In the past it was a Sunnah of the Muslims that after having performed Hajj they would all travel to Medina and then to Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) to pray there too. Now, millions continue to travel to Mecca and Medina, while Al-Aqsa cries at its abandonment and neglect by the Muslims. Indeed many Muslims are oblivious to its religious significance. One of the myths most commonly propagated by the Zionists is that Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran, and therefore it has no significance to Muslims and Islam.
Therefore quite possibly there will be not be much of an outcry when the Al-Aqsa Masjid will re-open to non-Muslim visitors, even if the Waqf (the Islamic religious trust on religious sites) refuses, as Israel’s Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi has announced. This will allow thousands of non-Muslim scantily dressed tourists to visit the Masjid Al-Aqsa. We need to consider would we to tolerate such a sight the Kaaba Sharif or Masjid ar-Rasool?!?! Never!
We as Muslims treat Mecca as being very holy as we should. But if we are to treat it as a holy place, then we must also know about those things that make Bayt al-Maqdis almost as holy.
Why do we believe Mecca to be holy?
Because Ibrahim (AS) brought his child Ismayeel (AS) and Hajar (AS) to Mecca when there was no one else there and left them there, and then he visited Mecca three times.
Mecca is holy because of him and because of Ismayeel (AS), from amongst whose descendants was Muhammad (SAW). So if Mecca is holy because of this, then imagine just how holy Bayt al-Maqdis and its surrounding regions are because Ibrahim (AS) made Hijra there from his home place of Iraq.
So if Mecca is holy because he visited it, then Bayt al-Maqdis is just as important because that is where he lived, prayed, preached and that is where he died and was buried. And he was not the only one, Isa, Suleiman, Dawud, Yahya, Zakariya, Yaqub and Yusuf (AS) were all prophets who lived and died in and around Bayt al-Maqdis.
If Mecca and Medina are holy because the angels visited them, then so too did the angels descend upon Bayt al-Maqdis.
If we look at Medina before the Prophet (SAW) made Hijra there it was known as Yathrib and it was just an oasis, and it only became holy once the Prophet (SAW) and the Muslims emigrated to Medina and settled there.
But Bayt al-Maqdis did not just become holy at the emigration of Ibrahim (AS) or any other prophet for that matter. In fact it had been declared holy by Allah (SWT) at the time of creation, just like Mecca.
Abu Dharr al-Ghafari (RA) said, ‘I asked the Prophet (SAW) “YA Rasul Allah! Which was the first Masjid ever to be built on earth?” Rasul Allah (SAW) said “Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.” I then asked “Ya Rasul Allah! What was the 2nd Masjid?” the Prophet (SAW) said “Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.” I asked “what was the time between the 2?” he (SAW) said “40 years.” ‘ (Bukhari)
Allah (SWT) has described it as being blessed. In Surat al-Isra 17:1, He says, “Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Masjid al-Haram (Mecca) to Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem) the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed.”
In addition to this Abu Dharr al-Ghafari (RA) also said, “We were discussing in the presence of the Prophet (SAW) which of them was more virtuous, the Mosque of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) or Bayt al-Maqdis. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said “one prayer in my Masjid is better than 4 prayers over there but it is still a good place of prayer. Soon there will come a time when if a man has a spot of land as big as his horses rope from which he can see Bayt al-Maqdis, that will be better for him than the whole world.” (Al-Haakim and Adh-Dhahabi)
One prayer in Masjid an-Nabi is equivalent to 1000 prayers elsewhere, while prayer in Masjid Al-Aqsa is 250 times better than elsewhere.
Also the Dajjal will not enter Bayt al-Maqdis. The Prophet (SAW) said ‘He (the Dajjal) will prevail all over the earth, apart from al-Haram (in Mecca) and Bayt al-Maqdis.” (Ahmed)
The Dajjal will in fact be killed close to Bayt al-Maqdis by Isa bin Maryam (AS). The Prophet (SAW) said ‘The son of Maryam will kill the Dajjal at the gates of Ludd.’ (Muslim) Ludd is a place near Bayt al-Maqdis.
Bayt al-Maqdis was the first qiblah of the Muslims for 17 months. The Prophet of Allah (SAW) prayed facing it until the order came to face Mecca. Even then the Prophet (SAW) would often pray on the southern side of the Ka’bah, so that the Ka’bah would be in front of him, and behind it would be Al-Aqsa.
Also, it is one of the Masajids to which people may travel. Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said “No journey should be made except to 3 mosques, al-Masjid al-Haram, al-Masjid ar-Rasool (SAW) and Masjid Al-Aqsa.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Umm Salamah (RA) narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said “Whoever puts on the Ihram for Hajj or Umrah from Masjid Al-Aqsa, and then travels from there to Mecca, Allah (SWT) will forgive all of his past and future sins.” (Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud) and in another narration he (SAW) said “Jannah becomes obligatory for him.”
And the Sahaba would act on this hadith. When Umar (RA) conquered Bayt al-Maqdis, him and thousands of Muslims put on their Ihram and travelled to Mecca. This was a Sunnah of the Sahaba.
Maymoonah (RA) asked the Prophet (SAW) “Ya Nabi Allah (SAW) inform us and tell us about the virtues of Bayt al-Maqdis.” The Prophet (SAW) said “Bayt al-Maqdis is the land of reckoning and resurrection. Go and travel to Bayt al-Maqdis and pray there.” she said, “Ya Rasul Allah (SAW) what if someone is unable to travel or even be carried there?” Rasul (SAW) said “Then the least he should do is donate a gift of oil to be burnt in the lamps of Masjid Al-Aqsa, he who donates a gift to Masjid Al-Aqsa will be like one who has prayed salah therein.”
Shaam is that area comprising of Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon. One day the Prophet (SAW) was sitting with the Sahaba (RA) and said “How blessed and fortunate is Shaam” he said this three times. So the Sahaba asked “Ya Rasul Allah (SAW)! Why?” he (SAW) said “even at this very moment I can see the angels of Allah spreading their wings over Shaam.” The only reason for the sanctity given to Shaam is because of the presence of Bayt al-Maqdis and Masjid Al-Aqsa within it.
Towards the end of time, Hijrah will be directed towards Bayt al-Maqdis. It is recorded by Ahmed that the Prophet (SAW) was asked “if we are tested to continue living after you have departed from this dunya, then where do you instruct us to stay?”
The Prophet (SAW) said “Go to Bayt al-Maqdis because there is hope that Allah will grant you many children who will frequent the Masjid morning and evening.”
And the greatest virtues of Masjid Al-Aqsa not shared by Mecca and Medina is the Isra’, the night of Mi’raaj. If Allah wanted, He could have brought the Prophet (SAW) straight into His Presence directly from Mecca, and then straight back to Mecca. But Allah was making a lessons for the Muslims by going via Bayt al-Maqdis both on the way to the heavens and then on his way back too.
On that night, Jibril (AS) accompanied the Prophet (SAW) into Masjid Al-Aqsa wherein was a huge congregation of people, whom the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was asked to lead in prayer. Jibril (AS) said to the Prophet (SAW) “Ya Rasul Allah (SAW), do you know who these people are behind us?” Rasul Allah (SAW) said “No,” Jibril (AS) said “O Prophet of Allah (SAW)! Since the beginning of creation, there is no messenger or prophet that Allah has sent for the guidance of His creation, except that he is standing behind you.”
This never happened in Mecca or Medina, or anywhere else in the world, yet today Zionist-occupied Al-Aqsa weeps. It cries out asking: where are the billions of Muslims? Why do they not defend and liberate Bayt al-Maqdis?
We must also remember that we do not only claim Bayt al-Maqdis, there exist other areas in the Holy Land which are of utmost importance to us, foremost after Jerusalem is the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron). This contains the Haram al-Ibrahimi al-Khalil (The Sanctuary of Abraham, the Friend). In the mosque is the Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) tomb, and the tombs of his wife Sara (RA), his son Prophet Ishaq (Isaac) (AS) and his wife Rifqah (Rachel) (RA), Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (AS) and Prophet Yakub (Jacob) (AS).
Al-Khalil is named after Prophet Ibrahim (AS) who was called “Khalil” or ‘friend of Allah’ in the Quran:
“Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend.”
(Holy Quran 4:125)
It is ironic that many Muslims are aware of where the various saints and Sufis of Islam are buried but in my experience many people are unaware that Hazret Ibrahim (AS), the father of all the Prophets, is buried in Al-Khalil. This despite the fact that Muslims have an absolute belief in the prophecies of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (AS). In the Quran, Ibrahim, Jacob and Isaac (AS) are named 73, 18 and 16 times respectively, as opposed to only 4 times for the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (SAW).
The Holy Quran 3:65-67 describes Ibrahim (AS): “O people of the Book! (Jews and Christians) Why are you bickering about Ibrahim, both Torah and the Gospel were revealed after him. Why don’t you understand? (..) Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a ‘hanif ‘ a Muslim, and he equated none with Allah.”
Are you saying that Ibrahim, Ismayeel, Isaac, Yakub and their grandchildren were Jews? Tell them: ‘Who knows more, you or Allah?’ ” (Holy Quran 2:140).
The Zionist Jews continue to claim the Haram al-Ibrahimi exclusively as their own. The Muslim Gentiles are not seen to have any rights over the resting place of our beloved Patriarch and his family. In 1994, the right-wing extremist Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Muslims in prayer in the Ibrahimi mosque, consequently Israeli authorities divided it into two: one half is a synagogue, the other half a mosque. Hazret Ibrahim’s (AS) tomb lies in between. Currently approximately 400 Messianic Zionist settlers are squatting in Al-Khalil in defiance of international law. They are protected by a thousand-strong Israeli Occupation Force, who stand back and allow them to terrorise the local Palestinian population, a colonial strategy to ensure they are ethnically cleansed from the city. Those Muslims that have not yet been driven out of the city are kept under maximum curfew and prevented from visiting the Tomb of Hazret Ibrahim (AS) and saying Al-Fatiha over him.
Finally in addition to all this it has been recorded by Ahmed and Tabarani that the Prophet (SAW) said “There will always remain a group in my Ummah who shall remain from the steadfast upon the Truth. Who shall always remain dominant over their enemies, those who oppose them will never be able to harm them except the occasional inconvenience that they will suffer. And they will remain dominant in this way until the Decree of Allah (SWT) (i.e. Day of Judgment).” The Sahaba asked “Ya Rasul Allah (SAW) where will they be?” The Prophet (SAW) said “in Bayt al-Maqdis and its surrounding areas.”
Perhaps this has already come about. Perhaps these ‘steadfast’ Muslims are the freedom fighters of the current Intifada. Therefore please arm yourself with this knowledge and defend your brothers and sisters in suffering in Palestine!!