The minaret is a high building that the muezzin ascends to raise the adhaan and the call to prayer. It is one of the prominent architectural elements that were added to al-Aqsa Mosque in the Mamluk era. It was named after its builder’s name or in relation to the nearby gate of the mosque. There are four minarets, exquisite workmanship and beautiful architecture, distributed on the western part (3 minarets) and the northern (one minaret).
Nowadays, these minarets are fighting the steadfastness battle against the Judaization of al-Aqsa Mosque, where the Israeli Knesset voted in the first reading of the legislation of the Prevention of Adhann Law in al-Aqsa Mosque and the occupied lands in 1948.
1) The Moroccan’s Gate Minaret
The Mamluk Judge Sharf Ad-Din bin Fakhr Ad-Din Al-Khalili built the Moroccan’s Gate Minaret in 677AH/1278AC next to the Moroccan’s Gate. The 23 meters high minaret is the shortest minaret inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and is standing without any foundations. The top of the minaret was damaged in an earthquake that hit Jerusalem in 1922 and was repaired by the Islamic Supreme Council which added a dome to it, which was later covered with lead sheets by Al-Aqsa Construction Committee.
2) The Gate of the Chain Minaret
Prince Saif Ad-Din Tankz bin Abdullah An-Nasry built this minaret over Al-Aqsa’s northern corridor in 730 AH/1329 AC next to the Gate of the Chain. The square-shaped minaret can be accessed through Al-Ashrafya School using a staircase made of 80 steps. It is built on a square base and topped with a covered porch resting on a set of stone columns. The minaret has been restored by the Supreme Islamic Council in 1922 after being damaged in an earthquake. Israeli forces banned Muslims from entering and using this Minaret to “protect” Jewish worshipers at Al-Buraq Wall “Western Wall” which the minaret overlooks.
3) The Bani Ghanim Gate Minaret
The Ayoubi judge Sharaf AdDin bin Abdul Rahman Bin AsSahib built the Bani Ghanim Gate Minaret in 677 AH/1278 AC during the reign of Sultan Hussam Ad-Din Lajeen. It is a square-shaped minaret located near Bani Ghanim’s Gate which is considered the most decorated of Al-Aqsa’s minarets. With a height of 38.5 meters it is the highest minaret inside Al Aqsa with a staircase of 120 steps. The western tunnel which was dug by the Israeli Occupation Forces has weakened the minaret’s foundations which called for its renovation in 2001.
4) The Tribes Gate Minaret/The Salahya Minaret
The Tribes Gate Minaret was first built by the Governor of Jerusalem Saif Ad-Din Qatlo Pasha during the Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Sha’ban reign next to the Tribes Gate. It used to be a square-shaped minaret until the Ottomans ordered its reconstruction in 1007 AH/1599 AC, making it the only cylindrical shaped minaret inside Al-Aqsa. The Tribes Minaret was renovated twice, first in 1927 AC after being damaged in an earthquake, and second in 1967 because it sustained some damages during Israeli raids. Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Committee reconstructed the minaret and covered its dome with lead sheets.
Source: Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Jerusalem.