. Thus, Allah has blessed this land, making it special.
It was narrated by the great Sahaabi Zayd ibn Thaabit (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: We were with the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), collecting the Qur’aan from pieces of vellum, and the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Blessed is (Greater) Syria.” We said: Why is that, O Messenger of Allah? He said: “Because the angels of the Most Merciful spread their wings over it.”
Greater Syria includes Jerusalem, as we can see in the map below:
Let us begin from the beginning of time. Scholars such as ibn Kathir and Ibn Hajar hold the view, that just as the angels laid the foundations for Masjid-ul Haram, they did the same for Masjid-ul-Aqsa in Jerusalem.
It is reported by Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Dharr that he said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Which mosque was built first?” He replied, “Al-Masjid-ul-Haram”. I asked, “Which (was built) next?” He replied, “Al-Masjid-ul-Aqsa (i.e. Al-quds)”. I asked, “What was the period in between them?” He replied, “Forty (years)”, He then added, “Wherever the time for the prayer comes upon you, perform the prayer, for all the earth is a place of worshipping for you.”
From the above mentioned hadith we learn that there was a very small time gap between the erection of Masjid-ul-Haram in Makkah and Masjid-ul Aqsa in Jerusalem.
During the time of Nuh the entire earth was flooded. Time moved on and Ibraheem was sent as a Prophet, he together with his son Ishaq renovated it.
Thereafter, in the times of Musa, Allah commanded Musa and Bani Israeel to enter the ‘Promised Land’. Being a sacred land Allah reserved it only for those who worshipped Him and believed in all his Messengers. Thus when the believers amongst Bani Isra’eel deviated Allah removed this blessing from them.
Allah narrates this to us in the Quran,
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, “O my people, remember the favor of Allah upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the worlds. O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah ‘s cause] and [thus] become losers.” They said, “O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter.” Said two men from those who feared [to disobey] upon whom Allah had bestowed favour, “Enter upon them through the gate, for when you have entered it, you will be predominant. And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers.” They said, “O Moses, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here.” [Moses] said, “My Lord, indeed I do not possess except myself and my brother, so part us from the defiantly disobedient people.” [Allah] said, “Then indeed, it is forbidden to them for forty years [in which] they will wander throughout the land. So do not grieve over the defiantly disobedient people.”(05: 20-26)
Musa knew the significance of this blessed land, and longed to lead his people there. Yet, because of their stubbornness, they were denied entry into the promised land. Nonetheless, Musa never lost hope, and understood the value of the sacred land in the sight of Allah so much so, that upon his death “he asked Allah that He bring him near the Sacred Land at a distance of a stone’s throw.” (Bukhari)
As muslims we believe in Musa peace be upon him, and hold in high esteem for he is amongst ulul-azmi minar-rusl, thus his story is part of our connection to Jerusalem.
Time passed, and another generation of believers amongst Bani Isra’eel under the leadership of Yusha’ ibn Nun, were lead into Jerusalem and defeated the giants. Due to their belief in Allah and His Messenger they were granted the bounty of the Blessed lands.
When Bani Isra’eel left the religion, they were kicked out of the promised land. As time passed on, they wished for king to lead them. Allah sent them Talut, and Dawud peace be upon him killed Goliath, and they re-entered Jerusalem victorious. They established the deen of Allah, until Sulayman inherited Dawud. Sulayman restored Masjid-ul Aqsa, and made three duaas one of which was, that no one should come to it, intending only to pray there, but he would emerge free of sin as the day his mother bore him.” (An-Nisa’i, Saheeh)
After the death of Sulayman, Bani Isra’eel deviated once more. Allah sent against them Bukhta Nasser who killed a third of them, and imprisoned a third of them. They returned after some time to Jerusalem, only to deviate once more. Allah sent the Romans against them who drove them out. Then they awaited the Messiah to guide them back. Allah sent Isa peace and blessings be upon him, but Bani Isra’eel was not satisfied with him, and attempted to kill him. Allah raised him up and saved him. Due to their rejection of the messenger, they lost the blessed land forever. Allah reserved the land for the believers; therefore as they had disbelieved, they were denied that blessing.
Then Allah sent Muhamamd peace be upon him, who was the brother of the previous prophets. He was taken on the night journey, Al Israa wal mi’raaj, from Makkah to Jerusalem, where he led the Prophets in prayer, and then he travelled up to the heavens.
Allah says in the Quran,
“Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) [above all that (evil) they associate with Him]. Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haraam (at Makkah) to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.). Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” (Al-Isra’ 17:01)
This spectacular journey is well documented in the hadith. Thus, our link to Masjid-ul Aqsa is well established in Islamic history.
It was the first Qiblah before the Kabah, during the initial years of prophethood, Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him offered his prayers facing Masjid Al Aqsa, which was the earliest divinely decreed Qibla for Muslims during that time. This continued even after the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) migration to Madina, for a total of seventeen months.
Narrated Al-Bara, “We prayed along with the Prophet (ﷺ) facing Jerusalem for sixteen or seventeen months. Then Allah ordered him to turn his face towards the Qibla (in Mecca): “And from whence-so-ever you start forth (for prayers) turn your face in the direction of (the Sacred Mosque of Mecca) Al-Masjid-ul Haram.” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:149) (Bukhari)
Numerous times in the prophet’s life he indicated that the land of Jerusalem belonged to the muslims, they were the rightful owners for they believed in Allah, and all His previous messengers. The expedition of Mu’tah and Tabuk was an indication, as was the dispatch of Usamah ibn Zaid’s army. Umar understood this, and under his Khilafah, muslims gained control of Jerusalem. They keys were handed directly to him, it was on this occasion that he made his famous statement,
“We were the most humiliated people on earth, and Allah gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour through anything else, Allah will humiliate us again.” Through our Islam, we gained back Jerusalem.
The muslims deviated after Umar, and Allah sent the Crusaders. We all know the story, where rivers of blood filled the streets. Thereafter, when the muslims returned to the Deen Allah sent Nurruddin Zenki and Salahuddin Al-Ayyoubi to liberate the lands once again. Again, the ummah deviated, and we lost the lands to the Belfour Declaration, the effects of which are still present today.
You may now ask, why do we not possess Jerusalem?
There is no two ways to look at it brothers and sisters; look at our adherence to the religion. We can invoke Allah for the likes of Salahuddin, for liberators, but it will never happen until we return to the religion and worship Allah properly. The only way we can gain back the holy land is to return to the deen of Allah. Only when we unite upon the Quran and Sunnah, biting onto it with our molars, can we regain our lost honour.
Nonetheless, the connection is not all lost. We have a promise from Allah, that the land will be restored to the believers. We should have no doubt over this.
Towards the end of time, the Dajjal will travel the earth, and will want to combat Imam Mahdi and the believers, who will be stationed in Jerusalem. The muslim army will prepare to pray salatul fajr in Masjid ul Aqsa, and will notice Isa peace and blessings be upon him entering. He will call upon Isa to lead the prayer, but he will refuse, and he will pray behind the imam of the muslims. Then Isa will kill the dajjal and will return, and will wipe the heads of the believers and will inform them of their ranks in Jannah, as narrated to us in the hadith.
To conclude, Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is superior to other mosques. The best of all mosques is al-Masjid al-Haraam (The Sacred Mosque in Makkah), then al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque in Madeenah), then al-Masjid al-Aqsa. These three mosques are the three for which it is prescribed to travel for the purpose of worship. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do not travel (specifically) to any mosque except three: al-Masjid al-Haraam, Masjid al-Aqsa, and this mosque of mine.” (Bukhari)
One prayer in Masjid al-Aqsa is equivalent to two hundred and fifty prayers offered elsewhere!
However, one should be cautious that the Dome of Rock (the golden dome mosque) is widely mistaken as Masjid Al Aqsa but that is not so and the Dome of Rock was built later.
It says in al-Mawsoo’ah al-Filasteeniyyah (4/203): “The name al-Masjid al-Aqsa was historically applied to the entire sanctuary (al-Haram al-Shareef) and the buildings in it, the most important of which is the Dome of the Rock which was built by ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwaan in 72 AH/691 CE, which is regarded as one of the greatest Islamic historical buildings. But today the name is applied to the great mosque which is situated in the southern part of the sanctuary plateau.”
Now that we know the history and importance of Al Masjid Al Aqsa, let us pray that Allah protects this holy place of worship from the enemies of Islam. We need not to be afraid of the strategies of the enemies of Islam for the promise of Allah is binding. Rather, we should prepare by adhering to the religion of Allah and anticipate a bright future. Jerusalem is not for sale. Neither for rent. And people can come and claim its their as much as they wish, but Allah will restore it to its rightful owners; the believers, and to Him belongs the Kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth.