Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa

Q: Is Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem) considered a sacred place like Al-Masjid Al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque in Makkah) and Al-Masjid Al-Nabawy? Who built it?

A: First: We do not know any evidence indicating that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is a sacred place like Al-Masjid Al-Haram and Al-Masjid Al-Nabawy. The permissibility of traveling to it and the virtues of performing Salah there have been confirmed by the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): Do not set out on a journey but to three Masjids: this Masjid of mine (the Prophet's Masjid), Al-Masjid al-Haram (the Sacred Masjid), and Al-Aqsa Masjid (in Jerusalem). Related by Malik, Al-Bukhari (Part No. 6; Page No. 228) and Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him). This is the wording of Muslim. As for the proof of the virtue of performing Salah therein, it is related by Al-Bayhaqy in Shu`ab Al-Iman on the authority of Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Performing Salah in Al-Masjid Al-Haram equals (the reward of) one hundred thousand Salahs elsewhere. Performing Salah in my Masjid equals (the reward of) one thousand Salahs elsewhere and performing Salah in Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa equals (the reward of) five hundred Salahs elsewhere. Second: Scholars have different views regarding who built Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. It is said that it was Prophet Ya`qub (Jacob) ibn Is-haq (Isaac) ibn Ibrahim (Abraham). This view is close to the truth. It is also said that it was Sulayman (Solomon). The soundest opinion is that Sulayman renewed it but did not establish it. Because there were more than forty years between Sulayman and Ibrahim (Abraham) just as Al-Hafizh ibn Kathir (may Allah be merciful to him) mentioned. Muslim related in his Sahih (authentic) Book of Hadith on the authority of Abu Dhar (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: I said: O Messenger of Allah, which mosque was laid first on earth? (Part No. 6; Page No. 229) He said: Al-Masjid Al-Haram. I said: Then what was next? He said: Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa I said: How long was between them? He said: Forty years. Wheresoever the time comes for Salah, perform it for it is a Masjid. According to the narration of Abu Kamil the Prophet said: Wheresoever the time comes for Salah, perform it for it is a Masjid. Al-Nasa'y related with a Sahih (authentic) Isnad (chain of narration) on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Amr (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: When Sulayman ibn Dawud (peace be upon him) built Al-Masjid Al-Aqs, he supplicated to Allah for three qualities: He supplicated to Allah for arbitration that would be in conformity with Allah's arbitration and he was given this. He supplicated to Allah (Exalted be He) for a kingdom which would not be given to anyone other than him and he was given this. He supplicated to Allah (Exalted be He) after he finished the establishment of the Masjid that no one would enter with the intention to perform Salah and come out without being forgiven from sins he had done since the day he was born. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.