Al-Quds. The Noble, Sacred Place. The only city in the world that is considered sacred by Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The area of Jerusalem is the home to numerous Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an. Ibrahim (as), Dawud (as), Sulayman (as), and Eesa (as) were all linked to this holy land. Last but not least, Prophet Muhammad (saw) had a special connection with Jerusalem as well. For a long portion of Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) mission, Jerusalem was the direction of salah. Only 16 months after the Hijrah was the Qibla changed from Jerusalem to Makkah. Jerusalem also happens to be home to the second house of worship in the world, with the first being in Makkah.
“Do not undertake a journey to visit any Mosque, but three: this Mosque of mine (Masjid Nabawi), the Mosque of al-Haram and the Mosque of Aqsa (Jerusalem)”
Source: Sahih al-Bukhari, 1397
The Prophet (saw) held Jerusalem in a very high regard. If one visits and offers salah in Masjid al- Aqsa his/her salah is worth 500 times more reward, just like how in Makkah and Madinah it is 100,000 and 1,000 times more worthy respectively. Jerusalem is where our beloved Prophet (saw) visited during his night journey and ascension (Isra and Miraj). Al-Aqsa Masjid itself translates to “The Furthest Mosque.” During that time, the distance from Makkah to Jerusalem was seen as very great hence the name. During his ascension the Prophet (saw) met with the previous prophets and led them in salah.
The Prophet (saw) went through the heavens until he reached the gates of Jannah. Once he passed the seventh heaven he came in contact with Allah (swt). The exchange about the number of salah took place at this time. Allah (swt) initially ordered 50 daily salah, however our Prophet (saw) kept asking for it to be reduced until Allah (swt) made them 5 obligatory prayers. In regards to obligation they are 5, however in terms of reward they are 50 as each deed brings a tenfold reward. Without a doubt, the Isra and Miraj is among the great signs of Allah (swt) that go to prove the truth of the last and final Messenger, Muhammad (saw).
The Prophet’s (saw) journey to Jerusalem goes to solidify the link between Makkah and Jerusalem as sacred cities. Furthermore, it demonstrates how every Muslim should have a deep love and connection with Jerusalem. As Muslims, we all hope and pray that the noble land will once again be a land of peace where people of all religions can coexist.
According to our Islamic beliefs, the sacredness of Jerusalem lies in its historical religious reality. Jerusalem as a city has witnessed the efforts and struggles of the greatest Prophets and Messengers. Many of the great Prophets and Messenger wandered through its valleys and streets preaching the truth. Makkah and Madinah are blessed because of their links with Ibrahim (as), Ismail (as), and Muhammad (saw). Similarly, Jerusalem is blessed and sacred because of its links to Dawud (as), Sulayman (as), and Eesa (as).
The rays of Islam spread to Jerusalem during the caliphate of Umar ibn Khattab (ra) around the year 638. The conquest of Jerusalem itself was a very peaceful procedure. The Christian patriach, Sophronius offered Umar ibn Khattab (ra) the keys of the city himself. When Umar ibn Khattab entered the city he at once inquired about where the mosque of Dawud (Masjid al-Aqsa) is along with the blessed Rock from which the Prophet (saw) ascended. Upon reaching the site, Umar ibn Khattab (ra) found it to be a garbage dump the Romans had completely trashed. After seeing this, he at once started cleaning the compound with his own hands. Masjid al-Aqsa was later built on that same site.
The city of Jerusalem is held in very high regard by Muslims. The legal, historical, and religious right to the city belongs to Muslims. It’s very important to remember that during Muslim rule, the true sanctity was maintained and all faiths were tolerated. May Allah (swt) allow us all to visit “The Furthest Mosque,” and may he bless the people who live there and grant that land peace and harmony. Ameen.