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The History of Al-Aqsa

The History of Al-Aqsa

Sallahu 'ala Muhammad, ya Rabbi salli 'alaihi wa sallim
May Allah shower His blessings upon Muhammad, O my Lord, bless him and grant him eternal peace

Al-Masjid El-Aqsa is an Arabic name which means the Farthest Mosque. To understand its name, and its importance, it must be remembered that the roots of Islam began in the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia today).

Ten years after the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) received his first revelation, he made a miraculous night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and to the Seven Heavens on a white flying horse called Al-Buraq El-Sharif. During his interval in Jerusalem, the Prophet stopped to pray at the rock (now covered by the golden Dome), and was given the commandment to pray five times a day.

Today, Muslims throughout the World use Mecca as the direction of prayers (Qibla). However, for 16½ months following the Prophet Mohammad's miraculous journey, Jerusalem was the Qibla.

During Prophet Mohammad's life (pbuh), he instructed Muslims to visit not only the mosque where they lived in Mecca, but also the 'Farthest mosque' from them which lay 2000 kilometers north, in Jerusalem. Hence the name Al-Masjid El-Aqsa, or Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the second oldest mosque in Islam after the Ka'ba in Mecca, and is third in holiness and importance after the mosques in Mecca and Medina.

The rectangular Al-Aqsa Mosque is 144,000 square meters, 35 acres, or 1/6 of the entire area within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem as it stands today. It is also called Al-Haram El-Sharif (the Nobel Sanctuary). The Dome of the Chain marks the exact central point of this Mosque.

Al-Aqsa Mosque holds up to 400,000 worshippers at one time, bearing in mind that the space required for each person is roughly 0.8m x 0.5m to enable the submissive kneeling in prayer. On Fridays at noon, during the fasting month of Ramadan, and particularly the 27th of Ramadan (Lailat El-Qadr), the area is filled to virtual capacity.

Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem

Indications of any Muslim mosque the World over is the thin spiral minaret which always immediately adjoins the Mosque wall. Minarets are used to call Muslims to prayer five times a day, seven days a week throughout the year. At Al-Aqsa Mosque, there are four minarets: 3 square and 1 cylindrical from the Mamluk period.

There are no minarets on the Eastern side of Al-Aqsa Mosque because there were no inhabitants and thus no-one to call to prayer. After all, it was not till the late nineteenth century that Jerusalem began to expand outside the city walls.

Al-Aqsa is made up of 3 parts, narrow arcades run along one end, a huge atrium and a covered area at the south.

Running alongside the arcades are several family burial sites (maqamat). These persons contributed to the schools and charities in the vicinity of the Mosque run by the Supreme Muslim Council.

The atrium of Al-Aqsa Mosque is an oasis of peace and tranquillity inside a walled city of hustle and bustle. It has trees, lawns, fountains, the beautiful Shrine of the Dome of the Rock, small domed rooms and structures which are rooms for scholars, sheikhs and religious court offices, and a museum.

Before Muslims pray, they are required to go through a ritual ablution. There are manuablution areas, but the Cup is one of the oldest and most photographed fountains on the Mosque grounds.

In the center of the southern end of the atrium is the covered area of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Mihrab (niche showing direction of prayer) of the Mosque is located here. Al-Aqsa building (recognizable by its lead dome), was originally built nearly 1300 years ago by Muslim Caliph Al-Walid the son of AbdulMalek bin Marwan in 709 AD (the same Al-Walid who occupied Spain and made it Andalusia).

Throughout its history, Al-Aqsa was subject to successive restoration work due to damages caused by earthquakes, etc. The building now has the central nave and 6 aisles (the original covered area had 14 aisles).

The covered area of Al-Aqsa Mosque is a very simple, but large and imposing, rectangular structure. It has an area of 3500 square meters, and holds up to 5000 Muslims at prayer at one time. The Qibla facing south towards Mecca and the Rock within the Dome of the Rock are on the same central line.

There are 7 large gates to enter the Mosque's covered area, as well as 1 single door on both the eastern and western sides. There are over 100 clear and colored glass windows, 14 Arches, 27 Italian Marble columns on the eastern side, and the equivalent number of stone piers on the western side.

The outer dome was covered with Lead in 1985 replacing the Aluminum dome of 1964 in order to restore it to its original cover.

The inner dome, decorated with stucco work, dates back to the 13th century.

In accordance with Muslim tradition, men and women are permitted to pray within the covered area but in different sections, 3 times a day. The remaining two daily prayers as well as Friday noon prayers, Al-Aqsa is for men only. The covered part of Al-Aqsa Mosque was converted to a Knight's Hostel in part, and Chapel in part during the Crusader period. Restoration of Islamic atmosphere was done by Salahuddin Al-Ayyoubi.

In 1969, after 2 years of Israeli occupation, a fanatic Jew set fire to the covered area for the first time in its history. Repairing the damage from the fire still continues. Among the numerous sad losses was the beautiful handmade pulpit from Aleppo. It was a gift from Salahuddin Al-Ayyoubi and stood near the Mihrab (niche) in Al-Aqsa Mosque. This Pulpit, considered one of the most beautiful in the World, was made of over 10,000 interlocking pieces of Cedar and other wood, Ivory and mother of pearl affixed without a drop of glue or a single nail. A remaining section of this Pulpit is among the various artifacts on display at the Islamic Museum, in the southern corner of the Noble Sanctuary.

The restoration of the subterranean Marwani Musallah (praying place) was completed in 1996. It is 4000 square meters, and was tiled in a brief 2 months entirely by volunteers. The Marwani Musallah is mistakenly believed by some to be the site of King Solomon's stables, however its construction is actually entirely 8th century Umayyad.

In the middle of the 19th century Al-Aqsa Mosque was opened for Non-Muslim visitors. For Non-Muslims, the Mosque is open during fixed times on weekday mornings and afternoons on payment of an entrance fees. The Mosque is closed to Non-Muslims on Fridays throughout the year and all Muslim holidays.

Although in the past, everyone entered Al-Aqsa Mosque without shoes, now Muslims and tourists alike are permitted to enter Al-Aqsa with shoes. Shoes however, have to be removed to enter the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa's enclosed area as a sign of cleanliness and respect. Cameras likewise, are permitted in Al-Aqsa Mosque, but not inside any building. Visitors should ensure they are modestly dressed with arms and legs covered. Ladies should have a scarf to cover their hair. While on holy ground, intimate or personal contact must be avoided.

Keberadaan Usamah bin Ladin hingga kini masih terus diendus. Tapi Mula Umar, pimpinan Thaliban di Afghanistan sebagai orang yang paling dekat dengan bin Laden, mengaku tak mengetahui keberadaan pimpinan Al-Qaidah Usamah bin Ladin.

Ia mengatakan sudah bertahun-tahun tidak bertemu dan berkomunikasi dengan tokoh yang dituding AS sebagai otak di balik serangan WTC pada September 2001. Dalam surat menyurat via email dengan pihak Reuters, Mula Umar menyebut telah putus hubungan komunikasi dengan Bin Laden sejak akhir tahun 2001 saat pasukan AS dan sekutunya menggempur Tora Bora di Afghanistan.

Dalam surat elektronik, Mula Umar mengatakan, “Tidak. Saya tidak pernah lagi bertemu dengannya. Dan saya sendiri tidak ingin berupaya untuk menemuinya. Saya hanya berdo’a utuk kesehatan dan keselamatannya.” Surat jawaban dari Mula Umar, disampaikan oleh jubirnya Muhammad Hanif, yang mengirimkan email jawaban pada sore hari Rabu (3/1).

Seperti diberitakan di banyak media, terdapat enam kaset rekaman yang mengatasnamakan suara Usamah bin Ladin, dalam enam bulan pertama tahun 2006. Sedangkan dalam bentuk rekaman gambar, Bin Ladin muncul pada kaset rekaman di akhir tahun 2004. Selanjutnya sejumlah kaset rekaman suara dan pernyataan wakil Al-Qaidah, Aiman Az Zawahiri ikut muncul, menanggapi banyak peristiwa di dunia.

Sebuah kaset video tentang Usamah bin Ladin pada tahun 2005, saat peringatan lima tahun serangan WTC yang pernah muncul, setelah diteliti merupakan cuplikan rekaman beberapa tahun sebelumnya. Rekaman itu sendiri tidak memunculkan kalimat apapun dari Bin Ladin.

Ada banyak dugaan tentang tempat keberadaan bin Ladin saat ini dan kondisi kesehatannya. Beberapa bulan lalu, persisnya di bulan Agustus, sebuah harian lokal Prancis menyebutkan Bin Ladin telah wafat akibat penyakit yang dideritanya. Tapi kemudian, pemerintah Prancis dan berbagai agen intelejen dunia menafikan kebenaran informasi tersebut karena tidak ada bukti konkrit yang menunjukkan bin Ladin telah meninggal.

Bin Ladin, tokoh asal Saudi Arabia, adalah seorang kaya raya dan banyak membantu pendanaan jihad di Afghanistan pada pertengahan tahun 90-an. Beredar isu bahwa Bin Laden menikahi salah satu puteri dari Mula Umar untuk memperkuat hubungannya dengan Mula Umar. Tapi Mula Umar sendiri sampai kini masih misterius keberadaannya. Orang-orang menduga ia berada di perbatasan Pakistan dan Afghanistan, tepatnya di Kwaita atau sekitarnya. Tapi pihak Pakistan, justru menganggap Mula Umar kini berada di Afghanistan. Saling tuduh itu, kemudian memunculkan ketegangan sendiri antara pemerintah Pakistan dan Afghanistan. (na-str/albwb)

Usamah dan Palestine

Sementara Presiden Evo Morales pada hari Rabu mengumumkan bahwa Bolivia telah memutuskan hubungan diplomatik dengan Israel sebagai protes terhadap serangannya yang mematikan di Jalur Gaza.

"Saya ingin mengumumkan bahwa Bolivia memiliki hubungan diplomatik dengan Israel (dan) mengingat kejahatan mengerikan terhadap kehidupan dan kemanusiaan itu, Bolivia memutuskan hubungan diplomatik dengan Israel," kata presiden tersebut.

Morales, seorang sosialis, adalah sekutu dekat Presiden Venezuela Hugo Chavez yang pada 6 Januari mengusir duta besar Israel dari Caracas.(

Dengan Siksaan, Keamanan Abbas Eksekusi Mati Pejuang Hamas

Ramallah – Infopalestina: Badan keamanan Abbas membunuh seorang mujahid Hamas melalui penyiksaan di Jenin Tepi Barat kemarin Ahad (8/2).
Sumber-sumber lokal menyebutkan kepada Infopalestina bahwa seorang pemuda bernama Muhammad Al-Haji (30 tahun) salah satu mujahidin Hamas meninggal syahid setelah mengalami siksaan keras ketika diinterogasi di penjara keamanan Palestina di di Tepi Barat.

Sumber mengatakan bahwa korban syahid adalah saudara salah satu memimpin Hamas yag menjadi juru bicara yakni Abdel Basset Al-Haj dari kota baldah Jalqamus Jenin.

Sumber mengisyaratkan bahwa pejabat-pejabat dekat keamanan Abbas mulai menyebarkan kabar bohong bahwa pejuang Muhammad melakukan bunuh diri dalam sel. Sementara sumber lain di Jenin menyebutkan bahwa kota tersebut sedang mengalami ketegangan yang sangat setelah tersebarnya berita tersebut.

Keluarga Mohammed Haj di penjara Abbas di Jenin sejak Kamis lalu dan mereka tidak mengetahui apa yang terjadi dengannya.

Sudah sejak lama aparat keamanan Abbas di Tepi Barat melakukan aksi penangkapan terhadap Hamas dan faksi-faksi perlawanan Palestina dengan koordinasi bersama pasukan pendudukan Israel. Akibat penangkapan itu lebih dari 600 kader Hamas kini mendekam dalam otoritas Palestina. Puluhan dari mereka mengalami siksaan keras sehingga sebagian dari mereka harus dilarikan ke rumah sakit.

Pada 22 Februari 2008, Syaikh Majd Barghouti, imam di mesjid di desa Kober utara Ramallah meninggal akibat penyiksaan dan perlakuan kejam di penjara Abbas. (bn-bsyr)

masjid al aqsa

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