Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Holy Quran

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Dr. Sharif Abu Shammala
CEO of al-Quds Foundation Malaysia

Al-Aqsa Mosque holds a unique level of sanctity in Islam after the Two Holy Mosques; the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and the Prophet Mosque [Masjid an-Nabawi] in Medina; it is the third holiest site and the first qibla for Muslims.

Al-Aqsa Mosque was mentioned in the holy Quran in conjunction with the holiest spot on earth, namely the Grand Mosque; says Allah the Almighty

سُبْحٰنَ الَّذِيْ أَسْرٰى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِنَ الْـمَسْجِدِ الحَرَامِ إِلى الْـمَسْجِدِ الأقصى الذي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ (الإسراء:1).

{Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from the Masjid al-Haram to the al-Aqsa Mosque, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing}

 [Al-Isra: 1].

The verse was revealed to mark the miraculous night journey of Isra and Mi’raj, and to emphasize on the significance of Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was the place that welcomed the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the starting point of the Ascension of the Prophet (pbuh) to heaven. Then the Prophet (pbuh) returned to Al-Aqsa where he led other Prophets in prayer before returning to Mecca.

In the verse mentioned before, the mosque and its surroundings were described as “blessed”. The word “blessed” carries the meaning of consistency and tranquillity, also sustainability, and continuity. Therefore, “blessed” here – as stated in the words of mufassir[1]– is the evidence of the divine goodness in it and the sustainability of that goodness.

This implies that the divine goodness which Al-Aqsa and its surroundings in the Holy Land are blessed with, is to remain until the Day of Resurrection. This blessing is manifested in the holiness of the area, being cleansed of evil, and falsehood can never be rooted in.

The blessing of Al-Aqsa Mosque is spiritual and incorporeal. It is felt by all who have prayed there, cared about, or worked for it. However, the blessing is not contingent only on one’s physical presence in the mosque. In our time, millions of Palestinians who are living near Al-Aqsa, or Muslims in all parts of the world are deprived from visiting the mosque and praying there because of the Israeli occupation. Yet many people could feel the blessing by working and supporting for Al-Aqsa cause and protecting its sanctity.

There are several Quranic verses emphasizing the blessing of the countries surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque. The specific mention of the mosque in the Holy Quran is the evidence that it is the centre of blessing and goodness that encompasses Al-Sham [2] generally, and Palestine in particular. Some of these verses are:

In the story of Ibrahim and Lot [peace be upon them] says Allah,

 “وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَلُوطًا إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا لِلْعَالَمِينَ ) ” الأنبياء: 71(

 

{And We rescued him and Lot to the land which We have blessed for the whole universe} [Al-Anbiyaa: 71]

And says Allah,

 “وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ عَاصِفَةً تَجْرِي بِأَمْرِهِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا ۚ وَكُنَّا بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَالِمِينَ ) “ الأنبياء: 81)

{And to Solomon (We subjected) the wind strongly raging, running by his command towards the land which We had blessed. And of everything We are the All-Knower)}  

[Al-Anbiyaa: 81]

And Allah describes it as the Holy Land in the words of Moses [peace be upon him] in the verse:

يَا قَوْمِ ادْخُلُوا الأَرْضَ المُقَدَّسَةَ الَّتِي كَتَبَ اللّهُ لَكُمْ وَلاَ تَرْتَدُّوا عَلَى أَدْبَارِكُمْ فَتَنقَلِبُوا خَاسِرِينَ” (المائدة: 21)

{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)}

[Al-Maidah: 21]

وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ وَبَيْنَ الْقُرَى الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا قُرًى ظَاهِرَةً” (سبأ: 18)

{And We placed between them and the cities which We had blessed [many] visible cities)} [Saba: 21]


[1] Mufassir (مُفسّر) are the expert in the field of the exegesis of the Quran.

[2] Al-Sham (الشام) today is referred as The Levant, located in the Middle East.

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