Question and answer details
|Salaamu 'alaykum, I have heard that al-Masjid al-Aqsa is not the Dome of the Rock, but a mosque built next to the Dome of the Rock site. Is this the case? I heard that `Umar refused to build a mosque on the site of the Temple and that is why the Dome of the Rock isn't actually a mosque and the Mosque is actually just next to the site of the temple. Is this true? Is what the Jews call the Temple Mount actually part of al-Masjid al-Aqsa or is al-Masjid al-Aqsa part of the Temple Mount, or are they actually separate bits of land? Thank you very much for your answer.|
Thank you dear Mustafa for your question, I will try to answer it a point-by-point insha’Allah.
You ask: I have heard that al-Masjid al-Aqsa is not the Dome of the Rock, but a mosque built next to the Dome of the Rock site. Is this the case?
In fact, al-Masjid-al-Aqsa is not the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock is the golden domed building actually built over the Rock, from which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ascended to Heaven on his Night Journey (al-Mi`raj). However, they are both on the same site, which is, Beit-al-Maqdis.
Then you ask: I heard that `Umar refused to build a mosque on the site of the Temple and that is why the Dome of the Rock isn't actually a mosque and the Mosque is actually just next to the site of the temple. Is this true?
Well, there is some confusion here. When `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) accepted the keys of Jerusalem, people asked him to lead the prayer. He refused to lead the prayer at a place, which might, subsequently, be given more importance than existing places of worship. Accordingly, he went a little distance and led the prayer there. Actually, there is a similar reference in the Jewish traditions, as well.
This place is marked by a small wooden edifice, known as Masjid-i-`Umar. This is the third masjid (mosque) on the site, known as Beit-al-Maqdis. As for the Temple, in fact, it was completely destroyed. There were no traces then, nor have any been found since. Your comment regarding the Temple amounts only to speculation, I am afraid.
Also, you ask: Is what the Jews call the Temple Mount actually part of al-Masjid al-Aqsa or is al-Masjid al-Aqsa part of the Temple Mount, or are they actually separate bits of land?
Well, Abu Dhar asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): ‘Which was the first masjid on earth?’ ‘The Sacred Masjid (in Makkah)’, he replied. ‘And then which?’ Abu Dhar asked. ‘al-Masjid-al-Aqsa,’ he (peace be upon him) said. Then, Abu Dhar further asked, ‘What was the time span between the two?’ ‘Forty years,’ the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied. (Narrated in The Collection of Hadiths by Imam Muslim)
Here you see the importance of Beit-al-Maqdis, as a sacred site. Originally, there were no buildings. The Mount was a feature, created when the earth was formed and Allah (swt) determined it would be a sacred site. It was the first qibla (direction of prayers for believers). The first Temple of Prophet Solomon was built in Jerusalem (so it is believed), having already been chosen by Allah as a sacred city. It is worth mentioning here that he (Sulaiman, peace be upon him) reigned from 963 – 923 BCE, some 900 years after the time of Abraham (Ibrahim, peace be upon him).
Subsequently, the first Temple of Solomon was completely destroyed in 586 BCE, with the capture of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews to Babylon. Later, they were allowed to return and they rebuilt the Temple. However, in the first Jewish revolt, this second Temple was desecrated and totally destroyed between 66 – 70 CE, which is considered the beginning of the Diaspora, or dispersion of Jews. During the second Jewish revolt 132 - 135 CE, Jerusalem was annihilated and the Jews dispersed. Subsequently, the site fell into disuse. So much so, that when `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) prayed there, he started to collect the rubbish that had accumulated and Muslims helped him to clean up the site.
To conclude, there is one site, known as Beit-al-Maqdis. Allah ( swt) chose it to be a sacred site. It is the second sacred site and was the first qibla. Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) migrated to this land around 1805 BCE. The Qur’an says:
Remember Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was neither a Jew nor a Christian. Prophet Moses (Musa, peace be upon him) was not sent until the 13th century BCE. As for Prophet David (Daud, peace be upon him) he moved his capital to Jerusalem in 995 BCE while his son, Prophet Solomon (Sulaiman, peace be upon him) ruled from 963 – 923 BCE.