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Al-Aqsa Mosque

Coordinates: 31°46′34″N 35°14′09″E / 31.77611°N 35.23583°E / 31.77611; 35.23583
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Al-Aqsa Mosque
جامع الأقصى (Jāmiʿ al-Aqṣā)
المصلى القبلي (al-Muṣallā al-Qiblī)
المسجد الاقصى (al-Masjid al-'Aqṣā, disputed)
LeadershipMuhammad Ahmad Hussein (Grand Mufti of Jerusalem)
LocationTemple Mount (East Jerusalem)
Al-Aqsa Mosque is located in Jerusalem
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Location within the Old City of Jerusalem
Al-Aqsa Mosque is located in Jerusalem
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Location within Jerusalem
AdministrationJerusalem Islamic Waqf
Geographic coordinates31°46′34″N 35°14′09″E / 31.77611°N 35.23583°E / 31.77611; 35.23583
StyleEarly Islamic
Date established7th–8th centuries
Direction of façadeNorth–northwest
MaterialsLimestone (external walls, façade), lead and concrete (dome), white marble (interior columns) and mosaic[1]

The Aqsa Mosque (Arabic: جامع الأقصى, romanizedJāmiʿ al-Aqṣā, lit.'congregational mosque of Al-Aqsa'), also known as the Qibli Mosque or Qibli Chapel (المصلى القبلي, al-muṣallā al-qiblī, lit.'prayer hall of the qibla (south)'),[2] is the main congregational mosque or prayer hall in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. In some sources the building is also named al-Masjid al-Aqṣā,[3][4][5] but this name primarily applies to the whole compound in which the building sits, which is itself also known as "Al-Aqsa Mosque".[6] The wider compound is known as Al-Aqsa or Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also known as al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf (الحرم الشريف, lit.'The Noble Sanctuary').[7][8][9][10]

During the rule of the Rashidun caliph Umar (r. 634–644) or the Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680), a small prayer house on the compound was erected near the mosque's site. The present-day mosque, located on the south wall of the compound, was originally built by the fifth Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705) or his successor al-Walid I (r. 705–715) (or both) as a congregational mosque on the same axis as the Dome of the Rock, a commemorative Islamic monument. After being destroyed in an earthquake in 746, the mosque was rebuilt in 758 by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur. It was further expanded upon in 780 by the Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi, after which it consisted of fifteen aisles and a central dome. However, it was again destroyed during the 1033 Jordan Rift Valley earthquake. The mosque was rebuilt by the Fatimid caliph al-Zahir (r. 1021–1036), who reduced it to seven aisles but adorned its interior with an elaborate central archway covered in vegetal mosaics; the current structure preserves the 11th-century outline.

During the periodic renovations undertaken, the ruling Islamic dynasties constructed additions to the mosque and its precincts, such as its dome, façade, minarets, and minbar and interior structure. Upon its capture by the Crusaders in 1099, the mosque was used as a palace; it was also the headquarters of the religious order of the Knights Templar. After the area was conquered by Saladin in 1187, the structure's function as a mosque was restored. More renovations, repairs, and expansion projects were undertaken in later centuries by the Ayyubids, the Mamluks, the Ottomans, the Supreme Muslim Council of British Palestine, and during the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank. Since the beginning of the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the mosque has remained under the independent administration of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.[11]


Extract of an 1841 British map showing both "Mesjid el-Aksa" and "Jami el-Aksa"

The English term "Al-Aqsa Mosque" is the translation of both al-Masjid al-Aqṣā (ٱلْمَسْجِد ٱلْأَقْصَىٰ) and Jāmiʿ al-Aqṣā (جَامِع ٱلْأَقْصَىٰ), which have distinct meanings in Arabic.[12][13][14] The former (al-Masjid al-Aqṣā) refers to the Quran's Surah 17 – "the furthest mosque" – and thus is used for whole compound of the Temple Mount, also known as the Haram al-Sharif, while the latter name (Jāmiʿ al-Aqṣā) is used for the subject of this article – the silver-domed congregational mosque building.[12][13][14] Arabic and Persian writers such as 10th-century geographer al-Muqaddasi,[15] 11th-century scholar Nasir Khusraw,[15] 12th-century geographer al-Idrisi[16] and 15th-century Islamic scholar Mujir al-Din,[2][17] as well as 19th-century American and British Orientalists Edward Robinson,[12] Guy Le Strange and Edward Henry Palmer explained that the term Masjid al-Aqsa refers to the entire esplanade plaza also known as the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif ('Noble Sanctuary') – i.e. the entire area including the Dome of the Rock, the fountains, the gates, and the four minarets – because none of these buildings existed at the time the Quran was written.[13][18][19] Al-Muqaddasi referred to the southern building (the subject of this article) as Al Mughattâ ("the covered-part") and Nasir Khusraw referred to it with the Persian word Pushish (also the "covered part," exactly as "Al Mughatta") or the Maqsurah (a part-for-the-whole synecdoche).[15]

The building is also referred to as (al-)Qibli Mosque or (al-)Qibli Chapel (Muṣallā al-Qiblī), in reference to its location on the southern end of the compound as a result of the Islamic qibla being moved from Jerusalem to Mecca.[20] "Qibli" is the name used in official publications by the governmental organization which administers the site, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (part of the Jordanian government),[21] and the Jordanian government more widely.[22][23] It is also the official name used by the Palestinian Liberation Organization.[23] It has been used by numerous international organizations such as the United States State Department[24] the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (whose role is to act as "the collective voice of the Muslim world"),[25] and UNESCO,[26] as well as various scholars[20] and media organizations.[27]



The mosque is situated at the Southern end of the Haram al-Sharif

The mosque is located on the southern part of the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif, an enclosure expanded by King Herod the Great beginning in 20 BCE during his reconstruction of the Second Jewish Temple.[28] The mosque resides on an artificial platform that is supported by arches constructed by Herod's engineers to overcome the difficult topographic conditions resulting from the southward expansion of the enclosure into the Tyropoeon and Kidron valleys.[29] During the late Second Temple period, the present site of the mosque was occupied by the Royal Stoa, a basilica running the southern wall of the enclosure.[29] The Royal Stoa was destroyed along with the Temple during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE.

It was once thought that Emperor Justinian's "Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos", lit.'the New Church of the God-Bearer' and commonly known as the Nea Church, dedicated to the God-bearing Virgin Mary, consecrated in 543, was situated where al-Aqsa Mosque was later constructed. However, remains identified as those of the Nea Church were uncovered in the south part of the Jewish Quarter in 1973.[30][31]

Analysis of the wooden beams and panels removed from the mosque during renovations in the 1930s shows they are made from Lebanese cedar and cypress. Radiocarbon dating gave a large range of ages, some as old as 9th century BCE, showing that some of the wood had previously been used in older buildings.[32] However, reexamination of the same beams in the 2010s gave dates in the Byzantine period.[33]

During his excavations in the 1930s, Robert Hamilton uncovered portions of a multicolor mosaic floor with geometric patterns, but did not publish them.[34] The date of the mosaic is disputed: Zachi Dvira considers that they are from the pre-Islamic Byzantine period, while Baruch, Reich and Sandhaus favor a much later Umayyad origin on account of their similarity to a mosaic from an Umayyad palace excavated adjacent to the Temple Mount's southern wall.[34] By comparing the photographs to Hamilton's excavation report, Di Cesare determined that they belong to the second phase of mosque construction in the Umayyad period.[35] Moreover, the mosaic designs were common in Islamic, Jewish and Christian buildings from the 2nd to the 8th century.[35] Di Cesare suggested that Hamilton didn't include the mosaics in his book because they were destroyed to explore beneath them.[35]

Umayyad period

The mosque along the southern wall of al-Haram al-Sharif

A mostly wooden, rectangular mosque on the Temple Mount site with a capacity for 3,000 worshippers is attested by the Gallic monk Arculf during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in c. 679–682.[36][37] Its precise location is not known.[37] The art historian Oleg Grabar deems it likely that it was close to the present mosque,[37] while the historian Yildirim Yavuz asserts it stood at the present site of the Dome of Rock.[38] The architectural historian K. A. C. Creswell notes that Arculf's attestation lends credibility to claims by some Islamic traditions and medieval Christian chronicles, which he otherwise deems legendary or unreliable, that the second Rashidun caliph, Umar (r. 634–644), ordered the construction of a primitive mosque on the Temple Mount. However, Arculf visited Palestine during the reign of Caliph Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680), founder of the Syria-based Umayyad Caliphate.[36] Mu'awiya had been governor of Syria, including Palestine, for about twenty years before becoming caliph and his accession ceremony was held in Jerusalem. The 10th-century Jerusalemite scholar al-Mutahhar ibn Tahir al-Maqdisi claims Mu'awiya built a mosque on the Haram.[39]

There is disagreement as to whether the present al-Aqsa Mosque was originally built by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705) or his successor, his son al-Walid I (r. 705–715). Several architectural historians hold that Abd al-Malik commissioned the project and that al-Walid finished or expanded it.[a] Abd al-Malik inaugurated great architectural works on the Temple Mount, including construction of the Dome of the Rock in c. 691. A common Islamic tradition holds that Abd al-Malik simultaneously commissioned the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.[47] As both were intentionally built on the same axis, Grabar comments that the two structures form "part of an architecturally thought-out ensemble comprising a congregational and a commemorative building", the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, respectively.[48][b] Guy le Strange claims that Abd al-Malik used materials from the destroyed Church of Our Lady to build the mosque and points to possible evidence that substructures on the southeast corners of the mosque are remains of the church.[49]

The earliest source indicating al-Walid's work on the mosque is the Aphrodito Papryi.[50] These contain the letters between al-Walid's governor of Egypt in December 708–June 711 and a government official in Upper Egypt which discuss the dispatch of Egyptian laborers and craftsmen to help build the al-Aqsa Mosque, referred to as the "Mosque of Jerusalem".[44] The referenced workers spent between six months and a year on the construction.[51] Several 10th and 13th-century historians credit al-Walid for founding the mosque, though the historian Amikam Elad doubts their reliability on the matter.[c] In 713–714, a series of earthquakes ravaged Jerusalem, destroying the eastern section of the mosque, which was subsequently rebuilt by al-Walid's order. He had gold from the Dome of the Rock melted to use as money to finance the repairs and renovations. He is credited by the early 15th-century historian al-Qalqashandi for covering the mosque's walls with mosaics.[46] Grabar notes that the Umayyad-era mosque was adorned with mosaics, marble, and "remarkable crafted and painted woodwork".[48] The latter are preserved partly in the Palestine Archaeological Museum and partly in the Islamic Museum.[48]

Estimates of the size of the Umayyad-built mosque by architectural historians range from 112 by 39 meters (367 ft × 128 ft)[53] to 114.6 by 69.2 meters (376 ft × 227 ft).[38] The building was rectangular.[38] In the assessment of Grabar, the layout was a modified version of the traditional hypostyle mosque of the period. Its "unusual" characteristic was that its aisles laid perpendicular to the qibla wall. The number of aisles is not definitively known, though fifteen is cited by a number of historians. The central aisle, double the width of the others, was probably topped by a dome.[48]

The last years of Umayyad rule were turbulent for Jerusalem. The last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II (r. 744–750), punished Jerusalem's inhabitants for supporting a rebellion against him by rival princes, and tore down the city's walls.[54] In 746, the al-Aqsa Mosque was ruined in an earthquake. Four years later, the Umayyads were toppled and replaced by the Iraq-based Abbasid Caliphate.[55]

Abbasid period

The Abbasids generally exhibited little interest in Jerusalem,[56] though the historian Shelomo Dov Goitein notes they "paid special tribute" to the city during the early part of their rule,[54] and Grabar asserts that the early Abbasids' work on the mosque suggests "a major attempt to assert Abbasid sponsorship of holy places".[57] Nevertheless, in contrast to the Umayyad period, maintenance of the al-Aqsa Mosque during Abbasid rule often came at the initiative of the local Muslim community, rather than from the caliph.[55][48] The second Abbasid caliph, al-Mansur (r. 754–775), visited Jerusalem in 758, on his return from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. He found the structures on the Haram in ruins from the 746 earthquake, including the al-Aqsa Mosque. According to the tradition cited by Mujir al-Din, the caliph was beseeched by the city's Muslim residents to fund the buildings' restoration. In response, he had the gold and silver plaques covering the mosque's doors converted into dinars and dirhams to finance the reconstruction.[56]

A second earthquake damaged most of al-Mansur's repairs, except for the southern portion near the mihrab (prayer niche indicating the qibla). In 780, his successor, al-Mahdi, ordered its reconstruction, mandating that his provincial governors and other commanders each contribute the cost of a colonnade.[58] Al-Mahdi's renovation is the first known to have written records describing it.[59] The Jerusalemite geographer al-Muqaddasi, writing in 985, provided the following description:

This mosque is even more beautiful than that of Damascus ... the edifice [after al-Mahdi's reconstruction] rose firmer and more substantial than ever it had been in former times. The more ancient portion remained, even like a beauty spot, in the midst of the new ... the Aqsa mosque has twenty-six doors ... The centre of the Main-building is covered by a mighty roof, high pitched and gable-wise, over which rises a magnificent dome.[60]

Al-Muqaddasi further noted that the mosque consisted of fifteen aisles aligned perpendicularly to the qibla and possessed an elaborately decorated porch with the names of the Abbasid caliphs inscribed on its gates.[57] According to Hamilton, al-Muqaddasi's description of the Abbasid-era mosque is corroborated by his archaeological findings in 1938–1942, which showed the Abbasid construction retained some parts of the older structure and had a broad central aisle topped by a dome.[61] The mosque described by al-Muqaddasi opened to the north, toward the Dome of the Rock, and, unusually according to Grabar, to the east.[57]

Other than al-Mansur and al-Mahdi, no other Abbasid caliphs visited Jerusalem or commissioned work on the al-Aqsa Mosque, though Caliph al-Ma'mun (r. 813–833) ordered significant work elsewhere on the Haram. He also contributed a bronze portal to the mosque's interior, and the geographer Nasir Khusraw noted during his 1047 visit that al-Ma'mun's name was inscribed on it.[62] Abd Allah ibn Tahir, the Abbasid governor of the eastern province of Khurasan (r. 828–844), is credited by al-Muqaddasi for building a colonnade on marble pillars in front of the fifteen doors on the mosque's front (north) side.[63]

Fatimid period

A 19th-century chromolithograph of the mosque's interior. The mosaic designs on the drum of the dome, the pendentives, and the archway in front of the mihrab date from the mid-11th-century Fatimid reconstruction

In 970, the Egypt-based Fatimid Caliphate conquered Palestine from the Ikhshidids, nominal allegiants of the Abbasids. Unlike the Abbasids and the Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem, who were Sunnis, the Fatimids followed Shia Islam in its Isma'ili form.[64] In 1033, another earthquake severely damaged the mosque. The Fatimid caliph al-Zahir (r. 1021–1036) had the mosque reconstructed between 1034 and 1036, though work was not completed until 1065, during the reign of Caliph al-Mustansir (r. 1036–1094).[57]

The new mosque was considerably smaller, reduced from fifteen aisles to seven,[57] probably a reflection of the local population's significant decline by this time.[65][d] Excluding the two aisles on each side of the central nave, each aisle was made up of eleven arches running perpendicular to the qibla. The central nave was twice the breadth of the other aisles and had a gabled roof with a dome.[68][e] The mosque likely lacked the side doors of its predecessor.[57]

A prominent and distinctive feature of the new construction was the rich mosaic program endowed to the drum of the dome, the pendentives leading to the dome, and the arch in front of the mihrab.[68][69] These three adjoining areas covered by the mosaics are collectively referred to as the "triumphal arch" by Grabar or the "maqsura" by Pruitt.[68] Mosaic designs were rare in Islamic architecture in the post-Umayyad era and al-Zahir's mosaics were a revival of this Umayyad architectural practice, including Abd al-Malik's mosaics in the Dome of the Rock, but on a larger scale. The drum mosaic depicts a luxurious garden inspired by the Umayyad or Classical style. The four pendentives are gold and characterized by indented roundels with alternating gold and silver planes and patterns of peacock's eyes, eight-pointed stars, and palm fronds. On the arch are large depictions of vegetation emanating from small vases.[70][69]

Caliph al-Zahir's inscription above the mihrab

Atop the mihrab arch is a lengthy inscription in gold directly linking the al-Aqsa Mosque with Muhammad's Night Journey (the isra and mi'raj) from the "masjid al-haram" to the "masjid al-aqsa".[71] It marked the first instance of this Quranic verse being inscribed in Jerusalem, leading Grabar to hypothesize that it was an official move by the Fatimids to magnify the site's sacred character.[65] The inscription credits al-Zahir for renovating the mosque and two otherwise unknown figures, Abu al-Wasim and a sharif, al-Hasan al-Husayni, for supervising the work.[71][f]

Nasir Khusraw described the mosque during his 1047 visit.[72] He deemed it "very large", measuring 420 by 150 cubits on its western side. The distance between each "sculptured" marble column, 280 in number, was six cubits. The columns were supported by stone arches and lead joints.[73] He noted the following features:

... the mosque is everywhere flagged with coloured marble ... The Maksurah [or space railed off for the officials] is facing the centre of the south wall [of the Mosque and Haram Area], and is of such size as to contain sixteen columns. Above rises a mighty dome that is ornamented with enamel work.[73]

Al-Zahir's substantial investment in the Haram, including the al-Aqsa Mosque, amid the political instability in the capital Cairo, rebellions by Bedouin tribes, especially the Jarrahids of Palestine, and plagues, indicate the caliph's "commitment to Jerusalem", in Pruitt's words.[74] Although the city had experienced decreases in its population in the preceding decades, the Fatimids attempted to build up the magnificence and symbolism of the mosque, and the Haram in general, for their own religious and political reasons.[g] The present-day mosque largely retains al-Zahir's plan.[77]

Fatimid investment in Jerusalem ground to a halt toward the end of the 11th century as their rule became further destabilized. In 1071, a Turkish mercenary, Atsiz, was invited by the city's Fatimid governor to rein in the Bedouin, but he turned on the Fatimids, besieging and capturing Jerusalem that year. A few years later, the inhabitants revolted against him, and were slaughtered by Atsiz, including those who had taken shelter in the al-Aqsa Mosque. He was killed by the Turkish Seljuks in 1078, establishing Seljuk rule over the city, which lasted until the Fatimids regained control in 1098.[78]

Crusader/Ayyubid period

The doors of the Saladin Minbar, early 1900s. The minbar was built on Nur al-Din's orders, but installed by Saladin

Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders in 1099, during the First Crusade. They named the mosque Templum Solomonis (Solomon's Temple), distinguishing it from the Dome of the Rock, which they named Templum Domini (Temple of God). While the Dome of the Rock was turned into a Christian church under the care of the Augustinians,[79] the al-Aqsa Mosque was used as a royal palace and also as a stable for horses. In 1119, the Crusader king accommodated the headquarters of the Knights Templar next to his palace within the building. During this period, the mosque underwent some structural changes, including the expansion of its northern porch, and the addition of an apse and a dividing wall. A new cloister and church were also built at the site, along with various other structures.[80] The Templars constructed vaulted western and eastern annexes to the building; the western currently serves as the women's mosque and the eastern as the Islamic Museum.[81]

After the Ayyubids under the leadership of Saladin reconquered Jerusalem following the siege of 1187, several repairs and renovations were undertaken at al-Aqsa Mosque. In order to prepare the mosque for Friday prayers, within a week of his capture of Jerusalem Saladin had the toilets and grain stores installed by the Crusaders at al-Aqsa removed, the floors covered with precious carpets, and its interior scented with rosewater and incense.[82] Saladin's predecessor—the Zengid sultan Nur al-Din—had commissioned the construction of a new minbar or "pulpit" made of ivory and wood in 1168–69, but it was completed after his death; Nur ad-Din's minbar was added to the mosque in November 1187 by Saladin.[83] The Ayyubid sultan of Damascus, al-Mu'azzam, built the northern porch of the mosque with three gates in 1218. In 1345, the Mamluks under al-Kamil Shaban added two naves and two gates to the mosque's eastern side.[81]

Ottoman/modern period

The front view in 1900

After the Ottomans assumed power in 1517, they did not undertake any major renovations or repairs to the mosque itself, but they did to the Noble Sanctuary as a whole. This included the building of the Fountain of Qasim Pasha (1527), the restoration of the Pool of Raranj, and the building of three free-standing domes—the most notable being the Dome of the Prophet built in 1538. All construction was ordered by the Ottoman governors of Jerusalem and not the sultans themselves.[84] The sultans did make additions to existing minarets, however.[84]

In 1816, the mosque was restored by Governor Sulayman Pasha al-Adil after having been in a dilapidated state.[85]

The first renovation in the 20th century occurred in 1922, when the Supreme Muslim Council under Amin al-Husayni (the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) commissioned Turkish architect Ahmet Kemalettin Bey to restore al-Aqsa Mosque and the monuments in its precincts. The council also commissioned British architects, Egyptian engineering experts and local officials to contribute to and oversee the repairs and additions which were carried out in 1924–25 by Kemalettin. The renovations included reinforcing the mosque's ancient Umayyad foundations, rectifying the interior columns, replacing the beams, erecting a scaffolding, conserving the arches and drum of the main dome's interior, rebuilding the southern wall, and replacing timber in the central nave with a slab of concrete. The renovations also revealed Fatimid-era mosaics and inscriptions on the interior arches that had been covered with plasterwork. The arches were decorated with gold and green-tinted gypsum and their timber tie beams were replaced with brass. A quarter of the stained glass windows also were carefully renewed so as to preserve their original Abbasid and Fatimid designs.[86]

Severe damage was caused by the 1837 and 1927 earthquakes, but the mosque was repaired in 1938 and 1942.[81] Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini donated Carrara marble columns in the late 30s.[87]

An earthquake in 1927 and a small tremor in the summer of 1937 eventually brought down the roof of the Aqsa mosque, prompting the reconstruction of the upper part of the north wall of the mosque and the internal refacing of the whole; the partial reconstruction of the jambs and lintels of the central doors; the refacing of the front of five bays of the porch; and the demolition of the vaulted buildings that formerly adjoined the east side of the mosque.[88]

On 20 July 1951, King Abdullah I was shot three times by a Palestinian gunman as he entered the mosque, killing him. His grandson Prince Hussein, was at his side and was also hit, though a medal he was wearing on his chest deflected the bullet.

The dome in 1982, covered in aluminum and visibly silver, following the 1969 fire, rather than the original grey lead

The site fell under Israeli control on 7 June 1967, during the Six Day War. On 21 August 1969, a fire was started by a visitor from Australia named Denis Michael Rohan,[89] an evangelical Christian who hoped that by burning down al-Aqsa Mosque he would hasten the Second Coming of Jesus.[90] In response to the incident, a summit of Islamic countries was held in Rabat that same year, hosted by Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the then king of Saudi Arabia. The al-Aqsa fire is regarded as one of the catalysts for the formation of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) in 1972.[91]

Following the fire, the dome was reconstructed in concrete and covered with anodized aluminium, instead of the original ribbed lead enamel work sheeting. In 1983, the aluminium outer covering was replaced with lead to match the original design by az-Zahir.[92]

In the 1980s, Ben Shoshan and Yehuda Etzion, both members of the Gush Emunim Underground, plotted to blow up the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Etzion believed that blowing up the two mosques would cause a spiritual awakening in Israel, and would solve all the problems of the Jewish people. They also hoped the Third Temple of Jerusalem would be built on the location of the mosque.[93][94]

On 5 November 2014, Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa for the first time since capturing Jerusalem in 1967, said Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, director of the Islamic Waqf. Previous media reports of 'storming Al-Aqsa' referred to the Haram al-Sharif compound rather than the Al-Aqsa mosque itself.[95]


The rectangular al-Aqsa Mosque and its precincts cover 14.4 hectares (36 acres), although the mosque itself is about 1.1 acres (0.46 ha) in area and can hold up to 5,000 worshippers.[96] It is 83 m (272 ft) long, 56 m (184 ft) wide.[96] Unlike the Dome of the Rock, which reflects classical Byzantine architecture, the Aqsa Mosque is characteristic of early Islamic architecture.[97]


The silver-colored dome consists of lead sheeting

Nothing remains of the original dome built by Abd al-Malik. The present-day dome mimicks that of az-Zahir, which consisted of wood plated with lead enamelwork, but which was destroyed by fire in 1969. Today it is made of concrete with lead sheeting.[92]

Al-Aqsa's dome is one of the few domes to be built in front of the mihrab during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, the others being the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus (715) and the Great Mosque of Sousse (850).[98] The interior of the dome is painted with 14th-century-era decorations. During the 1969 burning, the paintings were assumed to be irreparably lost, but were completely reconstructed using the trateggio technique, a method that uses fine vertical lines to distinguish reconstructed areas from original ones.[92]

Facade and porch

The facade of the mosque. It was constructed by the Fatimids, then expanded by the Crusaders, the Ayyubids and the Mamluks

The facade of the mosque was built in 1065 CE on the instructions of the Fatimid caliph al-Mustansir Billah. It was crowned with a balustrade consisting of arcades and small columns. The Crusaders damaged the facade, but it was restored and renovated by the Ayyubids. One addition was the covering of the facade with tiles.[81] The second-hand material of the facade's arches includes sculpted, ornamental material taken from Crusader structures in Jerusalem.[99] The facade consists of fourteen stone arches,[100][dubiousdiscuss] most of which are of a Romanesque style. The outer arches added by the Mamluks follow the same general design. The entrance to the mosque is through the facade's central arch.[101]

The porch is located at the top of[dubiousdiscuss] the facade. The central bays of the porch were built by the Knights Templar during the First Crusade,[dubiousdiscuss] but Saladin's nephew al-Mu'azzam Isa ordered the construction of the porch itself in 1217.[81][dubiousdiscuss]


The al-Aqsa Mosque has seven aisles of hypostyle naves with several additional small halls to the west and east of the southern section of the building.[102] There are 121 stained glass windows in the mosque from the Abbasid and Fatimid eras. About a fourth of them were restored in 1924.[86] The spandrels of the arch opposite the main entrance include a mosaic decoration and inscription dating back to Fatimid period.[103]

The mosque's interior is supported by 45 columns, 33 of which are white marble and 12 of stone.[96] The column rows of the central aisles are heavy and stunted. The remaining four rows are better proportioned. The capitals of the columns are of four different kinds: those in the central aisle are heavy and primitively designed, while those under the dome are of the Corinthian order,[96] and made from Italian white marble. The capitals in the eastern aisle are of a heavy basket-shaped design and those east and west of the dome are also basket-shaped, but smaller and better proportioned. The columns and piers are connected by an architectural rave, which consists of beams of roughly squared timber enclosed in a wooden casing.[96]

A great portion of the mosque is covered with whitewash, but the drum of the dome and the walls immediately beneath it are decorated with mosaics and marble. Some paintings by an Italian artist were introduced when repairs were undertaken at the mosque after an earthquake ravaged the mosque in 1927.[96] The ceiling of the mosque was painted with funding by King Farouk of Egypt.[101]


The minbar of the mosque was built by a craftsman named Akhtarini from Aleppo on the orders of the Zengid sultan Nur ad-Din. It was intended to be a gift for the mosque when Nur ad-Din would capture Jerusalem from the Crusaders and took six years to build (1168–74). Nur ad-Din died and the Crusaders still controlled Jerusalem, but in 1187, Saladin captured the city and the minbar was installed. The structure was made of ivory and carefully crafted wood. Arabic calligraphy, geometrical and floral designs were inscribed in the woodwork.[104]

After its destruction by Rohan in 1969, it was replaced by a much simpler minbar. In January 2007, Adnan al-Husayni—head of the Islamic waqf in charge of al-Aqsa—stated that a new minbar would be installed;[105] it was installed in February 2007.[106] The design of the new minbar was drawn by Jamil Badran based on an exact replica of the Saladin Minbar and was finished by Badran within a period of five years.[104] The minbar itself was built in Jordan over a period of four years and the craftsmen used "ancient woodworking methods, joining the pieces with pegs instead of nails, but employed computer images to design the pulpit [minbar]."[105]

Current situations


The administrative body responsible for the whole Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is known as "the Jerusalem Waqf", an organ of the Jordanian government. [107]

The Jerusalem Waqf is responsible for administrative matters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Religious authority on the site, on the other hand, is the responsibility of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, appointed by the government of the State of Palestine.[108]

After the 1969 arson attack, the waqf employed architects, technicians and craftsmen in a committee that carry out regular maintenance operations. The Islamic Movement in Israel and the waqf have attempted to increase Muslim control of the Temple Mount as a way of countering Israeli policies and the escalating presence of Israeli security forces around the site since the Second Intifada. Some activities included refurbishing abandoned structures and renovating.[109]

Ownership of the al-Aqsa Mosque is a contentious issue in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. During the negotiations at the 2000 Camp David Summit, Palestinians demanded complete ownership of the mosque and other Islamic holy sites in East Jerusalem.[110]


Palestinian Muslim man reading the Quran inside al-Aqsa Mosque

Muslims who are residents of Israel or visiting the country and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are normally allowed to enter the Temple Mount and pray at al-Aqsa Mosque without restrictions.[111] Due to security measures, the Israeli government occasionally prevents certain groups of Muslims from reaching al-Aqsa by blocking the entrances to the complex; the restrictions vary from time to time. At times, restrictions have prevented all men under 50 and women under 45 from entering, but married men over 45 are allowed. Sometimes the restrictions are enforced on the occasion of Friday prayers,[112][113] other times they are over an extended period of time.[112][114][115] Restrictions are most severe for Gazans, followed by restrictions on those from West Bank. The Israeli government states that the restrictions are in place for security reasons.[111]

Until 2000, non-Muslim visitors could enter the Aqsa Mosque by getting a ticket from the Waqf. That procedure ended when the Second Intifada began. Over two decades later, the Waqf still hopes negotiations between Israel and Jordan may result in allowing visitors to enter once again.[116]


Several excavations outside the Temple Mount took place following the 1967 War. In 1970, Israeli authorities commenced intensive excavations outside the walls next to the mosque on the southern and western sides. Palestinians believed that tunnels were being dug under the Aqsa Mosque in order to undermine its foundations, which was denied by Israelis, who claimed that the closest excavation to the mosque was some 70 meters (230 ft) to its south.[117] The Archaeological Department of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs dug a tunnel near the western portion of the mosque in 1984.[118] According to UNESCO's special envoy to Jerusalem Oleg Grabar, buildings and structures on the Temple Mount are deteriorating due mostly to disputes between the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian governments over who is actually responsible for the site.[119]

In February 2007, the department started to excavate a site for archaeological remains in a location where the government wanted to rebuild a collapsed pedestrian bridge leading to the Mughrabi Gate, the only entrance for non-Muslims into the Temple Mount complex. This site was 60 meters (200 ft) away from the mosque.[120] The excavations provoked anger throughout the Islamic world, and Israel was accused of trying to destroy the foundation of the mosque. Ismail Haniya—then Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas leader—called on Palestinians to unite to protest the excavations, while Fatah said they would end their ceasefire with Israel.[121] Israel denied all charges against them, calling them "ludicrous".[122]


In April 2021, during both Passover and Ramadan, the site was a focus of tension between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. Jewish settlers broke an agreement between Israel and Jordan and performed prayers and read from the Torah inside the compound, an area normally off limits to non-Muslims.[123] On 14 April, Israeli police entered the area and forcibly cut wires to speakers in minarets around the mosque, silencing the call to prayer, claiming the sound was interfering with an event by the Israeli president at the Western Wall.[124] On 16 April, seventy thousand Muslims prayed in the compound around the mosque, the largest gathering since the beginning of the COVID pandemic; police barred most from entering the structure itself.[125] In May 2021, hundreds of Palestinians were injured following clashes in the compound after reports of Israel's intention to proceed to evict Palestinians from land claimed by Israeli settlers.[126][127]

On 15 April 2022, Israeli forces entered the Temple Mount and used tear gas shells and sound bombs to disperse Palestinians who, they said, were throwing stones at policemen. Some Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque, where they were detained by Israeli police. Over 150 people ended up injured and 400 arrested.[128][129][130]

On April 5, 2023, Israeli police raided the temple, saying "agitators" who had thrown stones and fired fireworks at the police, had barricaded themselves and worshippers inside. Following the incident, militants fired rockets from Gaza into southern Israel.[131]

On 22 April, 2024 Israeli police arrested 13 for incitement to violence after they were caught in the act of smuggling goats onto the site for ritual sacrifice,[132] 3 had been arrested in 2023 for trying to smuggle lambs and goats onto the site.[133]

See also


  1. ^ K. A. C. Creswell, the archaeologists Robert Hamilton and Henri Stern, and the historian F. E. Peters attribute the original Umayyad construction to al-Walid.[40][41] Other architectural historians, Julian Rabi,[42] Jere Bacharach,[43] and Yildirim Yavuz,[38] as well as the scholars H. I. Bell,[44] Rafi Grafman and Myriam Rosen-Ayalon,[45] and Amikam Elad,[46] assert or suggest that Abd al-Malik started the project and al-Walid finished or expanded it.
  2. ^ This tradition is detailed in the work of the 15th-century Jerusalemite historian Mujir al-Din, the 15th-century historian al-Suyuti and the 11th-century Jerusalemite writers al-Wasiti and Ibn al-Murajja. The tradition cites an isnad (chain of transmission) traced to Thabit, a mid-8th-century attendant of the sanctuary complex, who transmits on the authority of Raja ibn Haywa, Abd al-Malik's court theologian who supervised the financing of the Dome of the Rock's construction.[47]
  3. ^ The 10th-century historians Eutychius of Alexandria and al-Muhallabi attribute the mosque's construction to al-Walid, though they also erroneously credit him for the Dome of the Rock's construction. Other inaccuracies in their works make Elad question their reliability on the matter. A number of 13th-century historians, including Ibn al-Athir, support the claim, but Elad points out that they copy directly from the 10th-century historian al-Tabari, whose work only mentions al-Walid building the great mosques of Damascus and Medina, with the 13th-century historians adding the al-Aqsa Mosque to his roster of great building works. Traditions by sources based in nearby Ramla in the mid-8th century similarly credit al-Walid for the mosques in Damascus and Medina, but limit his role in Jerusalem to providing food for the city's Quran reciters.[52]
  4. ^ A great famine during the reign of al-Ma'mun depleted the Muslim population, and the situation was exacerbated for all of the city's inhabitants during the city's plunder by the peasant rebels of al-Mubarqa.[66] The situation may have recovered by the late 10th century, but the unprecedented depredations throughout Palestine by the Bedouins of the Banu Tayy under the Jarrahids in the 1020s likely caused a substantial decrease in the population.[67]
  5. ^ This description of al-Zahir's mosque is the general scholarly view and is based on archaeological studies carried out during restoration work in the 1920s and the diary of Nasir Khusraw's visit in 1047.[68]
  6. ^ The inscription above the central mihrab reads

    In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Glory to the One who took his servant for a journey by night from the masjid al-haram to the masjid al-aqsa whose precincts we have blessed. [… He] has renovated it, our lord Ali Abu al-Hasan the imam al-Zahir li-i'zaz Din Allah, Commander of the Faithful, son of al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, Commander of the Faithful, may the blessing of God be on him and his pure ancestors, and on his noble descendants [Shia religious formula alluding to the descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali, Muhammad's cousin]. By the hand of Ali ibn Abd al-Rahman, may God reward him. The [job] was supervised by Abu al-Wasim and al-Sharif al-Hasan al-Husaini.[71]

  7. ^ The Fatimid efforts to strengthen the Muslim position in Jerusalem, starting from the reign of al-Zahir's predecessor, Caliph al-Hakim, was part of a proxy religious conflict between them and the Christian Byzantine Empire. From at least the 9th century, efforts had been underway to boost the city's Christian edifices, such as the Holy Sepulchre, and pilgrimage infrastructure by Christian powers and leaders, including the Carolingian Empire and the patriarch of Jerusalem, in the backdrop of renewed Byzantine offensive action against Islamic Syria. Recurrences of mob violence by the city's Muslims against Christians are reported in the 10th century, a time in which al-Muqaddasi laments that Christians and Jews in Jerusalem held the upper hand against the Muslims.[75] The Fatimid inscription also points to al-Zahir's reassertion of the orthodox Muslim narrative of the Night Journey and Muhammad's primacy in Islam against the claims by the Druze, a newly emergent outgrowth of Isma'ili Islam in Egypt and Syria, of al-Hakim's divinity and occultation.[76]



  1. ^ Al-Ratrout, H. A., The Architectural Development of Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Early Islamic Period, ALMI Press, London, 2004.
  2. ^ a b Williams, George (1849). The Holy City: Historical, Topographical and Antiquarian Notices of Jerusalem. Parker. pp. 143–160. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 22 June 2022. The following detailed account of the Haram es-Sherif, with some interesting notices of the City, is extracted from an Arabic work entitled " The Sublime Companion to the History of Jerusalem and Hebron, by Kadi Mejir-ed-din, Ebil-yemen Abd-er-Rahman, El-Alemi," who died A. H. 927, (A. d. 1521)… "I have at the commencement called attention to the fact that the place now called by the name Aksa (i. e. the most distant), is the Mosk [Jamia] properly so called, at the southern extremity of the area, where is the Minbar and the great Mihrab. But in fact Aksa is the name of the whole area enclosed within the walls, the dimensions of which I have just given, for the Mosk proper [Jamia], the Dome of the Rock, the Cloisters, and other buildings, are all of late construction, and Mesjid el-Aksa is the correct name of the whole area." and also von Hammer-Purgstall, J.F. (1811). "Chapitre vingtième. Description de la mosquée Mesdjid-ol-aksa, telle qu'elle est de nos jours, (du temps de l'auteur, au dixième siècle de l'Hégire, au seizième après J. C.)". Fundgruben des Orients (in French). Vol. 2. Gedruckt bey A. Schmid. p. 93. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 22 June 2022. Nous avons dès le commencement appelé l'attention sur que l'endroit, auquel les hommes donnent aujourd'hui le nom d'Aksa, c'est à-dire, la plus éloignée, est la mosquée proprement dite, bâtie à l'extrêmité méridionale de l'enceinte où se trouve la chaire et le grand autel. Mais en effet Aksa est le nom de l'enceinte entière, en tant qu'elle est enfermée de murs, dont nous venons de donner la longueur et la largeur, car la mosquée proprement dite, le dôme de la roche Sakhra, les portiques et les autres bâtimens, sont tous des constructions récentes, et Mesdjidol-aksa est le véritable nom de toute l'enceinte. (Le Mesdjid des arabes répond à l'ίερόν et le Djami au ναός des grecs.)
  3. ^ Yavuz 1996.
  4. ^ Salameh, Khader (2009). "A New Saljuq Inscription in the Masjid al-Aqsa, Jerusalem". Levant. 41 (1): 107–117. doi:10.1179/175638009x427620. ISSN 0075-8914. S2CID 162230613. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  5. ^ 1936 Survey of Palestine map of the Old City of Jerusalem
  6. ^
    • Raissa Kasolowsky; Edmund Blair (6 April 2023). "Factbox: Where is Al Aqsa mosque and why is it so important in Islam?". Reuters. Retrieved 23 July 2023. WHERE AND WHAT IS THE AL-AQSA MOSQUE? The Al-Aqsa lies at the heart of Jerusalem's Old City on a hill known to Jews as Har ha-Bayit, or Temple Mount, and to Muslims internationally as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary. Muslims regard the site as the third holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina. Al-Aqsa is the name given to the whole compound and is home to two Muslim holy places: the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, also known as the Qibli Mosque, which was built in the 8th century AD.
    • Tucker, S.C.; Roberts, P. (2008). The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History [4 volumes]: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO history reference online. ABC-CLIO. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-85109-842-2. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 19 June 2022. Al-Aqsa Mosque The al-Aqsa Mosque (literally, "farthest mosque") is both a building and a complex of religious buildings in Jerusalem. It is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews and Christians as the Har ha-Bayit or Temple Mount. The whole area of the Noble Sanctuary is considered by Muslims to be the al-Aqsa Mosque, and the entire precinct is inviolable according to Islamic law. It is considered specifically part of the waqf (endowment) land that had included the Western Wall (Wailing Wall), property of an Algerian family, and more generally a waqf of all of Islam. When viewed as a complex of buildings, the al-Aqsa Mosque is dominated and bounded by two major structures: the al-Aqsa Mosque building on the east and the Dome of the Rock (or the Mosque of Omar) on the west. The Dome of the Rock is the oldest holy building in Islam.
    • "Jerusalem holy site clashes fuel fears of return to war". BBC News. 22 April 2022. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 30 May 2022. Whole site also considered by Muslims as Al Aqsa Mosque
    • UNESCO World Heritage Centre (4 April 2022). "39 COM 7A.27 - Decision". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 30 May 2022. Retrieved 29 May 2022. …the historic Gates and windows of the Qibli Mosque inside Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which is a Muslim holy site of worship and an integral part of a World Heritage Site
    • The Survey of Western Palestine, Jerusalem, 1884, p.119: "The Jamia el Aksa, or 'distant mosque' (that is, distant from Mecca), is on the south, reaching to the outer wall. The whole enclosure of the Haram is called by Moslem writers Masjid el Aksa, 'praying-place of the Aksa,' from this mosque."
    • Yitzhak Reiter: "This article deals with the employment of religious symbols for national identities and national narratives by using the sacred compound in Jerusalem (The Temple Mount/al-Aqsa) as a case study. The narrative of The Holy Land involves three concentric circles, each encompassing the other, with each side having its own names for each circle. These are: Palestine/Eretz Israel (i.e., the Land of Israel); Jerusalem/al-Quds and finally The Temple Mount/al-Aqsa compound...Within the struggle over public awareness of Jerusalem's importance, one particular site is at the eye of the storm—the Temple Mount and its Western Wall—the Jewish Kotel—or, in Muslim terminology, the al-Aqsa compound (alternatively: al-Haram al-Sharif) including the al-Buraq Wall... "Al-Aqsa" for the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim side is not merely a mosque mentioned in the Quran within the context of the Prophet Muhammad's miraculous Night Journey to al-Aqsa which, according to tradition, concluded with his ascension to heaven (and prayer with all of the prophets and the Jewish and Christian religious figures who preceded him); rather, it also constitutes a unique symbol of identity, one around which various political objectives may be formulated, plans of action drawn up and masses mobilized for their realization", "Narratives of Jerusalem and its Sacred Compound" Archived 21 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine, Israel Studies 18(2):115-132 (July 2013)
    • Annika Björkdahl and Susanne Buckley-Zistel: "The site is known in Arabic as Haram al-Sharif – the Noble Sanctuary – and colloquially as the Haram or the al-Aqsa compound; while in Hebrew, it is called Har HaBeit – the Temple Mount." Annika Björkdahl; Susanne Buckley-Zistel (1 May 2016). Spatialising Peace and Conflict: Mapping the Production of Places, Sites and Scales of Violence. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 243–. ISBN 978-1-137-55048-4. Archived from the original on 21 May 2022. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
    • Mahdi Abdul Hadi:"Al-Aqsa Mosque, also referred to as Al-Haram Ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), comprises the entire area within the compound walls (a total area of 144,000 m2) - including all the mosques, prayer rooms, buildings, platforms and open courtyards located above or under the grounds - and exceeds 200 historical monuments pertaining to various Islamic eras. According to Islamic creed and jurisprudence, all these buildings and courtyards enjoy the same degree of sacredness since they are built on Al-Aqsa's holy grounds. This sacredness is not exclusive to the physical structures allocated for prayer, like the Dome of the Rock or Al-Qibly Mosque (the mosque with the large silver dome)"Mahdi Abdul Hadi Archived 2020-02-16 at the Wayback Machine Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs; Tim Marshall: "Many people believe that the mosque depicted is called the Al-Aqsa; however, a visit to one of Palestine's most eminent intellectuals, Mahdi F. Abdul Hadi, clarified the issue. Hadi is chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, based in East Jerusalem. His offices are a treasure trove of old photographs, documents, and symbols. He was kind enough to spend several hours with me. He spread out maps of Jerusalem's Old City on a huge desk and homed in on the Al-Aqsa compound, which sits above the Western Wall. "The mosque in the Al-Aqsa [Brigades] flag is the Dome of the Rock. Everyone takes it for granted that it is the Al-Aqsa mosque, but no, the whole compound is Al-Aqsa, and on it are two mosques, the Qibla mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and on the flags of both Al-Aqsa Brigades and the Qassam Brigades, it is the Dome of the Rock shown," he said. Tim Marshall (4 July 2017). A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of National Symbols. Simon and Schuster. pp. 151–. ISBN 978-1-5011-6833-8. Archived from the original on 12 September 2019. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  7. ^ Kershner, Isabel (14 November 2009). "Unusual Partners Study Divisive Jerusalem Site". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Hughes, Aaron W. (2014). Theorizing Islam: Disciplinary Deconstruction and Reconstruction. Religion in Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-317-54594-1. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 24 June 2022. Although later commentators would debate whether or not this journey was a physical one or took place at an internal level, it would come to play a crucial role in establishing Muhammad's prophetic credentials. In the first part of this journey, referred to as the isra, he traveled from the Kaba in Mecca to "the farthest mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa), identified with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: the al-Aqsa mosque that stands there today eventually took its name from this larger precinct, in which it was constructed.
  9. ^ Sway, Mustafa A. (2015), "Al-Aqsa Mosque: Do Not Intrude!", Palestine - Israel Journal of Politics, Economics, and Culture, 20/21 (4): 108–113, ProQuest 1724483297, archived from the original on 19 July 2023, retrieved 28 July 2022 – via ProQuest, Ahmed ibn Hanbal (780–855): "Verily, 'Al-Aqsa' is a name for the whole mosque which is surrounded by the wall, the length and width of which are mentioned here, for the building that exists in the southern part of the Mosque, and the other ones such as the Dome of the Rock and the corridors and other [buildings] are novel (muhdatha)." Mustafa Sway: More than 500 years ago, when Mujir Al-Din Al-Hanbali offered the above definition of Al-Aqsa Mosque in the year 900 AH/1495, there were no conflicts, no occupation and no contesting narratives surrounding the site.
  10. ^ Omar, Abdallah Marouf (2017). "Al-Aqsa Mosque's Incident in July 2017: Affirming the Policy of Deterrence". Insight Turkey. 19 (3): 69–82. doi:10.25253/99.2017193.05. JSTOR 26300531. In a treaty signed by Jordan and the Palestinian Authority on March 31, 2013, both sides define al-Aqsa Mosque as being "al-Masjid al-Aqsa with its 144 dunums, which include the Qibli Mosque of al-Aqsa, the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock, and all its mosques, buildings, walls, courtyards". ... Israel insists on identifying al-Aqsa Mosque as being a small building. ... Nonetheless, the Executive Board of UNESCO adopted the Jordanian definition of al-Aqsa Mosque in its Resolution (199 EX/PX/DR.19.1 Rev).
    Occupied Palestine: draft decision (199 EX/PX/DR.19.1 REV), UNESCO Executive Board. UNESCO. 2016.
  11. ^ "Arab states neglect Al-Aqsa says head of Jerusalem Waqf". Al-Monitor. 5 September 2014. Archived from the original on 24 April 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Robinson, E.; Smith, E. (1841). Biblical Researches in Palestine. John Murray. The Jámi'a el-Aksa is the mosk alone; the Mesjid el-Aksa is the mosk with all the sacred enclosure and precincts, including the Sükhrah. Thus the words Mesjid and Jāmi'a differ in usage somewhat like the Greek ίερόν and ναός.
  13. ^ a b c Palmer, E. H. (1871). "History of the Haram Es Sherif: Compiled from the Arabic Historians". Palestine Exploration Quarterly. 3 (3): 122–132. doi:10.1179/peq.1871.012. ISSN 0031-0328. EXCURSUS ON THE NAME MASJID EL AKSA. In order to understand the native accounts of the sacred area at Jerusalem, it is essentially necessary to keep in mind the proper application of the various names by which it is spoken of. When the Masjid el Aksa is mentioned, that name is usually supposed to refer to the well-known mosque on the south side of the Haram, but such is not really the case. The latter building is called El Jámʻi el Aksa, or simply El Aksa, and the substructures are called El Aksa el Kadímeh (the ancient Aksa), while the title El Masjid el Aksa is applied to the whole sanctuary. The word Jámi is exactly equivalent in sense to the Greek συναγωγή, and is applied to the church or building in which the worshippers congregate. Masjid, on the other hand, is a much more general term; it is derived from the verb sejada "to adore," and is applied to any spot, the sacred character of which would especially incite the visitor to an act of devotion. Our word mosque is a corruption of masjid, but it is usually misapplied, as the building is never so designated, although the whole area on which it stands may be so spoken of. The Cubbet es Sakhrah, El Aksa, Jam'i el Magharibeh, &c., are each called a Jami, but the entire Haram is a masjid. This will explain how it is that 'Omar, after visiting the churches of the Anastasis, Sion, &c., was taken to the "Masjid" of Jerusalem, and will account for the statement of Ibn el 'Asa'kir and others, that the Masjid el Aksa measured over 600 cubits in length-that is, the length of the whole Haram area. The name Masjid el Aksa is borrowed from the passage in the Coran (xvii. 1), when allusion is made to the pretended ascent of Mohammed into heaven from ·the temple of Jerusalem; "Praise be unto Him who transported His servant by night from El Masjid el Haram (i.e., 'the Sacred place of Adoration' at Mecca) to El Masjid el Aksa (i.e., 'the Remote place of Adoration' at Jerusalem), the precincts of which we have blessed," &c. The title El Aksa, "the Remote," according to the Mohammedan doctors, is applied to the temple of Jerusalem "either because of its distance from Mecca, or because it is in the centre of the earth."
  14. ^ a b Warren, Charles; Conder, Claude Reignier (1884). The survey of Western Palestine. Jerusalem. Published for the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund. London. p. 119 – via Internet Archive.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  15. ^ a b c Le Strange, Guy (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. Translated from the Works of the Medieval Arab Geographers. Houghton, Mifflin. p. 96. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 31 July 2022. Great confusion is introduced into the Arab descriptions of the Noble Sanctuary by the indiscriminate use of the terms Al Masjid or Al Masjid al Akså, Jami' or Jami al Aksâ; and nothing but an intimate acquaintance with the locality described will prevent a translator, ever and again, misunderstanding the text he has before him-since the native authorities use the technical terms in an extraordinarily inexact manner, often confounding the whole, and its part, under the single denomination of "Masjid." Further, the usage of various writers differs considerably on these points : Mukaddasi invariably speaks of the whole Haram Area as Al Masjid, or as Al Masjid al Aksî, "the Akså Mosque," or "the mosque," while the Main-building of the mosque, at the south end of the Haram Area, which we generally term the Aksa, he refers to as Al Mughattâ, "the Covered-part." Thus he writes "the mosque is entered by thirteen gates," meaning the gates of the Haram Area. So also "on the right of the court," means along the west wall of the Haram Area; "on the left side" means the east wall; and "at the back" denotes the northern boundary wall of the Haram Area. Nasir-i-Khusrau, who wrote in Persian, uses for the Main-building of the Aksâ Mosque the Persian word Pushish, that is, "Covered part," which exactly translates the Arabic Al Mughatta. On some occasions, however, the Akså Mosque (as we call it) is spoken of by Näsir as the Maksurah, a term used especially to denote the railed-off oratory of the Sultan, facing the Mihrâb, and hence in an extended sense applied to the building which includes the same. The great Court of the Haram Area, Nâsir always speaks of as the Masjid, or the Masjid al Akså, or again as the Friday Mosque (Masjid-i-Jum'ah).
  16. ^ Idrīsī, Muhammad; Jaubert, Pierre Amédée (1836). Géographie d'Édrisi (in French). à l'Imprimerie royale. pp. 343–344. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 31 July 2022. Sous la domination musulmane il fut agrandi, et c'est (aujourd'hui) la grande mosquée connue par les Musulmans sous le nom de Mesdjid el-Acsa مسجد الأقصى. Il n'en existe pas au monde qui l'égale en grandeur, si l'on en excepte toutefois la grande mosquée de Cordoue en Andalousie ; car, d'après ce qu'on rapporte, le toit de cette mosquée est plus grand que celui de la Mesdjid el-Acsa. Au surplus, l'aire de cette dernière forme un parallelogramme dont la hauteur est de deux cents brasses (ba'a), et le base de cents quatre-vingts. La moitié de cet espace, celle qui est voisin du Mihrab, est couverte d'un toit (ou plutôt d'un dôme) en pierres soutenu par plusieurs rangs de colonnes ; l'autre est à ciel ouvert. Au centre de l'édifice est un grand dôme connu sous le nom de Dôme de la roche; il fut orné d'arabesques en or et d'autres beaux ouvrages, par les soins de divers califes musulmans. Le dôme est percé de quatre portes; en face de celle qui est à l'occident, on voit l'autel sur lequel les enfants d'Israël offraient leurs sacrifices; auprès de la porte orientale est l'église nommée le saint des saints, d'une construction élégante ; au midi est une chapelle qui était à l'usage des Musulmans; mais les chrétiens s'en sont emparés de vive force et elle est restée en leur pouvoir jusqu'à l'époque de la composition du présent ouvrage. Ils ont converti cette chapelle en un couvent où résident des religieux de l'ordre des templiers, c'est-à-dire des serviteurs de la maison de Dieu. Also at Williams, G.; Willis, R. (1849). "Account of Jerusalem during the Frank Occupation, extracted from the Universal Geography of Edrisi. Climate III. sect. 5. Translated by P. Amédée Jaubert. Tome 1. pp. 341—345.". The Holy City: Historical, Topographical, and Antiquarian Notices of Jerusalem. J.W. Parker. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  17. ^ Mustafa Abu Sway (Fall 2000). "The Holy Land, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Islamic Sources". Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR): 60–68. Archived from the original on 29 May 2022. Retrieved 29 May 2022. Quoting Mujir al-Din: "Verily, 'Al-Aqsa' is a name for the whole mosque which is surrounded by the wall, the length and width of which are mentioned here, for the building that exists in the southern part of the Mosque, and the other ones such as the Dome of the Rock and the corridors and other [buildings] are novel"
  18. ^ Le Strange, Guy (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. Translated from the Works of the Medieval Arab Geographers. Houghton, Mifflin. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 29 May 2022. THE AKSÀ MOSQUE. The great mosque of Jerusalem, Al Masjid al Aksà, the "Further Mosque," derives its name from the traditional Night Journey of Muhammad, to which allusion is made in the words of the Kuran (xvii. I)... the term "Mosque" being here taken to denote the whole area of the Noble Sanctuary, and not the Main-building of the Aksà only, which, in the Prophet's days, did not exist.
  19. ^ Strange, Guy le (1887). "Description of the Noble Sanctuary at Jerusalem in 1470 A.D., by Kamâl (or Shams) ad Dîn as Suyûtî". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 19 (2). Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: 247–305. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00019420. ISSN 0035-869X. JSTOR 25208864. S2CID 163050043. …the term Masjid (whence, through the Spanish Mezquita, our word Mosque) denotes the whole of the sacred edifice, comprising the main building and the court, with its lateral arcades and minor chapels. The earliest specimen of the Arab mosque consisted of an open courtyard, within which, round its four walls, run colonades or cloisters to give shelter to the worshippers. On the side of the court towards the Kiblah (in the direction of Mekka), and facing which the worshipper must stand, the colonade, instead of being single, is, for the convenience of the increased numbers of the congregation, widened out to form the Jami' or place of assembly… coming now to the Noble Sanctuary at Jerusalem, we must remember that the term 'Masjid' belongs not only to the Aksa mosque (more properly the Jami' or place of assembly for prayer), but to the whole enclosure with the Dome of the Rock in the middle, and all the other minor domes and chapels.
  20. ^ a b *Abu-Sway, Mustafa (31 March 2013). "Al-Aqsa Mosque: Do Not Intrude!". Palestine-Israel Journal. Not only do the Israeli occupation authorities prevent freedom of movement and freedom of worship, they interfere in defining Al-Aqsa Mosque by restricting the meaning of Al-Aqsa Mosque to the southernmost building, Qibli Mosque, rather than all 144 dunums or 36 acres.
    • Omar, Abdallah Marouf (2017). "Al-Aqsa Mosque's Incident in July 2017: Affirming the Policy of Deterrence". Insight Turkey. 19 (3): 69–82. doi:10.25253/99.2017193.05. JSTOR 26300531. As shown before, Israel tried first to play with the definition of al-Aqsa as being only the Qibli Mosque building. This would give Israel an excuse to request a share in administrating the whole compound, claiming that not all of it is al-Aqsa Mosque
    • Yehia Hassan Wazeri THE FARTHEST MOSQUE OR THE ALLEGED TEMPLE AN ANALYTIC STUDY, Journal of Islamic Architecture Volume 2 Issue 3 June 2013, "The blessed Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, which is mentioned in the Ever Glorious Qur'an (in Sura Al-Isra'), is the blessed spot that is now called Al-Haram Al-Qudsi and is surrounded by the great wall along with the buildings and monuments that have been built on it, on top of which is Al-Masjid Al-Qibli (covered Masjid) and the Dome of the Rock."
    • Kamil, Meryem (1 September 2020). "Postspatial, Postcolonial". Social Text. 38 (3). Duke University Press: 55–82. doi:10.1215/01642472-8352247. ISSN 0164-2472. S2CID 234613673. The compound is an enclosed platform, with its western portion demarcated as the Jewish holy site of the Wailing Wall. Within the com- pound are two hallowed buildings: the Dome of the Rock and al-Qibli mosque.19 Muslims venerate the Dome of the Rock as the site where Muhammad ascended to heaven, and Jews honor the site where Abraham sacrificed Isaac. Al-Qibli mosque is noted by Muslims as the initial direc- tion for prayer before Mecca.
    • Omran M. Hassan, A Graphical Vision of Aesthetics of Al-Quds Architecture through the Digital Technology, International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology Vol. 29, No. 7s, (2020), pp. 2819-2838: "As shown, it is a part of the building of Al-Qibli mosque which is part of Al-Aqsa Mosque and one of its monuments with a roofed building topped by a dome covered by a layer of lead, located in the south side of Al-Aqsa Mosque towards Al-Qiblah in which the name Al-Qibli came from."
    • Mahdi Abdul Hadi, Al-Aqsa Mosque Archived 16 February 2020 at the Wayback Machine, Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs: "Al-Aqsa Mosque, also referred to as Al-Haram Ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), comprises the entire area within the compound walls (a total area of 144,000 m2) – including all the mosques, prayer rooms, buildings, platforms and open courtyards located above or under the grounds – and exceeds 200 historical monuments pertaining to various Islamic eras. According to Islamic creed and jurisprudence, all these buildings and courtyards enjoy the same degree of sacredness since they are built on Al-Aqsa’s holy grounds. This sacredness is not exclusive to the physical structures allocated for prayer, like the Dome of the Rock or Al-Qibly Mosque (the mosque with the large silver dome)
    • Tim Marshall (2017). A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of National Symbols. Simon and Schuster. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-5011-6833-8. Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 17 April 2018.: "Many people believe that the mosque depicted is called the Al-Aqsa; however, a visit to one of Palestine's most eminent intellectuals, Mahdi F. Abdul Hadi, clarified the issue. Hadi is chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, based in East Jerusalem. His offices are a treasure trove of old photographs, documents, and symbols. He was kind enough to spend several hours with me. He spread out maps of Jerusalem's Old City on a huge desk and homed in on the Al-Aqsa compound, which sits above the Western Wall. "The mosque in the Al- Aqsa [Brigades] flag is the Dome of the Rock. Everyone takes it for granted that it is the Al-Aqsa mosque, but no, the whole compound is Al-Aqsa, and on it are two mosques, the Qibla mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and on the flags of both Al-Aqsa Brigades and the Qassam Brigades, it is the Dome of the Rock shown", he said."
  21. ^ Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, The Administration Department of Awgaf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs, Jerusalem: Al-Aqsa Mosque[permanent dead link]: "Al-Aqsa Mosque is a second name for al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem; both expressions have the same meaning and refer to the same Holy Site and its components; it is the place, which Allah, Exalted be He, allocated to be Prophet Muhammad's home of al-Isra', the Holy Journey at Night, and al-Mi'raj, from which the Prophet ascended to Heavens… Al-Aqsa Mosque includes the Qibli Mosque (al-Jami' al-Aqsa), the Marwani Mosque, the Dome of the Rock Mosque, al-Buraq Mosque, the lower Asa, Bab al-Rahmah, all grounds, prayer halls, corridors with all the historical buildings built on them…"
  22. ^ Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs: "Al-Musalla Al-Qibli is the large mosque building standing in the southern side of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, it is called so because it stands in the direction of Al-Qiblah (direction of Mecca). Its construction in its current form was commenced by the Umayyad Caliph Abd Al-Malik Ibn Marwan, the building was completed during the reign of his son, Al-Walid Ibn Abd Al-Malik. Again, this edifice is a part of the blessed Aqsa Mosque and must not be referred to as Al-Aqsa Mosque itself."
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Further reading