سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًۭا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ ١
Glory be to the One Who took His servant ˹Muḥammad˺ by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs. Indeed, He alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing. [Surah al-Isra: 1]
There are many reasons to visit Masjid ul Aqsa including:
Palestine is our compass
- Visiting the second masjid in the world Abu Dharr (ra) reported that he asked the Prophet (saw), “O Messenger of Allah, which mosque was first built on the surface of the earth?” He said, “Al- Masjid-ul-Haram (in Mecca).” I said, “Which was built next?” He replied “The mosque of Al-Aqsa ( in Jerusalem) .” I said, “What was the period of construction between the two?” He said, “Forty years.” He added, “Wherever (you may be, and) the prayer time becomes due, perform the prayer there, for the best thing is to do so (i.e. to offer the prayers in time)” [Sahih Bukhari 3366]
- Rebuilt by Ibrahim (AS) & Ishaq (AS) + many others
- The first abrogation in the Qur’an was the change of qibla: Ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqat & al-Hakim’s Mustadrak state that whenever the Prophet PBUH prayed in Makkah facing Jerusalem, he would in fact put the Ka’bah in front of him – so he has a ‘double qibla’ basically. Allah SWT wanted to show to the Jews that the Prophet PBUH is following the real religion of Ibrahim AS, hence resurrecting the original, first qibla. Now in Madinah facing al Aqsa he(SAW) had his back to the Ka’bah
The wisdom behind this change was that this was:
- A test for the believers
- Show the Jews he (SAW) came on the lineage of Prophets facing their qibla for 1.5 years and then brings you back to your original – when the Jews said it is not piety (birr) Allah (SWT) responded “Piety is not in which direction you face; real piety is to believe in Allah and the Final Day…“
- To show the Mushrikun they are not worthy of being the custodians of the Ka’bah;
A reminder that success lies beyond the trials of this life
The visit to Masjid al-Aqsa and beyond was a means of Allah(SWT) revealing to the Prophet(SAW) what glory lies for Islam beyond its present temporary persecution; exhibiting his illustrious following in the universe, regardless of the rejection encountered in Arabia; and increasing his determination to continue the mission.
The blessed land of Palestine incidentally played the same role of escape from persecution and inspiring hope for the Prophet’s Ibrahim and Lut.
A land of immense benefit
Masjid al-Aqsa is the hub of barakah (extraordinary goodness beyond expectation) in both the spiritual and worldly spheres in a variety of ways. This barakah ‘radiates’ from Masjid al-Aqsa to the surrounding lands. Ahadeeth identify the wider Shaam region surrounding Masjid al-Aqsa as being blessed and highly significant in Islam.
Remember that none of the major structures present today at al-Aqsa were in existence at the time of Mi’raj, and that the whole of the mountain top constitutes Masjid ul Aqsa.
Home of the best prayer event
We are often amazed by the 1.5billion people who tuned into the World cup in Qatar but this is an event site to travel to, and at Hashmi hotel you have the equivalent of a box seat. Masjid ul Aqsa is the only known place on earth where every single Prophet that graced this earth performed Salaah in one place at the same time. Status as Imamul-Anbiyaa (Leader of the Prophets). It is for this reason that Sayyidina Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه has said about al-Aqsa: “There is not a single inch in Bayt al Muqaddas where a Prophet has not prayed or an angel not stood.”
The leading of the Salaah by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also signified a shift in the spiritual leadership of mankind from Bani Isra’eel to Bani Isma’eel – represented by Sayyidina Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and those who believe in him.
A portal to the highest realm
It is most significant that Allah سبحانه و تعالى chose Masjid al-Aqsa to be the station from which Sayyidina Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم ascended to the Heavens, when in His infinite Power the same could have been achieved directly from Makkatul Mukarammah. Also the ascension of Sayyidina Isa عليه السلام
The Prophet(SAW) visited Masjid al-Aqsa prior to proceeding to the Heavens as well as on his way back. In addition, Allah afforded him a visualisation of al-Aqsa when he returned to Makkatul Mukarammah whereby he was able to answer the detailed questions on the structure of the Masjid being posed to him by the Quraish.
It’s an opportunity to learn about our heritage, experience history and benefit from amazing views. All while enjoying superb dining experiences and delicious maklouba, humus and Mediterranean dishes.
Gift of a grand meeting- Salaah and seeking Divine Assistance
The first place on earth to have encountered the gift of 5 daily Salaah – every Salaah we perform should remind us of our connection to Masjid al-Aqsa.
This is also why salaah is often referred to by scholars as Mi’rajul Mu’min – the ascension of the believer.
Indeed, a prayer in this blessed land is equivalent to 500 normal prayers elsewhere. Sayyidna Abu Darda رضي الله عنه relates that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “A prayer in Makkah is worth 100,000 times, a prayer in my Masjid (Madinah) is worth 1,000 times, and a prayer in al-Aqsa is worth 500 times more than anywhere else”. (Tabarani)
Sayyidah Maymunah bint Sa‘d رضي الله عنها relates that she asked the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, “O Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم! Inform us about Bayt al-Maqdis”? He said, “Visit it for prayer”. She further asked, “If one of us cannot visit it, what should we do”? He said, “If you cannot go for prayer then send some oil to be used in its lamps; whosoever gives oil for its lamps, will be as if he has prayed in it”. (Musnad Imam Ahmed)
Visiting is a responsibility that exists for Muslims irrespective of whether adverse political conditions or oppression reign at al-Aqsa or not. The primary reason for such visits is to please Allah سبحانه و تعالى and accrue the spiritual rewards promised for performing Salaah here
A clean slate
Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “When Solomon, son of David, peace and blessings be upon him, built the Sacred House, he asked Allah Almighty for the three things throughout. Solomon asked Allah Almighty for judgment coinciding with His judgment, and he was given it. Solomon asked Allah Almighty for a kingdom none would have after him, and he was given it. And Solomon asked Allah Almighty when he finished the foundations of the Mosque that none would come to it, intending only to pray, but that his sins would be expunged like the day he was born from his mother.” Source: Sunan al-Nasā’ī 693
It is also the site which is referred to in Surah Qaf 50:41 – “Listen out for the Day when the caller will call from a nearby place.” Ibn Asakir (rh) said that this refers to Israfeel who will call out for the Day of Judgement from as-Sakhra (the rock under the Dome).
Solidarity with the believers
Sayyidina Nu’man ibn Basheer رضي الله عنه reported: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Masjid al-Aqsa is the focal point of the Palestinian struggle against dispossession, occupation and apartheid, and Palestinians who are the first line of defence for the Masjid. It is a common sentiment of Palestinians that the best means for fellow Muslims to assist them is to visit Masjid al-Aqsa and wider Palestine.
Such visits expose the traveller to the realities of Occupation and provide the impetus to become an ambassador for the cause upon returning to one’s home country. Critically it is a means of conveying to Palestinians that they are not alone in the struggle to maintain the Holy City’s authentic identity. These visits lift their spirits and spur them on to continue resisting and yearning for justice.
Inspire your children and the next generation
It is said that how we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. Nelson Mandela said ‘Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’ in a 1997 speech on the International Day of Solidarity and also said “the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it”
Part of doing this is finding our voice to communicate our experience and connection with Masjid ul Aqsa and Jerusalem as Muslims.
There is a wait when you get to Tel Aviv but you get free visa, free Wifi and space to pray so take a good book, some snacks and view this as an opportunity to develop patience.
What if you can’t go there right now?
- Make dua
- Donate for a tree out there through charities like Zaytoun “We were discussing when we were with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), which is better, the Mosque of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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. Soon there will come a time when, if a man has a piece of land the size of a horse’s rope from which he can see Bayt al-Maqdis, that will be better for him than the whole world.” [ al-Haakim, 4/509]
- Learn about al Aqsa