Al-Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock


Al-Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock

Al-Aqsa ( Green Dome)

Q: I have recently received an Email advising me of the status of the Masjid al Aqsa and diffrentiating it from the doom of the rock.

Can you please clarify the situation and advise, if the Masjid e Aqsa is different from the Dome of the Rock, why do we see its picture representing Masjid e Aqsa at all Islamic places, and I (and many other muslims) were completely inaware of the difference.
Answer
Praise be to Allaah.

Al-Masjid al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem) was the first of the two qiblahs, and is one of the three mosques to which people may travel for the purpose of worship. And it was said that it was built by Sulaymaan (peace be upon him), as stated in Sunan al-Nasaa’i (693) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.

And it was said that it existed before Sulaymaan (peace be upon him) and that Sulaymaan rebuilt it; this is based on the evidence narrated in al-Saheehayn from Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said:

“I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, which mosque was built on earth first?’ He said, ‘Al-Masjid al-Haraam [in Makkah].’ I said, ‘Then which?’ He said, ‘Al-Masjid al-Aqsa.’ I said, ‘How much time was there between them?’ He said, ‘Forty years. So wherever you are when the time for prayer comes, pray, for that is the best thing to do.’”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3366; Muslim, 520.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was taken on the Night Journey (isra’) to Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), where he led the Prophets in prayer in this blessed mosque.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

Al-Aqsa Mosque

[al-Isra’ 17:1]

The Dome of the Rock was built by the caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwaan in 72 AH.

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.”

It also says in al-Mawsoo’ah (3/23): “The Dome of the Rock is situated in the middle of the plateau of al-Masjid al-Aqsa, which is in the southeastern part of the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem). It is a spacious rectangular plateau which measures 480 meters from north to south, and 300 meters from east to west. This plateau occupies approximately one-fifth of the area of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The mosque which is the place of prayer is not the Dome of the Rock, but because pictures of the Dome are so widespread, many Muslims think when they see it that this is the mosque. This is not in fact the case.The Mosque is situated in the southern portion of the plateau, and the Dome is built on the raised rock that is situated in the middle of the plateau.

Dome of the Rock( Gold Dome)

We have already seen above that the name of the mosque was historically applied to the whole plateau.

This is supported by the words of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) in Majmoo’at al-Rasaa’il al-Kubra, 2/61:Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is the name for the whole of the place of worship built by Sulaymaan (peace be upon him).

Some people started to give the name of al-Aqsa to the prayer-place which was built by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab in front of it.

Praying in this prayer-place which ‘Umar built for the Muslims is better than praying in the rest of the mosque, because when ‘Umar conquered Jerusalem there was a huge garbage dump on the rock, since the Christians wanted to show their scorn for the place towards which the Jews used to pray.

So ‘Umar issued orders that the filth be removed and he said to Ka’b: ‘Where do you think we should build a place of prayer for the Muslims?’ He said, ‘Behind the rock.’ He said, ‘O you son of a Jewish woman! Are influenced by your Jewish ideas! Rather I will build it in front of it.’

Hence when the imams of this ummah entered the mosque, they would go and pray in the prayer-place that was built by ‘Umar.

With regard to the Rock, neither ‘Umar nor any of the Sahaabah prayed there, and there was no dome over it during the time of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. It was open to the sky during the caliphate of ‘Umar, ‘Uthmaan, ‘Ali, Mu’aawiyah, Yazeed and Marwaan… The scholars among the Sahaabah and those who followed them in truth did not venerate the rock because it was an abrogated qiblah… rather it was venerated by the Jews and some of the Christians.”

‘Umar denounced Ka’b al-Ahbaar and called him the son of a Jewish woman because Ka’b had been a Jewish scholar and rabbi, so when he suggested to ‘Umar that he should build the mosque behind the rock, that was out of respect for the rock so that the Muslims would face it when praying, and veneration of the rock was part of the religion of the Jews, not the religion of the Muslims.

The Muslims’ fondness for the picture of the Dome may be because of the beauty of this building, but this does not excuse them from the resulting mistake of not distinguishing between the Mosque and the buildings that surround it.

This may be one of the plots and tricks of the Jews, because of their veneration for the rock and their facing it in prayer. Or is may be in order to give importance to the Rock so that they can fulfil their desire to build the so-called Temple of Solomon on the ruins of al-Masjid al-Aqsa.

This is by making the Muslims think that al-Masjid al-Aqsa is the Dome of the Rock, so that if the Jews start to destroy al-Masjid al-Aqsa and the Muslims denounce them for that, they will tell them, “Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is fine,” and will show them a picture of the Dome of the Rock. Thus they will achieve their aims and be safe from the Muslims’ criticism.

And Allaah knows best.

5 thoughts on “Al-Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock

  1. Do not just say “The Jews” want to do anything. I do not deny that there are a slight minority of Jews that would like to see the temple of Solomon built where Al-Aqsa currently stands, but they are fundamentalists and extremists. 99.9% of Jews have respect for Muslims and especially the holiest of Islamic mosques. Just as the majority of Arabs and Muslims do not wish to see all the Jews pushed into the sea or murdered, but there is a slight minority of Islamist extremists and fundamentalists that wish to see this happen. When you generalize, you make stereotypes that are untrue and dangerous to peace.

    • I agree that we must avoid generalisations.This article expresses the views of its author. It has been published unedited. May the whole World live in peace. If we all work together and not against each other, try to see beyond our differences and egos, this world will be a better place.Thank you for your comment

  2. ‘Do not just say “The Jews” want to do anything.’ Most Jews in fact don’t actively and honestly want and work for Jewish de-colonization in the Holy Land. ‘I do not deny that there are a slight minority of Jews that would like to see the temple of Solomon built where Al-Aqsa currently stands, but they are fundamentalists and extremists.’ The problem about which a God-fearing Jew, which the majority of Jews is not, should not be in denial is that like to see an unholy and immoral occupation in the Holy Land where only the true monotheistic religion has a religious right to rule through the legal primacy of Qur’an and Sunnah in lawmaking. ’99.9% of Jews have respect for Muslims and especially the holiest of Islamic mosques.’ A Jew who adheres to the traditional pseudo-religious identity cannot honestly respect a Muslim without acknowledging the legal primacy of Qur’an in the Holy Land, inspite of the fact that Qur’anic legal framework ensured tolerance for Jews evading persecution by Christ-worshippers, under Muslim rule and protection. If you are referring to secular humanism, Holy Land is definitely not a place for rule of non-holy ideologies. ‘Just as the majority of Arabs and Muslims do not wish to see all the Jews pushed into the sea or murdered, but there is a slight minority of Islamist extremists and fundamentalists that wish to see this happen.’ Most Muslims want a non-violent de-colonization like British de-colonization in the Indian sub-continent, but as all Muslims without exception believe in Divine origin of Qur’an so definitely all Muslims who gradually become conscious of their Qur’anic identity should, do and will demand legal primacy of Qur’an in the Holy Land. ‘ When you generalize, you make stereotypes that are untrue and dangerous to peace.’ Like untrue stereotypes, dishonest pacifism, spiritual dishonesty and intellectual denial about the genuine religious concerns of true Muslim believers can never lead to true peace. And, Qur’anic description of the psychological common denominators of Jewish identity is definitely the most accurate description by Only One God of Abraham(a.s.),Ishmael(a.s.) and Isaac(a.s.) Himself about the Jewish identity, for all true Muslim believers. That’s the reason for description of Jews or YaHoWD [as pronounced as YaHooD] as a unifying entity in the classical Qur’anic Muslim discourse inspite of the internal Jewish diversity which indicates a religious identity crisis best understood by students of Qur’an.

    ‘they are fundamentalists and extremists.’ Don’t supposed non-fundamentalists and non-extremists agree with supposed fundamentalists and extremists that the occupation in the Holy Land is not immoral and unholy? All orthodox Muslim saints and scholars, including the heterodox Shiite scholars, believe that Jewish rejectors of the true circumcized true King Messiah-The Son of Mary,may salam [shalom, that is peace] be upon Him, like Christ-lovers to the point of Christ-worship as known as Crusaders in history, both of whom have deviated from Pure Abrahamic Monotheism of Islam, that is TaWHiYD [as pronounced as TaWHeeD which is the Divine Onliness of True Only One [AHaD in Qur'an 112:2*, Echad in Hebrew] God of Abraham(a.s.),Ishmael(a.s.) and Isaac(a.s.)] which is free from notions of rabbiolatry and Christolatry [Qur'an 9:31*] and racial supremacism or anti-Ishmaelic racism [Qur'an 49:13*] among other deviations and distortions don’t have a religious right to politically rule any part of the Holy Land unless they repent through Islam and Qur’an. Even the Jewish texts refer to Three Strong Oaths of Prophet Jeremiah(a.s.) and Epistle of Maimonides which clearly make Holy Land a treyf medina [a territory forbidden by God] for Jews until the advent of the true circumcized true King Messiah-The Son of Mary,may salam [shalom, that is peace] be upon Him after they were expelled from Holy Land due to their rebellion against God, as described by rabbis as:“Umipnay chatoenu golinu mayartsaynu” – “Because of our sins we were expelled from our land”.

    Islam and Qur’an represent the future salvation of Jews willing to revert to primordial monotheistic Abrahamic true faith of Islam [Islam literally means to Comply with Command of God, just like how Abraham(a.s.) and His Son(a.s.) complied with Command of God when He was commanded to execute His Son(a.s.)], in the Holy Land, while intellectually honest de-colonization Maimonidesrepresent future salvation of Jews exercising their Qur’anic right of retaining Jewish identity like all other non-Muslims under Islamic rule and protection.
    God-fearing Muslims for whom Hereafter is more important than worldly priorities, cannot betray God like their Jewish counterparts, to be honest, due to fear of persecution, occupation and genocide. Muslims, unlike Red Indians, have Qur’an. [altafsir.com,qtafsir.com,islamicity.com/quransearch to search transliterated instances of Qur'anic words]

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