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Selma Cook 

Al Aqsa mosque is one of the sacred places in Islam. The reward for prayer in this mosque is surpassed only by prayer in Makkah or Madinah. So the very least that we as Muslims should do, is to be able to recognize it. There has been some confusion in recent times about the identity of two mosques in Jerusalem.
Which one is Al Aqsa?


Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) (in Arabic he is called ‘Sulaiman’), built a mosque, a long, long time ago, on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem. He dedicated it to the worship of Allah s.w.t. the One True God. Like his father, Prophet David (peace be upon him) (in Arabic he is called 'Dawood’), he was a prophet and a messenger, calling all humanity to the worship of Allah s.w.t. and to establish piety on the earth.

Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Dome of the Rock

Now, all these years later there is some confusion about the site of this mosque. In the eastern part of Jerusalem is the Old city, a quadrangular area built on two hills. Within the wall there are four quarters. The Muslim quarter, on the east, contains the Haram ash-Sharif, within which are the ‘Dome of the Rock’ and the ‘Mosque of al Aqsa’. Both places are sacred sites for Muslims. However it is around the Mosque of Al Aqsa that the confusion lies.

Al-Aqsa Mosque from the west

Whenever mention is made in the local or international media pertaining to Al Aqsa, a picture of the ‘Dome of the rock’ will appear. These two mosques lie within a rather close proximity to each other but they bear little resemblance. All over the world, we can find pictures of the ‘Dome of the rock’ under the heading ‘Al Aqsa’ , to the point that people aren’t really sure anymore, which is which.

The Dome of the Rock from the East

The difference however, is clear and simple. The ‘Dome of the rock’ bears the sacred rock that Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) stood on when he went on the ascension to the heavens, while Al Aqsa mosque lies on the site of the original mosque of Prophet Solomon (Sulaiman) (peace be upon him). Islam reveres both Jewish and Christian traditions, as these two religions belong to its traditions. Actually Al Aqsa Mosque was the original qibla (The direction of prayers), which was later changed during the time of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) to the Ka’ba at Mecca.

The reason for the deliberate dispersion of false information is also clear and simple.  By focusing attention on the ‘Dome of the rock’ under the label of Al Aqsa, people all over the world will not know when the real Al Aqsa mosque finally disappears.

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