What does “Shad al-rihal” to al-Aqsa in the Hadith means?

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Muslim scholars agreed that it’s “mustahabb” (recommended) to travel to Beit al-Maqdis to perform commended worships; such as prayers, du’aa’, dhikr, reading the Qur’an and i’tikaf. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah () said: “La Tushad al-Rihal (Mounts are not saddled for) except to travel to three Masjids: Al-Masjid Al-Haram, this Masjid of mine, and Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim].

“Al-Rihal” is the plural form of “Rahl;” which everything that is prepared for departure; such as the saddle for camel riding. Whomever wanted to travel [in the old days] would prepare his departure equipment and pull his camel to ride it to his destination, therefore, “Shad al-Rihal” is a metaphor for travelling, and seeking for some place for the sake of its reward and the doubled reward of praying in there.

This Hadith indicates that Madjis al-Aqsa is one of the three Masjids to which a special journey could be undertaken to visit. Those Masjids were blessed with such virtue due to the unique characteristics they possess; they are the Masjids of the Prophets (peace be upon them), besides, a prayer in those Masjids is unlike any prayer in other places.

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