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Articles


Jerusalem and the Muslim Ummah

Author : Dr. Mohammad Al-Khalayleh

Date Added : 27-02-2024


Jerusalem and the Muslim Ummah

 

The discussion about Jerusalem and its blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the research conducted on it, begins from both a religious and a historical perspective. From a historical standpoint, it traces back to Canaan, the son of Ham, the son of Noah (peace be upon him). Palestine is the land of Canaan, and the Canaanites were the first inhabitants of the Palestine region and the Levant. This aspect is left to historians to delve into and discuss further.

 

However, I will speak about the issue of Jerusalem within the framework of the religious perspective and its relevance, whether in the Islamic era after our Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was sent to deliver the message of Islam or in the preceding religious eras and prophecies before his sending. The prophecies, from Adam (peace be upon him) to our Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), affirm each other because they come from one source, which is Allah, the Exalted. Therefore, when the Negus heard the statement of Ja'far ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), he remarked: "This and what Jesus, son of Mary, brought come from the same niche." This is understood by anyone with good intentions and a discerning mind. Hence, these prophecies came to pave the way and support each other, even elucidating each other on various occasions.

 

Allah the Almighty says {What means}: "Behold! God took the covenant of the prophets, saying: "I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you an apostle, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render him help." God said: "Do ye agree, and take this my Covenant as binding on you?" They said: "We agree." He said: "Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses." {Al-Imran, 81}.

 

The city of Jerusalem came to unify the call of the prophets and serve as a focal point for agreement and the gathering of what is sacred to all adherents of the heavenly religions. The construction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque began forty years after the Kaaba, as mentioned in the hadith of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). Abu Dharr reported: "I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, which mosque was built on earth first?' He said, 'Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca).' I said, 'Then which?' He said, 'Al-Masjid al-Aqsa.' I said, 'How long was between them?' He said, 'Forty years.' This indicates that either Adam or one of his sons laid the foundation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) passed by and settled in Jerusalem, while Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) stood on the outskirts of the city. He reached the end of his life in the holy land. The Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) said, "I passed by Moses during the Night Journey (Isra) and found him praying in his grave at the Red Dune. If I were to disclose the grave to you, I would have shown it to you." This signifies the honor and virtue of the Levant region, where most of the prophets mentioned in the Quran had close ties to Jerusalem and the Levant. They either died in the Levant or their call was in Jerusalem and the Levant. It is the land of the prophets, the destination of martyrs, and the blessing from the heavens. This land holds immense significance.

 

Our Prophet Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, was born and called to his mission in the land of Jerusalem. As for our Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, he was taken on the miraculous journey of Isra and Mi'raj to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. From there, he ascended to the highest heavens to witness the magnificent signs of his Lord. In a hadith, it is mentioned that our Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, led the prophets in prayer at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, signifying that his message was the final message with which Allah sealed His message to all of creation after completing the religion and finalizing the divine laws.

 

The significance of Jerusalem and its Al-Aqsa Mosque as the land of prophethood and revelation has endured through many eras and epochs. It has remained blessed by Allah for all the worlds (Mankind, jinns and all that exists). Therefore, the religious dimension of the issue of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque today is defined within the context of the message of our Prophet, the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers. What was sacred to the prophets Ibrahim (Abraham), Sulaiman (Solomon), Musa (Moses), and Isa (Jesus), peace be upon them all, remains sacred to us today. As Allah says in the Quran {What means}: "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles." And they say: "We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys." {Al-Baqarah, 285}.

 

The sanctity of Jerusalem in the Islamic mindset began from the very inception of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. He used to turn towards the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque in his prayers, which was the qibla (direction of prayer) for the prophets and the place of revelation. At that time, the Arabs were following the remnants of the noble Hanifiyah (the pure monotheistic faith) of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), peace be upon him. This sanctity was firmly established in the hearts and minds of Muslims after the miraculous event of the Isra and Mi'raj (the Night Journey and Ascension) of the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, from the Sacred Mosque (in Mecca) to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. During this event, Allah revealed the verse: Glory to (God) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things)." {Al-Isra`, 1}.

 

The Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, consistently connected Muslims with Al-Aqsa Mosque through religious ties by directing them to pray in it, mentioning its virtues, and inviting them to contribute to its reconstruction. Al-Aqsa Mosque is the second mosque built on earth after the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. Imam Bukhari narrated from Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said: "I asked, 'O Messenger of Allah, which mosque was built first on earth?' He said, 'The Sacred Mosque.' I asked, 'Then which?' He said, 'Al-Aqsa Mosque.' I asked, 'How long between them?' He said, 'Forty years.'"

Therefore, Al-Aqsa Mosque holds precedence over other mosques, being the second place where the signs of worship to Allah appeared. Ibn Hisham mentioned in his book "Al-Tijan" that when Allah commanded Adam, peace be upon him, to build the Sacred Mosque, He also commanded him to travel to Jerusalem and build Al-Aqsa Mosque. Ibn Hisham stated: "So, he built it and performed worship in it, meaning he worshiped Allah Almighty therein.

 

Ibn Kathir mentioned in "Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah" (Vol.1/P.150) that Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) established an altar for Allah the Almighty in Jerusalem and built its dome east of the Sacred Mosque. He also resided in the land of Ilya and had two sons, Isma'il and Ishaq. The same source (1/174, 176) indicates that it was the second place where the monotheistic creed was raised and where the echoes of "La ilaha illallah" (There is no god but Allah) reverberated.

 

After the mission of our Prophet, peace be upon him, he used to direct himself in worship towards Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. It is the first of the two qiblahs and the second of the two noble sanctuaries. From the beginning, the Islamic nation has given great importance to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, making the most crucial pillar of Islam, prayer, connected to it. This signifies its importance in the connection between humans and their Lord and its significance in the belief system of Muslims.

 

Therefore, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) ordered visiting Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and emphasized the importance of traveling to it. He said, "Do not set out on a journey except to three mosques: Al-Masjid Al-Haram (in Makkah), my mosque (in Madinah), and Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa." (Reported by Bukhari & Muslim).

 

Indeed, this hadith indicates the Prophet`s directive to the Muslims to visit Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, to maintain connection with it, and to frequent it with visits, ensuring that it remains vibrant and alive with the presence of Muslims.

 

Moreover, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) called for the continuous care and attention to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, similar to the care given to his own mosque in Al-Madinah and the Sacred Mosque in Makkah. According to a narration by Maymunah, a wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), she asked him about Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). He replied: "It is the land of gathering and resurrection, so perform prayer in it. For a prayer in it is like a thousand prayers in any other place." She then asked what to do if she couldn't reach it, and the Prophet advised her to send oil for its lamps to be lit, and whoever did so would receive the reward as if they had prayed there. This hadith, found in Sunan Ibn Majah, indicates the Prophet's care and attention to the affairs of Jerusalem and his encouragement for Muslims to maintain ties with it, even though it was not under Islamic rule at that time.

 

In addition, prayer in Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa holds a special distinction and offers multiplied rewards. Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that they were discussing in the presence of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) which was superior: Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi (the Prophet's Mosque) or Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). The Prophet (peace be upon him) responded: "A prayer in my mosque is superior to four prayers [elsewhere], and what a fine mosque it is! Soon there will come a time when a man, leaning on the reins of his horse, will have no land left to him where he can see Bayt al-Maqdis; but he will see it as a place better than the world and all that is in it." This hadith is recorded in Al-Mustadrak by Al-Hakim and authenticated by him.

 

Furthermore, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) gave glad tidings of the opening of Jerusalem before it was opened. It is narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari from the hadith of Auf ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: "I came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) during the Tabuk expedition while he was in a leather tent. He said, 'Count six signs that indicate the approach of the Hour: my death, the conquest of Jerusalem, and...'". This is a prophecy from our Prophet (peace be upon him) indicating that Muslims will conquer Jerusalem, which was indeed fulfilled during the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), known as Al-Farooq.

 

Prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque expiates sins and erases wrongdoings and misdeeds. It is narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: " "When Sulaiman bin Dawud finished building Bait Al-Maqdis, he asked Allah for three things: Judgement that was in harmony with His judgement, and he was given that. And he asked Allah for a dominion that no one after him would have, and he was given that. And when he finished building the Masjid he asked Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, that no one should come to it, intending only to pray there, but he would emerge free of sin as the day his mother bore him."This hadith is narrated by Al-Nasa'i with an authentic chain of transmission.

 

The city of Jerusalem throughout the Islamic ages:

 

DWhen Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq assumed the caliphate, he directed his attention towards Jerusalem. Although he passed away during the preparations for the conquest of Syria, the task was continued by Umar ibn al-Khattab, who appointed Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah to lead the army destined for Syria.

Upon the conquest of Jerusalem, its inhabitants surrendered the city peacefully to the Muslims under the condition that the keys to the city be handed over to the Muslim Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab. Umar promptly traveled to Jerusalem to receive the keys, and upon reaching the city and witnessing its walls, he performed Takbir (proclaiming the greatness of Allah) loudly. This act confirmed to the people of Jerusalem that the Caliph had indeed arrived.

 

According to historical accounts, Umar ibn al-Khattab entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre accompanied by Patriarch Sophronius. Sophronius suggested to Umar to pray inside the church, but Umar declined and chose to pray outside, fearing that Muslims might later claim the church as a mosque, which would deprive Christians of their rights to it.

 

The Covenant of Umar, one of the most notable documents of that time, reflects the dignity and rights afforded to citizens under Islamic rule. It granted the people of Jerusalem security for their lives, property, churches, and crosses. They were allowed to maintain their religion, and no harm was to come to them or their belongings. The covenant emphasized freedom of worship and expression, ensuring that Christians were not compelled to convert to Islam and were protected in their beliefs and practices.

 

Jerusalem in the Umayyad Era:

 

In the Umayyad era, Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, may Allah be pleased with him, had a long-standing and influential presence in the city of Jerusalem. He served as the governor of the Levant for twenty years during the caliphates of Umar ibn al-Khattab and Uthman ibn Affan, may Allah be pleased with them. Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan sought allegiance for himself in the city of Jerusalem, recognizing its significance and seeking its blessings. He minted the first coin bearing the name "Ilya" (Jerusalem), with its image on the reverse side of the coin. This coin also bore the name "Palestine" for the first time.

He further enhanced the city by renovating the Qiblī Mosque initially built by Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. During the reign of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, efforts were made to Arabize the administrative offices and to mint the famous Islamic Arab coins. Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan also constructed the Dome of the Rock to symbolize and demonstrate the sanctity and grandeur of the mosque. This was a clear indication of the significance of this site in Islam. The Dome of the Rock was built in an octagonal shape, serving as a distinctive symbol of the magnificence of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and as a reminder of the place from which the Prophet, peace be upon him, ascended.

The blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque remained a symbol of security and tranquility after the Islamic conquests, attracting worshippers, scholars, and righteous individuals. Scientific circles and lessons were held within its precincts, and people traveled to it, embracing its minarets, which stood as a symbol of its sanctity alongside those of the Haram Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque. However, in the year 492 AH, the Crusaders defiled it by occupying it and committing atrocities within its walls, resulting in the deaths of more than seventy thousand Muslims and righteous individuals. This event caused great pain and sorrow in the hearts of the Muslim community due to the religious significance of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The occupation of Jerusalem was a calamity that stirred the pens of poets, orators, and writers to arouse the emotions of their audience and sharpen their resolve to liberate Bait Al-Maqdis from its captors. 

 

Jerusalem remained present in the mind of the Muslim nation, with its leaders and scholars. Emad al-Din Zangi initiated a project for liberation by unifying the lands of the Levant, Jerusalem, and Iraq, and driving the Franks out of these places. The project was completed by his son Mahmoud, and then by Nur al-Din Zangi, until Salah al-Din entered the city of Aleppo gloriously, opening and liberating it in the year 579 AH. The judge Muhyi al-Din ibn Zaki al-Dimashqi stood before Salah al-Din, reciting a poem urging him to remember Jerusalem and urging him to open and liberate it. It was part of what he said:

 

The conquest of Aleppo with the sword in Safar brings the glad tidings of the conquest of Jerusalem in Rajab.

 

The literature is filled with poems that stir the scholars and leaders, arousing their spirits to conquer Jerusalem

Jerusalem was conquered by Saladin al-Ayyubi on the twenty-seventh day of the month of Rajab in the year 583 Hijri (1187 AD).

 

Saladin entered the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and ordered its cleaning. He also placed in it the pulpit that he had begun crafting years earlier in the city of Aleppo. He carried it with him to place it in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. Saladin summoned the judge Ibn al-Zaki, the author of the poem composed four years earlier, to deliver the Friday sermon in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He delivered a sermon known as the "Sermon of Conquest," in which he said:

 

"O people, rejoice in the pleasure of Allah, which is the ultimate goal and the highest rank for what Allah has facilitated for you in recovering this lost territory from the misguided nation and returning it to its place within Islam after it was degraded in the hands of the polytheists for nearly a hundred years. This includes purifying this house upon which Allah has permitted His name to be exalted, removing polytheism from its paths after it had spread upon them, establishing His law within it, and raising its foundations upon monotheism. Indeed, it was built upon piety from its front and its rear, for it is the dwelling of your father Ibrahim, the ascension of your Prophet upon him be peace, and your Qibla to which you initially prayed in the beginning of Islam. It is the residence of the prophets, the destination of the righteous, the burial place of the messengers, the descent of revelation, where commands and prohibitions are revealed, and it is the land of gathering and the plain of resurrection. It is the Holy Land mentioned in the clear Book of Allah, and it is the Al-Aqsa Mosque where the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, prayed."

 

Jerusalem and the Muslim Ummah in the Modern Era:

 

After Saladin, attacks on Jerusalem continued to make it the focal point of conflict and contention. Muslims preserved it and repelled every aggression, fiercely defending it until the late Ottoman era. However, during the decline of the Ottoman Empire, weakened and infiltrated by enemies from within, the situation changed drastically. The empire began to regress economically, politically, and militarily, losing control over many regions and burdened with high debts. Eventually, it withdrew to form modern Turkey, leaving the Arab world to struggle on its own, including the Levant and Jerusalem, which became prey to enemies. This paved the way for the partition project by Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration, further weakening the nation with each setback. This facilitated the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, which occupied parts of the blessed land of Palestine. Subsequently, the occupation of Jerusalem and its Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1967 occurred when the Jews entered Jerusalem as occupiers. In 1968, they set fire to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and completely destroyed the pulpit brought by Saladin, may Allah have mercy on him. Al-Aqsa Mosque remains under Jewish occupation to this day.

 

Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque have been closely associated with the modern Jordanian state due to its direct connection with the Hashemite monarchy. Jerusalem, along with cities in the West Bank, administratively belonged to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. When the late King, as the Supreme Commander of the Arab armies that entered Palestine in 1948, held a conference in Jericho in 1949 attended by several Palestinian dignitaries, it was announced that the West Bank was annexed to the Jordanian Kingdom. A new parliament was elected, with its seats divided equally between the two banks.

Sharif Hussein bin Ali, the leader of the Great Arab Revolt, provided support and a donation to Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1924 when he contributed 24,000 gold dinars to the mosque. He also instructed that he be buried within the precincts of the noble sanctuary of Jerusalem, as a symbol of his attachment to Jerusalem, Palestine, and the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was at the threshold of this mosque that the founder King Abdullah I, son of Hussein, may God bless his soul, was martyred. His son, the late King Talal, may God have mercy on him, continued to care for this sacred land thereafter.

 

The Hashemite Reconstruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque:

 

Under the noble directives of His Majesty King Hussein bin Talal, may Allah have mercy on him, Jordanian Law No. (32)/1954 was issued to establish the Committee for the Reconstruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. This committee was tasked with the care, maintenance, restoration, and preservation of the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem and its timeless Islamic landmarks. His Majesty King Abdullah II bin AlHussein, may God protect him, has also shown great interest and concern for this noble cause. He has continually informed and directed the Reconstruction Committee and the Waqf authorities to prioritize the care and attention to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the sanctities in Jerusalem. Under His Majesty's noble directives, the Hashemite Fund for the Reconstruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Law No. (15)/2007 was issued. This law aims to provide necessary funding for the care, maintenance, equipping, and fulfillment of all requirements to ensure the continuity of reconstruction and maintenance of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, and Islamic sanctities in Jerusalem. This underscores the importance and sanctity of these landmarks for Muslims in general and the Hashemites in particular. Furthermore, in the year 2007, the pulpit of Saladin Al-Ayyubi was rebuilt and installed.

 

At the request of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan government, the Old City of Jerusalem was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981. Additionally, it was listed on the World Heritage List in Danger in 1982. This was done to pressure the occupying state to refrain from altering the historical and cultural landmarks of Jerusalem. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan played an active role by participating in meetings of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to counter ongoing Israeli attempts to change the landmarks of Jerusalem. Israel has continuously and repeatedly tried to include the Old City of Jerusalem on its tentative list for World Heritage status.

 

During His Majesty's reign, continuous reconstruction projects included the maintenance and restoration of the mosque, domes, mihrabs, and other landmarks. Some of these projects focused on the Dome of the Rock, the eastern and southern walls of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the pulpit of Al-Aqsa Mosque, known as "Saladin's Pulpit," where His Majesty personally supervised the placement of decorative panels on the body of the pulpit. These ongoing projects underscore the special care and attention given by the Hashemites.

 

This is the established truth in the realm of faith and prophecies. I say this is the religious intertwining in interpreting Jordan's relationship with Jerusalem and its Al-Aqsa Mosque, regardless of the historical context and perspectives, supported by sacred religious texts that have remained unchanged and unaltered.

 

Jerusalem is the conscience and pulsating heart of the nation. Any compromise on Jerusalem and its Al-Aqsa Mosque is a compromise on conscience and heart. The sale of conscience is rejected by astute minds and sound judgments. Who would betray their own heart?

Undoubtedly, religious texts have firmly linked the issue of Jerusalem to the creed of Muslims, and beliefs do not change due to international decisions imposed on the nation during times of weakness it may pass through.

 

And all perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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