Al-Aqsa Mosque During the Prophets Era

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By: Dr. Sharif Abu Shammalah
CEO of al-Quds Foundation Malaysia

The establishment of al-Aqsa goes back to prophet Adam`s era (pbuh). It is confirmed that the prophets who came after him had glorified the holy mosque especially the ones who lived or visited Bait al-Maqdis following their father Adam (pbuh) who built Bait al-Maqdis and took it as a hermit.

The almightly Allah chose Bait al-Maqdis to be the new home for his prophet Abraham Ibrahim (pbuh) after he faced oppression and hardship from his people in Iraq. Allah says: “Then We brought him and Lot safely to the land, which We have made blessed for all the people of the world”. The historical and religious resources indicate that Abraham visited Mecca when he was in Bait al-Maqdis and he rebuilt the holy Kaaba during one of his visits to Mecca. Hence, the available resources do not show if Abraham had rebuilt al-Aqsa Mosque as he did in Masjed Al-Haram. It should be noted that Ibn Taimia mentioned that “Al-Aqsa mosque has been established since the time of Abraham (pbuh). He also mentioned that al-Aqsa mosque was the prayer place since Abraham, he says “The prophets had prayed in al-Aqsa mosque which was built at the time of Abraham (pbuh)”[1].  

Prophet Lot (pbuh) had accompanied Abraham (pbuh) in his migration to Bait al-Maqdis and they settled there where Ishmael (pbuh) Ismael and Isaac (pbuh) Ishaq were born. Then, Jacob (pbuh) Yaqup was born to Isaac and he lived in Bait al-Maqdis where he had Joseph (pbuh) Yousof and his other children in which their progeny was called later as children of Israel. After the famous story of Joseph and his brothers when he recognized them in Egypt during the years of drought, Jacob moved to Egypt till he died there but his body was sent to Bait al-Maqdis to be buried there next to his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham -peace be upon them- following his will.  

From the offspring of Jacob (Children of Israel), Moses (pbuh) Mousa was sent in Egypt where his famous story with Pharaoh took place and then he was ordered to leave Egypt with his followers to the ‘holy land’. In defiance to the divinely order, they refused to follow Moses so Allah punished them to be lost in the Sinai desert for forty years. Prophet Haroon (pbuh) Haroon was with his brother Mosses but he died in Sinai on his way to the holy land before Moses. According to prophet Mohammed (pbuh) when Moses was about to die, says; “He asked Allah that He bring him near the Sacred Land at a distance of a stone’s throw”, and then he said; “Were I there I would show you the grave of Moses by the way near the red sand hill”[2]. This shows his eagerness to be close to the holy and blessed land of al-Aqsa Mosque.

After the death of prophet Moses (pbuh) and the end of the forty years of lost in which the majority or all the people who refused to cross to the holy land died, Joshua (pbuh) Yousha’a guided the new generation and crossed with them to the holy land. Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) says “The sun stooped from setting for nights only for Joshua who walked to Bait al-Maqdis”.[3]  Although Joshua (pbuh) is one of the prophets that have not been mentioned in the holy Quran, Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) tells about his Prophecy, “A prophet amongst the prophets carried out a holy military expedition. He said, ‘O sun! You are under Allah’s Order and I am under Allah’s Order O Allah! Stop it from setting’ It was stopped till Allah made him victorious”[4]. Thus, Bait al-Maqdis returned to the believers who followed their messengers in the worship to the only Almighty Allah.

Prophet Solomon`s Era (pbuh)

After Joshua (pbuh), the holy Quran tells us about two prophets from the Israel`s people offspring: David Dawoad and his son Solomon Solaiman (peace be upon them). During that time, al-Aqsa mosque needed to be renovated and renewed, so prophet Solomon renewed it as it mentioned by the hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) that prophet (pbuh) said: “When Solomon the son of David [peace be upon them] finished building Jerusalem (Bait al-Maqdis), he asked Allah the Almighty for three things: to give him a rule that accords with God’s will, a kingdom never to be attained by anyone after him, and whomever comes to this Masjid only to pray shall be removed from his sins as the day he was born.” Then the prophet (pbuh) said “He was given two of these things, and I hope that he has been given the third”[5].  

Distinctly, Solomon`s establishment of al-Aqsa mosque was not new establishment, it was just a renewal as the same way it was renewed before by Abraham (pbuh). al-qurtbi elaborated this point in his explanation of Abu Horaira’s hadith which was mentioned earlier: “which mosque was built first …” That may cause misunderstanding that Masjed al-Haram was built by Ibrahim as it is mentioned in Quran, and the al-Aqsa Mosque was built by Solomon (pbuh) as in hadith, while there is a very long time between Abraham and Solomon eras reaches more than a thousand years. But the misunderstanding can be cleared because the Quranic text and the hadith means that Solomon`s and Abraham’s establishment of al-Aqsa mosque was not new establishment, it was just a renewal. 

There is no sufficient information about al-Aqsa mosque that was renewed by Solomon (pbuh) and the available information mostly relied on Toarah resources and Israiliyat (refers to explanations derived from non-Muslim sources and especially from the Jewish tradition) that do not have absolute truth. We believe that the renewal was line with the abilities and possibilities given to Solomon (pbuh) by AllahAllah says:

“وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ غُدُوُّهَا شَهْرٌ وَرَوَاحُهَا شَهْرٌ ۖ وَأَسَلْنَا لَهُ عَيْنَ الْقِطْرِ ۖ وَمِنَ الْجِنِّ مَن يَعْمَلُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِ ۖ وَمَن يَزِغْ مِنْهُمْ عَنْ أَمْرِنَا نُذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ (12) يَعْمَلُونَ لَهُ مَا يَشَاءُ مِن مَّحَارِيبَ وَتَمَاثِيلَ وَجِفَانٍ كَالْجَوَابِ وَقُدُورٍ رَّاسِيَاتٍ ۚ اعْمَلُوا آلَ دَاوُودَ شُكْرًا ۚ وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ” [سبأ: 12- 13]

{And to Solomon (We made) the Wind (obedient): Its early morning (stride) was a month’s (journey), and its evening (stride) was a month’s (journey); and We made a Font of molten brass to flow for him; and there were Jinns that worked in front of him, by the leave of his Lord, and if any of them turned aside from our command, we made him taste of the Penalty of the Blazing Fire} [Saba: 12]

Zachariah, Joan, and Jesus`s Era  

Many prophets have followed Solomon (pbuh) to Bait al-Maqdis but the holy Quran tells us about three prophets only came at the same time who are strongly attached to the holy land and al-Aqsa mosque. They are, Zachariah Zakaria, Joan Yahya, and Jesus Issa (peace be upon them).  Al-Aqsa Mosque had a significant role in their life and their guidance of people to worship Allah as well as their persistent attempts to guide and reform their people. In addition, al-Aqsa was their regular place for meetings and worship.  

As it was a common thing among the righteous people from the children of Israel offspring, Omran`s wife (Mariam’s mother) vowed her coming child for service in al-Aqsa mosque. After she gave birth to Mariam, Zachariah (pbuh) became her guardian and bestow her honorable place in al-Aqsa mosque for worship and service. Then after that, her famous miracle of her pregnancy of Jesus (pbuh), the last prophet to be sent in Bait al-Maqdis and the last one before Mohammed (pbuh)[6].    

Prophet Zachariah’ wife (pbuh) gave birth to Joan (pbuh) during Jesus (pbuh) time and together they relentlessly tried to guide the Children of Israel to the right path. There is a sign in hadith that they did so in al-Aqsa Mosque. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: (Indeed Allah commanded Yahya bin Zakariyya with five commandments to abide by, and to command the Children of Isra’il to abide by them. But he was slow in doing so. So ‘Eisa said: ‘Indeed Allah commanded you with five commandments to abide by and to command the Children of Isra’il to abide by. Either you command them, or I shall command them.’ So, Yahya said: ‘I fear that if you precede me in this, then the earth may swallow me, or I shall be punished.’ So, he gathered the people in Bait al-Maqdis, and they filled [the Masjid] and sat upon its balconies. So, he said: ‘Indeed Allah has commanded me with five commandments to abide by, and to command you to abide by …). [7] The hadith indicates the existence of al-Aqsa Mosque at the time of Jesus (pbuh), which was populated and wide, and the building has high balconies.

It is important to mention that sending prophets has been stopped after Jesus until his Almighty sent Mohammed (pbuh) to complete the journey of his predecessor of prophets with al-Aqsa. Accordingly, we can see that al-Aqsa mosque is architecturally, historically and religiously attached to Masjed al Haram. Thus, his significant has been magnified as it was built by a prophet and renewed by a prophet or more. It is where all the prophets had prayed and where they fought and raised Allah`s will. It is the place where prophets had settled, lived and died.

[1] Ibn Taimia, Alfatawa 57/257

[2] Narrated by Abu Huraira

[3] Narrated by Ahmed

[4] Narrated Abu Huraira

[5] Narrated by Ahmad, Al-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah, and classed as ‘Authentic’ by al-Albani

[6] Ibn Katheer: Qasas alanbiaa

[7]  Narrated Al-Harith Al-Ash’ar

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