Scholars Agree – This is Not Masjid Al Aqsa
“What is that place?” I heard one man asking another as I walked down the stairs towards Masjid Al Aqsa. While the question itself didn’t catch my attention, it was the answer, “Are you Muslim?” that made to stop to see and hear the conversation. I soon realised the respondent was perhaps surprised by the question and also trying to find out if the first man was a tourist that managed to get into the Al Aqsa compound.
Clearly the questioner was a Muslim, but he was unsure why, during the call of the Athan, everyone was going into a building away from what he thought was “Masjid Al Aqsa”. The question, it seems, is not that unusual for many first time visitors to Jerusalem. In fact, if there was a list of frequently asked questions about Jerusalem, this would surely be one of them.
The confusion arises, because the picture often used to portray main Masjid of Al Aqsa, is actually the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock is itself a separate Masjid inside the Al Aqsa Compound. That’s right there are multiple Masjids in Al Aqsa (The Farthest Masjid)!
Let us look at the various Masjids with the Al Aqsa are:
- Masjid Al Aqsa compound
- Qibly Masjid
- Masjid As Sakhra (Dome of the Rock)
- Marwani Masjid
- Buraq Masjid
- Al Ghazali Masjid (Recently designated)
The Masjid Al Aqsa Compound
This entire platform, known as Al Aqsa is built on the foundations lade by Sulayman (A.S) who directed the Jinn to construct the facility. Within that construction, the area that would later be designated as the Masjid was built.
This platform area is also known as al Haram ash-Sharif, so praying anywhere within the area is now regarded as praying within Al Aqsa itself. While in the past the Masjids would have separate congregational prayers, with the advent of modern technology, prayers can now be performed all together via speakers within each of the designated Masjids.
Masjid Al Qibly
The main Masjid with the Al Aqsa compound is often referred to as Masjid Al Aqsa, however its correct name here is Masjid Qibly. It was to this Masjid that the man I was telling you about earlier was pointing to when asking what building that is. This Masjid is located at that southern wall of the entire Al Aqsa area, see image below. This is often referred to as Qibly Masjid.
When Umar (R.A) first came to Jerusalem, he stipulated the area that it is believed Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) led the prayer for all the Prophets, as the designated area for salaat. This established the location of the actual Masjid in front of the Dome of the Rock. Early construction is believed to have resulted in a prayer area for about 3000 worshipers. Today of course, it can hold many more. How many? Give us your estimates and photos when you visit J
Take the opportunity visit and pray Juma salaat in Masjid al Aqsa as soon as possible. You can do so after performing Umrah with one of our Nomad Travel Umrah packages. Alternatively, speak to your local Umrah travel agent to arrange a trip with us after Umrah.
This iconic landmark is the one of the most recognised building in Jerusalem, and is situated almost in the centre of the Al Aqsa compound. Its distinct gold dome tiles being placed there during the time of Ottoman ruler, Sulayman the magnificent. Interestingly, the exact model upon which the current building was based, still stands today in the Al Aqsa Masjid area. In fact, the 1/12 size model is in the very centre of the Al Aqsa Masjid area!
Also referred to as Qubbat-al-Sakhra (Dome of the Rock) or Masjid as Sakhra (Masjid of the Rock), it is this building, built by Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, that surrounds the rock from where the Prophet (S.A.W) ascended during the Isra & Mi’raj as explained in Surat al-Isra in the Holy Quran.
Until the building of the artificial platform seen across most of the area, the Rock itself was the highest point within the Al Aqsa area.
When visiting, a separate congregational salaat for all is performed in this Masjid, except on Fridays, when it is designated for ladies only are during Salaat al Juma.
Want to visit and pray Juma in Jerusalem, see these trip options.
This area, to the left and below the main platform area, was opened and designated as a Masjid and named after the father of Abdul Malik ibn Marwan (the builder of the Dome of the Rock). First constructed as a leveling area for the building of Masjid Al Aqsa above, it was later turned in to stable during the occupation of the Crusaders. After retaking Jerusalem the area was cleaned and restored by Salahuddin Ayyoubi.
Did you know that is it within this area that Maryam (A.S) was secluded while pregnant with Prophet Esa (A.S). While still visible, the area has been closed off to visitors unfortunately.
This Masjid, is on the western wall of the Al Aqsa compound, just to the right of the Moroccan Gate. It is the place where Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) tied Buraq on the night of the Isra and Mi’raj. The original gold ring is now located in Istanbul, with an iron ring in its place.
This Masjid is accessed via some very steep stairs from the main Al Aqsa platform we see today.
Al Ghazali Masjid
One of the most famous Muslim scholars, Imam Al Ghazali completed his Iḥyā′ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn within Masjid Al Aqsa. This building is located on the eastern wall, separating the main platform area from the adjacent Muslim cemetery.
Until recently this building was not regularly used as a Masjid. Just prior to Ramadhan in 2019, the Jewish government in Jerusalem sought to take control of the building. As as justification, their ongoing excavations below the entire al Aqsa complex. Many hundreds, if not thousands of Muslim Palestinian youth moved to occupy the building so that it would not become permanently occupied. Another reason given was it was not used regularly by the Muslims. Since then, it has been updated to a stand alone Masjid. It is now used as part of the full congregational Juma and Eid Salaat performed in al Aqsa.
This event brought to light a concern raised by many in Palestine. Muslims need to visit Masjid Al Aqsa whenever possible.