One can never talk about al-Aqsa Mosque without first pointing to, and stopping at the concept “blessed” that Allah always describes the mosque with. This term and some of its derivatives were repeated in many verses that mentioned al-Aqsa, and Palestine as part of the Levant, in different contexts. Of which were:
The verse on the survival of Abraham (Ibrahim);
(We delivered him and Lot to the land which We have blessed for all nations) [21:71].
And the verse on what Allah subjected to Solomon (Solaiman);
(And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind, blowing forcefully, proceeding by his command toward the land which We had blessed. And We are ever, of all things, Knowing) [21:81].
And when Allah told about the blessing that He bestowed upon those who wronged themselves, He said;
(Between them and the Cities on which We had poured our blessings, We had placed Cities in prominent positions, and between them We had appointed stages of journey in due proportion: “Travel therein, secure, by night and by day”) [34:18].
And in the verse about Allah’s worshipers who were oppressed;
(And We made a people, considered weak, inheritors of lands in both east and west, – lands whereon We sent down Our blessings) [7:137].
Therefore, what is the nature of this blessing, what are the reasons behind it, and how is it achieved?
First, the term “blessing” indicates “abundance and growth in all good.” Hence when Allah Almighty said: (Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.) [17:1], al-Aqsa Mosque was made the center of the blessing and the source of good from which the blessings spread to the corners of the earth. No blessing is bestowed upon some place without al-Aqsa being part of it.
Interpreters of the Quran suggest that this blessing refers to two things:
First, a blessing in religion: explained by how most prophets (peace be upon them) emerged from it, and preached their canons and religious teachings from it.
Second, a blessing in life: by making its land a land of water, fruits and good living.
Thus, Allah Almighty described al-Aqsa Mosque as “whose surroundings We have blessed” with a strong connectivity; to acclaim the described through its connection to the bestowed blessing, meaning the blessing is inherently inseparable from the mosque.
As Imam Ibn Ashour mentioned, the blessing surrounding the al-Aqsa mosque is a metaphor for the blessing first stemming from the mosque itself; because if it occurs around it, then it essentially passes through it first. Therefore, the verse has three implications:
First, the inclusion of conjugation. “The blessing is inseparable from al-Aqsa Mosque, and it’s one of the mosque’s characteristics.”
Second, the inclusion of tenor and centrality. “It’s the occurrence of blessing in the mosque first, with all the more reason.”
Third, the inclusion of aggrandizement in “We have blessed.”
This blessing is represented in a number of images and forms, including:
- Doubling of the reward for prayers in it: the first feature of the blessings of al-Aqsa Mosque is the Allah’s preference of it over other places by doubling the reward of those who pray there. It is one of three mosques worth taking a special journey to. The prayer reward in it is doubled to five hundred prayers as stated in the hadith: “and a prayer in al-Aqsa Mosque is worth 500 times more reward than anywhere else” [Bayhaqi in Al-Sunan al-Sughraa (No. 1821)]. In a different narrative, the prayer reward can reach quarter of a prayer reward in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi. When the Prophet (pbuh) was asked about the prayer at al-Aqsa Mosque or his Masjid he answered: “One prayer in my Masjid equals four prayers offered there [in Bayt al-Maqdis], and what a blessed place of prayer it is. It is the land of resurrection and gathering. Soon there will come a time when, if a man has a piece of land the size of a horse’s rope from which he can see Bayt al-Maqdis, that will be better for him than the whole world.” [Narrated by Al-Bayhaqi and classed as saheeh by Al-Albani in the saheeh of Awareness & Apprehension].
- The land of prophets: One of al-Aqsa’s blessings is that a number of prophets were born around it, and that Allah guided a number of prophets to reside near it, and live in its vicinity. Hence, it became the land of Prophets, and the mosque’s blessing increased by theirs; they were blessed as Allah said in the words of Jesus Issa (pbuh): “And He made me blessed wheresoever I be,” and with their blessings mercies and miracles were bestowed upon the place.
- Land of Salvation and peace: It’s a blessing of al-Aqsa mosque that Allah made it a land of security and safety, peace and tranquility. As the Almighty described the blessing he bestowed on His Prophet Ibrahim: (We delivered him and Lot to the land which We have blessed for all nations).
- On its land shall be the end of tyrants: Where it is a blessing of the place that every on its land tyrant is doomed to perish. Allah said, telling the story of the Children of Israel with Moses Mousa (pbuh): (They said, “O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter.” Said two men from those who feared [to disobey] upon whom Allah had bestowed favor, “Enter upon them through the gate, for when you have entered it, you will be predominant. And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers”) [22,23:5]. Therefore, victory is always for the people of Allah, and his obedient worshipers.
- On its lands, empires are destroyed and armies of oppression and corruption are crushed: with the blessing of al-Aqsa, the crusaders were defeated after they went far deep with their injustice and corruption, and the Tatar army was crushed after they filled the land with tyranny, crime and misery. Hence, this land became a burial ground for all covetous invaders, and soon, inshallah, we shall witness the defeat of the Zionist occupation, after it reached with its corruption and injustice the unprecedented.
- Center of the victorious sect: the blessing of al-Aqsa Mosque is profound by the fact that Allah has made it the center and place of the victorious sect that no harm can deter it, and no betrayal can dissuade its people. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “There will always be a group from my Ummah triumphant upon the truth, victorious over their enemies, there will be no harm from those who oppose them and they will not be harmed until the order of Allah comes and they will remain triumphant.” They said, “O RasulAllah, where are they?” He said, “In Bayt al-Maqdis and the precincts of Bayt al-Maqdis.” [Mosnad al-Imam Ahmad]
- Its blessings distinguish the people of truth from the people of falsehood: The history of al-Aqsa mosque and its present indicate its role in the differentiation of classes. Through it, the people of honesty, steadfastness and faithfulness are distinguished from the people of hypocrisy and abandonment. Therefore, based on the position of nations, states, peoples and individuals on this land show their righteousness and faithfulness, or their evilness and corruption. The people of truth are the supporters of this land, and the people of falsehood are its enemy.
Many facts and evidences signify and manifest the blessing of al-Aqsa mosque. A blessing that is realized and known by all who work for al-Aqsa mosque, and all who exert time, effort and money for its sake. A blessing that is realized through heartily, practical or physical proximity to al-Aqsa, and Muslims should be keen to realize this blessing.
This is manifested in the hadith of the companion Maymuna Bint Saad, that shows the keenness of the companions to realize the blessing of al-Aqsa mosque even if they couldn’t visit or were distanced from it. The Prophet (pbuh) guided them to support al-Aqsa. In the hadith of Maymuna Bint Saad, she asked the Prophet: “O Messenger of Allah, give us a pronouncement about Bayt al-Maqdis.” The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “It is the land of resurrection and gathering. Visit it for prayer. A prayer in it is rewarded as a thousand prayer elsewhere.” She further asked, “If one of us cannot visit it, what should we do”? He said, “Then send some oil to be used for its lamps, whomever dedicate something for it will be as if he has prayed in it.” [Mosnad al-Imam Ahmad].