Masjid Al-Aqsa is an important holy site in Islam, located in the Old City of Jerusalem in Palestine. It’s name translates literally as ‘the Farthest Mosque’. The wider compound includes the Dome of the Rock, seventeen gates and four minarets, and is usually referred to as al-Haram ash-Sharif, which means ‘the Noble Sanctuary’.
A brief history of Masjid Al-Aqsa
Originally, the building was constructed as a small prayer house, but in 705 CE it was rebuilt and made bigger by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik and his son al-Walid. An earthquake completely destroyed the mosque in 746 and again in 1033, and each time the mosque was rebuilt. Various ruling dynasties of the Islamic Caliphate built additions to the mosque and surrounding area, including the famous dome, façade, minbar, minarets and the inside of the mosque.
During the Crusades, Jerusalem was captured in 1099 and Masjid Al-Aqsa was used as a palace unit it was recaptured by Saladin, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria, in 1187. The mosque continued to undergo renovations and additions at the behest of the Ayyubid (Mulsim-Kurdish) dynasty, the Mamluk Sulanate (spanning Egypt, the Levant and Hejaz), the Ottoman empire, the Supreme Muslim Council, and Jordan.
It is currently under the administration of the Jordanian and Palestinian Islamic Waqf, a religious trust that manages Islamic historical sites around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
What makes Masjid Al-Aqsa important?
Masjid Al-Aqsa is important in Islam because Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was transported from the Scared Mosque in Mecca to Al-Aqsa during the Night Journey, and then on to heaven. It is also believed that the Prophet Muhammad led prayers towards this site until Allah directed him to turn towards the Kaaba.
It was the second place of worship build in Islam, 40 years after the Kaaba, and is mentioned in the Qur’an as being ‘holy’ and ‘blessed’ in numerous extracts.
“Glorified be He [Allah] Who did take His servant for a journey by night from Al Masjid Al Haram to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of our Signs. Verily He is the All Hearing, All Seeing.” Surah Isra (17:1)
According to Islamic scriptures, the Prophet Muhammed taught followers that they should undertake a special journey to one of three important mosques: Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, Al Masjid An-Nabawi in Madinah, and Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. Prayers in these special mosques will generate amazing blessings and worshippers will receive at least 500 times the reward of Salaah performed in another location.
A place of comfort and hope
This Ramadan, there are millions of Palestinians who will continue to experience terrible suffering during the holy month. In Gaza, 50% of people don’t have enough to eat, and hungry families will fast all day without anything to eat for iftar. To make matters worse, a serious water shortage is blighting the lives of thousands of families.
Many Palestinians will seek spiritual sanctuary in Masjid Al-Aqsa and will spend long nights worshipping there throughout the sacred month of Ramadan. However, when night falls, they will be left in darkness.
You can light up Masjid Al-Aqsa this Ramadan
With your help, we can light up Masjid Al-Aqsa and allow the people of Palestine to pray and read the Qu’ran, even after the sun has gone down.
In order to make this holy place even more welcoming for worshippers, Human Appeal is embarking on an ambitious renovation project, and installing floodlights at Masjid Al-Aqsa is the first step.
When we hold our Feed the Fasting iftar meal, hundreds of people will be able to enjoy their food by the light of amazing floodlights, rather than in darkness.
Your Sadaqah Jariyah gift will continue to benefit the people of Palestine for generations to come, long after you have passed on from this life. Let’s light up this holy Masjid together.