Relationship Between Masjidil Haram and Masjidil Aqsa

Three holy mosques in Islam. Grand Mosque (left), Nabawi Mosque (center) and Al-Aqsa Mosque (right). (Photo: MINA)

The relationship between Masjidil Haram in Mecca and Masjidil Aqsa in Jerusalem has existed since the times of the prophets and messengers. Both places have a long history that extends from ancient times to the present day.

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala states in Surah Ali Imran [3], verses 96-97:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِى بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَٰلَمِينَ (٩٦) فِيهِ ءَايَٰتٌۢ بَيِّنَٰتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ ۖ وَمَن دَخَلَهُۥ كَانَ ءَامِنًا ۗ وَلِلّٰهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلْبَيْتِ مَنِ ٱسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ ٱللّٰهَ غَنِىٌّ عَنِ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ (٩٧) (ال عمران [٣]: ٩٦ــ٩٧)

“Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah – blessed and a guidance for the worlds. In it are clear signs [such as] the standing place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be safe. And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds.” (Quran 3:96-97)

In these verses, Allah emphasizes the sanctity and blessing of Baitullah (the Kaaba) in Masjidil Haram, Mecca.

Within it lies blessings, guidance, virtues, and immense benefits for all humanity and the entire universe.

Therefore, Allah Ta’ala commands mankind to visit and perform pilgrimage (hajj) to it, for those who are able to undertake the journey.

Imam Ibn Kathir Rahimahullah, in his explanation of these verses, quotes a hadith from the companion Abu Dzar Radhiallahu ‘anhu:

قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَيُّ مَسْجِدٍ وُضِعَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَوَّلُ؟ قَالَ الْمَسْجِدُ الْحَرَامُ قَالَ قُلْتُ ثُمَّ أَيُّ؟ قَالَ الْمَسْجِدُ الْأَقْصَى قُلْتُ كَمْ بَيْنَهُمَا؟ قَالَ أَرْبَعُونَ سَنَةً وَأَيْنَمَا أَدْرَكَتْكَ الصَّلَاةُ فَصَلَّ فَهُوَ مَسْجِدُ (رواه مسلم)

“I asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, which mosque was first established on earth?’ He replied, ‘Al-Masjid Al-Haram.’ I asked, ‘Then which?’ He said, ‘Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.’ I asked, ‘How long was between them?’ He said, ‘Forty years. And wherever the time of prayer comes for you, pray there, for that is a mosque.'” (Narrated by Muslim)

This narration highlights the close relationship between Masjidil Haram and Masjidil Aqsa. In another verse, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says:

سُبْحَٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ (الاسراء [١٧]: ١)

“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (Quran 17:1)

Just as Muslims flock to Masjidil Haram for pilgrimage, it is fitting for Muslims to earnestly strive to visit Masjidil Aqsa during other times and opportunities.

During his lifetime, the Prophet Muhammad Shallallahu ‘alaihi Wasallam paid serious attention to Masjidil Aqsa. This is evidenced by his response when asked by the noble companion Maemunah Radhialllahu anha:

يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَفْتِنَا فِي بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ قَالَ أَرْضُ الْمَحْشَرِ وَالْمَنْشَرِ ائْتُوهُ فَصَلُّوا فِيهِ فَإِنَّ صَلَاةً فِيهِ كَأَلْفِ صَلَاةٍ فِي غَيْرِهِ قُلْتُ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ أَسْتَطِعْ أَنْ أَتَحَمَّلَ إِلَيْهِ قَالَ فَتُهْدِي لَهُ زَيْتًا يُسْرَجُ فِيهِ فَمَنْ فَعَلَ ذَلِكَ فَهُوَ كَمَنْ أَتَاهُ (رواه ابن ماجة))

“O Messenger of Allah, give us a verdict regarding Baitul Maqdis,” He said, “It is the land of gathering and dispersal [on the Day of Judgment]. Visit it and pray there, for indeed, a prayer there is like a thousand prayers [elsewhere].” I asked, “What if I cannot reach there?” He replied, “Then give some oil to be lit in it, for whoever does so is like one who has come.” (Narrated by Ibn Majah)

Giving oil in this hadith signifies serious attention to Masjidil Aqsa and aiding the effort to free it.

Masjidil Haram and Masjidil Aqsa are highly recommended places to visit. The Prophet Muhammad Shallallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam said in a hadith:

لاَ تُشَدُّ الرِّحَالُ إِلاَّ إِلَى ثَلَاثَةِ مَسَاجِدَ مَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَمَسْجِدِي هَذَا وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَ (رواه البخارى)

“Do not set out on a journey except for three mosques: Al-Masjid Al-Haram, my mosque (Masjid An-Nabawi in Madinah), and Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Palestine).” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Based on this hadith, Masjidil Aqsa deserves serious attention, just like Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi.

The companions and subsequent scholars visited Masjidil Aqsa, including Umar bin Khattab during his caliphate, Abu Hurairah, Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqash, Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah, Mu’az bin Jabbal, Bilal bin Rabbah, Khalid bin Walid, Abu Dzar Al-Ghiffari, Salman Al-Farisi, Ubadah bin Shamit, and many others Radhiallahu anhum.

Likewise, scholars from the Tabi’in and beyond visited Masjidil Aqsa, such as Imam Ash-Shafi’i, Imam Al-Ghazali, Sufyan Ats-Tsauri, Rabi’ah Al-Adawiyah, Malik bin Dinar, Imam Al-Auza’i, Muqatil bin Sufyan, Al-Jurjani, Abu Al-Hasan Al-Zuhri, and others Rahimahumullah.

Masjidil Aqsa is waqf land for Muslims. When Umar bin Khattab Radhiallahu anhu liberated it, local inhabitants, including Christians, entrusted it to him for protection.

Therefore, Umar bin Khattab waqf Masjidil Aqsa for the Muslim ummah, ensuring it was not to be sold and protected from any form of desecration.

Subsequently, Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi Rahimahullah liberated Al-Aqsa from Crusader occupation, restoring it as a place of safety and a symbol of peace.

If today, Zionist Israel defiles the sanctity of Masjidil Aqsa, it is the duty of all Muslims to liberate it, restore peace and security to the region.

For us Muslims, Masjidil Aqsa should be the center of our collective struggle, as it is a waqf that must be protected by Muslims worldwide.

Sheikh Al-Azhar, Prof. Dr. Ahmad Thayib, in one of his fatwas, declared Baitul Maqdis as sacred and noble for Muslims. Therefore, it is obligatory for all Muslims, especially their leaders, to work together, hand in hand, to liberate it and support the Palestinian people’s struggle against Zionist occupation.

In this month of Dhulhijah, when millions gather at Masjidil Haram, let us invite all Muslims to also pay attention to Masjidil Aqsa, liberating it from all forms of disrespect and desecration by enemies of Islam.

May Masjidil Aqsa soon return to the embrace of Muslims, creating peace and security there. Ameen Ya Rabbal Alamiin. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)