Why visit – Al Aqsa

The sacred land of Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem represents a place of great religious significance to the Muslims. The name ‘Masjid al-Aqsa’ translates as ‘the farthest mosque’ and is the third holiest site in Islam. Masjid al-Aqsa is no ordinary masjid. It was from here, where the miraculous night journey of our Prophet Muhammed ﷺ took place, travelling from Makkah to Masjid Al-Aqsa and ascending from Masjid Al-Aqsa. Allah mentions in the Quran:

“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.”(Surah Isra 17:1)

In the above verse, the Quran mentions that Allah has “blessed the surroundings”, whilst the Prophet ﷺ dedicated a great deal of his life nurturing the companions to appreciate the significance of Masjid Al-Aqsa. Allah has given certain times, certain places and certain people a special status. Just as he has given the month of Ramadan a special status, he has given the land of al-Shāām a special status, and similarly He has given our Master Muhammad (peace be upon them) a special status from amongst all the people.

Land of the Prophets

A multitude of Prophets and companions of our Prophet Muhammed ﷺ were sent and are a buried in and around the Al Aqsa sanctuary. The final Prophet ﷺ shared an exceptional bond with all the Prophets and Messengers who came before him (upon all be peace), as the religion of Islam is a continuation, perfection and completion from other religions. To name a few, this included: Prophet Adam, Prophet Nuh, Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Yunus, Prophet Ishaaq, Prophet Yaqoub, Prophet Yusuf, Prophet Lut, Prophet Musa, Prophet Dawoud, Prophet Suleiman and Prophet Isa (upon be peace and blessings on all).

During the Isra Wal-Mi’raj journey, it is believed upon reaching Masjid Al-Aqsa, our Prophet ﷺ was met by a group of all the previous Prophets (upon all be peace) and had the great honour of leading them in prayer. Al-Haafiz ibn Katheer (alayhirahma) states in his commentary on Surah al-Isra’, “Then his honourable status and superiority to them was manifested when he was made to go forward to lead them in prayer, when Jibreel (peace be upon him) indicated to him that he should do so”.

The Importance of Visiting Masjid Al-Aqsa

Abu Hurayrah relates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “You should not undertake a special journey to visit any place other than the following three masjids with the expectations of getting greater reward: the Sacred Masjid of Makkah (Ka’bah), this Masjid of mine (the Prophet’s ﷺ Masjid in Madinah), and Masjid Al-Aqsa (of Jerusalem)”. In another narration the words are, “For three Masjids a special journey may be undertaken: The Sacred Masjid (Ka’bah), my Masjid and Masjid of Jerusalem (Al-Aqsa). (Muslim, Bukhari, Abu Dawud)

Greater Virtue of praying in Masjid Al-Aqsa

Abu Darda relates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “A prayed in Makkah (Ka’bah) is worth 1000,000 times (reward), a prayer in my Masjid (Madinah) is worth 1,000 times and a prayer in Al-Aqsa Sanctuary is worth 500 times more reward than anywhere else”. (Tabarani, Bayhaqi, Suyuti)

Masjid Al-Aqsa – The First Qiblah (direction of prayer)
Abdullah Ibn Umar narrates, “We prayed along with the Prophet ﷺ facing Al-Quds (Jerusalem) for 16 or 17 months. Then Allah ordered him saw) to turn his face towards the Ka’bah (in Makkah). (Bukhari)

Al-Bara added, “Before we changed our direction towards the Ka’bah in prayer, some Muslims had died or had been killed and we did not know what to say about them (regarding their prayers). Allah then revealed: And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e. the prayers of those Muslims facing Bayt Al-Maqdis were valid) {2:143} (Bukhari)

Masjid Al-Aqsa – The Second House of Allah on Earth

Abu Dharr reported that he asked the Prophet ﷺ, “O Messenger of Allah, which Masjid was built first on earth”? The Prophet ﷺ replied, “The Sacred Masjid of Makkah”. Abu Dharr again asked, “Which was next”? The Prophet ﷺsaid, “Masjid Al-Aqsa”. Abu Dharr further asked, “How long was the period between the building of the two Masjids”? The Prophet (saw) said, “Forty years”. Apart from these, offer your prayer anywhere when it is time to pray, although excellence is in praying in these Masjids”. (Bukhari)

The Virtues of performing Umrah From Masjid Al-Aqsa

Umm Salamah (ra) relates that the Prophet ﷺsaid, “If anyone puts on Ihram for Hajj or Umrah from Masjid Al-Aqsa and then proceeds to the Sacred Masjid (Ka’bah), their past and future sins will be forgiven, or they will be entered into Paradise”. (Abu Dawud)

Masjid Al-Aqsa – The Desired Site of Musa (Peace be upon him)

Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet ﷺsaid, “The Angel of death was sent to Musa. When he came to Musa, Musa punched him on the eye. The Angel returned to Allah and said, “You sent me to a servant who does not want to die”. Allah ordered the Angel, ‘Return to him and tell him to put his hand on the back of an ox and for every hair that will come under it, he will be granted one year of life’. Musa asked, “O Lord! What will happen after that”? Allah replied, ‘Then death’. Musa decided, let it be now’. Musa then requested Allah to let him die close to the Sacred Land (near Masjid Al-Aqsa) so much so that he would be at a distance of a stone’s throw from it”. Abu Hurayrah (ra) added, the Prophet (saw) then said, “If I were there, I would show you his grave below the red sand hill on the side of the road”. (Bukhari)