Dr. Abdul Karim Miqdad
Special juristic rulings are associated with al-Masjid al-Aqṣā that are unique to it. This is because it was the first qiblah (direction of prayer) for the Muslims, the second house of Allah that was built for people on the earth, and the third mosque that Muslims can undertake a journey to visit. Furthermore, it was mentioned in the verses of the Qur᾿ān and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). A number of scholars have undertaken to highlight these special rulings whether they are specific to al-Masjid al-Aqṣā or to certain other mosques as well, such as al-Masjid al-Ḥarām and al-Masjid al-Nabawī. This article is an attempt to briefly shed light on some of these rulings.
First: The Boundaries of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā
The boundaries of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā are not limited to the Mosque of the Qiblah or the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock; rather, they encompass the entire area that is contained within its walls. The author of the book al-Uns al-Jalīl bi Tarīkh al-Quds wa al-Khalīl said: “It is commonly understood that al-Aqṣā from the direction of the qiblah is the structure built in the front section of the mosque, which includes the pulpit and the grand mihrāb. However, the fact of the matter is that al-Aqṣā is a name denoted to the entire vicinity surrounded by the walls. The structure present in the front section of the mosque and other structures such as the Dome of the Rock, corridors, and other structures are extraneous. In other words, what is meant by al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is the entire area surrounded by the walls.
This area is estimated to be 144,000 square meters; the length of its walls is 491 meters from the west, 462 meters from the east, 310 meters from the north, and 281 meters from the south.
Second: The Merits of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā
Al-Masjid al-Aqṣā has a number of merits that can be highlighted in the context of explaining the juristic rulings unique to it. These merits include:
- Allah will forgive whoever travelled to it for the purpose of praying in it:
Any Muslim who travelled to al-Masjid al-Aqṣā with the sole intention of praying there will have all his sins forgiven; he will be as on the day his mother gave birth to him. The evidence for this is what is narrated in the Musnad of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Sulaimān ibn Dāwūd asked Allah for three things. He was given two, and we hope that the third will be granted as well. He asked Allah for judgment in harmony with his judgment, and he was given that. He asked Allah for a dominion that no one after him would have, and he was given that, and he asked Allah that no one would come to it, intending only to pray there, but that he would emerge as free from sin as the day his mother bore him. We hope that Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has granted him that as well” Musnad Aḥmad (11/220).
- Prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is equal to 500 prayers:
Among the blessings bestowed upon this mosque is that Almighty Allah made the reward for praying a single prayer in it equivalent to 500 prayers in any other place. The evidence for this is the ḥadīth collected by al-Ṭabarānī in which Abū al-Dardā’ quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, “A prayer in al-Masjid al-Ḥarām is equal to 100,000 prayers, a prayer in my mosque is equal to 1,000 prayers, and a prayer in Al-Aqṣā Sanctuary is equal to 500 prayers” Majmaʻ al-Zawā’id wa Manbaʻ al-Fawā’id (4/7).
- The recommendation to undertake a journey to visit it:
Muslim scholars have recommended journeying to the blessed Masjid al-Aqṣā to visit it. This is based on the narration in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No journey should be undertaken to visit any mosque other than the following three: al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, the Mosque of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) and al-Masjid al-Aqṣā.” The scholars also recommended completing the recitation of the Qur᾿ān in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. In this regard, Al-Jarāʻī transmitted that Saʻīd ibn Manṣūr narrated in his Sunan that Abū Majlaz said, “The scholars recommended that anyone who visits any of the three mosques complete the recitation of the Qur᾿ān before leaving them.”
- It is recommended to gift oil for its lamps:
The Prophet’s encouragement in recommending the provision of oil to al-Masjid al-Aqṣā was very clear. Oil can be regarded as a metaphor for the various forms of support that are recommended to be provided by the Muslims in every age to the blessed al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. Such support will become mandatory if it is provided in order to protect al-Masjid al-Aqṣā from its judaization and control by the Zionist occupation. Imām Aḥmad narrated that Maymunah reported: I said, “Messenger of Allah, tell us about Bait al-Maqdis.” He said, “It is the land of the resurrection and the gathering. Come and pray in it, for one prayer in it is like one thousand prayers elsewhere.” “What if one cannot go there?” I asked. He replied, “Send oil for its lamps; for whoever does so, it is as if they had gone there” Musnad Imām Aḥmad, (45/597).
- It is recommended to start talibyah for hajj or umrah from al-Masjid al-Aqṣā to al-Masjid al-Ḥarām:
The Shafiʻī and Ḥanbalī Schools are of the opinion that it is recommended to start talibyah for Hajj and umrah from al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. Their opinion is based on the narration of Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet, that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever begins the talbiyah for umrah from Bait al-Maqdis, that will be an expiation for all his previous sins” Sunan Ibn Mājah (2/999). In another narration by Abū Dāwūd, “If anyone puts on iḥrām for ḥajj or umrah from al-Masjid al-Aqṣā and then proceeds to the Sacred Masjid, his past and future sins will be forgiven,” or “he will be guaranteed Paradise” Sunan Abū Dāwūd (2/144).
In this regard, it is important to mention something that has become widespread among people that can be termed as “taqdīs al-ḥajj”, whereby a pilgrim will sanctify his ḥajj by visiting al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, which is something that has no basis. However, as mentioned earlier, some of the scholars of the salaf recommended visiting the three mosques in a single journey based on the evidence concerning the commencement of talbiyah for ḥajj or umrah from al-Masjid al-Aqṣā.
- Multiplying the reward of those who stay steadfast in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā:
The protection of Muslim lands and their defense against aggressors is one of the greatest deeds loved by Allah, and there are many ḥadīths that mention the virtues of guarding the borders. Among them is what is reported by Muslim in his Ṣaḥiḥ in which the Prophet peace be upon him said, “Keeping watch for a day and night is better than fasting and performing night-prayer for a month. And if one dies while doing so, he will go on receiving his reward for his deeds perpetually, he will receive his provision, and he will be saved from the tribulation [of the grave]” [Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim, 3/1520].
Rewards will be multiplied depending on the virtue of the place one guards. Therefore, standing guard in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is one of the greatest deeds through which the pleasure of Allah is sought in light of the repeated attempts by the Zionist occupation to control and judaize it.
Third: What Is Disliked or Prohibited in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā
The scholars identified certain actions or deeds that are disliked in regards to al-Masjid al-Aqṣā
- Its dust and soil should not be taken away:
The Shafiʻīs and other scholars who agreed with them are of the opinion that it is prohibited to take any amount of soil or pebbles or stones from al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. Al-Suyūtī said, “It is prohibited to take any of its parts, including its pebbles, stones, soil, oil, and candles” al-Ashbāh wa al-Naẓāʾir (p. 421).
In addition, other things that are prohibited in other mosques are also prohibited in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, such as the prohibition of menstruating women from staying in it. However, contemporary scholars have made an exception to this ruling, taking into account the specificity of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā and the need for people to be present in it at all times provided that no impurity will taint it (Contemporary Fatāwā Concerning the Blessed al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, p. 41).
- Al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is not a sanctuary in the terminological sense:
Ḥaram from the terminological perspective is a place where it is prohibited to hunt or cut trees or plants, in addition to several other rulings special to it and not to other mosques. This is the case for the sanctuaries of Mecca and Madinah. From this perspective, it would be prohibited to use such terminology when referring to the blessed al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, since lost items found in its premises are not prohibited if they are properly identified and no owner claims them in accordance with the rulings of lost items. Furthermore, it is not prohibited to hunt animals or cut plants within its premises. However, based on the linguistic meaning of what a sanctuary is, which refers to anything that is not allowed to be violated or desecrated and must be defended and protected, which is also commonly used to refer to a wife or a sister or a university and other things, then such a usage will not raise an issue.
A fatwā issued by the general directorate of Islamic affairs in the UAE states, “A sanctuary (ḥaram) in the juristic sense has special rulings that are applicable to the sanctuaries of Mecca and Madinah and no other place. In recent times, the term (al-ḥaram al-qudsī) was used to refer to the area of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā and the Dome of the Rock. There is nothing wrong in making such a reference from a metaphorical perspective, since al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is the second masjid built on earth, the first qiblah for the Muslims, and the third masjid to which a journey can be undertaken; and Allah knows best.”
- It is not permissible to rub its walls and circle around it:
It is not permissible for the visitor of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā to rub, kiss or circle around its buildings. What has been reported in regards to the acts of some people who circle it or stand in the courtyard of al-Aqṣā in the day of ʻArafah are deviations that are impermissible. This is because ṭawāf can only be performed around the Kaʻbah. Based on this, Imām Malik disliked journeying to Bait al-Maqdis to arrive in a specific time such as the season of pilgrimage, during which some people go there to stand in its courtyard on the day of ʻArafah to imitate standing at ʻArafah, and they slaughter sacrifices to imitate the slaughtering of sacrifices by the pilgrims in Mina. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not do such a thing in any place or mosque during his life.
- Lack of evidence for glorifying the rock for being the first qiblah for the Muslims:
There are no narrations attributed to the Prophet (may peace be upon him) or one of his companions concerning the glorification of the rock. However, some Jewish and Christians did glorify it. As for the claims that the imprint of the Prophet’s feet, traces of his turban, or other things can be found in the Dome of the Rock, these are pure lies and fabrications.
The above was a collection of the juristic rulings concerning the blessed Masjid al-Aqṣā. We implore Allah to liberate it from the hands of its usurpers, return it to the people of Islam, and enable us to pray in it.