Masjid al-Aqsa - key mosque in Islam, Jerusalem

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[img] Eastern façade of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Old City of Jerusalem. via Godot13 (2013)

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, also known as the Qibli Mosque, is the main congregational mosque in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound within the Old City of Jerusalem. The name "Al-Masjid al-Aqṣā" often refers to the entire compound, also called "Al-Aqsa Mosque" or Al-Aqsa mosque compound, including the broader area recognized as al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf ('The Noble Sanctuary').

Initially constructed by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik or his successor al-Walid I, the mosque underwent reconstruction by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 758 after an earthquake. Subsequent expansions by the Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi and later rebuilding by the Fatimid caliph al-Zahir in the 11th century resulted in the present-day structure.

Throughout history, various Islamic dynasties, including the Rashidun caliph Umar, Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya I, Ayyubids, Mamluks, Ottomans, and others, contributed to additions and renovations.

The Crusaders repurposed the mosque as a palace in 1099, but Salahuddin al-Ayyubi restored its function in 1187. Renovations persisted during the British Palestine era, Jordanian occupation of the West Bank, and the ongoing Zionist occupation, with the mosque remaining under the independent administration of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.

Islamic significance:

  1. Masjid al-Aqsa is considered the third holiest site in Islam, following the Kaaba in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. It holds great religious value as a place of worship.

  2. The mosque has a rich history dating back to the early days of Islam. It has witnessed various historical events, including the Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad SAW, as mentioned in Islamic tradition.

History of Al-Aqsa​: 

  • 7th Century:

    • 634-644: During the rule of the Rashidun caliph Umar, a small prayer house was erected near the site.
    • 661–680: Possibly during the Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya I's rule, the present-day mosque was initially built by the fifth Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik or his successor al-Walid I.
  • 8th Century:

    • 758: Abbasid caliph al-Mansur reconstructed the mosque after an earthquake.
    • 780: Further expansion by the Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi.
  • 11th Century:

    • 11th Century: Rebuilt by the Fatimid caliph al-Zahir, preserving the current structure.
  • 12th Century:

    • 1099: Captured by Crusaders who repurposed the mosque as a palace.
  • 12th Century Onward:

    • 1187: Restored to its function as a mosque by Salahuddin al-Ayyubi.
    • Subsequent Centuries: Renovations and expansions by various Islamic dynasties, including the Ayyubids, Mamluks, and Ottomans.
    • British Palestine Era: Renovations conducted by the Supreme Muslim Council.
    • Jordanian Occupation: More renovations.
  • 20th Century Onward:

    • Post-1967: Since the Zionist occupation of the West Bank, the mosque remains under the administration of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.


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