Significance of Masjid Al Aqsa in Islam
Masjid Al-Aqsa, also known as Bait Al Maqdis, is the most sacred mosque for Muslims after Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabwi. Its importance and significance are evident in the Hadith in which Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) restricts Muslims from traveling to any place for worship other than three mosques:
“Do not travel (specifically) to any mosque except three: al-Masjid al-Haraam, Masjid al-Aqsa, and this mosque of mine.” (Bokhari)
This mosque has been given a special status and the reward of one prayer in it equals that of two hundred and fifty prayers! Allah’s Messenger (P.B.U.H) said:
“One prayer in my mosque is better than four prayers offered there (in Bayt al-Maqdis), and what a good place of prayer it is.” (Al-Hakim)
Since the reward of one prayer in Prophet’s mosque is equivalent to a thousand prayers prayed elsewhere, and the reward of praying in Masjid Al Aqsa is one-fourth of it, making it equivalent to two hundred fifty prayers’ reward.
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This mosque has been honored by Allah Subha na wa ta’ala in many ways, some of which are:
Prophet (P.B.U.H)’s nightly journey to Bait Al-Maqdis:
Allah Ta’ala once took Prophet (P.B.U.H) on a journey to heavens and to Masjid Al-Aqsa in a single night. This miracle and the following verse from Quran impresses the importance of this mosque upon believers:
“Glory to Allah who did take His Servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) to the Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem) whose precincts We did bless.” (Al-Isra 17: 1)
Scholars believe the reason for his journey to Masjid Al-Aqsa was to provide evidence of his truthfulness. Since the polytheists of his time knew he had never been there, when he recounted the mosque in accurate detail to them, they knew he was telling the truth. Had they meant to believe, they would have believed after such a miracle.
The first Qiblah for Muslims:
Initially, Muslims were commanded to pray facing Masjid-Al-Aqsa. The practice continued until after sixteen or seventeen months of Hijra.
Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) narrates, “We prayed with the Prophet (P.B.U.H) facing Al-Quds (Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months. Then Allah Ta'ala ordered him to turn his face towards the Ka'bah (in Makkah)” (Bokhari)
Located in the land of Prophets:
Masjid Al-Aqsa is in Palestine and Palestine has the honor of being a home to numerous Prophets. A great number of Prophets have lived or traveled to Palestine on their journey of preaching the true religion of the One God, Allah. In this land, there are graves of many Prophets including Ibrahim, Ishaq, and Yaqub (Peace be upon them).
Also, some of Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H)’s closest companions, such as Ubada ibn al Samit, Shaddad ibn Aws ibn Thabit al Ansari and Tamim al Dari (R.A), are buried there.
Built by Prophets:
Masjid Al-Aqsa has been built and rebuilt by many Prophets throughout the history. Among the most prominent are the names of Ibrahim, Yaqub and Sulayman (A.S) who participated in the building of this great mosque.
Thus, this is a place to be held in utmost esteem by all the believers